Recall in Alabama, get serious

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

I didn't really believe it until I saw it. Yep, it's official - a website dedicated towards recalling Governor Bob Riley. The reasoning behind the recall has me baffled.

The argument for the recall presented on the website is simply unsound. Okay, it's true Riley told Alabamians he wasn't going to raise taxes. But that was before he witnessed the reality of the financial crisis of the state, a $675 million deficit. The proposal to raise taxes was a valid solution to filling the hole in the budget. How else could the state generate the kind of money needed for us to maintain the status quo?

A lottery? Indeed, a state lottery could generate massive amounts of money to the state, but chances of the state ever passing a lottery are slim because of so-called "moral conflicts" of interests. Meanwhile, schools and some state facilities in bordering states, such as Georgia and Florida, are thriving because of a statewide lottery. Particularly Georgia, which has designated revenues from the lottery to go to schools and only schools.

While cuts may not be as bad as once anticipated for FY 2004, Alabama schools' outlook on the future, particularly FY 2005 and beyond, is dimmed. A lottery, while deemed immoral by some citizens, would save many of the drastic cuts to schools, including the lack of new textbooks for students. I closely watched the 1999 defeat of a state lottery with bottled frustration, because I knew public schools lost an uphill battle that day. I felt the same way two weeks ago as I watched the tax referendum fold by an overwhelming 2-1 vote. I can't help but think the state is letting the kids down on their hopes and dreams.

So now, we are witnessing legislation for cuts to schools and state agencies from the governor, which he promised, pass through the Senate and the House. Who is to blame? According to, it's the governor. I couldn't disagree more. He tried. He tried really hard to bring Alabama's schools out of the hole which they face. Now public schools are going backwards, not forwards. Opp City Schools' Superintendent Timothy Lull has said we are "going back to the 40s" as an educational standard.

Unless money starts falling from the sky, I think it's time to reinstate a vote on the lottery, not a new governor.

As the website points out, Alabama's "outdated constitution" forbids a recall election. The constitution needs to be rewritten, but we have other priorities which should come first, like the children in the state. If I'm not mistaken, that should be the first priority, because our future depends on them.

The website also draws attention to Alabama's state motto, "We dare defend our rights." It goes on to say, "Defend your rights by adding your voice to the thousands of others who agree Alabama has had enough of Bob Riley."

I've had enough with people too worried about themselves to advance educational standards for kids. I believe in defending my rights too, but it's not all about me. Soon, there will be children learning a new subject of study without proper materials, such as a textbook. They will want to know why. I hope the "no" voters of 1999 and 2003 will be able to explain why.