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Chip Drago
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The Political Round-Up

Alabama's "Uday and Qusay' in Democratic crosshairs?; Alfa puts crops in wrong rotation; making strides with Greenspaces; Mobile lawyer to depose Bush?

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
With the Amendment One tax measure a distant blunder and Gov. Bob Riley now rubbing shoulders with international titans of industry, the GOP incumbent’s re-election prospects have never looked better.

Still, the state Democratic Party and its standard bearer Lucy Baxley have not and will not concede.

It’s all about strategy. Find a weakness and exploit it. Find a soft spot and hit it.

Right now Riley himself appears to be a tough target politically. However, his offspring, namely Rob and Minda, may serve as the weakness and soft spot that the Democrats seek in trying to derail the governor’s bid for re-election.

Grumbling about the machinations of “Uday and Qusay” -- as the Montgomery political crowd has sometimes disparagingly referred to the Riley children -- have percolated around Montgomery since the Riley administration’s inception.

Around Labor Day, look for the Democratic Party and Lt. Gov. Baxley to make the activities of the Riley children an issue in the governor’s race.

One notch down the ballot in the lieutenant governor’s contest, the Democratic strategy is all too clear: champion Little Jim Folsom as hero of the common man whereas GOP rookie Luther Strange is cast as a country-clubbin’, tennis-playin’, Gucci-wearin’, Perrier-sippin’ and whatever else the late U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin said in defeating GOP foe Bill Cabaniss (now U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia) a while back.

Riley is scheduled to appear in Mobile at 10 a.m.Tuesday at Anders Bookstore on Old Shell Road to tout a textbook tax break.

I said ‘taters in the south field,
corn in the north 40, durn ya

The Alabama Farmers Federation planted its crops in the wrong field in the latest election cycle, sending mailings critical of opponents of Alfa-favored candidates to the wrong districts, in fact even the wrong counties.

A mailing claiming that Elberta Mayor Charles “Skip” Gruber, GOP candidate for the District 4 slot on the Baldwin County Commission, was attempting to hide his ties to “powerful developer and engineering interests” was sent to residents of state Senate District 34 in west and southwest Mobile County. Gruber’s Alfa-backed foe, fellow elected Elberta official Councilman Steve Kirkpatrick, could have used the help. Gruber won the GOP nomination for seat 4 on the Baldwin County Commission. Elberta is in southeastern Baldwin east of Foley.

Meanwhile, a mailing calling GOP Senate 34 candidate Chris Pringle “just another tax and spend politician who can’t keep his word” presumably soured south Baldwin voters on Pringle. As events played out though, state Rep. Rusty Glover did not need the help in winning the Senate 34 race to replace retiring Republican state Sen. Hap Myers as the solon for Spring Hill, Semmes and Grand Bay in Mobile County.
Glover discounted somewhat reports that he was miffed over U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner’s involvement in the Republican runoff between he and Pringle. 

“He’s gotten into a lot of other races,” said Glover. “Clay Crenshaw for a judgeship when Sam Welch was one of his constituents and the Luther Strange race (with George Wallace Jr. for the GOP lieutenant governor nomination). I’m a little disappointed but that’s okay. It’s politics and I understand. Chris had worked for Jo, so it was understandable.”

In coming up short two times in a row (Bonner defeated Pringle and Glover to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Sonny Callahan), Pringle said he was calling it quits as a political candidate, intimating that he would find it difficult to go back to supporters for campaign contributions. Pringle spent $350-375,000, about triple Glover's expenditures.

He said he plans to get his builders’ license so that in addition to selling hunting land he can build camps as well. 

Linking USA, Municipal Park and Spring Hill

A project to link the University of South Alabama, Municipal Park and the Spring Hill shopping district with sidewalks is well underway, according to District 7 city Councilwoman Gina Gregory.

The University Boulevard section is complete. Work on the Gailliard Drive section has begun, and will ultimately tie in to existing sidewalks in the park and sidewalks along McGregor Avenue ending at its intersection with Old Shell Road. A pedestrian bridge over the lake in the park will link the park with the museum.

Ms. Gregory said she was working with county and state officials as well as area residents to find funding to complete the loop by installing sidewalks on Old Shell Road from McGregor to University.

“Originally, when city officials began looking at Greenspaces grant opportunities, they studied the Old Shell to University link as well, and
it was hoped that there would be enough money to do that part,” Mrs. Gregory stated. “But, with all the right of way issues, and a huge increase in cost of the project, they only had enough funding to get to the intersection at McGregor and Old Shell.”

The councilwoman estimated $2 million would likely be needed to complete the chain.

“Hard to believe, but with the cost of cement, possibly paying for right of way access, and more engineering, that estimate is probably pretty close,” she said. “Our traffic engineering department is helping to write the grant application and they will have a cost estimate soon.”

The Old Shell Road stretch of sidewalks would probably be on the south side of the street, according to Mrs. Gregory.

“That's where the study has been done and where there is already a path,” she said. “Yes, that side is in District 5, but everyone in the area utilizes the sidewalks. We have considered trying to put sidewalks down both sides of Old Shell -- but this first grant application will be for the south side.

Will Ziegler grill Bush?

Will a Mobile, Alabama attorney take the deposition of the President of the United States? That rare prospect was raised Thursday in national congressional report The Hill. It analyzed six lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of the Deficit Reduction Act, including the initial case filed Feb. 13 by Mobile elder law attorney Jim Zeigler.

Attorneys in the six lawsuits say they will likely seek depositions from high-profile leaders, listing House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Senate President Pro Tem Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), congressional aides and clerks, and even White House officials.

Zeigler named one more, stating, "I may have to take the deposition of the president."

The suits claim that differing versions of the bill passed the U.S. House and Senate. The version signed into law by the President Feb. 8 never passed the U.S. House due to what Zeigler describes as "a $2 billion typo."

Zeigler has been a Republican activist and was elected Bush delegate to GOP National Conventions in 2000 and 2004. He says he opposes the new Act "because it penalizes senior citizens who are faithful givers to their churches and charities. Seniors are the life-blood of many churches. We should not deny nursing home coverage to Granny because of her church tithes."

Suits in California and New York have been dismissed and are awaiting appellate action. The other four suits are pending in federal district courts.

More information and the text of The Hill article at