First, the raises. Here’s the list of legislators who voted to override the Governor’s veto and give themselves a 62% pay increase. My local rep – Patricia Todd – is, good for her, NOT on it. Reactions? For one side of the story, see this apology; for the other, see this vow of retribution. Here’sa first hand report of the unsuccessful protest in Montgomery.
Second, on the subject of legislation the main purpose of which is benefiting sitting legislators, the Eleventh Circuit heard arguments yesterday in a case challenging Alabama’s ballot access laws.
Third, about the US Attorneys issue. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby both voted to eliminate a provision of the Patriot Act that had allowed unilateral appointment of USAs by the president. If this becomes law, things would then work as they always had prior to the patriot act – the President nominates the USAs, and the senate will confirm them. That’s good for justice, and bad for cronyism.
Fourth, and again on the USA issue. I’m having a hard time thinking of anything more ridiculous than this:
Under growing political pressure, the White House offered to allow members of Congressional committees to hold private interviews with Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser and deputy chief of staff; Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel; and two other officials. It also offered to provide access to e-mail messages and other communications about the dismissals, but not those between White House officials.
Democrats promptly rejected the offer, which specified that the officials would not testify under oath, that there would be no transcript and that Congress would not subsequently subpoena them.
Give me a break. What possible justification is there for these restrictions? If the argument is that it would somehow be unseemly or a violation of the separation of powers for these folks to have to testify before Congress, than why let them testify at all? How does giving them permission to lie solve the problem? And if the argument is that this whole investigation is nothing but, in Dubya’s words “a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants.” Then why not put it all to rest by once and for all going on the record under oath and telling us the whole truth?
Note, please, I am not saying that only a guilty person refuses to testify. I would, for example, be very sympathetic to an argument that Harriet Myers, because she is the President’s lawyer (contra the AG and USAs), should not testify at all before Congress about her dealings with the President. What I am saying is that only a person with something to hide would offer to testify, BUT only if all procedures designed to ensure truth-telling are NOT followed during the testimony.
Anyway, moving back to the local scene, here’s the latest on another person who refuses to answer legitimate questions:
Carol Forge Hatcher, a Birmingham consultant who said she has $1.5 billion in private money lined up to complete both an entertainment district in addition to a domed stadium and hotel, made her second appearance before the council during the meeting.
Hatcher, however, has refused to identify the source of the money, citing confidentiality agreements.
Hatcher, Roger Hoffman of the Utah-based Nexus Group and Steve Kellogg of Florida-based Aligned LLC said last week they had the money to do the entire project, but complained they were not taken seriously by the BJCC board.
Council members Tuesday told [BJCC Director Jack] Fields and BJCC lawyer Tom Stewart to put in writing a list of questions they need Hatcher to answer before they can evaluate her project. Hatcher and Kellogg spoke at last week’s BJCC board meeting, but didn’t give specific information about financing.
“We weren’t able to review enough information to move forward,” Fields said.
Council members said they want to give Hatcher every opportunity to explain her proposal, but Tuesday will be their final invitation if she again does not answer the BJCC board’s questions.
And finally, at least some folks are concerned about finding the naked truth.