Kudos to Sen. Cam Ward

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By John Sophocleus

Kudos to Sen. Cam Ward [R-Alabaster] head of the Senate Judiciary Committee blocking the ethics bill proposed by Marsh and Albritton. Reported dead in Ward’s committee by Bill Britt [APR 4/18/19] who wrote, “However, since then, the pair have continued to lobby Republican caucus members to climb on board with the measure. Albritton is even suggesting that he and Marsh go around the Judiciary Committee to get the bill to the Senate floor” to circumvent the usual process. Amazing to watch politicians’ acumen and cunning to manipulate toward their own ends.
Most senators privately told APR they don’t want to vote on the bill, in fear of opposing these two powerful politburo members, likely to engage in retribution against those wanting to maintain our unusual gains of the 2010 (back when straight-ticket voters cancelled each other out) ethics legislation. These hard won impediments to politicians using their office for personal benefit are more easily gutted in our current, less competitive, political environment. Those who understand the corrupt pawl of ACCA, BCA, et alia still clutching Goat Hill are not surprised at the Marsh and Albritton ‘full court press’ to repeal 2010 ethics laws.
APR will post legislation [promoted by prosecutors Davis & Hart] to address/revise provisions which seemed easy loopholes/too binding soon after the Hubbard convictions. It was signed off by Marsh and McCutcheon 2017 and agreed upon by the ‘big mules’ – i.e., it is worthy of reading and considering as an improvement. APR further noted, “During the investigation into then-Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, Marsh found himself in front of a grand jury and later as a witness at Hubbard’s trial. As a wealthy businessperson, it may be as simple as Marsh wants to destroy the ethics laws so he will never be forced to appear before a grand jury or be a witness in a public corruption trial.”
In the past, Sen. Ward offered the most pressing question on where the ‘big mules’ would go as powerful BCA members were exiting. Decades ago, Alabama Power/Southern Company were members of the Auburn Policy Research Center which was on its way to be advocate for the general welfare of our State until corrupt administrators captured by the Lowder/Hubbard ‘public servant’ gang killed the Center and the successful econ program(s) increasingly attacked by less productive faculty and champions of big goverment. The deleterious spirit of not wanting to compete has grown strong roots on the Plains of Dixie. The two most notable in the fight to block “Billion Dollar Bob’s” Amendment One tax explosion and the ‘new and improved’ BIG Business Council of Alabama were John Rice in the traditional arena and Mark Bodenhausen on the emerging internet scene. Mark is no longer with us and dearly missed by those who remember how well he championed liberty against the big govt. extremists. Is it time for Sen. Ward to rally the ‘old guard’ small government conservatives and start a new organization in Alabama?
I think most who ‘follow the goats’ would agree Sen. Ward’s most notable ‘yeoman’s work’ in the legislature is prison reform, largely unnoticed/unappreciated by the uninformed citizen. I was pleasantly surprised to see AG Marshall on the right side of Sen. Ward’s Pardons and Paroles reform legislation. It seems our AG’s office is also moving forward well on final appeals of Hubbard convictions in Judge Walker’s court. Jake Walker is another unappreciated force for disciplining corruption in our county. “Mr. Boulevard” is long overdue to serve his sentences and pay his fines which appear to be less than his mounting legal expenses while drawing out litigating his wrongdoings these past several years instead of saving taxpayer money and effort pleading guilty as more decent public servants have done.
One may find some actions to disagree with (e.g., one of the smaller BCA ‘moneychanger’ events where Cam Ward donated $1,000 to Beth Rogers; a week later NET PAC donates $2,000 to Cam Ward) and I found Sen. Ward leaning a little too much on alcohol years ago was driven by the stressful job in general; but the despair of trying to address the prison issue more specifically. As most readers know, our prison system is in crisis once again. I ask all to keep Sen. Ward in prayer once again doing his best to address this difficult problem under our current constraints. I’ll not spend text on the biggest sources of our capacity problems which are largely generated by an ‘unfunded mandate’ of sorts. Most of our non- violent offenders are for drug offenses (the federal govt. is not authorized in the Constitution to address) with mandatory federal sentencing guidelines where the federal govt. is not incurring the ‘full freight’ to accomplish. Unlike Byrne, Jones, Roby, Rogers, Sewell, Shelby type ‘public masters’ up in DC (who show little regard for our civil rights, rising debt, etc.) we do have a few public servants who understand this, but I suspect do not have the courage to address in fear of appearing to be ‘soft on crime/drugs.’
While Sen. Ward has been the most informed and reasonable in the Alabama Senate, Rep. England has been the rising star on this issue in the House. Hope my ‘rookie’ Representative (Jeremy Gray) will consider following this fellow House member instead of those he appears to be seeking as mentors. The incentives/ wealth transfers for BCA, et al architects, contractors, input owners, etc. to build ‘super prisons’ are obvious. Those in play want to make the prison situation as bad as it takes to facilitate redistributions to politically connected recipients of tax dollars. The anguish and danger they bring to correction officers and prisoners doesn’t matter to them. The biting observation of Rep. England is simple, under the current proposal, the ‘super prison’ solution will not impact the capacity result triggering the crisis with the DoJ.
How will this corporate welfare program in fact help the prison problem?
John Sophocleus is an economist who worked ten years at Ford Motor Company to completely retire after thirty years teaching this year; he’s also an Alabama Gazette monthly columnist since 2009.

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