Reflection on events of 2003

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2004

The beginning of a new year always seems like an appropriate time to reflect upon the major happenings in one’s life during the past year and assess whether those things are a plus or a minus as we each prepare for the future.

Without sounding too philosophical, I will share with you that each year at this time I pause and try to examine the role I have had in current events in Alabama over the past twelve months.

If I find that my actions have been positive, then I try to build on those things in the following year.

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If I find the results of my involvement to be less than a plus, I try to make adjustments and correct those things for the future.

In looking back at the year 2003, I see an unusually large number of activities in which I was involved that had a major impact upon my public service and my work environment.

The year started when I offered myself as a candidate for President Pro-tem of the Alabama State Senate.

I was encouraged to do this by many of my Senate colleagues, as well as the newly elected Governor, Bob Riley.

Unfortunately, we fell one vote short of having enough support to achieve the position.

I was very honored that the Governor and almost half of my colleagues in the Senate would single me out for this post.

That part of the effort was a positive, but the things which ensued following the vote in the Alabama Senate must be construed a negative.

The Alabama Senate, historically a place where committed people who are well organized conduct themselves with much dignity, has turned into a body that is severely divided and often has much difficulty in reaching solutions which are in the best interests of the citizens of Alabama.

When you couple this internal strife with the difficult economic times that have been sweeping the nation, it has been a very trying experience to serve in the Alabama Legislature during this current term.

The highlight and the lowlight of legislative accomplishments this past year, in my opinion, are one and the same.

We spent some ten weeks working on a tax and accountability package of proposed laws and the Senate finally came together almost unanimously to submit some far reaching proposals to the Alabama electorate.

These measures, however, were rejected by a resounding negative vote at the September election.

In many respects, I feel like we are back to square one in trying to find some solution to the economic woes that are plaguing our state.

In hindsight, it is clear to see that the accountability and tax package was much too broad, much too complex, and suffered a fate which should have been expected.

If we pursue accountability and tax reform at any time in the future, we should all have learned valuable lessons which will serve us well in our deliberations.

It was also during 2003 that I stepped down as the Dean of Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery, a post I had held for 17 plus years.

I miss the long hours required by holding that position, but a strong plus is the extra time which I have to spend with my family and to serve my constituents in the 30th Senatorial district.

I believe this move will prove to be a very positive thing for me and those whom I serve in the Alabama Legislature.

You have my best wishes for a wonderful and prosperous year in 2004.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.