Our direction needs changing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 16, 2003

&uot;If we don’t change our direction, we are likely to wind up where we are headed.&uot;

This sounds like something Yogi Berra might say, but actually it is an ancient Chinese proverb.

It seems that everywhere I go in my district as of late Governor Bob Riley is always present and the above proverb is the theme of his message with respect to promoting his tax and reform package.

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The governor is working very hard to persuade Alabamians that voting for the package is &uot;the right thing to do.&uot;

In fact, this is the new slogan for the campaign – &uot;just do the right thing.&uot;

Governor Riley spoke in Birmingham to the Jefferson County Children’s Policy Council on last Monday, he spoke to the quarterly AUM business breakfast group on Wednesday, and he spoke twice in Prattville on Friday, once at the annual meeting of the Central Alabama Electric Cooperative and later at a public meeting hosted by Autauga County Leadership group at Prattville High School.

I was present for all these speeches, and I must say that Governor Riley does an outstanding job of promoting the best points of the tax and reform effort.

It is clear to me that we must do something to generate more revenue to provide essential services to the people of Alabama.

My pledge to you is that if we pass this tax and reform package, and some parts of it appear to be over burdensome, that I will personally file and support legislation to correct those inequities.

I say this with the full recognition that I know how hard it is to undo something once its done, but I never underestimate the will of the people and I do believe that we can make appropriate changes in the laws should a majority of Alabamians feel strongly enough about the need to do so.

The governor feels, and so do I, that the proverb with which I opened this column is very applicable to the way things are in our state today.

Our direction is not good.

We are headed for disaster in the field of education and we are on the precipice of not being able to deliver services to the elderly nor to provide adequate protection against criminal activities to our general population.

So we will indeed wind up where we are headed unless we change our direction.

The governor feels that this tax package is the key to achieving a directional change.

He may well be right.

The other hot topic in Montgomery is the federal judge’s ruling this week against keeping the Ten Commandments monument in the state judicial building.

The legal issue is still on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the local judge’s ruling was prompted by an action taken by an intermediate court denying a rehearing on the previous decision to remove the monument.

Reaction to the judge’s latest ruling has included an effort to put together a rally on August 16 on the steps of the judicial building on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery which could well be attended by thousands of people from across the country.

The notice of this meeting just went out over the weekend so it is hard to predict what the total response will be.

It is disappointing to see our courts continually come down on the side of eliminating vestiges of religion from public life.

I strongly oppose the trend to take prayer from our public schools and remove references to God from our textbooks, money, and constitution.

It is very regrettable that the United States Senate is playing political football with nominees like Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor who has been nominated for a seat on a federal court.

Attorney General Pryor represents those things which are good about public service and the essence of what America should be all about.

I certainly hope the senators will see the error of their ways and confirm this good candidate.

Until next time, remember &uot;I’ll go with you or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing to P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049.