Alabama is a state facing numerous serious issues--stressed state budgets, environmental degradation, an inadequate and grossly unfair tax system, a racist and antiquated constitution, dreadful rankings related to public health and safety, and a corrupt state judiciary, to name a few.
But what seems to be the No. 1 issue for Governor Bob Riley and his underlings? Conducting a war on teachers. And this war just happens to dovetail nicely with Riley's No. 1 goal: to produce a Republican takeover of the Alabama Legislature, the only one of the state's three branches of government the GOP does not already control.
Scott Horton, of Harper's, does a splendid job today of spotlighting the war on Alabama teachers and what it means for the state.
First, Horton notes the central role of Bradley Byrne, Riley's hand-picked choice as chancellor of the state's two-year college system. Before settling into his current role, Byrne was a state senator from Baldwin County, site of the mysterious "number shifting" that gave Riley the 2002 gubernatorial election over Don Siegelman. Horton notes that Baldwin might be the most conservative county in Alabama; I might have to quibble with Horton on that one, nominating my own Shelby County for that honor. It certainly would be a close race for a highly dubious honor.
Horton reports that Byrne recently gave an interview to the Opelika-Auburn News. The interview quickly disappeared from the newspaper's Web site shortly after Horton had written about the apparent coordination between Republican state officials such as Riley and Byrne and U.S. Attorney Alice Martin. Friends helped Horton secure a PDF of the Byrne interview, and it is available at Horton's post. Very interesting stuff.
Byrne seems to have a lot in common with Queen Alice Martin. We know that Martin craves a federal judgeship, which appears to be a driving force behind her prosecution of former Jefferson County Commissioner Gary White, a Republican. Byrne appears to be an ambitious sort, too. Horton notes that Byrne is considered a strong candidate to follow Riley as governor in 2010. Could we have a Bradley Byrne-Artur Davis showdown in our future? Can we all hope and pray that Davis lays a serious hurting on Byrne's conservative behind?
Horton also presents a fascinating piece from Joe Reed, written for the Alabama Education Journal. Reed describes the tactics that Byrne and his henchmen have used to "clean up" the two-year system. They sound remarkably like the tactics Judy White (Gary White's wife) described in an affidavit about the pressure her husband received from federal law-enforcement officials to present false evidence against Don Siegelman.
Finally, Horton spotlights what has to be the early favorite for most ironic quote of 2007. I know it's only February, but somebody is really going to have to stretch to top this quote from Alice Martin, which she uttered in announcing a guilty plea from Joanne Jordan, president of Southern Union State Community College. Part of the charges against Jordan included perjury. Here is what Martin said:
"Lesson for the day--do not lie to a federal grand jury."
Talk about tone deaf! Nowhere in news reports does it note that Martin herself is under investigation for perjury.
Is that the kind of arrogance that could help bring down a public official? We will be following the story here at Legal Schnauzer. And we intend to add considerable information to the story.
Speaking of irony, consider this: One of the reasons Alice Martin is doing her best to sweep my Legal Schnauzer case under the carpet is because she wants to protect William E. Swatek, a Pelham, Alabama, attorney who is the father of Dax Swatek, former campaign manager for both Martin and Riley. Bill Swatek and a host of Republican judges in Alabama state courts have committed a cornucopia of federal crimes, and I have made Queen Alice quite aware of this--as you will see when I present a most interesting e-mail exchange I had a while back with the Queen. Of course, the Queen is not interested in the crimes I've witnessed because Bill and Dax Swatek are members of the GOP "home team."
Bill Swatek, it turns out, has a remarkably seedy history in the legal profession, with ethical problems dating back almost 30 years. His problems even have crossed over the line from ethical to criminal. And what crime was Mr. Swatek charged with back in the 1980s? Why, perjury.
Maybe Bill Swatek can give the Queen some pointers on how to beat a perjury rap, no matter how damning the evidence is against you. Sounds like she could use some pointers.
So when Joanne Jordan supposedly presents false testimony in a legal proceeding, it's a highly serious matter. But Bill Swatek, and his history of sleaze, are to be protected at all costs.
More details are coming on Alice Martin's ties to the Swatek clan.