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The AU Horror Picture Show: Bride of Felonstein meets YellaGrubbear

Recent ‘rocky’ times at Auburn University display a cult horror picture show on how ‘warped’ private interests extract wealth from students and taxpayers. No surprise to frequent readers of this column how AU gave rise to felon Mike Hubbard, who perfected ‘The Art of the Steal’ of using governments for personal gain in Alabama. Bobby Lowder mentored Felon Hubbard in the dark arts when Hubbard began in AU Athletics having just ‘grifted’ in from the Georgia jock adulation scene. The ‘plot sickened’ when Patrick Nix (former Auburn Quarterback and father of current QB Bo Nix) introduced Felon Hubbard to the “Sith Lord” himself, public servant Bob Riley. Those who preferred the book instead of watching the AU Horror Picture Show read “Stealing the Statehouse” for ‘the rest of the story’ as Paul Harvey would assert upon closing.

Felon Hubbard’s long-time protector and wealthiest among underwriters of $150,000 checks (along with other unindicted coconspirators who infamously added to Hubbard’s impressive rap sheet) public servant Jimmy Rane remains atop AU’s Board of Trustees. The affable, lovable YellaFella (YellaGrubber nomenclature in the horror show spoof script for clarity) continues his horrific activities unimpeded, despite the rash of convictions suffered by his ‘good friend’ Felon Hubbard. The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, a 142,000 square foot monster monument to the YellaGrubber, is the latest student/taxpayer subsidized sinkhole to open up at Auburn University - happy Halloween! On April 12, 2019, the AU Newsroom reported the following on funding:

"Auburn’s plans for a culinary science center received significant encouragement in 2017 when James W. “Jimmy” Rane and the Rane family made a $12 million commitment to the building’s construction......Gifts to the College of Human Sciences, university general funds and revenue from the hotel, restaurant, a food hall and leased living units will cover the estimated project cost of $95.4 million. The Rane Culinary Science Center will be the first revenue-generating academic building at Auburn. The university seeks to raise an additional $13 million in philanthropic support through various naming opportunities within the building."

When deciphering ancient runes and incantations or figuring out exactly who is financially responsible for anything at AU, one must trod carefully. First, it is important to note the university intends to pursue only $25 million in philanthropic contributions for a $95.4 million project, some say already forecasted to exceed this dollar amount. This is unusual as most reputable universities (for example, the University of Michigan, Florida State, Mississippi State, etc…) typically require 50% of the funds required for construction up front before breaking ground on a new project.

The AU Development Office has policy guidelines for naming a new facility which aren’t supposed to be distributed externally; 50% of the promised financial gift, not 50% of the building cost, is required up front. Apparently at AU, the percentage of the cost for new construction which will be publicly provided varies and “depends on a number of factors that may not always result in a 50-50 split” between public and private. Policy guidelines also require the facility’s construction costs and features to be compared with similar projects at “peer or aspirant” institutions in the southeast. I’ve asked a local politician why similar construction in T-town is accomplished for 60% of expenditures in ‘Grubberland’ with no reply. Perhaps Hoar construction is simply a misspelling… those who understand how righteous business is transacted are surprised by policy not allowed to be distributed externality. At least it is consistent with Stephen “Crash” Leath parachute agreement transparency at this public institution. Seems we can now have non-disclosed contractors bid on billion dollar prison contracts without any scrutiny on cronyism, conflicts of interest, etc.

Other curiosities abound in AU’s press release. Note how the remaining $70.4 million will be raised. The Rane Center will generate revenue from the boutique hotel, a 40-seat gourmet restaurant, brew pub, micro-distillery, spa and (surprise, surprise!) six apartments available for “long-term” lease. Undoubtedly all of these luxurious accommodations are meant to advance AU’s educational mission, not a student/state-subsidized kitchen for YellaGrubber within golf cart distance of his other highly subsidized hobby, football. This is an integral part of “The Grubber’s Creed” - get OTHERS to pay for your appetites and desires. Dollar for dollar Rane’s kitchen may rival the countless hours of subsidized entertainment from our recent AU scoreboard debacle.

Yours truly is certainly not the only one to notice the appalling misallocation of resources represented by this proposed monument to Rane’s appetite. Associate Professor of Theatre Dr. Robin Jaffe dared to exercise his First Amendment civil right at the August AU Senate meeting microphone to articulate a courageous screed w.r.t. the proposed monstrosity:

“How can we continue to move forward on the Rane Culinary Arts Building and 5 Diamond Hotel and Spa, that has six personal living condos at $3,000,000 a piece, with a roof swimming pool for a price tag of over $100,000,000.00? This is a venue where more than likely most students and family, staff, faculty and administration will not visit, let alone be able to afford to stay at.” - Dr. Robin Jaffe excerpt from AU Senate meeting minutes.

One may expect immediate and severe retaliation levied upon Dr. Jaffe for engaging in such bold and dissenting speech given the recent academic environment proffered by upper administrators these past years. Observing the multitude of First Amendment lawsuits currently under litigation against the University, such retaliation appears to have been standard operating procedure during the reign of terror facilitated by former President Steven “Crash” Leath. Fortunately, Leath was removed (with transparency on par with how he was installed) at the ‘fire sale’ price tag of only $4.5 million - i.e., 45 million dimes in case Messrs. Jay Jacobs or Sunny Golloway are reading. Return of a legitimate president, Prof. Jay Gogue, promises an academy tolerant of dissenting speech, providing shelter for this brave expression of revulsion at YellaGrubber’s culinary monument.

So, our next chapter of the horror picture show unfolds. Just what one of the fattest and poorest states in the nation is well served to produce toward promoting the greatest public use… a luxury kitchen for corrupt fat cats, a facility more aptly named Hell’s Kitchen rather than a culinary science center. The remaining millions of dollars will of course be generated from gifts to the College of Human Sciences, AU’s General Fund, etc. - another trough for YellaGrubber and other high Dixie plain grifters to slop themselves.

Given AU’s Lowderesque history of money for building nomenclature, it is unclear if YellaGrubber has actually donated the promised $12 million. Still waiting to see an ‘AUdacious’ photo op flaunting a giant check, tens of millions shy of the 50% for naming a building. We do have documentation of a fat check from YellaGrubber at Felon Hubbard’s trial, which brings up another shocking detail in this sordid gastronomical affair. What public servant reportedly is slated to administer Jimmy Rane’s fancy kitchen? None other than Susan (a.k.a. the Bride of Felonstein) Hubbard in our horror picture script!

Those who carefully followed the rise and fall of Felon Hubbard may understand the role Bride of Felonstein played in the AU Horror Picture Show and the amazing benefits ‘magically’ bestowed upon her on the Plains of Dixie. Bill Britt [Alabama Political Reporter] uncovered some important nuggets years ago with their classic article entitled, “Hubbard: Keeping it in the Family.” The Bride of Felonstein’s recent appointment as Dean of the College of Human Science is yet another example of “Auburn being Auburn” as ALL of her degrees and academic record occurred at AU, the home base and training ground of her fellow grifter public servant mate. Most real universities do not hire their own PhD students as tenure-track faculty and then magically make them lavishly overpaid and underworked public administrators. Sadly, Auburn is no longer a real university as it has horrifically morphed into a junior college (where culinary arts belong) sponsoring semi-pro football and basketball teams.

For those who’ve noticed similar Lowderesque building nomenclature results, don’t hold your breath awaiting 50% for any building emblazoned with Hubbard’s name or any other living individual(s) like Dr. Bill Hardgrave. Perhaps Senator “Cash-register” Shelby will donate the 50% from his campaign war chest when his political reign in the DC oligarchy finally comes to a close. Let’s check the Vegas odds on that one! Those who recall Shelby’s input among the shameful emails submitted to the Lee County Circuit Court for the Felon Hubbard trial may also remember Hubbard’s fat Southeast Gas Association checks keeping it “All in the Auburn Family” - but that’s more sitcom than horror show.

Some viewers trying to sort through this “Hell’s Kitchen” chapter of The AU Horror Picture Show are guessing the Bride of Felonstein is connecting with YellaGrubber to funnel student/taxpayer subsidized ‘hush money’ to keep Hubbard quiet given the rising probability he may in fact finally do some prison time. It will take a lot of ‘grease’ as I imagine Felon Hubbard will be very willing to sing some very beautiful, incriminating jailbird sonatas to avoid/reduce time in the prison system he helped evolve into the travesty it is today.

In closing, I’ve not yet heard any report on how the search for AU’s 20th president will be conducted. I pray it won’t be the same flawed, nontransparent process which proffered the Steven ‘Crash’ Leath result. Pres. Gogue is back on the job and reversing some of the harm done. AU’s Board of Trustees refusing Jay’s offer to remain given the last flawed search result was most revealing of this Board’s poor stewardship. Too bad our State didn’t elect someone like Alice Martin who would have kept good folks like Van Davis (sad to hear died last month) and Matt Hart employed in the AG’s office these past years to investigate matters of this sort. Imagine if we could’ve avoided Leath’s costly crash into Samford Hall to find another Gogue caliber president. It will take Jay years to really sort through all the damage, get investigations/lawsuits behind us to move forward again. Let’s NOT do the time warp again…

Postscript: congrats to the Alabama Gazette on their 20th Anniversary! May God grant the Gazette many more scores filled with blessings as the “Voice of Reason” in our State. What a joy and honour it has been to be a writer for half of those years. I have no doubt the Gazette’s courage to shine Truth and Light on many important issues when no other paper would dare has made a difference. Keep living up to this righteous Spirit and our State Motto!


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