We’ve got some good the­ater in the Heart of Dixie

Cherokee County Herald - - VIEWPOINTS -

We in the Deep South have a unique his­tory of po­lit­i­cal the­atrics. The only north­ern states that ri­val our col­or­ful­ness are New Jer­sey and Illi­nois. In those two states you are ex­pected to be cor­rupt, es­pe­cially Chicago.

Our most col­or­ful south­ern state has al­ways been Louisiana. The parishes and bay­ous of the Pel­i­can State gave us Huey Long and other char­ac­ters. No other states can hold a can­dle to Louisiana’s brazen cor­rup­tion. They not only ex­pect their politi­cians to steal and ca­vort, they frown on them if they do not. The en­vi­ron­ment of Louisiana politics is bred to­wards cor­rup­tion and de­bauch­ery. They not only gave us the glam­our of the King Fish, Huey Long, they are proud of their in­fa­mous rep­u­ta­tion.

Well folks if you look at us here in the good old Heart of Dixie over the past few years we are prob­a­bly giv­ing Louisiana a run for its money. A cur­sory look at the record re­veals that our Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Mike Hubbard, was caught and con­victed of tak­ing bribes for spon­sor­ing and pass­ing leg­is­la­tion. Our 74-yearold doctor Gov­er­nor Robert Bent­ley fell in love with his 44-year-old num­ber one ad­vi­sor, lost all his wits, and has re­signed from of­fice in dis­grace. He pled guilty to a mis­de­meanor charge and agreed never to run for of­fice again. The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was poised to im­peach him had he not re­signed.

Ole Bent­ley had be­come an ir­rel­e­vant clown and fod­der for late night talk shows. The State is bet­ter off with Lt. Gov­er­nor, Kay Ivey, serv­ing out the re­main­ing 20 months of Bent­ley’s term.

Bent­ley, in a cha­rade pro­mul­gated by his de­sire to not be in­dicted for his shenani­gans, gave the U.S. Se­nate Seat va­cated by Jeff Ses­sions to the sit­ting At­tor­ney Gen­eral Luther Strange to avoid pros­e­cu­tion. There­fore, our new ju­nior U.S. Sen­a­tor is in Wash­ing­ton with the taint of Bent­ley’s scandal hov­er­ing over his head with the ap­pear­ance that he is there due to au­da­cious col­lu­sion.

We have an even richer novel that has tran­spired in Jef­fer­son County, our most pop­u­lous and sup­pos­edly ur­bane county. It made na­tional news a year ago when the Mayor and Pres­i­dent of the City Coun­cil got into a fist­fight in the Birm­ing­ham City Hall. How­ever, a new de­vel­op­ment is even more bizarre. Dur­ing the fall elec­tions, Democrats won all of the Jef­fer­son County judge­ships. Along with the judge­ships, Jef­fer­son County vot­ers elected a Demo­cratic Dis­trict At­tor­ney. Demo­crat Charles Hen­der­son beat in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Brandon Falls by over 10,000 votes. Get this folks, the sit­ting DA trumps up a per­jury charge against the new DA a few days be­fore he was to take of­fice. Falls con­vened a grand jury on Jan­uary 12 and re­turned an in­dict­ment the next day on Jan­uary 13. Hen­der­son was to take of­fice the fol­low­ing Mon­day.

As any­body knows, a pros­e­cu­tor can in­dict a potato for any­thing at any time. This sce­nario proves that point. The loser, Falls, got the win­ner, Hen­der­son, in­dicted for per­jury.

This is so bizarre and cor­rupt a sit­u­a­tion that it makes the afore­men­tioned sto­ries pale in com­par­i­son. It makes Jef­fer­son County and Alabama look like a third world ba­nana repub­lic. There are ram­pant ru­mors that the State’s top watch­dog, Pros­e­cu­tor Matt Hart, is camped out in Jef­fer­son County and mas­sive in­dict­ments are on the way. It has been over 70 years since Louisiana had a sim­i­lar sce­nario. No­body has been as brash in be­tween.

The Louisiana King Fish Huey Long was as­sas­si­nated on the steps of the capi­tol in Ba­ton Rouge. Huey Long’s brother, Earl Long, fol­lowed his fa­mous older brother as gov­er­nor. Earl was one col­or­ful char­ac­ter.

His op­po­nents de­cided to seize power from Earl. They took con­trol of the state po­lice and had Earl ar­rested and put in the state in­sane asy­lum. One of the best po­lit­i­cal movies ever is en­ti­tled “Blaze” star­ring Paul New­man and it il­lus­trates this story of Louisiana po­lit­i­cal lore. I rec­om­mend it for en­ter­tain­ment.

These past two years in Alabama politics would make for a good movie. This lat­est Jef­fer­son County fi­asco would have to be a part of the plot. Look out Louisiana; we’ve got some good the­ater in the Heart of Dixie.

Steve Flow­ers is Alabama’s lead­ing po­lit­i­cal colum­nist. His weekly column ap­pears in over 60 Alabama news­pa­pers. He served 16 years in the state leg­is­la­ture. Steve may be reached at www.steve­flow­ers. us.

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