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Chip Drago
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The Political Round-Up

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Mobile County Sheriff Jack Tillman plans to step down next week, cutting short his third term in office, the Mobile Bay Times has learned from reliable sources.

Gov. Bob Riley, who would have the authority to fill the vacancy, is aware of Tillman’s plans. The governor intends to name as Tillman’s successor whoever wins the Republican nomination for sheriff, according to local sources close to the governor.

The GOP primary election is June 6.

Tillman’s retirement is likely tied to a plea bargain in connection with charges pending against him, although efforts to confirm that were not succcessful. Neither Tillman nor the district attorney's office had any comment.

A Mobile County grand jury in April last year indicted Tillman on two counts of perjury, one count of using his office for personal gain and two counts of theft. The sheriff still awaits trial on those charges. But the matter may be put to rest soon, capping a rancorous dispute between Tillman and the office of Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr

Tillman and the district attorney’s office butted heads over the sheriff’s handling of the jail’s food fund monies and a law enforcement seminar managed by Tillman’s sister-in-law, Brenda Pate, who also worked in the sheriff’s department as an administrator.

The two counts of perjury stem from Tillman’s testimony in the trial of Ms. Pate for theft; another count is an accusation that he aided that theft; a fourth charge cites an illegal withdrawal for nearly $13,000 from the jail food fund which he placed in a personal retirement account; and the fifth count asserts an ethics violation alleging his use of office for personal gain.

A former highly successful professional boxer, Tillman was elected sheriff in 1994 after spending 16 years as a resource officer in the Mobile County Public School System.

Tillman’s announcement several weeks ago that he would not seek a fourth term as sheriff opened the floodgates for prospective successors with 10 candidates of either party announcing their campaigns for the office.

Among them, as Republicans, are Deputy Chief Mark Barlow, deputy Kyle Callaghan, former Mobile Police Chief Sam Cochran, ex-deputy and reserve officer Rick Daves, deputy Bobby Hartmann; and Democrats  former military police officer Billy Ray Stroups, businessman Matt Tew, Prichard magistrate supervisor DaVon Grey, detective Donald E. Lunceford and bondsman Clint Ulmer.

Constable Harry Bachus, a Democrat, withdrew from the race in favor of a campaign for clerk of court. Fruit stand operator and Democrat Jimmy Lowe Jr. dallied briefly with a run, entering the race late and leaving early.

The sheriff draws an annual salary of almost $111,000 and serves a four-year term.

Tillman’s 59th birthday falls next week on Good Friday.

True blue or real red?
A subcommittee of the state Republican Party will hear a challenge in Prattville at 6 p.m. Tuesday to Mobile attorney Jeff Glidewell’s candidacy for juvenile judge of Mobile County in the GOP primary June 6.

Longtime Mobile GOP loyalist and official Terry Lathan filed the challenge, citing Glidewell’s candidacy two years ago as the Democratic nominee for the judgeship as well as his past membership on the Mobile County Democratic Party’s executive committee.

Glidewell said the charges are true as far as they go, that indeed he was the Democratic nominee for juvenile judge in 2004 and he was a member of the local Democratic Party executive committee. However, Glidewell said his past involvement in Democratic politics and subsequent shift to the GOP puts him in a large club whose members include former Congressmen Jack Edwards and Sonny Callahan, GOP icon Ronald Reagan, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, numerous state legislators and several district and circuit judges, including presiding Mobile County Circuit Judge Charlie Graddick.

Incumbent GOP Juvenile Judge Pam Millsaps defeated Glidewell in the 2004 general election. Glidewell hopes to face her again in the Republican primary June 6.

According to Glidewell, while he wrote a letter several weeks ago resigning from the Democratic Party’s executive committee, the action was merely precautionary because he was in fact ousted from the committee by party rule after the election in 2004 when he failed to attend three consecutive committee meetings.

The GOP candidate subcommittee has 20 members, two of whom are from the Mobile area, Les Barnett and Jerry Lathan.

Glidewell will be represented at the hearing by Mobile attorney Willie Huntley.

Mobile County Republican Party Chairman Mark Erwin referred questions to state party officials.

State GOP Executive Director Tim Howe declined comment, declaring his desire to be “considerate of the parties involved.”

Dual retirements
Both Joe Mahoney and David Thomas Sr., the director and assistant director, respectively, of the Mobile County Community Corrections Center, recently retired, according to Mobile County Circuit Judge Charlie Graddick, who as the court’s presiding judge oversees the center’s operation.

Graddick said both Mahoney, a retired FBI agent, and Thomas, a retired U.S. Agriculture Department inspector, gave notice of their retirement plans during the third week of March, with the retirements to be effective March 31.

Steve Green, who had been in charge of the regional office of the state Pardons and Paroles Board, has been hired to take over as director of community corrections, said Graddick. According to the judge, Thomas’s post will not be filled immediately; in part due to “a little shortfall in revenue” that calls for “some belt-tightening.”

The center processes criminal offenders, who otherwise would be sentenced to time in the Metro Jail, and deals with them through a variety of programs that are alternatives to jail sentences.

Boone times
Mobile attorney Claude Boone has been engaged to head the criminal defense of Gordon Waller to charges that the Alabama Safety Institute director extorted sex from a young man in exchange for keeping the youth out of jail. Waller has since resigned his ASI position.