Hubbert pay raise as AEA#039;s top man is well-deserved

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 4, 1999

Quite a flap was created when it was revealed that Dr. Paul Hubbert, long-time main man of the Alabama Education Association, is paid a handsome $305,000-a-year for his services.

But a strong case could be made that Hubbert earns every penny of that money.

In 1968 when he became head of the organization the letters "AEA" meant little more than spring break when teachers went to a convention and students went to the beach.

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Today the AEA is without question the most powerful lobby in the state and credit for this (or blame) must go to Hubbert. Even his critics concede he is the best.

Another point to be made in defense of Hubbert: What he is paid really is nobody's business but those he works for-the teachers and school support personnel. His salary comes from the dues they pay as AEA members. No state funds are involved.

Interestingly, while there has been an outcry from some that Hubbert is overpaid there has been no such outcry from AEA members.

Their chief concern is that with a $250,000-a-year retirement package awaiting him the 63-year-old Hubbert may very well step down in a year or so. And there is no visible candidate waiting in the wings to fill his shoes.

Speaking of compensation, Alabama Adjutant General Willie Alexander got a ton of favorable ink recently when he said "thanks but no thanks" to a huge pay raise.

The Alabama Senate voted to hike his pay from the $71,000 paid most Cabinet members to about $111,000 which is comparable to what major generals are paid in the U. S. Army.

A spokesman for Gen. Alexander said he was appreciative of the show of support by the Senate but the present economic condition of the state "makes postponing this initiative more appropriate."

You have to figure that if and when those economic conditions improve the Legislature will make sure the general is properly rewarded.

Henry B. Steagall, a major player on the state political/governmental scene for years, is dead after a long fight with cancer. He was 77.

Steagall, an Ozark attorney, served 16 years in the House of Representatives, was a member of the Wallace Cabinet for a number of years, and closed out his distinguished career as a justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

He was the nephew and namesake of Congressman Henry B. Steagall, a facecard in Congress decades ago.

Comes to mind the closing line of a song of decades ago: "Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate I hate to make him wait…but I gotta have another cigarette."

The latest statistics show that despite all the advertising and the promotions intended to discourage smoking, the number of smokers in Alabama is on the rise.

The state's smoking rate rose from 18.3 per cent of the adult population in 1995 to 24.6 per cent last year. This compares with the national rate last year which declined to 22.9 per cent.

Most alarming to health officials is the inordinately high rate of teenage smokers in Alabama. One in every three teenagers in Alabama are smokers.

Nor has the skyrocketing cost of cigarettes had any impact in discouraging smokers. Cigarettes now cost as much as $3 a pack in convenience stores.