The title of the piece, by Montgomery correspondent Anthony McCartney, is "School ties bind many members of Legislature," and its main theme is the number of members who are either teachers themselves or have a close relationship to the education industry. Since you are reading this, you are doubtless a well informed citizen who already knows this. Nevertheless McCartney gives a good review of this troubling issue, a review which you will find useful.
This is not, however, the thing that is most compelling in the article. No, it's the sub-theme on the continuation page, where the AEA moves from the background to the foreground. There we find that "Paul Hubbert, head of the Alabama Education Association, widely considered Montgomery's most powerful lobby, said he believes voters have more power than he does."
Oh, how modest of Paul! He says he believes voters have more power than he does. Which is another way of saying that, well, he's not absolutely sure that he doesn't have more power than all the rest of us put together. Nor is this subtle boast entirely unjustified.
As a case in point let us briefly flick our eyes over in the direction of Rep. Howard Sanderford. Now, Howard is my very own representative and a good friend. He lives only a cannon shot away from the place where I sit working at this keyboard. Howard is a good Baptist, a Republican, and generally a conservative. Yet he voted for Mr. Hubbert's ill-advised teacher pay raise when it was clear that there was no money in the till to pay for it, and that it would contribute to the fiscal straits that we are in now. Why on earth would Howard do that?
Times reporter McCartney gives us the answer: "Rep. Howard Sanderford, a Huntsville Republican who owns a computer leasing business, admitted at the time he voted for the raise to avoid the education lobby's wrath," he wrote.
Here is a message coming in over a clear channel free of static: A good Republican like Howard Sanderford felt that he was forced to vote for a bill that was contrary to the interest of the state because of the brute, intimidating force wielded by Paul Hubbert and his teacher's union. I mention Howard not to ostracize him but to emphasize the poignancy of the point.
Nor is Howard alone. The corrupting force of the AEA affects everyone in Montgomery. But most of us are not in any public office, and so are immune to the Machiavellian Mr. Hubbert. It is up to us, therefore, to curb his excesses, and the place for us to start is within our own party.
I had fruitful discussions with other Republicans this past weekend, and we are working on plans. Meanwhile please let us have your ideas.
Madison County, Place 1
State Executive Committee