Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An Alabama Democrat Shows Some Spine

In the roughly eight years I've been fighting corrupt judges in Alabama courts, I'm not sure which has been most disgusting: the utter lack of ethics among certain Republicans or the general lack of courage among Democrats.

All of the judges in the main portion of my case have been Republicans. And I had this quaint notion that Democrats might like to know about the sleazy activities of their rivals. Isn't that called "opposition research?"

I also had this notion that Democrats might take my information and use it--both to educate the public about the deplorable conditions of their courts and to help get Democratic judges (hopefully honest ones) elected.

But if any Democrats are willing to stand up and be counted on the issue of judicial corruption, I sure haven't found them. I've contacted probably six to 10 Democratic public officials about my experiences. Only two replied at all.

Only one engaged me in a substantive dialogue about the issue. Interestingly, that Democrat--a candidate for statewide office--told me the problem of judicial corruption is even worse than I thought it was. And he tried to make the issue a centerpiece of his campaign. Unfortunately, the media ignored the issue (surprise, surprise), and this Democrat lost.

So imagine my surprise when I checked the Fort Payne Times-Journal today and read about a Democrat who appears to have some fire in his belly. Rep. Jack Page (D-Gadsden) wasn't talking about judicial corruption. But he was talking about Governor Bob Riley, U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, and their apparent collaboration in the investigation of the Alabama two-year college system.

Specifically, Page was defending his legislative colleague Todd Greeson (R-Ider), who is the subject of a federal investigation.

Page, who like Greeson is employed by the two-year college system, had some choice words about what Greeson, and others, are going through. He called the investigation a "a glorious witch hunt." And he was just warming up:

“These efforts and money could be used so much better on fighting the war on meth or sex offenders. Instead, they choose to make a mockery of the Justice Department.”

And what did Page think of the investigative tactics?

“The two-year system seizes the hard drive and the FBI subpoenas the co-workers. I have a word for that. It’s called collusion. Why are they working so closely together?

"If they are after Todd’s hard drive and someone touched it between Todd and the FBI, someone could have tampered with it. They could have put anything they wanted into it.”

Gasp! Someone is questioning the ethics of the Bush Justice Department. And Page still wasn't done:

“I think anybody employed by the two-year system is under scrutiny. Innocent until proven guilty has long since gone out the window in this case. Officials are being tried and convicted in the media.”

Why, in Page's opinion, is Greeson a target?

“Todd refused to march in good step with Republicans on a procedural vote and was threatened. Todd voted the way he felt best represented his district.

And finally, what kind of environment do we have in Alabama now?

“[Gov. Bob] Riley and his henchmen have brought the worst form of Karl Rove brand of beltway politics into Alabama. That is his legacy. It feels like we are in the Alabama McCarthy era.”

I didn't know a thing about Jack Page until today. But I like the guy. He's feisty, and we need more feisty Democrats in this world. That last comment, about Riley and his henchmen, is the boldest and most truthful, statement I've seen from an Alabama Democrat in I don't know when.

Way to go, Jack! Are any other Democrats willing to fight back?

And by the way, kudos to the Fort Payne Times-Journal and reporter Jared Felkins. Maybe there's hope for journalism in Alabama yet.

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