Published remarks could hurt Bryant, Jr.#039;s

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2000

Paul Bryant Jr., the son of the legendary coach who wants to become a member of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, says it isn't so. He says he was misquoted.

What he is talking about is a feature story done on him in a 1989 edition of Esquire Magazine when he was still the owner of GreeneTrack in Greene County.

In that story he was quoted as saying some very politically incorrect things about the people who frequented the track. Specifically he said many of them were "low class, welfare blacks."

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Last week when that magazine article was made public it created a tempest. The 27-member Black Legislive Caucus unanimously passed a resolution in opposition to Bryant being named to the University board. 0f particular significance, nine of those black legislators are members of the Senate, and it is there where Bryant must poll a majority vote in order to become a trustee.

Bryant insisted the magazine article was entirely fabricated and that he never made such racially insensitive remarks. He said he had asked for a retraction from the magazine shortly after the article was published but it was not forthcoming.

The trustee fight is expected to come to a head in the very near future. It is still anybody's guess whether Bryant can get the votes needed to bounce incumbent trustee Frank Bromberg (of jewelry store fame) from the board.

Relations between Gov. Don Sieglman and State Treasurer Lucy Baxley-perhaps the two most politically potent Democrats in Alabama-are reportedly becoming a bit strained.

Baxley has made no secret that she plans to run for lieutenant governor in 2002. She has already told incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Steve Windom of her intentions.

But there is another Democrat who wants the office as much as she-State Sen. Lowell Barron of DeKalb-but he has no desire to take on Mrs. Baxley in the Democratic Primary.

Of the two, Gov. Siegelman has to lean toward Barron. He has been the governor's chief water-toter in the Senate.

If the reports are true, several Siegelman representatives have approached Mrs. Baxley and tried to persuade her to run for some other office, perhaps the U. S. Senate. Her response has been thanks but no thanks.

Maybe some of you can explain it but I can't. A couple of decades ago veteran State Sen. Jack Biddle of Birmingham introduced a bill to make the popular song "Stars Fell On Alabama" the official state song, replacing the hard-to-sing "Alabama" which had been written by the legendary Julia Tutwiler. He was nearly run out of the state. He got hate mail, threatening calls, the whole bit. He dropped the idea in a hurry.

He has come back with the same bill this year and it appears to be headed for passage with little debate. Perhaps all those Alabaamians who revered Julia Tutwiler have gone to the afterlife.

Biddle made the measure more palatable by specifying that "Alabama" would be the "State Anthem", and "My Home's In Alabama"-the runaway hit recorded by the band Alabamawould be the state ballad. That is called covering all the bases.

Even Gov. Siegelman, got into the act by asking the bill be amended to specifiy that the state song will be the version sung by Jimmy Buffett at Siegelman's inauguration in 1999.

The Siegelman Administration appears to be serious in its announced intent to reduce the number of state employees who have state cars.

But it has been made clear one vehicle that will not be reclaimed is the one assigned to First Lady Lori Siegelman.

For the record, her state car is a pricy Ford Expedition which occasionaly she drives herself but most often is driven by a State Trooper.