This vote most important

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 19, 2003

MONTGOMERY &045; A personal note to kick off this column: This week is my 50th anniversary as a resident of Montgomery, having moved here from the wonderful little town of Centre (Cherokee County) in August 1953.

In the ensuing years, practically all of which I have spent observing Alabama politics from a variety of vantage points, I have covered a lot of elections.

The most exciting were the races for governor, and that includes the Big Jim Folsom landslide in 1954 (where the tune &uot;Y’All Come&uot; became so familiar) all the way up to the stunning upset of Don Siegelman last November by Bob Riley.

There were other non-gubernatorial elections which are stickouts in my mind: In 1956, fresh off his runaway victory in the governor’s race, Big Jim ran for Democratic National Committeeman … and got clobbered by a little known legislator name Charles McKay of Talladega; the paper thin election of U.S. Sen. Lister Hill in 1962 over unknown Republican Jim Martin … and who can forget the &uot;Goldwater Sweep&uot; in 1964?

All of which leads to my point: The election on Sept. 9 on the tax-accountability package is perhaps the most important in my 50 years on the scene.

Yes, even more important than any governors’ race.

This is what could be called a crossroads election, and the outcome will determine the direction of this state for years to come.

It is truly put-up-or-shut-up time for the voters. And if the polls can be believed, the &uot;shut-ups&uot; will prevail.

What is obviously frustating to Gov. Riley and those favoring the plan is that the people who would benefit the most from the package … lower income blacks and whites … are the most vocal against it.

They are the ones who have signs in their yards saying &uot;Vote No: We Are Taxed Too Much.&uot;

With the election now only three weeks away, there seems insufficient time to turn the numbers around.

While at least one recent polls shows a slight narrowing of the gap, the opponents still hold a 10-point plus lead.

Chief Justice Roy Moore surprised no one when he announced he has no intention of removing the Ten Commandments monument from the Judicial Building.

Instead, he intends to defy a federal court order which says the monument must go.

Moore’s announced stand is almost identical to that taken by Gov. George Wallace 40 years ago at the University of Alabama when he &uot;stood in the door&uot; to block the admission of two black students.

Moore will probably have as much success in his stand as Wallace had in his … the students were delayed about three hours before their admission.

There is another ironic twist to this story.

In 1963, the stand by Wallace was not supported by then Atty. Gen. Richmond Flowers … nor is Moore’s defiance supported by current Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor.

He has said publicly that he will use his authority to see that the state obeys the order of the court.

Gov. Riley, who wishes he didn’t have a dog in this fight, said he believed it was proper for the monument to be displayed but couched his support of Moore by adding that he would work to &uot;ensure that the rule of law prevails.&uot;

A sidebar to the controversy:

The other members of the Alabama Supreme Court are getting a bit uneasy at what is happening.

It is not out of the question that these justices may in effect take matters into their own hands and bring this matter to some form of closure.

As to the fate of the monument, it is a safe bet that its days in the rotunda of the Judicial Building are numbered, Chief Justice Moore notwithstanding