The Political Round-Up
Lorrie Morgan to sing Sparks' praises;
Troopers cheer end to Murphy's law;
Bentley support surges in wake of nomination;
Up, up and away; Buzbee kickoff Saturday;
GOP TV fest; Anchors aweigh;
The Return of Constantine's
By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Country music star Lorrie Morgan will headline a big countywide rally and fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ron Sparks Tuesday, Oct. 5 at Ashbury Suites on the Beltline here.
The event will get underway at 5:30 p.m. For more information contact Gary Tanner at 251-401-0453.
Morgan was barely a teenager when she made her first major appearance in 1975 singing “Paper Roses” with her dad, country star George Morgan on the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1984 she made history when at age 25 she was the youngest person ever to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Timeless country standards like “Five Minutes,” “Something in Red,” “Watch Me” and “What Part of No” established Lorrie as a bona fide country star.
Troopers cheer end to Murphy's law
The arrival today of a new director of public safety for Alabama is being loudly cheered in some quarters -- applause that incoming leader Lt. Col. F.A. "Bubba" Bingham might well recognize as a negative commentary on his predecessor.
Col. Chris Murphy, who has been director of the department, is leaving to become director of public safety for the city of Montgomery.
Gov. Bob Riley will swear in Bingham in a ceremony Friday.
Murphy got off to a bad start as DPS chief and had the further misfortune to command the storm troops in Riley's quest to quell illegal slot machines in Alabama.
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange was sent an anonymous e-mail on Thursday and it has gone viral in law enforcement circles throughout Alabama:
The email thanks Strange on behalf of "the retired and active members of the Alabama Department of Public Safety family" for ridding DPS of Murphy. However, regret is expressed for the "tremendous loss for the employees of the both the Montgomery Police Department and the Montgomery Fire Department, both proud organizations with a history of serving the citizens of Montgomery with distinction."
The email continued: "You should know that Murphy’s first act as Director of DPS was to reassign every Division Chief effective the date of his appointment. What he touted as a positive change was instead a direct result of his own insecurities and massive ego. He moved them to show them who was boss, and try to assert himself as the 'alpha male.' What this accomplished was to throw every division into disarray. He knew absolutely nothing about running the Department of Public Safety, and instead of relying on the knowledge and experience of his senior staff to help him learn the job, he put all the divisions into chaos, and a great deal of knowledge and experience was wasted. That chaos has continued to this day."
"Your praise of Murphy’s leadership skills is misguided and it is evident that you have done a political favor for Bob Riley by hiring him. It shows that you have absolutely no idea of Murphy’s abilities or track record. Murphy fully believes that rising to the position of a low level manager in the Secret Service automatically qualifies him as a leader. While he may have some management experience in the Secret Service, that experience is entirely separate from leadership. Leadership involves taking care of the people who work for you, recognizing their potential and bringing out the best in them; rewarding professionalism, hard work and productivity and leading by example. He fails to understand that law enforcement professionals are members of a family who depend on one another. Murphy, on the other hand, pushes people around, manages by fear and intimidation, and keeps the organization in a state of confusion by moving people from place to place as he sees fit, without regard to their wishes, skills, or experience. He does this under the guise of having a 'fresh set of eyes' on the situation. He treats his employees like office furniture to be moved to his liking, when it has no benefit or positive impact on the department. In fact, the majority of his transfers within Public Safety were ill-advised or retaliatory in nature, and had a tremendous negative impact on departmental operations. Leaders command respect by earning it. Murphy tries to demand respect, but does nothing to earn it. He is feared by DPS employees for his widely known vindictive nature, and we have no respect for him whatsoever. In most cases he is a laughingstock behind his back for his numerous bad decisions and monumental blunders. His decision to wear the trooper uniform he never earned is an example of his arrogant, egotistical, narcissistic personality.
Look at his handling of the gambling issue, and how he bungled that entire operation to the embarrassment of all DPS. With over 30 years of law enforcement experience, did he really plan a raid of Victoryland and Country Crossing and FORGET to first get a search warrant? He had 150 troopers sitting on their hands for hours and hours, wasting untold man-hours and money, while Milton McGregor’s lawyers made a fool out of him and DPS, and sent them all home with their tail between their legs.
And what was the only outcome of that fiasco? Murphy laughably decided that his life was in danger and assigned himself permanent bodyguards for his protection. Yes, that is true, he wasted the skill, training, experience and salaries of state troopers to be his personal chauffeurs, to drive him to and from meetings and lunch as if he were a celebrity or rock star. These troopers make close to $60,000 per year to drive him and his enormous ego around, because this 30 year law enforcement professional isn’t capable of protecting himself. Really, a law enforcement officer who needs bodyguards?"
Law enforcement decisions often issued from Murphy for reasons unrelated to the law, according to the e-mail.
"Take the Footwash event in West Alabama for instance. He committed approximately 100 troopers to provide a law enforcement presence at this annual event which draws drug dealers, illegal gambling, prostitution, and a myriad of other criminal activities ... Veteran law enforcement officers were told they could not make an arrest for a felony, unless it was a serious felony, and even then only with prior approval from a Trooper Captain. This entire fiasco was a dog and pony show to provide troopers as personal security guards for the Footwash as a political favor to Hank Sanders and his cronies. But as another political favor, they were instructed not to arrest any of Sanders’ constituents. They were a laughingstock among the criminal element present, who conducted their illegal activities in the open with the full knowledge that the trooper’s hands were tied.
You might also be interested to know that Chris Murphy fully believes that he will maintain power and influence over the Department of Public Safety even after his departure, by virtue of certain promotions he has made. ... he expects that they will be his puppets on a string even after he leaves ... I guess he doesn’t feel like his new position will take much of his time, he will still have plenty of free time to meddle in the affairs of DPS while he is on the clock for the City of Montgomery.
Beware of J. Christopher Murphy. He will surround himself with 'yes-men,' ... he will bring back the 'good-ole-boy' system in full force, he will use his authority to reward his boot-lickers, and take revenge on those who do not curry his favor. He will ignore departmental policy because he doesn’t believe it applies to him, and he will do whatever it takes to get his own way. He is the epitome of what citizens mistrust about government. He deals in backroom favoritism ..."
The City of Montgomery’s loss is real ... Montgomery has always had a great Police Department and Fire Department, with excellent, dedicated, professional employees, and they deserve better than this ..."
All of us join the other 1,200 long-suffering employees of Alabama DPS in celebrating his departure, for this is truly a tremendous gain for them. He has done more damage to this department in four years than any other director has done in its history. The morale is the worst it has ever been, from top to bottom, and that is a direct result of his decisions and his total lack of leadership qualities.
You must forgive us for remaining anonymous in sending this letter. We feel sure that, even while you are reading this, Murphy is ... tracking down the senders of this email. While DPS is thankfully rid of this man, those of us who still work in the Department know full well his vindictive nature, and that he would ... find a way for reprisals against anyone speaking the truth. If you don’t believe any of this, just ask a DPS employee, any employee, and I am confident you will see that, down to the last employee, we all will be glad to see him gone. The confetti has yet to settle in the halls."
A farewell party with the presentation of a commemorative watch in Murphy's honor is not planned.
Been meaning to get around to it for weeks
Broad and generous support in Mobile and Baldwin countians for Robert Bentley evidenced itself after the Tuscaloosa physician won the Republican nomination for governor, campaign finance records suggest.
Now among Bentley's coastal backers are:
Deep South Dermatology, $500; Sonny Callahan and Associates, $10,000; Ronnie and Roberta Swain, $500; Drs. Gordon and Margaret Mowry, $1,000;
T.A. Hall Contractors, $2,500; Dr. Joseph Fontenot, $500; Glen C. Bryant, $1,000; Marshall and Joan Gardner, $500; Bill Barnhill, $1,000;
Albert Thompson III, $1,000; DR Jordan, Sr., $1,000; Matt Metcalfe, $10,000; J.G. and Beverly Schaffer Jr., $2,500; Tom Busby, $5,000;
Steve Dampier, $10,000; John McInnis, 10,000; General Insulation, $10,000; Perdido Trucking, $1,000; Hutchinson, Moore and Rauch, $5,000;
WESTPAC, $5,000; John Ramsey, $10,000; Paul Wesch, $500; Real Estate Equity Investments, $25,000; Theodore Industrial Port, $25,000;
J. Gary Ellis, $1,000; James Rawson, $5,000; Stephen Gordon, $1,000; Ezell LLC, $1,000; Lowell J. Friedman, $1,000;
Davison Fuels, $1,000; James Nix, $1,000; Bradley Murray, $1,000; Richard Davis, $1,000; Boyd Douglass, $1,000; Taylor Morrissette, $1,000;
Alfred Neumann, $1,000; John Carden, $1,000; Jean Stimpson, $1,000; F. McAllister, $1,000; Davison Oil Co., $2,000;
Randy Billingsley, $5,000; Selwyn Turner, $1,000; Dr. Jim Harrison, $1,000; Clifton Inge, Jr., $1,000; John McClelland, Jr., $1,000;
Arlene Mitchell, $1,000; Goodman Ledyard, $1,000; Conrad Pierce, $1,000; Rodney Pilot, $1,000; Bestor Ward, $1,000;
Herb Stone, $1,000; Mike Lee, $1,000; Russell Steiner, $1,000; Joel Daves, $1,000; Jamie Ison, $1,000; E.L. McCafferty, $1,000;
Taylor Morrissette, Jr., $1,000; T.S. Damson, $1,000; Janson Graham, $5,000; John Hope, III, $1,000; T.K. Jackson, III, $1,000;
Michael Lapeyrouse, $1,000; Frank Lott, Jr., $1,000; Chris Haley, $1,000; Trip Pittman, $1,000; Win Thurber, III, $1,000; David Daniell, $1,000;
J.F. Weston, Jr., $1,000; Joe Bullard, Jr., $1,000; Gerhard Boehm, $1,000; Tom O'Melia, $1,000; Cooper-Lyon Group, $1,000;
Bill Youngblood, $1,000; Harold Miller, $1,000; Karen Sullivan, $1,000; Betty Ruth Speir, $1,000; Norvelle Smith, $1,000;
Clifton C. Inge, $1,000; Fred Helmsing, $1,000; Angus Cooper, $5,000; WestPAC, $1,000; Albert Thompson, $1,000; Ed Campbell, $1,000;
Kenny McLean, $10,000; Maisel Properties, $20,000; Ritchie McPherson, $1,000; Janey Galbraith and Associates, $1,000;
Jimmy Grodnick, $500; Todd Martin, $500; Greg Saad, $2,500; Barry Booth, $2,500; Warren Butler, $1,000; John Mostellar, $1,000; Andrew Saunders, $1,000;
T.W. Mitchell, $1,000; T.E. Mitchell, $1,000; Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, $1,000; Fred Stimpson, $1,000; Mobile Bar Pilots, $1,000;
The Shaw Group, $1,000; Gulf PAC, $3,000; Angus Cooper, II, $5,000; David Cooper, Sr., $5,000; WESTPAC, $10,000;
Harris Morrissette, $5,000; Dr. Xiulu Ruan, $1,000; Henry Fulgham, $2,500; Mr.and Mrs. Frank Burt, Jr., $2,500; Bob Wills, $500; Betty Wills, $500;
Edward and Julie Flotte, $1,000; Paul Weaver, $1,000; Richard Sullivan, $1,000; J.R. Russell, $1,000; Mark Nix, $5,000; John White-Spunner, $5,000;
Spencer Frost, $5,000; Ashleigh Leland, $1,000; Merchants Transfer, $1,000;
Up, up and away
The Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores will receive almost $2.4 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to build access taxiways, announced U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“We must ensure that our regional airports have the infrastructure needed to meet the needs of those traveling to, from, and through Alabama,” said Shelby. “The Jack Edwards Airport will use this funding to construct hangar access taxiways, which will provide access from hangar sites to the airport’s main taxiway system.”
Buzbee to kickoff campaign with fish fry
Scott Buzbee, the Democratic nominee for state Senate District 35 representing south Mobile County, will kickoff his campaign with a fish fry Saturday, Oct. 2 from 5-8 p.m. at the Bayou La Batre Community Center, 12745 Padgett Switch Road.
Buzbee will face GOP incumbent Ben Brooks in the Nov. 2 general election.
For more information call (251) 653-1676 or email
MCREC to have debate party
The Mobile County Republican Executive Committee will host a gubernatorial debate watching party at its Campaign Headquarters at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, said party spokesman Harry Satterwhite.
The debate watching party will be followed by a short regular meeting of the committee at the Headquarters at 7 p.m. The committee meeting will be followed by a live debate between the candidates for the open Mobile City Council District 6 seat. John Burns, Reid Cummings and Bess Rich have announced their candidacies for the open District 6 slot.
Refreshments will be provided and the public is invited to attend all three events free of charge. GOP headquarters is at 3702 Airport Blvd next to The Boiling Pot in the Yester Oaks Shopping Center.
Party leaders ask that attendees for the 5 p.m. and/or 6:15 p.m. events RSVP for food count purposes by Friday, Oct. 1 to: email@example.com or call 343.5882.
The USS McFaul (DDG74) will visit Mobile for the annual BayFest celebration, arriving Friday, Oct. 1 and departing Oct. 5.
The crew of the McFaul will also participate in activities at the Prichard Preparatory School and the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. The Guided Missile Destroyer will be berthed at the Alabama State Docks. General public visiting will not be available.
For more information, call Pete Riehm (251-442-4349).
Constantine's on the restaurant scene
A name long familiar to Mobile gastronomes -- Constantine's -- is again on the local restaurant scene, at 5951 Old Shell Road.
Both the Constantine's of yesteryear and the newer one, named after Kamal and Eginee Constantine and their family, specialize in authentic Lebanese cuisine.
No less an authority on such fare as 85-year-old Ed Kahalley Sr. reports that the new Constantine's passes muster.
"I have eaten Lebanese food all my life and I can attest to the fact that it is wonderful and the best Mediterranean style food you can find anywhere," said Kahalley.
"Be sure and try the Kibbi," advised Kahalley. "It's better than steak, but costs a lot less. Take my word for it."
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. For more information call 380-1180.
Constantine Panayiotou, a Greek immigrant, owned and operated Constantine's and Gaslight Square in Mobile years ago.