McClurkin’s new Statehouse office proving controversial

Published 5:23 pm Wednesday, March 17, 2010

State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Indian Springs, said she had no idea accepting an invitation to move her office in the Alabama Statehouse into a newly renovated suite of offices would prove controversial.

However, some are questioning the cost of the renovation and furnishing of the office suite, which is located on the first level of the basement in the Statehouse.

The new suite has offices for five legislators, interns and the Alabama Law Institute. Its furnishings include leather chairs and sofas, marble-top tables, a shower and kitchenette.

Last May, the Statehouse suffered extensive flooding. The renovated office suite in question is located in the basement part of the building that was damaged.

“They invited me to move down there and I graciously accepted,” McClurkin said. “I was getting out of an office that had mold on the ceiling, so it was not a hard decision.”

She said the Statehouse in general is in deplorable condition and that she has been made ill by the prevalence of mold.

“I’m sick right now because of all that. That building is just pathetic,” McClurkin said.

McClurkin was invited to move into the suite by State Rep. Richard Laird, D-Roanoke, who at the time of the renovations was chairman of the Legislative Building Authority.

However, that authority’s new chairman, Sen. Roger Bedford, said the renovation was never properly approved and in published reports claims the furnishings and suite are unnecessarily extravagant.

“According to what I’ve been told by Richard Laird, who is a very respectable legislator, the renovation was approved,” McClurkin said. She said some of the costs for renovations and furnishings, which amount to more than $500,000, were covered by insurance reimbursement for the flood damage.

“The furnishings seem to be in line with the going rate,” she said. “He (Laird) did tell us not to take the tags off of the furniture because of the fuss being made about it.”

McClurkin said a number of other legislators last year moved to office space on the second floor of the Statehouse building, which are designed in suites similar to the one in question. “Except they have windows,” she said. “That’s really coveted.”

McClurkin said the current Statehouse building is in such poor and obsolete condition, it needs to be torn down and replaced.