March election is important one. . .if anyone votes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 11, 2000

You have heard the old line: What if you threw a party and nobody came? The same question may be posed in another arena: What if you held an election and nobody voted?

There is an important election scheduled in Alabama on March 21 but how many of you were aware of it?

The election is to decide the fate of a proposed constitutional amendment which would increase the corporate income tax from 5 percent to 6.5 percent. This is the key legislation in a package of bills passed in a recent special session to bail the state out of the franchise tax crisis.

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The hike in the corporate tax is supported by those who will pay the tax. In fact, they recommended it in return for the repeal of the state shares tax.

With their support…and no organized opposition…there is little doubt it will be approved…provided somebody shows up to vote for it.

If a bill now pending in the Legislature passes, DeWayne Freeman may be glad he didn't win the race for lieutenant governor. Freeman now holds the Cabinet-level position of ADECA director and is paid $71,000. The pending bill would boost his salary to $135,000, more than three times the salary of the lieutenant governor.

The big pay boost proposed for Freeman didn't raise as many eyebrows, however, as did another provision which would allow him to hire a team of economic developers outside the merit system at a salary set by him.

Critics say these new hires would likely be campaign coordinators for Gov. Siegelman when he runs for re-election in 2002.

Early polls show that Judge Roy Moore of Gadsden, he of Ten Commandments fame, is far ahead of his four other challengers in the race for chief justice of the Supreme Court in the Republican Primary.

Judge Moore has consistently run 20 points or more ahead of runner-up Harold See, an incumbent justice on the high court.

The only Democrat to announce for this position is Judge Sharen Yates, now serving on the Court of Civil Appeals. It could well be she will be the only Democratic qualifier, setting the stage for a possible one-on-one battle with Judge Moore in November, if

in fact he wins the GOP nomination.

While few Alabamians would even recognize his name, U. S. District Judge Sam Pointer Jr. of Birmingham established a national reputation as a jurist during his almost 30 years on the bench.

Judge Pointer has announced he will retire on March 31. He had been chief judge of the Middle District of Alabama since 1981.

He issued some critically important rulings in the early 1970s in the desegregation of Jefferson County schools, and in 1992 he attracted national attention when all the lawsuits from throughout the nation stemming from silicone breast implants were sent to his court.

If Paul W. Bryant Jr. gets a seat on the University of Alabama Board of Trustees it is more and more evident it will have to be done in the State Senate.

The son of the legendary coach has the backing of Sen. Phil Poole and Gov. Siegelman, but it has been learned that his name will not be on the list submitted to the Senate for confirmation by the incumbent University trustees. Instead all seven of the current members whose terms expire will be re-submitted.

That means that if he is to get a seat, the Senate will have to reject one of the incumbents and substitute Bryant. If it comes to that, look for an ugly fight. There are some trustees and State Senators who do not want Bryant on the board.