|Daniel Wims and Gov. Kay Ivey
Shortly after learning the state of Alabama owed his university $527 million, Alabama A&M President Daniel K. Wims informed Gov. Kay Ivey that he would not attempt to collect on the debt owed. Ivey, a MAGA Republican who seems to never have trouble finding money to build prisons, naturally was pleased with the news. Meanwhile, Alabama A&M supporters have been hearing that Wims has a "secret plan" to obtain the funds.
Donald Watkins, a longtime Alabama attorney and a leading voice in online investigative journalism, says Wims' constituents probably should not count on such a plan ever being implemented. Watkins says word of a secret plan is a form of "gaslighting." Under the headline "Daniel K. Wims Gaslights Weak and Compromised Alabama A&M Board of Trustees," Watkins writes:
Last Friday (10/27/30), the Alabama A&M University board of trustees met in Birmingham for the first time since the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture notified Gov. Kay Ivey that the state of Alabama owes the university $527,280,064. This debt arises from the state’s chronic underfunding of Alabama A&M over the past 30 years.
Alabama A&M President Daniel K. Wims was meeting with business leaders when the September 18, 2023, debt-notification letter arrived in the governor’s office. The people with whom Wims was meeting knew about the letter to Gov. Ivey before he did.
Dr. Wims immediately sent word to Gov. Ivey that Alabama A&M would take no steps to collect this debt. Gov. Ivey and her staff were elated, as they were already knee-deep in a fight to keep Black Alabamians from getting a court-ordered second majority-Black Congressional district.
Why would Wims not attempt to collect on a massive debt that clearly is owed -- a sum that likely would transform A&M's fortunes for the better, well into the future? Does he not have an obligation to act in his university's best interests? Wims apparently is aware of exceptions to any such obligation. Writes Watkins:
Dr. Wims, an embedded MAGA operative, did not want to make Gov. Ivey and her MAGA colleagues in the state legislature mad at him. Wims was afraid that an angry Gov. Ivey would force his ouster as president if he took any genuine steps to collect the university's $527 million debt from the state.
In his mind, Dr. Wims believed it would be easier to gaslight Blacks in Alabama and the university's alumni than to fight the state's MAGA Republican hierarchy to collect the $527 million debt.
Instead of fighting for the $527 million, Wims began privately telling his trusted colleagues and supporters that he intends to seek and secure about $26 million in new corporate and personal donations to the university from the group assembled in his September 18th meeting. He also intends to aggressively seek new federal grants.
And that's going to amount to $527 million? Not likely. But that is where the "secret plan" enters the picture. And that is not the full picture; it also includes a plan to retaliate against Watkins for bringing news of A&M's scandal-plagued administration into the public square. Writes Watkins:
After his September 18th meeting, Dr. Wims began gaslighting Alabama A&M’s board of trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community supporters into believing that he has a secret plan to collect the university’s $527 million debt from the state when, in fact, Wims had already sold out Alabama A&M and the state's Black community on this issue.
This is why Dr. Wims did not present a resolution at the board meeting for trustees to approve, authorizing him to take all necessary and lawful steps to collect Alabama A&M’s $527 million debt from the state. Instead of forcing Wims' hand on the collection of this debt, the university's weak and compromised board of trustees busied themselves with ceremonial activities related to the Magic City Classic.
Dr. Wims, aided and abetted by Alabama A&M's White outside law firm, also launched a whisper campaign that seeks to tarnish and discredit me. Borrowing a page from Donald Trump's and Clarence Thomas’ playbook, Wims proudly points out that MAGA Republicans in Alabama love him.
It is true that MAGA Republicans dote on Wims. He is a closet MAGA operative who is firmly committed to "playing the game" with them. The "game" Wims is playing with MAGA Republicans in Alabama always shortchanges Black Alabamians and keeps them "downtrodden from the cradle to the grave."
Readers can look at my bio page and the legal cases that have advanced and protected the civil rights of Blacks and women in Alabama since 1973 and immediately understand why MAGA Republicans in Alabama dislike me. What is more, I have no interest in "playing the game" of denying Blacks and women what is rightfully theirs. This is why they imprisoned me, like they did with so many well-known freedom fighters in our history.
In the end, Watkins says, Wims is engaging in a form of "Uncle Tomism" that shortchanges his own university and threatens its future -- along with the futures of A&M's past, current, and future students:
Imprisonment never stopped me from fighting for equal opportunity, voting rights, equitable educational funding, and the fair administration of justice. I have never been afraid of fights to secure what is rightfully ours.
In any event, it has now been clearly established that Alabama A&M will not sue the state of Alabama to collect its $527 million debt. Dr. Wims prefers to get on his knees like a faithful Uncle Tom and beg strangers for money, rather than fight for the $527,280,064 that rightfully belongs to Alabama A&M.
Wims' weak and compromised board of trustees is impotent and complicit in this matter, as well. They want to be liked by Gov. Ivey, at all cost.
The cost of Daniel Wims’ Uncle Tomism to Alabama A&M has now been quantified. It is $527,280,064. There is no monetary value that Dr. Wims can bring to Alabama A&M during the life of his presidency that will offset the high cost of his failed leadership.