"Malice in Hubbardland"
January 1, 2019 | View PDF
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." Alice and The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
During this Thanksgiving/Christmas I donned the best mask I could muster to hide thoughts on this 20th Anniversary of being made homeless by our federal government in symphony with some of our most corrupt State politburo members. The M-14 episode twenty years ago provided more evidence of the calculated malice of bureaucrats’ timing just before Thanksgiving and then going outside the law/perjury in Judge Nix’s District court just before Christmas. To those who noticed forgive me, to those who could tell and let it be - what a blessing. Raised to stand up against evil and live my life as righteously as possible… little did I know a simple man and his bride trying to live well would be so reviled. Bentley’s installed AG Steve Marshall’s spineless firing (soon after reinstallation via our rigged election process) of successful prosecutor Matt Hart was dubbed one of the darkest days in recent Alabama memory by APR’s [Alabama Political Reporter] Bill Britt didn’t help, but was apropos.
As I type this opening paragraph, AG Marshall’s FIVE ethics violations (well into felony territory) on illegal campaign contributions - reportedly approaching three-quarters of a million dollars -- goes before our malfeasant State Ethics Commission with short notice and again purposefully timed in true politburo fashion to take advantage of the holiday dynamic. Sect. of State John Merrill has become the lone voice trying to discipline the most corrupt, serial offenders of our election laws in this regard. I’m not shy conveying to Sect. Merrill when I think he’s done well and when he’s done poorly/suggested improvements. I could be his whole tenor section on how he’s improved State licensing; biting critic on wrongfully installed Rep. Lovvorn without a general election and poor execution of our ballot access laws. I was vocal on how worrisome I found his BCA contributions when endorsing a candidate on his first election as Secretary of State but he’s not been a ‘Dial time’ flip-flopper like ‘Cash-register’ Shelby or a Felon Hubbard type Riley/Siegleman political prostitute. Many cite Merrill as the hardest working retail politician in the State - I concur… I also find him among the attenuating group on Goat Hill who know and care about their soul. “If these shadows go unaltered,” as Dickens penned, it is difficult to imagine any better candidate in the mix for next gubernatorial race.
If Merrill is looking for support from my similarly minded (non-duopoly) voters who make a difference on the margin in close races, consider employing Matt Hart in your office to continue to be a watchdog over the most corrupt who get on our ballots with impunity. Marshall’s five illegal contributions exceed the four limit reasonably set, making serial offenses a felony. I have little doubt AG Marshall will make the case to ‘bundle’ them into one offense as our corrupt Ethics Commission has wrongfully done for others in the past. The big difference here, most watching how hard the BCA pressed to get someone to protect our most corrupt public servants (esp. Felon Hubbard’s unindicted coconspirators) can easily say it was unlikely Marshall would’ve won the Republican nomination to be reinstalled without these contributions and influence. Those who think ‘only four’ violations is too few for the felony threshold seem to be the ones who defend with glee ‘three time loser’ laws completely oblivious to their hypocrisy. I only allow three unexcused absences in my college classes; should we change ‘three strikes you’re out’ in modern baseball?
I can think of no one in our State better equipped to help the Sect. of State’s office discipline this than prosecutor Hart. Our State wastes tens of millions of dollars on party primary elections instead of Parties providing them on their own purse. The Sect. of State is the most prominent final arbiter of who (what text, etc.) is printed on election ballots, most notably refusing non-duopoly candidates’ and voters’ civil rights to be placed on special election ballots not prorated for shorter duration to meet requirements. The Sect. added one day the last time his result was found unconstitutional instead of a more defensible/rational prorated requirement. The Sect. allows ineligible candidates on primary ballots (paid for by the State NOT the party) then claims it is the Ethics Commission’s task to discipline them - well the commissioners are not doing their job which doesn’t remove the Sect. of State’s duty. Show as much concern as when exercising authority to not allow other candidates on the ballot and eliminating elections to reinstall a Felon Hubbard type ‘public servant’ to the State House - i.e., refuse to print the serial violators on the ballot when they’ve met the felony threshold. We entrust you with this duty just as we trust State offices with licensing.
Much ink has been spilled citing the anti-corruption laws Hubbard passed (he now asserts are unconstitutional) were used to discipline him. Heaven forbid the rules put in place by lawmakers apply to legislator(s) who authored them. In fact some of his felonies were serious ethics violations long before Hubbard took the Speaker’s gavel. I pray some of the convictions may morph into federal charges for him and other public servants/coconspirators if Felon Hubbard is let off on appeal and statutes of limitation/tolling may allow. Perhaps reporters emphasize this non-issue irony because they’re more uncomfortable crafting words which convey how vulgar the Hubbard machine hubris has continued to be these past years. As many readers know after 13 years of combat to the US Supreme Court against our most corrupt connected to Lee County, I (with my eldest Godson) regularly witness Commission meetings. When some of the most corrupt among our ‘public servants’ show - we know it will be worth the price of admission -- when I heard someone whisper felon Hubbard’s minion Superintendent Delano was seated behind us… it would just be a matter of time before witnessing the next machination of political theft unfold. So the final meeting of the year (again politburo members know the dynamic, forecasting poor attendance, less reporters - in fact the O/A News was a no-show) approved a special election to renew current taxes which must be revisited every 30 years. So taxpayers will spend $80,000 to have a special election on Feb. 19th instead of putting it on the last general election a month ago. Not that this school superintendent has shown much concern for taxpayers money these past years - something big had to be in the mix for her to come sit with the great unwashed productive citizens who pay this ‘public servant’ to work Lee County.
Removing Hubbard as Speaker of the House has made little difference as this felon’s minions shameless continuation of their crony ‘bidness as usual’ practices. One of the most notable is Auburn City Schools ongoing contract with felon Hubbard for exclusive broadcast authority of Auburn School sports. This school system (flush with overpaid educrats) turned down proposals from larger stations offering payment for exclusive broadcast authority. According to Bill Britt (APR) a comparison of the plans show Tiger Communications’ signal of 25,000 watts and the biggest coverage area in the county had offered $11,500/yr. for five years - i.e., a total of $57,500. The next largest station (iHeart Media with a signal of 6,000 watts) bid $1000/yr. for a total of $5,000.
Hubbard’s Auburn Network with only 4,200 watts was awarded the contract and paid NOTHING.
No surprise to those who know the ‘bidness as usual’ paradigm - perhaps it was foolish to think the dozen felony convictions would slow the pace of these parasites. In August 2013 APR discovered the same day the House bill allowing a tax referendum for Auburn Schools was certified, Hubbard’s Auburn Network contracted the exclusive authority to broadcast Auburn High School sports. This dynamic helped fuel rumors and speculation Hubbard agreed to muscle this tax referendum to pass the House in exchange for Auburn School Superintendent Karen Delano’s promise to grant Hubbard the broadcast contract for the city’s high school sports programs.
Repeated APR attempts to contact Delano’s office at the time proffered promises Delano would respond but never did according to Mr. Britt. HB266 received House Certification on May 20, 2013, becoming Act No. 2013-321 allowing the City of Auburn to hold a referendum to raise ad valorem tax on property owners in the city. For over six decades WAUD radio (Tiger Communications) was the home of the Auburn High School team broadcasts. In 2013, Auburn City School Superintendent Delano failed to inform owner Tom Hayley of Hubbard’s deal. Hubbard’s $0 versus Hayley’s $57,000 raises questions worthy of further investigation about our impenitent felon and shows malice is alive and well in Hubbardland. Sound, accomplished businesspeople like Mr. Hayley who truly care about AHS are put out so parasites like Hubbard can continue to feed on productive citizens, students and taxpayers.
Those sickened by the Riley & Assoc/BCA as usual machine called for Auburn City Schools Superintendent Karen DeLano’s immediate resignation. Most vocal was Mike Hooks of Auburn who sounded the alarm these parasites are still alive and actively feeding upon us. DeLano certainly fits in with Riley, Hubbard, Lowder, et al types who see government education as little more than a money mill to keep their pork churning. This is the same superintendent who told the community in 2013 if we didn't support the proposed massive property tax increase, we were not "for the children of Auburn" - straight from the Riley Amendment 1 tax explosion playbook. Mr. Hooks’ Op-ed also reminded readers DeLano claimed the tax hike was necessary to fund the new $96 mil. high school project, to avoid cutting sports, music, arts and even buses. The tax hike failed (54% to 46%) yet the new high school opened on schedule and the AHS band plays on. DeLano also magically found over $600,000 to install Astroturf at Duck Samford Stadium where natural grass had sufficed for nearly half a century. Hooks further noted her hiring the highest paid football coach in Alabama, then found $6.8 mil. dollars for two lots of dirt to build another high school, even while the new $96 mil. dollar high school was under construction. DeLano is yet another ‘public servant’ who’s earned grand jury investigation along with many other Hubbard minions now relieved BCA’s Steve Marshall fired Matt Hart.
Many look to Ms. Katie Britt (former Chief of Staff to Sen. Shelby) replacing President/CEO Canary as a sign of major changes at BCA. We’ll see - forgive my skepticism coming from ‘Cash-register’ Shelby’s ethos who doesn’t understand the ‘leaky/deleterious bucket’ between DC and Alabama. Nice to see we get more money back than what’s extracted from our State, but redirecting to what his command and control cronies desire and paid to accomplish is more harmful in a poor State suffering federal hegemony. BCA has been lobbying for legislation to make only the signer of the Principal statement accountable under the ethics law, if Ms. Britt ends this lobbying and strengthens anti-corruption efforts in our State, it will curb this skeptic. Felon Hubbard and his minions have made it clear after all the bloviating about prosecutorial misconduct failed the dangerous precedent set in Judge Walker’s Lee County Circuit Court. Indeed dangerous to incompetent businesspeople like Hubbard who cannot survive in a competitive environment without cronyism and favoritism. Again, ‘bidness as usual.’
As an aside, a recent post of felon Hubbard with crony Gig-City Mayor touting a few hundred dollar donation didn’t escape some wondering why Mike isn’t serving his well deserved time in an over-populated prison where he belongs. The failed attempt (esp. those familiar with Fuller’s Folly in Opelika) had some reminiscing of the State’s supplemental brief in support of ordering Hubbard to pay $1.1 mil. in restitution for his criminal acts. The brief correctly and prophetically argued the court not allow felon Hubbard to keep his ill-gotten gains obtained as a result of breaching the public’s trust claiming, “Hubbard and his businesses will continue reaping the returns from his sale of his office as Speaker, even after he serves his prison sentence.”
Further evidence ‘bidness as usual’ continues in Hubbard’s hyper-gerrymandered District 79 came in the form of Joe Lovvorn's local donors and PAC's (totalling $61,050) making it clear this ‘good ole joe’ was the anointed one to be felon Hubbard’s replacement. The primary PAC's were all apparently run by Fine, Geddie & Associates (SAVEPAC, BIPAC, NEWPAC) and the usual contractors/developers wanting subsidies and bonds released to avoid paying for the increased cost on our infrastructure to promote more of the cancerous, unsustainable growth harming our county. Most revealing Lovvorn was being groomed as felon Hubbard’s heir came from campaign contributions by Lowder (who first mentored Hubbard on how to milk the system) and Robert Dumas (another ‘public servant’ on the AU BoT) to lowly realtors the government pays well to appraise properties they want to take at a third of the legal compensation so property owners must waste their time and money in the courts. Swatek, Azbell, Ross & Howe names in the mix (for the more ‘plugged-in’ folks - esp. those following the Hubbard felonies) make it all the more clear ‘fireman joe’ Lovvorn is a Hubbardland minion to keep the graft churning. Just as Bentley installing AG Marshall as the ‘incumbent’ provided a great advantage, the opponent in the Lovvorn race was impressive the few times I interacted with her - she didn’t stand a chance in Hubbard’s hyper-gerrymandered district where straight ticket voting makes the lower races even less competitive.
Other ‘bidness as usual’ observations in Lee County comes in the form of Constitution Party candidate Kenneth Busby’s efforts to get on the general election ballot for District 1. After Busby submitted a more than sufficient number of signatures for verification, Probate Judge English blocked him from the ballot - heaven forbid we allow this soldier and voters to more easily exercise their civil rights to vote for someone other than the only one printed on the ballot. Mr. Busby’s opponent, Ms. Eckman was one of the most vocal commissioners pressing for special election abuse to get a sales tax increase to pass after failing on two general election ballots more reflective of citizens’ preference; some readers may recall my “Political Theft By Deception” (http://www.alabamagazette.com/story/2014/10/01/news/political-theft-by-deception/316.html) column on the matter.
Just as the Republicans $1.2 billion Amendment One (2003) proposal of significant increases for individual income tax payers, the sales tax, property tax, cigarette tax, corporate income tax, etc. FAILED 2 to 1 (defeating ‘Spender of House’ Mike Hubbard’s full court press) on a GENERAL election ballot... the FIRST time this Lee County sales tax increase was voted upon it also met sound defeat of over 2 to 1. The O/A News reported 68.5% against with 13,000 votes cast on the November 2008 GENERAL election ballot, almost TEN times the turn-out of citizens who voted to finally pass it. 2008’s reasonable sample of voters was not enough for politburo
members on the Lee County Commission bent on extracting even more from productive citizens they are sworn to represent; the 1 cent (14%) sales tax increase was AGAIN put on the November 2010 general election ballot to fail 56% to 44% with over 9,000 votes recorded. In short, 2010 provided another respectable sample of Lee County voters to convey citizens’ preference instead of the 4.5% ‘theft by deception’ turnout of registered voters in the special election to manipulate it passing.
Using the special election/low-turnout sham from the Armistead to Waggoner et al Hubbardland playbook, the Lee County politburo made sure they could impose their will over these past two wise decisions determined by a sound sample of Lee County citizens. Spending tens of thousands of dollars to put on the sham ‘vote show’ gives politburo members (like Superintendent Delano) cover to hide behind a 4.5% turn-out result claiming to ‘let the citizens decide.’ Another easy victory for soviet-style conservatives as Speaker Hubbard showed his big govt. minions how to game the system with low turn-out special election sham results used to amend our State constitution in the 2012 theft of our education trust fund by deception. As entertaining to watch all the politburo members stand and clap during state of union addresses in DC; it was equally entertaining to watch and read all the sycophants slobbering over one another in delight at plundering our trust fund with only 14% of registered voters saying yes to amend our State constitution. The more they effusively thanked the voters for an ‘overwhelming show of support’ the more pathetic the band of thieves appeared delighting in their successful theft by low turn-out deception. Some readers may recall we wasted $3 million on that special election sham result because it couldn’t wait 49 days to be on a general election ballot where it was likely to fail. It is time for our honest legislators on Goat Hill to follow-up on Sen. Glover’s recently passed amendment to again show courage and statesmanship in crafting sound text to stop political theft via this sort of deception to pass/reinstall tax increases.
The waste of resources to put the veneer on the last sham vote was profound; countless folks asked why I had my “I Voted” sticker on my shirt that special election day, completely unaware (by design) of any vote that day. My favorite illustration comes from young Marine Brian Smith, then an active member of the Auburn Student Veterans Association (Graduate Adviser) completing his graduate degree. Curious why his polling place was open, his initial assumption was just another poorly planned and executed, waste of taxpayer funds. Nonetheless, he walked in to determine why the polling place was even open for voting since he lived in the middle of Auburn city limits - i.e., far from any unincorporated area of Lee County. Since he, nor any of his neighbors were eligible to vote on this issue, Brian wanted the answer to why it was open given the dearth of information about any voting that day. He found six paid election workers waiting for the polls to close after being told he was ineligible to vote by virtue of residing within city limits. Brian then asked the obvious: why open a location serving residents well inside the city boundary? He found the reply dumbfounding; all six election staffers had been there all day (paid by the taxpayers) waiting for SEVEN possible voters. At 4.5% turn-out, one wonders if the one-third of a person showed…
Most revealing questions Brian asked illuminating this ‘Theft by Deception’ committed in Lee County were, “Why was a special vote held for the unincorporated area of the county to vote on a tax hike. Why couldn’t this be placed on November ballots less than two months away from this special vote?” Ominously familiar to Hubbard’s successful special election vote stealing $437 million from our trust fund September 18, 2012. The rational forecast: this ‘offensive’ play will be run again and again by big govt. thugs throughout the State as observed by Hubbardland minions at this last Commission meeting. Upon hearing the sham results of this sudden change to PASSING via special election theft by deception, this wise young Marine understood the enemy’s playbook. He sent the following text, “Five percent turnout and the tax increase easily passed! My assumption of stupidity has now faded into suspicion of a clever maneuver by our elected officials to guarantee the result which they desperately wanted with no consideration for the waste of taxpayer funds or their voice.”
Indeed a lot easier to get the politburo result desired when not informing the electorate of a vote and make sure your Hubbardland thugs pack the polls to carry the day with less than one in twenty registered voters participating. The massive Clarion Inn polling place in Auburn was also open the entire day to facilitate this political theft by deception tallying a whopping total of 18 votes. Sara Falligant at the O-A News also reported Probate Judge English as follows, “I think the commission chose because of (previous elections) to hold it as a special election," English said. "We could've done it in November, but we've done it twice, and you saw what happened." I guess when you have no worries about re-election in such an uncompetitive process ‘public servants’ can be in your face about how they’re gaming the system. The sad thing is the malicious spirit of Hubbard and his big govt. thugs has permeated this once wonderful county and these ‘public servants’ genuinely believe if they can successfully game the system, theft by deception of this sort is OK.
I found Commissioner Eckman (who oddly left early on this special election blitzkrieg meeting) the most adamant/despicable of the politburo refusing to accept the prior two votes against taking more from unincorporated areas, shamelessly shrilling about letting the citizens decide and saying it got lost and voters were confused when soundly defeating it the last two times. It doesn’t really matter if she’s too poorly educated to understand how foolish she sounds or doesn’t understand arithmetic or genuinely believes this sham special election result was ‘letting the citizens decide’ in her mind, the deleterious result is the same. Easy to get her big govt. extremist minions out to insure victory to transfer power and wealth in their favor instead of another reasonable sample of voters who may again stop this sort of abuse/manipulation of outcomes. How many of the 95% of registered voters who did NOT show even KNOW about the special election vote? All is fair to advance their god of bigger govt. and promote their cronies, but this abusive manipulation of the electorate must end or we'll become as backward as most of the other heavily taxed counties in the US.
The one cent (14%) sales tax increase is earmarked; split between the Lee County Sheriff's Office and the Lee County Recreation Board. Of course, anyone who understands fungibility/substitution effects knows the commission will simply direct less funding to the Sheriffs office (something they’re specifically designed to address) in future budgets to engage in more mismanagement and cronyism to raise the hue and cry for more tax increases. Those who’ve read or heard me speak on the issue in the past know I support increase funding for sheriffs to define, enforce and allow the peaceful/voluntary exchange of property in our county - a legitimate function of county government -- but still vote NO under these election circumstances. PUT IT ON A GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT. This increase for Parks & Recreation (something which does not serve the general welfare and is best funded by specific user fees) has been a disaster under our corrupt county commission’s
stewardship and yet another vehicle to redistribute from lower income, rural black areas in the county to the more affluent.
When asked by my Godson what can one do about all this manipulation my reply was, “the same as I have been.” Just as the unconstitutional 1% Auburn income tax has stolen from me and my bride this last quarter century (and we can not vote for any of those taxing us) I have increasingly LESS to give to my church and help others. The supposed increase to law enforcement has not made the roads safe enough again to recommence unnecessary trips to regular donation of my platelets to cancer patients again. The 14% sales tax increase (reported as 7 to 8 cents) prompted us to spend more at thrift stores to help the poor and buy more out of State/county so it will not further reduce my donations to charities. I can only hope those like Mr. Foxworth touting to the O-A News about his, “daughter benefitted from Smiths Station’s recreational facilities, and now plays softball for Smiths Station High School. She hopes to one day play college softball. That rec built her to be a part of Smiths Station’s softball team,” has donated to food banks and poor I think more important than subsidizing his daughter’s softball.
It wouldn’t be a true ‘Malice in Hubbardland’ play without some “the children, the children!” rhetoric, so Smiths Station Mayor Lafaye Dellinger ‘voiced strong words’ in support of the Parks and Rec. tax increase to make it complete. The O-A News quoted her with, “I hope to God it doesn’t fail, because it says to me that people in this community don’t care about the children,” Dellinger said. “…I value the kids and what they mean to us. They are our future.” Same old tired rhetoric from those who’ve made government their god. Sadly, more of these children may be too saddled with debt, taxes and a contracted economy to know the joy of being less
dependent on others and successful enough to give voluntarily (without the hegemony of taxes) to their church, the sick, the hungry as I was taught and have done.
In closing, what can be more revealing of Delano et al Hubbardland thugs they have no confidence in the inferior, over-subsidized result they proffer than going through the effort to put these votes on a special election, waste tens of thousands of tax dollars and productive (non-special interested) voters time and effort instead of putting it on the recent general election to get a more representative result. Wish they truly cared about the future debt/tax burden of our children or at least cared about student/teacher current safety on things like school construction adhere to Lee County Access Management rules. At least my Godson wouldn’t seem like a lone voice trying to get commissioners to stop putting us in harm’s way and return money for road improvements to crony developers. When a county is this flush with tax revenue it is easier to redirect school dollars to put up Rail Crossings and burden access to a few rural black churches congregations after the harm of their malfeasance is done. Imagine how competent and safe public goods and services may be if as much attention went to a task well done instead of so much manipulation of funds and voting results.