Thinking Aloud: Legislature handled pay raise vote poorly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2007

&8220;Lack of money is the root of all evil.&8221;

-George Bernard Shaw

I&8217;m not against Alabama legislators voting themselves a big pay increase, even if it is a whopping 62 percent.

Our representatives and senators are working for the same amount as they did in 1991.

I think everyone deserves a raise every now and then.

After all, that last raise was 17-years-ago. Just think back with me, what were you doing then?

I was a first grader in Mrs. Vickie Woods class at Greensboro West Elementary.

But what was going on nationally? We had Bush vs. Clinton, Barcelona Summer Olympics, an Alabama National Championship in football &8212;man, we are talking about a really long time ago.

So, I don&8217;t blame lawmakers for wanting a pay increase. The costs of food, lodging and gasoline have all gone up tremendously since the early 90s.

Just as local Sen. Mike Hill said, a case certainly can be made for some increase in legislators&8217; pay.

If we want good men and women down in Montgomery, we should be willing to ante up the money necessary to pay for the cream of the crop.

What I have a problem with is the way legislators handled the vote. House and Senate leadership sneaked in legislation, allowed no debate and refused to acknowledge requests for roll call votes.

The vote was handled in a cowardly way, and residents have a right to be outraged.

This week is national &8220;Sunshine Week,&8221; a time dedicated to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy.

Our state government wasn&8217;t being very open this week.

We have a right to know how each legislator voted on the important matter.

Secrecy, smoked-filled rooms and a stoppage of debate violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and shouldn&8217;t be tolerated.

Thankfully, Shelby County&8217;s delegation has been honest about the vote.

All nine legislators have admitted how they voted on the pay increases. Whether you agree or disagree, they stand by their convictions and you have to respect that.

I wish all of Alabama was so lucky