Missing the boat, and possibly the vote

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2002

The Alabama Press Association held its Summer Convention in Orange Beach, Ala., last weekend, which was actually a golden opportunity during an election year for politicians to have more journalists in attendance for at any one place than during any other time of year.

The featured event of seminars during the conference was to be a political debate between the two major party candidates for the gubernatorial office for the next four years, namely the governor.

While Gov. Don Siegelman was in fact there, and prepared for the event, his opponent, U.S. Congressman Bob Riley was not. It was not made known until the day of the event that Riley was not going to attend, using the reason of casting votes on issues in Washington, D.C. on Friday night.

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With anyone else, this might have been an acceptable excuse, but for Riley, it was not.

A study by The Birmingham News reported that Riley has the worst record of voting from any member of Congress.

They reported that of the 334 role call votes cast since the session began in January, Riley has missed 183 or 55 percent of those votes, as the record of the U.S. House of Representatives reflects.

On one particular vote held Friday, HR-507, a measure to waive House rules to allow for consideration of a conference report on HR-3009, which grants &uot;trade promotion authority&uot; to the President, Rile missed the vote n he was one of only nine of the 434 absent for the vote.

One has to wonder then, if Riley was claiming to need to vote in order to stay away from the convention, which was held the next day, or if he was genuinely tied up.

Certainly the debate panel will address this next week, if in fact Riley shows up for the scheduled debate with Siegelman on Monday, Aug. 3.

We would have expected, though, that Riley would have jumped at the opportunity to speak to the majority of the state’s press at one time n like killing two birds with one stone.

We would encourage Congressman Riley to take steps now to try and make up for the disappointment he has caused to more than 200 journalists in Alabama, a state where he reportedly aims to seek office in November.