Worley’s car just goes too far

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2003

MONTGOMERY &045; I get no pleasure in writing this because my dealings with Secretary of State Nancy Worley, albeit limited, have been pleasant.

But Worley did a dumb thing … more accurately, a stupid thing … and her hand must be called.

As the 2003 fiscal year neared an end, she learned that there was some unspent money in her budget which if not spent would have to be refunded to the general fund on Sept. 30.

Her choices were two: spend it or refund it.

Very quickly she found a way to spend it &045; she bought herself a new &uot;set of wheels,&uot; as we used to say up home.

She went to a Ford dealership in Huntsville and drove out with $30,275 V-8 Eddie Bauer Expedition, which included $7,831 in upgrades.

Mind you, only days before she had announced that five employees in her office would be laid off on Sept. 30 due to the financial crisis.

When asked why she couldn’t have been content with a Ford Taurus which she could have bought for about $11,000, she replied that the $19,000 difference wouldn’t have saved anyone’s job.

Admittedly, in the scheme of things, the expenditure of $30,000-plus is not a big thing when we are talking about shortages of hundreds of millions of dollars … but the message it sends to the already suspect taxpayers was devastating.

And disgusting.

A recent poll by the Capitol Survey Research Group &045; the AEA’s polling firm &045; had to give suspended Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore reason to wonder.

On the one hand, the survey showed that an overwhelming number of Alabamians support the displaying of the Ten Commandments in government buildings but those same people were less than comfortable with Moore defying a federal court order to remove the monument from the Judicial Building.

A whopping 76 percent said they supported the display of the Ten Commandments while only 19 opposed it.

But a strong majority … 58 percent … said they felt Moore should have removed the monument when ordered to do so by the courts.

Another interesting question posed in the survey: Would you vote for Moore for governor?

The numbers: 38 percent said yes, 40 percent said no.

Speculation remains rampant that a race for governor or the U.S. Senate is likely in Moore’s future.

That is one reason why U. S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, is so busy raising campaign funds.

What with all the ugliness we so often see in the political arena, I hope the story I am about to share with you makes you feel as good as it did me.

Mention was made in the space a few weeks ago that one of the first victims of the layoffs which were put into effect at the end of the fiscal year was John Patterson, the former governor/attorney general/state court judge.

Since retiring from the court some years ago, Patterson had been retained as what is called a supernumerary judge.

He would come to the Judicial Building two or three days each week to do research on cases and write opinions.

No man enjoyed this assignment more than Patterson.

He told me more than once that of the three high posts he held in state government, none brought him more satisfaction than being a judge.

That being so, those final days for Patterson were tough.

As he was clearing out his desk on Sept. 29, he got a call. It was an invitation to lunch on the following day, his last day as a public servant.

His host: Gov. Bob Riley.

Gov. Riley and Patterson dined privately in the governor’s office that day.

Riley will never know what that luncheon invitation meant to Patterson.

&uot;That is the first time since I left the office of governor in 1959 that a sitting governor has asked me to sit down and share some of my experiences in the office with him,&uot; Patterson said. &uot;It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.&uot;

What that story tells me is that whether you like Gov. Riley or not … whether you think he is a good governor or not … you have got to believe his Momma raised him right.