Convention not as good as it once was

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 2004

MONTGOMERY – Brace yourself for a king-size ballot when you go to the polls in the November general election.

In addition to the presidential election and a number of state judicial and local offices to be filled, there will also be a laundry list of proposed amendments to the State Constitution – 35 of them to be exact.

Eight of the proposals will be voted on statewide, the remainder only in individual counties.

One of the amendments of statewide application is meaningless but of much concern to blacks. It would strike out any reference to segregated schools or to the poll tax.

Both of those provisions have long since been declared null and void by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the fact that the language is still in the Constitution is offensive to many.

Be sure the long list of amendments to the already much-amended constitution will give rise to a chorus of demands for a new constitution.

Already the longest constitution in the nation, it is likely to become even longer after the election.

That some of the amendments border on the ridiculous cannot be denied.

For example, one of the proposal seeks to allow the legislature to pass a law to permit local police officers and sheriffs deputies to enforce traffic laws on private roads in gated communities in Shelby County.

State Sen. Jeff Emfinger, D-Huntsville, has found out the hard way that you don’t play footsie with Gov. Bob Riley nor do you say unkind things about Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, the designated sacred cow in the upper chamber … or should that be designated sacred pig?

Emfinger was unceremoniously dumped last week as Senate floor leader and majority leader, the No. 2 spot in the Senate. He was replaced by Sen. Zeb Little, D-Cullman.

While there was no doubt that Senate President Pro Tem Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, directed the coup, he let other senators explain why Emfinger was ousted.

Sen. Larry Means, D-Attalla, used words such as &uot;disenchantment&uot; and &uot;unsupportive&uot; in describing Emfinger’s contribution to the Democratic caucus.

No doubt Emfinger’s verbal assault earlier this year on Sen. Bedford marked the beginning of the end for his role as a Democrat leader.

He dared to say that Bedford had embarrrassed the Senate by taking millions of dollars of &uot;pork&uot; to his home district and demanded that he be removed from the chairmanship of a Senate budget committee.

Sen. Little’s promotion gave impetutus to speculation that come 2006 he will the Democrat’s hope to unseat Republican Atty. Gen. Troy King.

Nobody is quite sure what he meant, but ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore has re-kindled speculation about another run for office in the future.

Appearing on a national cable TV talk show, Moore was specifically asked if he would ever run for public office again.

His answer: &uot;If I must, I must.&uot;

That is as close as he has come to saying he will run for office again but left unanswered is what office he might seek.

Will he try to regain his old office of chief justice or will he make a move for the top job … governor?

Stay tuned.

James B. Hubbard, the oldest inmate on Death Row in the nation, died by lethal injection at Holman Prison near Atmore last week. He was 74 years old.

His execution was carried out after the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, refused to grant a stay and Gov. Bob Riley also refused to grant clemency.

Hubbard was sentenced to death for the 1977 murder of Lillian Montgomery of Tuscaloosa.

He had been released from prison only a short time before that crime after serving 19 years for another murder