Things getting nasty in Birmingham

Published 12:23 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Things in the state’s largest city have just turned very ugly and gloomy. Yesterday, Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford was arrested by FBI agents on charges of steering millions of dollars of bond work to Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount in exchange for $230,000 in bribes that paid for Langford’s debts.

According to the Associated Press, the bond deals – which funded years of work on a substandard county sewer system – went sour and have helped push surrounding Jefferson County to the brink of filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Both Blount and lobbyist Al LaPierre were charged in the indictment. The charges also include conspiracy, money laundering and filing false tax returns.

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The charges stem from Langford’s time on the Jefferson County Commission, which he left after being elected mayor in a landslide last year.

We knew that the Jefferson County sewer bond situation was bad, but no one except the people in the know had any idea this was coming. This could send shockwaves through the state.

Although everyone doesn’t live in Jefferson County, it could affect our state, especially if our state has to step in and help the county.

A Democrat, Langford has said for months that he expected to be indicted in what he referred to as a witchhunt by Republican prosecutors. U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said the charges were about public corruption, not partisanship.

We hope that something of this magnitude would not be some kind of scheme to bring down a member of another political party.

It could appear like that on the surface, but you would figure that there might be something to it, especially since there are so many counts on this indictment.

Our leaders must be held to a high standard of ethics. We don’t need to give people government contracts just because he or she is a good friend of a county commissioner.

This only leads to more corruption, which is something we have too much of in state and national government. – The Clanton Advertiser