26 Apr 2013
- Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 06:40
- Published Date
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said that for the 2013 session, Common Core is “off the table.” This statement sent shockwaves through the Conservative wing of the Alabama Republican Party.
The fight to repeal Common Core had reached the pinnacle of conservative politics with the RNC passing a resolution saying, in part, the RNC, “...rejects this Common Core State Standards which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.”
Chairman of the ALGOP Bill Armistead has said that Common Core was an “overreach of the federal government in dictating our school curriculum.” Governor Robert Bentley had said that he wanted the state to reject Common Core. Even the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation called for its repeal.
But it seems the real fount of wisdom lies with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), at least when it comes to the Republican agenda in our state.
It was not State School Superintendent Tommy Bice and his rally at the Capitol that killed the repeal effort. No, it was Mike Hubbard’s doppelgänger Billy Canary, head of the BCA who put the nail in the conservative’s hope of retaining state sovereignty over its schools. Canary, a transplanted New Yorker, said of Common Core, “These standards are vital in preparing students to compete in the 21st century global workforce which requires highly skilled workers. Adoption of SB403 and HB565 would be a giant step backward, based on a false premise that Alabama and local school systems would lose control over their curriculum. While some will continue a campaign of fear on this issue, we will continue to stand united in the business, education and military communities in offering our children the hope of a bright future regardless of the zip code they live in.”
Are we to believe that the RNC, Governor Bentley, Chairman Armistead and the conservatives of Alabama are all a part of what Canary calls a “campaign of fear?” Sadly, the Republican Party at the legislative level is being controlled by corporatists and those who oppose their agenda are disparaged and mocked. In his ode to his own greatest, "Storming the StateHouse" Mike Hubbard states clearly that it was Canary and the BCA that gave him the tools to takeover the Alabama Legislature.
Diamond Mike is beholden to his fellow self appointed potentate, New Yorker Bonny Billy.
Hubbard and Marsh with the aid of Billy Canary have played social conservatives like a fiddle promising them much and giving them little.
In an AL.com report Hubbard is quoted as saying, "You can make arguments on both sides and I've heard them. But at the end of the day I'm very reluctant for the Legislature to get into policy making down at that level, usurping the authority of the elected board that was elected to do that."
Since when has Diamond Mike deferred to anyone? He bullies and threatens but is never reluctant to use whatever power is necessary to get what he wants. But his buddy Bonny Billy wants Common Core so, he is going to get it for him. Quid Pro Quo is the Omertà of this band of boys. So, once again, Diamond Mike, stands in the shadows as brave soldier Marsh falls on his sword for the corporate masters.
Has anyone else noticed that Hubbard, Marsh and Canary all kind of look a like? Nevermind.
Marsh said, he thought the issue was too important and too complex to rush into. These words are coming from the man who pushed through the Alabama School Accountability Act under the cover of darkness and now seeks to “fix” its many problems.
Irony cannot be lost on the disingenuousness of Marsh’s statement. Perhaps he should consult David Azbell AKA Susan Marshall, before trying to pawn off such faulty excuses on the people of Alabama. Azbell always makes Diamond Mike seems reasonable even at his most bizarre.
Conservatives are not fooled. Around the state they are waking up to the fact that Diamond Mike and Marsh have sold their soul to the corporate overlords. Real conservatives, and not those hand-picked to bow-and-scrape before Diamond Mike, are lining up for the next election.
Chins-up conservatives. 2014 is the year when you will have a voice at the ballot box. A voice you are being denied in Montgomery today. Conservatives lost this battle for Common Core for now. But this is just the beginning of the fight between Alabama conservatives and the bought-and-paid-for corporate elite led by Diamond Mike.
Long live the conservatives who stand against the wiles of the wicked, for in due season we will repeat if we faint not.
15 Apr 2013
- Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 06:46
- Published Date
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Like many in our state I applauded the takeover of the Alabama State House by Republicans. I had believed that they would bring a more conservative era of government to our state. The Republican’s promised an end of special interest control. They promised that they would usher in an era of transparency and accountability.
This has for the most part not been the case.
Today, there is an almost complete takeover of the government apparatus by corporations. Self-enrichment, kickbacks and money-for-influence is the order of the day. The man behind the so-called “Storming of the StateHouse” has become the leader of a gang of thugs who are bent on total control and a looting of the government of Alabama.
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard has served as the Impresario over an orgy of greed and corruption. His avarice goes beyond what could have been conceivable under the Democrats. So rampant is his lust for money and power that a golden calf could be erected at the entrance to the fifth floor of the State House without a single wink of irony. Pay-for-play, corporate welfare and bowing to the almighty dollars is the law of the land under Diamond Mike.
He and his cronies, tell companies which lobbyist they must hire and how much must be paid to get a bill passed. Heaven forbid a business give to a democrat or advertise with the “Alabama Political Reporter,” it will be cut off.
Diamond Mike and the Republican corporatists have been a boom for the GOP elite, their cronies and the lobbyist who serve big business.
Meanwhile, crumbs are handed out to social conservatives as a token for their continued obedience. The same is true for those who long for strict constitutionalism. Of course none of their issue have been even remotely addressed until this last real session before election season.
Hubbard and his minions pretend to be a social conservative when they need the votes but in word and deed, Hubbard and his boys are just opportunist.
From pro-life measures to second amendment rights, Diamond Mike has bobbed, weaved and danced like Mohammed Ali.
The first piece of real pro-life legislation has just recently passed the Alabama Legislature. Before last week Don Siegelman was the last governor of Alabama to sign a real pro-life bill. I have heard the lies that it was the democrats who stood in the way of pro-life legislation. But those who know the truth know that is was people like Mike Hubbard and Bob Riley who kept Christian Conservatives from enacting laws concerning life.
Even on Hubbard’s Facebook announcement about the Woman’s Health and Safety Act, he referred to it as the abortion bill. Words are very telling. Real pro-life conservatives call them PRO-LIFE Mr. Hubbard. You would have thought Hubbard’s $8000.00 dollar a month message-man David Azbell would know the lingo of those they try to hoodwink. Perhaps, Azbell was busy in Vegas or sexually harassing young staffers.
As for Second Amendment legislation, Diamond Mike does not want the Senate “Gun Bill” to pass because his bosom buddy Billy Canary at BCA doesn’t want the “parking lot” section of the bill to pass.
Hubbard, is a fake conservative. Worse than a RINO, he has no idea what being an Alabama conservative is all about.
Far from being the brilliant strategist he portrays himself in his “ode to myself,” “Storming the StateHouse,” he is a man with no ideas accept those which enriches Diamond Mike and his little buddies.
Ever notice that the cover of his book has him standing in front of the Capitol not the State House? Watch out Governor Bentley, Mike says he has “no plans” to run for Governor. But if he can find a weakness he will run and run hard at you. His polling firm is hard at work, looking for a favorable wind.
Graft, greed and a love of power is all Mike Hubbard is about. A poor Georgia boy who found fame and fortune in Alabama. Along the way he has become everything that is bad about politics. Why is Diamond Mike allowed to get away with turning the state of Alabama into his personal casino? Because too many elected servants of the people have become cowards. They fear Diamond Mike. His money, his power and his greed has made them weaklings. They have traded their principles for the next election, they have sold their conscience for a chairmanship or less. The fact is there is nothing to fear from Mike Hubbard. If you think there is look at me.
He has done his best to ruin me and my wife. He has thrown all his power and might into trying to destroy us personally and professionally. We are still standing. Be not afraid!
Who will stand-up, is there not one among you who values the people of Alabama, and the principles of good government more than they fear Mike Hubbard? His punishment is nothing compared to looking in the mirror and seeing a coward.
What do we teach our children? Do we teach them to run from the schoolyard bully or the stand and fight?
Recently, several republican legislators have come to me and said that they think that the Republicans will soon become known as no better than the Democrats they replaced. They point to Mike Hubbard and his cronies as the men who will bring about the Republican demise. This is an overstatement. In the short term, the GOP power will remain firm but over time Hubbard and his minions will do enough damage that the media nor the voters will be able to ignore their corruption.
Witness the fact that Diamond Mike’s last three candidates have lost their elections by large margins. The Tea Party is not fooled, social conservatives are not fooled and the people are waking up. Will the elected members of our government follow suit before Mike Hubbard ruins the Republican Party and more importantly our state?
Be not afraid, God is not mocked. You will reap what you sow.
Stand and be counted or bow down on the Fifth floor.
Do not be afraid of Diamond Mike...he’s nobody.
18 Mar 2013
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 06:47
- Published Date
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Over the last half-year we have published a series of well-documented articles into the misdealing and misleading activities of the leadership of the Republicans in the Alabama State Legislature, primarily the actions of Mike Hubbard, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, and Adelbert Marsh, the President Pro Tem of the Senate. From soliciting campaign contributions from the Indian gambling interest and hiding the information from voters, to money laundering and funneling campaign dollars to personal businesses, these have been topics of detailed reports.
These have not been opinions, nor speculations, but well-researched stories with accompanying public records.
These reports were first dismissed by the Republican leadership by saying that our news organization was not the “real" press, but an online blog.
Then they tried to deny our reports because of some of our advertisers, such as the AEA and Indian Casinos.
Finally, they have sought to discredit our reporting by trying to smear us personally.
The only thing that the Republican leadership has not done, specifically Hubbard and Marsh, is deny the facts of our reporting.
Hubbard, Marsh and their followers promised to bring a new transparency to the state government of Alabama with “Alabama” values and a conservative agenda. Yet, they have brought shame on the Republican Party, dishonesty to state government and have reaffirmed the people’s greatest fears that no party is without its corruptors.
What answers do these Republican elites give when faced with the facts of their misdealing? They offer character assassination and financial terrorism.
For almost a year we had been told that Hubbard had been suggesting to people that they not advertise on our site. Lately, lobbyists, associations, and even large corporations, have been warned us that the Speaker would not be “happy” if their ads appeared on our pages.
A major organization that had once promised that they would advertise on our site during the legislative session, said they could not because, “You are on the Speaker’s hit list.”
This, of course, should not come as a surprise to many Republican legislators. As everyone knows, any GOP lawmaker who dares to oppose Hubbard is threatened with ruin at the polls or worse.
Troy University has been one of our advertising clients with a year long contract. Two days after we wrote a report showing (from http://open.alabama.gov) that Hubbard had increased spending in the Speaker’s office 82.6 percent over his Democratic predecessor, Seth Hammett, the agency for Troy University called and said that they wanted the Troy University ad removed from our site, “Immediately.”
As we were busy, it took us until the next day to reply to the University’s advertising agency in South Carolina. However, during that short time period, the agent sent three emails and made numerous calls to have the ad pulled, “Immediately.”
When we spoke with the agent, she said that Troy was having budget cuts, but they would pay for the ads and whatever appropriate amount was due for cancellation.
We assured her we would accommodate her wishes, also saying we would certainly not charge them for the time the ad remained until we could take it down. In the most harried of tones, she insisted the ad come down immediately.
We have been around the advertising business for years. Most people are happy to have you run their ads as long as they do not have to pay for them, unless there is another reason. That reason is most often a threat they have received.
This is a pattern with Hubbard and his followers, character assassination and financial terrorism.
It is sad, really.
With no less than three special grand juries focusing on Hubbard and Marsh, one in Montgomery, one in Calhoun and another in Lee County, it would seem that they would not want to be so brazen in attacking our media company. Do they think prosecutors do not see that they are attacking the messenger? Do they think people can’t see the facts in front of them?
Hubbard and Marsh have destroyed Democrats and Republicans. Now they want to destroy the only media outlet that has the guts to report the truth about their activities.
After a week of continuing revelations about Hubbard’s spending, David Azbell’s partying, and the sealed bids given to Hubbard to win the Auburn media contracts, the Speaker’s office closed for a “former employee's wedding” on Friday.
Those who are in contact with the Speaker on a regular basis say he is coming unhinged. Temper tantrums, spells of depression and erratic behavior have all been reported.
Even Hubbard’s fundraising efforts have slowed as big donor checkbooks are closing due to the investigations and fears of what is to come.
Several legislators have been looking for a way to launch an inquiry into Hubbard and Marsh, but the state lacks a real mechanism for such an internal investigation.
Governor Bentley is seen by many as the only man who might have the political power to bring the appropriate pressure on Hubbard to step down before the scandal costs the GOP its supermajority in 2014.
Two Hubbard-backed candidates have taken enormous hits in recent months. First, Hubbard’s candidate for Chairman of the ALGOP, and then Republican Jim Barton in his run for State Senate (District 35). Both lost their races by large margins.
The Tea Party has turned away from Hubbard-backed candidates, and more are learning daily about Hubbard’s brand of big spending, self-enriching style of governing. It is rumored that there is even a $1000.00 silk plant in the Speaker’s office, according to several former insiders. If the office suites occupied by the Speaker of the Alabama House is adorned with a $1000.00 silk plant, then we would like to know who paid for it.
But that is a small thing compared to the weakness of character of the man who now is said to be the most powerful man in Alabama politics.
While Hubbard and his cronies lavished in a lifestyle more in keeping with kings than public servants, the hard-working people of Alabama are given lectures on cutting state services. How many courthouse workers have been laid off while Hubbard has increased his office spending by 82.6 percent? Is there not a courthouse in Alabama that could put the $8000.00 a month paid to Hubbard’s consultant, David Azbell, to better use?
What does a real conservative like Chief Justice Roy Moore have to say when courts are cut to the bone? Yet the Speaker’s office spends lavishly and the Pro Tem's Office gave someone on his staff a 25 percent raise?
We are certain that the voters of Alabama have more in common with the principles of the Chief Justice than they do with the Hubbard or Marsh types.
Why is it that Marsh and Hubbard are allowed to spend at will, and the judicial branch of government has to come begging to keep the courthouse doors open?
Why has the State House been almost completely redecorated with new marbled tile and luxurious carpet? Why have GOP legislators been given remodeled suites? Why has there been such spending on the State House when the courthouses around the State are closing their doors?
There is more real political power at the courthouse than there is at the State House, but Hubbard does not work at the courthouse. His domain is the newly marbled halls of the State House.
Under SB122, one of Marsh’s “streamlining measures” which has passed the Senate and is now set for a vote in the House, there is no accountability for the office budgets of the Speaker, Pro Tem or Lt. Governor. Why is this? More staff, more remodeling? Why should every other office of government have oversight and not these three?
While Hubbard grows his own office, he has gone on the attack to destroy our very small business. The only reason is we print the facts about Hubbard and Marsh in the light of day. It must truly scare those who live in darkness, knowing that the light will shine sooner or later.
Over the last year, our advertising dollars have been increasing almost monthly. They should have increased greatly during the legislative session because we reach the right people everyday. However, our advertising dollars are shrinking because we are on "Hubbard’s Hit List".
It is sad, really. In reporting on Hubbard’s contract worries with Auburn University, Paul Davis wrote, "He [Hubbard] was almost tearful when we talked, saying over and over again that he was going to lose his home and his business."
Hubbard will continue to attack with character assassination and financial terrorism, but we will not bend and we will not bow.
In our world, there is always a forth-man in the fiery furnace of life.
Maybe not today, but soon, advertisers will step forward to replace each one threatened by Hubbard. Good business needs good government and you cannot have good government without a free press.
We have printed the facts, and they have countered not with facts, but with dirty tricks.
Hubbard promised the people of Alabama smaller government, honest government, and that he would dare defend their rights.
He has failed on every point. We dare say, we don’t want such men defending our rights - we will defend them ourselves.
The State of Alabama does not need marbled halls in the State House but men and women with hearts to serve and a will to lead righteously.
01 Apr 2013
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 06:56
- Published Date
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The freedom of the press is under attack in Alabama, not just small news organizations like the Alabama Political Reporter but the very idea itself.
Over the last year, our news organization has reported a series of articles that have examined the conduct of many leaders within state government.
Chiefly, we have reported on the financial and political dealings of the current Speaker of the Alabama House Mike Hubbard.
Mr. Hubbard, personally and through surrogates, has launched an aggressive assault against us personally as well as professionally.
Mr. Hubbard, has never publicly denied the facts of our reporting nor has he allowed us an opportunity to question him personally concerning these matters.
What he has done is use state-paid employees to actively cause harm to our business.
Using his influence and methods of fear and intimidation, he has cost our news organization valuable advertising dollars.
Troy University pulled its advertising contract because of Mr. Hubbard.
Others potential business clients have expressed fear of reprisal if they were to advertise on our site.
Recently, Mr. Hubbard’s Chief of Staff, Josh Blades, a state employee, who makes over $100,000 dollars a year in taxpayer-funded dollars, approached lobbyist for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and tried to convince them to have the tribe removed their advertising from our site.
The incident at Troy University along with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians lobbyist are easily verified.
Do you, sirs, believe that it is right or just that an elected official or his staff or operatives use the authority of the Speaker of the House to ruin the business and livelihood of others?
Surely, it is incumbent upon you General Strange to investigate such matters. Is it not also your moral duty, Mr. Governor, to ensure that leaders of our state do not abuse their office?
If Mr. Hubbard did not like the way a mechanic repaired his automobile would you condone him using his office or state employees to destroy the mechanic’s business and reputation?
We are credentialed members of the press and follow the historical guidelines of a press organization. We are not a blog, published by a school-boy in the darkness of his parents basement.
Of course you both know this as you have both granted us personal interviews on several occasions.
General Strange, you have known us long before we came to Montgomery. You have broken bread with us on more than one occasion. You know us as individuals and as members of the press.
Mr. Governor, you have also sat with us for several hours and given us full access to your office. While it is more than likely that you have not always been pleased with our reporting you have not tried to harm our business in retaliation.
Our reporting on Mr. Hubbard has been well documented with facts.
His answer has been retaliation by attacking our businesses’ advertising base. Is this not a violation of his office?
Many reporters in our state are afraid to report on Mr. Hubbard because they fear losing their jobs. Is this the way that the government of Alabama should operate? Are these the Alabama values that Mr. Hubbard wants to wear as a mantle for the next election?
Through his office as Speaker and the powerful influence of his Auburn Network and its affiliates, Mr. Hubbard as cowed the press through threats and financial terrorism.
One journalist said, “I am not going to report what the Alabama Political Reporter has, because he [Hubbard] could have me fired with one phone call.”
Is it not your jobs sirs to privately and publicly denounce, investigate and bring an end to such practices?
Please allow me to remind you of what Justice William Brennan wrote in the landmark, US Supreme Court case, The New York Times v. Sullivan, "a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials."
In his opinion, Justice Brennan maintained that freedom of expression, freedom of the press must have the "breathing space" it needs to survive.
But how does a free press survive if their means of making money is thwarted by those elected officials on which they report?
Would you, sirs, stoop to such low measures or do you believe like James Madison that, “the right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon, which has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.”?
We believe you are honorable men and we do believe that you want to do what is best for our state.
This is why in this public way we ask that you stand with the free press and bring your legal and moral power to bare to stop Mr. Hubbard from continuing to use the power of his office to destroy the free press in Alabama.
We are not so naive as to believe that Mr. Hubbard will relent or renounce his ways of conducting his political affairs. We can only pray that honest men will rise up and say, “Enough is enough.”
History is on the side of a free people, our country has proven that to be true.
Our country has also proven that a free and unfetter press, however unpopular, is the best defense against the corruption of would-be dictators.
Justice Brandeis, in his concurring opinion in Whitney v. California wrote, “Those who won our independence believed . . . that public discussion is a political duty, and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies, and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law—the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so that free speech and assembly should be guaranteed.”
Our reports on Mr. Hubbard have been fact-based, he has countered, not with facts but with attacks on our business.
We have reported Mr. Hubbard’s action, accurately and factually.
He has responded by using his office and state workers in an attempt to ruin our business. No one is safe, when those in government are free to uses their power to destroy.
This is not about one news outlet, or the few people who have been directly effected by the actions of the Speaker. It is about all of us, who we are as a people. It is about what it means to be a good public servant, a good citizen and a good government.
It is about what what Thomas Jefferson said, “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
We at the Alabama Political Reporter have staked our ground, we will stand and fight.
We ask you sirs will you stand with those of us who believe that good and honest government should only fear the press when that government is neither good nor honest? Or will you sit silently by until there is no more liberty to defend?
Stand up for the people and the press and call down those who would limit freedom of speech and freedom the press, it your duty.
13 Mar 2013
- Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 07:12
- Published Date
Dear Mister Hubbard,
Lately, you, through your minions have seen fit to launch a personal attack campaign against me and my wife.
Please, do not try to deny this as you will only make yourself look more foolish than you already appear dishonorable. I have spoken to several people within your circle and they are not so good at lying when a man is looking them in the face or speaking the truth directly too them.
Every word I have written about you has been printed in the light of day with my name firmly affixed to it.
What you have had written about me and my wife has been hidden behind the veil of the internet using the name of a woman that no one seems to know. Most think it is one of your henchmen hiding behind a woman’s name. How apropos.
Perhaps, your character has become so calloused through political campaigns that you somehow think it is permissible to attack a man’s wife. I don’t know what kind of man it is that thinks that a woman who has done no more than assist her husband to create a small business is grist for your filth mill. Let me assure you this behavior will not be tolerated. I am a man and as a man I will take whatever comes. But you nor your little men have any right to touch my wife. She is a virtuous woman, the light and love of my life and my duty is to protect her as best I can.
Whatever sins, mistakes or wrong doings in my house fall on my head because that is the way God ordained it.
Yes, I am a flawed man, but daily I ask God for His forgiveness through my Lord Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you have lived so long with fear and paranoia about your own life that you believe that there are those of us who do the same. What a shame.
Some say you have talent, and it would appear that you at one time possessed a great measure. However, you have wasted that talent in pursue of poison fruit and leave only destruction and dishonor in your wake.
I dare say that if a secret vote where taken today in the Alabama House of Representatives you would find yourself almost completely alone, certainly you would find the Speaker’s gavel you seem to prize so dearly in the hand of another man.
Sadly, you are surround with very few men who dare challenge you or your dirty methods. But let me assure you only small men with wicked minds attack a man’s wife.
If you think for one second I will back down from doing my job then you surely do not understand the type of man I am. I do not run from bullies, thugs or thieves. I run at them.
And real men do not need to hide their work in darkness. Only those who serve the prince of darkness need the covering of his cloak.
Many people especially conservatives have called me and my wife since you started your assault on us. They say they are praying for us that we will stand fast and stand strong against your disgraceful actions. Yes they know it is you as well.
We, in turn, pray for you that the light of God’s goodness might turn your heart from wickedness to love.
All I have written or said about you has been under the bright-light of day, I am not a coward that hides behind others.
I don’t expect this letter will cause you a moment's worry but it should because you have crossed a line of decency even for your profession.
My wife’s name is Susan, a name you should only use with the greatest respect.
My reporting has never been personal but you have disparaged my wife so now I must reply with the strongest of my personal thoughts. But even those I have tempered for decency's sake.