Riley touts ethics overhaul during Montevallo visit

Civic involvement in government and support of a statewide ethics reform are key to ensuring future progress in Alabama, Gov. Bob Riley told members of the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon.

The governor’s comments came during the chamber’s annual Partnership Summit at American Village.

The Partnership is a coalition of business leaders and government officials throughout Shelby County who meet regularly to discuss county issues, plan ways to improve the area’s economy, lobby state legislators and address other county related issues.

“The next two or three years will define what our country will be for a long time,” Riley said. “We have progressed as far as we have because of what we were founded on.

“Alabama is absolutely poised to become the leader of not only the South, but of the nation,” Riley added. “The negative stereotypes of Alabama are going out the door as fast as they can.”

The governor urged the Partnership to support his upcoming push to overhaul the state’s ethics code. If passed, the modified code would help make state government at all levels “truly transparent,” Riley said.

“If you’ve ever had a three-legged stool, you know it’s hard to put together without all three legs,” Riley said. “We have the economic development part down, and our education system will never be in the bottom 10 again.

“But there’s one thing we haven’t done. We are going to try one more time during the next legislative session to rewrite the ethics code,” Riley said.

If passed, the new ethics code would affect every governing body from city councils to the governor’s office, and would require public servants to be much more open and forthcoming with information, Riley said.

“If we can get the ethics piece and combine it with the other two legs, you are about to see an Alabama that will do remarkable things,” Riley said. “You can be proud of it, because you will never again see Alabama take a back seat to any other state in the country.”

Riley also encouraged the Shelby County group to constantly stay in contact with their government representatives, and to stay informed and active in local, state and national politics.

“Stay in touch with your senators and representatives, and let them know how you feel,” Riley said. “God doesn’t give us some kind of divine wisdom when we get elected. The smart always stay close to home.

“Don’t ever take what you have for granted,” Riley added. “If you do that, you will lose it.”