Senator opposes lottery

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2002

The lottery popped up again this week. This is a subject we have not heard much from since its demise at the polls almost four years ago.

In response to a reporter’s question during one of the governor’s campaign stops, Don Siegelman stated that he would have an interest in bringing back the lottery should he be re-elected. This struck me as a rather informal comment which was not a part of the governor’s plan for his campaign, but the media jumped on it like &uot;flies on honey&uot;, as we say.

Without a lot of expense and promotion, I am persuaded that the lottery would still not get a favorable vote from the people of Alabama. Lottery opponents describe it as &uot;gambling&uot; and this triggers a lot of emotion and opposition from citizens who sometimes otherwise do not get involved in public issues.

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I personally do not think the lottery would be good for Alabama. When this issue was before the legislature and the people four years ago, I tried to carefully study all of the pros and cons of having a lottery. I concluded that the cons far outweighed the pros.

It has been my pleasure to be a part of several interesting events and meetings this past week, which I want to share with you. James Carville, President Clinton’s former strong man, was the keynote speaker for a democratic dinner in Montgomery. He is quite a character.

Carville came attired in a tie and blue jeans and his dress set the tone for his message of the evening.

Carville is a well-educated person who hails from the state of Louisiana. He has a Cajun accent and tone about his voice, but I am not sure how much of it is real and how much of it is put on.

He used the occasion to brag on the Democrats and make jokes about the Republicans, as you would expect. He gave Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who I think is doing a fine job, a hard time, and he picked on Lt. Governor Steve Windom, who has done a very fair job of presiding over the Senate; both of them are Republicans.

I have watched Carville on the Crossfire program on television, and I have met him briefly once before. He is just as animated in person and has earned my classification of &uot;one of the most unusual people I have ever met&uot;.

Another event I attended was the graduation exercises at Troy State University. TSU Chancellor Jack Hawkins did his usual splendid job of presiding over the occasion, and he was flanked on the stage by several members of the board of trustees, including my good friends Senator Gerald Dial, Luverne Mayor John Harrison and one of my mentors and longtime friends, Board President Doug Hawkins.

At the luncheon that followed the ceremony, Col. John Schmidt, vice president of Troy State University, on behalf of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees, recognized me with a special award for my support of a leadership training program offered by TSU. I do not claim to be deserving of this award, but I sincerely appreciate it nonetheless.

As has often been acknowledged, our young people are the future generations who will lead Alabama and lead the nation.

We need to do everything we can to position them for honest and effective service to the good people of this state and nation. This leadership program is designed to do just that, and I am proud to have some small role in making it a success.

I met also with a group of distinguished farmers at Cambrian Ridge in Greenville to discuss their concerns about the plight of agriculture and the decline in rural population in our section of the state. These are serious matters that affect not only our farmers but also those of us who are consumers. I benefited greatly by this discussion.

A final meeting was in Troy with representatives of the Electric Cooperatives who service constituents of our senate district. The Co-Ops, in my opinion, are indispensable to the rural residents of our state and nation. We are fortunate in Alabama to have great people leading our Co-Ops, such as Max Davis at South Alabama Electric Co-Op, Malloy Chandler at Pioneer Electric Co-Op and Tom Stackhouse at Central Alabama Electric Co-Op.

Until next week, remember &uot;I’ll go with you or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government. Do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of service.