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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Here Are Sure Signs That Alabama Remains In the Toxic Grip of Conservative Sleazebags

Rob Riley

Why is Alabama's largest newspaper hemorrhaging readers so badly that it is about to start printing just three days a week? A couple of hints can be found in Section B (Local News) of the July 9, 2012, edition.

Two articles provide powerful evidence that The Birmingham News is a biased, lazy, right-wing rag that appeals to white elites and ignores huge segments of its potential audience.

In other words, the paper gives the impression that the family of former GOP Governor Bob Riley more or less serves as its editorial board. No wonder the state's supposedly premier news-gathering operation seems to be in a death spiral.

The first evidence comes on page B2 of yesterday's print edition--and by the way, you had better read it now because the paper soon will not be publishing on Mondays. The article is titled "Bradley Arant Honored for Death Row Service" and takes up roughly 20 column inches.

That kind of space usually is devoted to important subjects. But this story, by reporter Eric Velasco,  reads like a press release directly from Bradley Arant's public-relations firm. We learn all we need to know in the first couple of paragraphs:

Lawyers with the Birmingham firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings will be honored at next month's American Bar Association meeting for the firm's volunteer work representing Death Row inmates in Alabama and other states. 
The firm will receive the Exceptional Service Award from the ABA's Death Penalty Representation Project on Aug. 3, during the bar association's annual meeting in Chicago.

My guess is that 99 percent of readers have learned all they care to know at that point. This is the kind of item that would be a business brief in most reputable newspapers. But this is The Birmingham News, the paper that served as official cheerleader for eight long years of the Riley administration. And Bradley Arant is the firm that employs Rob Campbell, Bob Riley's son-in-law, and sucked up more than $10 million of state funds in just the last two years of the Riley gravy train.

That helps explain why Velasco goes on for about 19 more column inches, regaling us with stories about how much Bradley Arant lawyers help Death Row prisoners. Never mind that the firm shows signs of having connections to organized crime.

We have written numerous critical articles about Bradley Arant, especially on its ties to corrupt Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins and the monstrous cheat job of a divorce case that left his ex wife and two daughters on food stamps in Birmingham. At the risk of giving myself more power than I actually have, the Velasco article reads like a piece that was planted, and given prominent treatment, to help counteract reporting here at Legal Schnauzer.

Our second piece of evidence can be found on page B3 of yesterday's print edition. It carries the headline, "Senior Riley to Head Key Club." Here is all you really need to know:

Rebecca Riley, a senior at Homewood High School, has been elected president of Key Club International.

Riley, 17, was elected president of the group for 2012-13 on Saturday during the Key Club International convention in Orlando, Fla., club officials announced.

Again, this is the kind of item that might be a news brief in a normal newspaper. But The Birmingham News devotes roughly 16 column inches to it. I'm guessing that hundreds of Alabama youngsters have seen significant achievements ignored in the mainstream press. But Rebecca Riley is not just any old teen-ager. In the last two paragraphs, we learn about her background:

Riley is the daughter of Robert and Leslie Riley. She has three siblings--Elizabeth 14, Ren, 11, and Wilson, 6. She also is the granddaughter of former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and his wife Patsy Riley and Fred and Jimmie McLeod, of Lineville. 

"Leslie and I are so proud of Rebecca for what she has accomplished," said her father Robert Riley. "She is passionate about key club and she has worked long hard hours traveling around the country working on key club projects the past year."

Gee, I wonder if it helped Rebecca Riley's cause that her grandpappy is Bob Riley, and as governor, he shipped about $1 million in state funds to her daddy's law practice. How did Rob Riley benefit from sucking at the public teat? An article by Rebecca Abrahams, of Huffington Post, explains:

The January 14, 2010 document states while Riley was the lead negotiator for Jefferson County sewer debts, the County Commission approved a $725,000 and $150,000 contract for his son, attorney Rob Riley to represent Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale. The funds for Rob Riley's services would have come from a .05% occupation tax collected by non-licensed wage earners. In 2009 a judge repealed the tax, ruling it ruled was unconstitutional. But the ruling impacted the sheriff's budget, including funding for Rob Riley's contracts. 
Hale, represented by Rob Riley, then sued the Jefferson County Commission to block its attempt to cut the budget by $5.1 million. A local judge ruled in favor of the cuts to the sheriff's budget. Hale then appealed to Governor Bob Riley for state financial assistance, making sure to provide a letter penned by Rob Riley outlining cuts faced by the sheriff's office which included Rob Riley's contract. Governor Riley then lobbied for support to reinstate the Jefferson County Occupational Tax, calling a special session of the Legislature. State lawmakers passed the new occupational tax legislation, which Riley signed into law in August 2009.

That sounds sweet, doesn't it? And it doesn't even go into a federal whistleblower complaint, alleging that Rob Riley and his physical-therapy company (Performance Group LLC) conspired with personnel at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to commit Medicare fraud.

Rebecca Riley
That case has been nicely covered up, so far, by corrupt U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr., an 84-year-old Reagan appointee who appears to be the go-to guy for handling Riley-related scandals. One of those scandals almost certainly involves my own unlawful termination at UAB. A lawsuit on that matter--surprise, surprise--wound up with Judge Acker, and he has ruled in a flagrantly unlawful manner.

It appears Rob Riley has his own legal bodyguard at the Hugo Black Courthouse in downtown Birmingham. And curiously, that's where G. Doug Jones once resided as U.S. attorney during the Clinton years--getting all cozy with the judges and other personnel there. Sources tell me that Jones has been particularly cozy with Judge Acker and some of his clerks. Hmmm.

Jones touts himself as a Democrat and civil-rights hero, but in fact, he is a Riley loyalist. He and Rob Riley made millions in legal fees from a federal lawsuit against individuals and entities connected to HealthSouth. In fact, I was fired at UAB not long after writing about Rob Riley's possible conflicts in the HealthSouth lawsuit.

The post was titled "Did Rob Riley Cash In On Siegelman Prosecution?" and it ran on March 13, 2008. The harassment from my UAB supervisor, Pam Powell, kicked into high gear at about that time--and I was fired roughly two months later. Isn't that curious, especially when you consider that a UAB human-resources official admitted in a tape-recorded conversation that I was targeted because of the Siegelman content on this blog? (A video featuring that conversation can be viewed below.)

Isn't it curious that my reporting on the HealthSouth case would wind up striking a serious nerve with Doug Jones? Isn't it also curious that my reporting on that case would strike a nerve with C. Redding Pitt, one of Jones' compadres in Alabama Democratic circles and another former U.S. attorney.

Did Doug Jones, now an attorney at the Birmingham firm of Haskell Slaughter, work with the Rileys to ensure that I got canned at UAB? Is Jones now running interference for the Rileys on my employment case against UAB? Did he serve the same role in making sure that Rob Riley would not be exposed as a Medicare fraudster in Ingrid Awtrey Law's whistleblower complaint?

We will continue to look into those questions. And we have much more coming soon on Ingrid Awtrey Law's complaint--plus other imbroglios involving Rob Riley.

But for now, let's ponder these questions: Isn't it interesting that the Rileys and their elitist friends think they can interfere with the lives of regular folks--with their jobs, their livelihoods, their families--and yet the lives of elites are to remain gloriously untouched? Isn't it interesting that certain elites seem to think they are above it all, out of reach, protected by a bubble of corrupt lawyers, politicians, bankers, newspapermen, and such?

Perhaps these elites will learn someday that they and their families aren't untouchable. Perhaps they will learn that their bubble is not impenetrable.



 

21 comments:

jeffrey spruill said...

The editorial board for the "The Birmingham News" must of had quite a day deciding the placement & content of these groveling articles.

And when are the authorities gonna arrest David W. Bouchard in the U. S. Attorneys firings? He works at the behest of Karl Rove & J. Harvie Wilkinson.

David W. Bouchard, Chesapeake

http://www.vsb.org/site/about/judicial-nom-0809/

legalschnauzer said...

Those two items would take up maybe four column inches in most newspapers, if that. The Birmingham paper devotes almost 40 inches to them. Talk about a slow news day.

I wonder if Karl Rove, one of the Rileys allies, helped steal the Key Club election for Rebecca Riley. They should be checking the returns.

Anonymous said...

Wonder why there is such a public relations push for Rob Riley, his children, and Bradley Arant Law firm?
So much PR and all at the same time.....wonder why they need so much positive reinforcement now?
Could it be because so much of their underhandedness has been exposed?

Anonymous said...

When will "Teflon Bob" be held accountable for his quid pro quo dealings with the Mississippi Indians, a deal that lined his sleazy pockets with 13 million? I suppose he was able to slither out from his rock long enough to halt that investigation, also. Oh, the power this family of thieves must possess.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, it's interesting that Rob Riley's daughter gets touted to the moon in Bham News. I wonder if the paper would like to do a profile on Sarah and Emma Rollins, the two girls who have been living on $815 in child support for seven years, thanks to a colossal con job that Bradley Arant pulled off in Shelby County court, on behalf of Ted Rollins.

legalschnauzer said...

I've sought comment from three Bradley Arant lawyers--Dawn Sharff, Walter Sears and Beau Grenier--about their ties to Ted Rollins and the corrupt Rollins v. Rollins divorce case. I've left e-mails, voice messages . . . they refuse to respond. I should say they are afraid to respond. But they will talk all day about death-row inmates. What about the criminals they represent, including hunting-club lawyers in Birmingham who help fix divorce cases?

Anonymous said...

Elite, what?

How are "We," in this United States, to understand our language when we call the criminally insane:

"ELITE!"

OK to say "elite," however, best to define what elevation of power is this word-name.

To the thieves of our sovereignty the "elite" are the "slaves" to the criminally insane "credit fraud."

"Deputies of God" is a saying in the Arab world, the "Sleazebags" in our America.

Anonymous said...

". . . It's useful to examine what price Washington itself, not to mention its NATO subjects, could be paying for this Holy War branch-out fought with - who else - the same bunch of "terrorists" who until yesterday were about to destroy Western civilization and turn it into a giant ..

CALIPHATE . . . .

. . . Washington, London and Paris have tried - twice - to twist the UN Security Council into yet another war. They were blocked by Russia and China. So plan B was to bypass the UN and launch a NATO war. Problem is NATO has no stomach - and no funds - for a very risky war with a country that can actually defend itself . . .

. . In a nutshell; the whole Holy War syndrome is accelerating the end of the US dollar as global reserve currency. And when it happens, will there be an American Spring?

Or will US "ELITES" - like the Mob - have the guts, and the muscle, to force Russia and China to pay the price?

Pepe Escobar, one of the best investigators on the www -

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31846

legalschnauzer said...

By "elites" I mean those who are not held accountable for wrongdoing because of their money, power or status.

Anonymous said...

LS, I understand the word elite has been carefully used to manufacture the class, which all must serve, that are not able to be in the class of elite.

We The People Who Have Not, simply because we cannot understand "money" in the 21st Century, this is the most tragic truth about the non-elite.

Elites: European, Israeli, U.S., are NOT other than the holders of "money fiat," or "made out of thin air," "money" which is anything BUT an elitist status in the world of "global doing the stans."

I predict the ELITES are insane, at the critical mass point now of criminally unstoppable and there is going to be a DIRTY BOMB because "Bill Kristol" said "what's the use of having nukes if we can't use them."

He is one of the key "elite," Mr. Kristol of the Project for a New American Century.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Bradley Arant, John Durward, and the colossal cheat job in the Rollins divorce...to jumpstart the process a campaign contribution was made to Richard Shelby, esteemed alabama senator by the Rollins family in 2003, namely the contribution was made by Michele Rollins the year that the Rollins children came to Alabama when they were set out of their home by the bank. The family knew where they would land and they started at the top with Richard Shelby and it trickled down to Bradley Arant and Durward. And it didn't hurt that Ted Rollins company was building apartments at USA Mobile at the time. Also his company donated a teacher faculty lounge to USA at the same time the divorce was going on in 2005. Lots of back scratcing went on while the fate and future of the Rollins children was decided in Shelby County Court.

Anonymous said...

yes Robert Riley's daughter is ever so relevant to your obsession over the Riley's....no she's not, nor is anything she'll ever do in her life. This key club deal isn't in any way connected to your story, and you should be ashamed. Bringing children, not to mention photographs of children, into your psychopathic obsession is sick, just sick. Get a job. This website is generally borderline insane, this post just pushed it off the cliff to total insanity and utter perversion.

legalschnauzer said...

My, somebody's panties are in a bunch. If this Web site is "borderline insane," why are you reading it?

Anonymous said...

oops, can't mention Rob Riley's daughter....but it is fine to cheat, starve, and make homeless some children all under the guise of "justice" in the alabama court system...if only these unfortunate children of divorce could have the last name "Riley".

legalschnauzer said...

I wonder if Anon at 8:59 cares about the abuse that is heaped upon children in AL domestic-relations court? I doubt it. I imagine he or she could not care less.

I wonder if Anon at 8:59 cares at all about the childhoods that have been stolen from the Rollins girls, at the behest of the Bradley Arant law firm--the firm that has raked in millions, thanks to the Riley clan. Probably not.

One reason I ran the photo of Rebecca Riley--which is public record, by the way, it ran on al.com--is because I could not help noticing the dress she was wearing. I'm not an expert on these things, but it looks pretty expensive to me. I wonder if either of the Rollins girls could afford that on the $815 a month child support they were "awarded" by Bradley Arant's bought, corrupt judge.

Being chosen Key Club president is a nice honor for Ms. Riley. I wonder what the Rollins girls could have accomplished if they had not been worried about where their next meal was coming from.

As for Anon's notion that I have an "obsession" with the Rileys--they obviously have used public funds in dubious ways. And those were taxpayer dollars, from me and many other Alabama citizens.

I have a vested interest in knowing how my taxpayer dollars were used. The Rileys have chosen to run for public office and make themselves public figures. I'm one of the few journalists in this state who asks hard questions about their questionable activities.

If someone wants to call that an "obsession," it's fine with me. I will wear that badge with honor.

An obsession in search of the truth is a healthy endeavor--and we need more of it to make sure people like the Rileys don't drive our democracy off a bridge.

I hope Rebecca Riley is learning some solid values in Key Club because she likely will not get them at home.

e.a.f. said...

I couldn't stop laughing when I read your column. That much space in a newspaper in a major city?????

Gee we have more news in a town of 25K which publishes two newspapers twice a week. Surely they can cover, oh, ya, that would be real news. I guess that is why blogs are so populr these days.

Anonymous said...

Yes you are doing a great job LS.

"... Your webblog is borderline insane ...., eh? What has the American soulless decided as sane vs. insane?

"... The good times just keep coming for Jefferson County, Alabama. Last year I did a story for Rolling Stone about Wall Street's sacking of the Birmingham, Alabama region -- the city was roped into a series of deadly swap deals by a number of banks, most notably JP Morgan Chase, that left the county billions of dollars in debt.

The genesis of the whole affair was a sewer project that crooked local pols turned into a $3 billion money pit; when they turned to Wall Street to help finance their way out of the cost overruns, the banks leaned on the County to take on a series of swap deals that essentially pushed the debt into the future, but at geometrically increasing cost. Among other things, the banks worked through middlemen who bribed the local commissioners into taking the toxic deals. As a result of all of this, Jefferson County not only ended up saddled with an astronomical debt service on its sewer project, it also saw a downgrade in its overall credit rating, which left it paralyzed in its attempts to borrow money to pay for general expenditures.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/jefferson-county-alabama-screwed-by-wall-street-still-paying-20110407#ixzz20IlYJYQO

The anon who has now committed a hate crime by using your intellectual property to threaten you with a title-label that is certainly beyond the unethical.

It is a crime to accuse someone of what cannot be proven and your blog Legal Schnauzer has been a source of REAL NEWS for Alabama.

Unfortunately, the classless in the U.S. whom do not get to be in the working hero class, got used to being fed credit fraud and now the brains actually believe the insanity about the "elite" of so-called "America."

Nothing elite about the anon that the ITs - would rather have predatory capitalism, singling out ONLY certain "children" belonging to the faction of predatory or parasitic - than an honest day of telling the the clean-whole-firm truth.

Diseases, infections, critical mass cesspool and or sewer toxic killing realities - Alabama has its full spectrum future problem solving truly at the peak.

The "elite" children in the U.S. spawned from the "elite" predatory criminally insane may also need GPS devices to know where our most dangerous "partners" are.

Elites? No, "Partners," and in need of a regime change. Anon gets to be first on the change list of predatory partner be gone.

Anonymous said...

CLASSLESS SOULLESS AMERICANS

Karl Marx said the true value of all societies: proletariat. There’s a rumor that Marxism is on the rise. As always, distortions in his work are glaring. Human beings who choose to NOT be an “elite,” but to indeed champion the cause such as writing a news blog, are the true super elite — why? the courage to create, rather than parasite or prey, is the ONLY long haul genuine "reality" since time began. NOT an easy path.

Americans whom have chosen over the past no less than one hundred years to act as if this was not a Constitutional Republic, are waking up and realizing - indeed the bad attitude is the United States of America belongED to a faction of “elites.” It is over.

ELITES - shout the word out loud. Then, once clear on the true meaning, shout what the truth is from the rooftops:

Certain humans in the U.S. decided to secretly use other humans as though there was no need to be honest about the SANITY of “Contract Law.”

Simple contract law. Begin with the COURTS being privatized without a majority consensus, in the US, the breach in contract law is high treason against the United States Constitution. BUT, but, but, KARL ROVE for an example of one of America’s “elites,” happens to be a supreme predator and to him the corruption of evil sin is his best game. Take over the courts in America and torture almost all the people almost all the time, “legally!” NO. But, but, but, ROVE HAS NATO and after all, the predatory capitalists are about absolute power.

THOSE WHOM HAVE AND THOSE WHO HAVE NOT. The ELITE, our “Partners” in the U.S. decided to invest in wars without end, a global war on terror too, to in our lifetimes NOT to end. What big bucks have paid - until the piper plays the tune - WAH cry me a NILE river or bigger, my ship cannot come in anymore without complete predatory annihilation.

Yes our partners have invested in wars and now that gravy train of human commodities trading has ended, again.

WE in the U.S. face serious problems. One of the most daunting is KARL ROVE has bred.

Problem is, therefore, then: there are offspring from the predatory and ANON proves what is in the heads of the “children” whom more likely than not believing just like ANON, there are the people who deserve only the manufactured ideology that “elitism” is good for a Constitutional Republic.

ANON is mentioned in The WANDERING WHO, “she” is one of the challenged “partners” here as our world opens the true door of NEWS.

Our long absent REAL TRUTH in the twenty first century in a webblog, LEGAL SCHNAUZER.

Hallelujah.

David said...

It is interesting that a only week or so before the the Key club announcement Bob Riley's grandaughter Rebecca Riley was in the news because she had been chosen to attend Girl's State.

legalschnauzer said...

David:

That is interesting. Sounds like a campaign was afoot.

Anonymous said...

I'm friends with the Riley family personally and this attack is invalid and bias. Theyre a kind family removed from Alabama politics with the exception of Gov. Bob's past terms. Get off them and move on, and there is no need to bring my friend Rebecca into the matter.