Barron#039;s suit against ALFA reduced to #036;5.2 million

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2000

MONTGOMERY-State Sen. Lowell Barron, D-DeKalb, is not going to get $15.2 million from Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation A judge has reduced the award to $5.2 million.

Barron had sued the giant insurance/farm organzation, claiming they had invaded his privacy by hiring private investigators to dig up dirt on him. They planned to use anything they found, he claimed, to persuade him to support Alfa's choice for a seat on the Auburn University Board of Trustees.

Despite the $10 million cut in the award, Barron is still all smiles. This is far more than he had expected to get. In fact before the case went to court Barron and his attorneys had offered to settle the case for a payment of less than $1 million.

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In a decision that Alfa will regret forever, the offer was turned down.

To make matters worse, waiting in the wings with an identical suit of his own is State Sen. Hinton Mitchem, D-Albertville.

An overwhelming majority of Alabamians still support the death penalty but an even greater percentage feel the state should discontinue using the electric chair and switch to lethal injections.

That was the result of a survey conducted by USA Polling Group for the Mobile Register.

A total of 63 per cent of those polled said they favored the death penalty but only 10 per cent of them felt that the electric chair should be used to carry out death sentences.

Despite the strong support for capital punishment, opponents of the death penalty were encouraged by the poll. Support for the death penalty in Alabama has been declining slowly but steadily for a number of years.

Gov. Don Siegelman got a taste of his own medicine last week. Two years ago in his campaign for governor Siegelman attacked Gov. Fob James for being soft on criminals, allowing them to be paroled long before they had served their sentences.

James responded that he had no control over the actions of the Pardons and Parole Board. Siegelman sneered at the response. He pointed out that James had appointed two of the three board members so he ought to be able to control their votes.

Last week the board granted paroles to two menKenneth and Michael Thorntonwho had been sentenced to 40 years for the brutal gang rape of a young Birmingham woman in 1983. They had served less than half of their sentences. Two of the board members had been appointed to their seats by Gov. Siegelman.

Did Gov. George W. Bush actually serve in the Alabama Air National Guard during the few months he spent in Alabama in 1972 working in Winton (Red) Blount's campaign for the U. S. Senate?

The question has become an issue…albeit a minor one…in

Bush's presidential campaign. Some of his critics question whether he ever attended a Guard drill. He insists he did.

Now comes several people who remember that he did indeed serve in the Alabama Guard.

I can make a personal contribution to this less-than-important debate. I was invited by Blount on two or three occasions to play some doubles tennis in which Bush was a player. What I most remember about those matches is tht Bush was a far better tennis player than the rest of us. Blount always managed to be his partner and they won every match.

No matter, on one occasion when I was invited to play I asked if young Bush would be playing and I remember distinctly being told he could not play because he was on duty with the Air Guard.

Whether he was or wasn't I do not know, but I was relieved he was not playing. I don't like to lose.