Tankersley Exit Interview: Final 

August 7, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

“Somebody should do something.”

After nearly five years of being rebuffed for his common-sense stance on the Ethics Commission, Dr. Stewart Hill Tankersley is doing something significant: Exposing institutional corruption and the particular failings of the Commission, sworn to hold every public official to the letter of the law.

Tankersley’s interview with APR confirms what close observers of the Commission have seen over the years.  By peeling back the ugly mechanisms of an almost lawless Commission, Tankersley has exposed  members who routinely entertain ex parte meetings with those seeking favorable outcomes on advisory opinions. Will it stop?  Will these revelations curtail the practice of granting sweetheart rulings for lawyers, lobbyists and their well-heeled clients? Will the Legislature step in and follow through on the ethics reform package prepared by the Attorney General’s Office for last session?

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Do words have meaning? A closer look at Subsection (g)

July 12, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Subsection (g) of Section 36-25-13 of the Code of Alabama 1975, is often overlooked because, on its face, this portion of the Alabama Ethics Code seems pretty straightforward (if you are not a lawyer looking to help your client find an exception to the two-year revolving door provision of the code).

Former Acting Finance Director, Bill Newton, intends to open a consulting business. So, he asked the Alabama Ethics Commission to grant him permission to use his years of government service as leverage, to provide professional services/advice, request information from public officials/employees, to aid his potential clients, under what they hope may be an exception to the two-year ban on such activities.
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Former Acting Finance Director wants an exception

June 8, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Former Acting Finance Director Bill Newton intends to open a consulting business. So, he asked the Alabama Ethics Commission to grant him permission to use his years in government service as leverage to provide professional services/advice, request information from public officials/employees, to aid his potential clients, all the while ignoring that there is a two-year ban on such activities.

Newton’s attorney Joel Dillard said to the commissioners, “I believe there’s no real disagreement between the commission staff and between Mr. Newton, on what the answers to all four questions are; which is ‘no.’ The only real problem is the final one, number 4.”
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Gov. Ivey’s Legal Advisor’s State filings lists, debt, income, and more

May 2, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

After taking the oath of office to become the 54th Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey said, “The Ivey administration will be open, transparent, and honest.”

Gov. Ivey’s top Legal Advisor, Bryan Taylor, listed his total personal indebtedness for 2015, between $600,000 and $850,000. His salary was around $145,000, with at least $55,000 paid by his wife’s company. His ethics filings do not reflect the $55,000. And the administration appointed Taylor under a classification that allows him to return to his merit position after leaving Ivey’s service.
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More bailing on failed software

November 15, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

For over a year, Governor Robert Bentley repeatedly received warnings concerning the many technological and systematic failures under the leadership of Acting Finance Director, Bill Newton, and his assistant, Rex McDowell.

The time and attendance management system eSTART is just one of several software solutions to fail so badly; it had to be abandoned. A recent letter from State Health Officer Thomas M. Miller, M.D., informed the staff of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), that eSTART would no longer be used to report time and attendance.
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Hearing Wednesday in Zeigler’s challenge to Bentley’s $47 million STAARS software

September 21, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, September 21, a hearing will be held in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Robert Bentley’s (R) controversial $47 million no-bid contract for the purchase of the ,much maligned STAARS software.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) filed suit alleging that the massive no-bid contract violates Alabama’s bid laws and the software does not work. He is asking that the contract be voided and that the purchase money returned to the State’s General Fund.
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Carter Returns to Finance in Troubling Times

August 29, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Former Deputy State Finance Director, Clinton Carter, is returning to the government service to advise on revenue and financial policy.  According to sources in Governor Robert Bentley’s inner circle, and those with close ties to Finance, Carter is being groomed to replace Acting Finances Director, Bill Newton. Reliable insiders claim Newton hand-picked his successor to ensure access to the department, and those who are well-tended by cushy contracts doled out under his watch. But there is doubt that Carter is that pliable.
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Attorney General’s Opinion Decides Round One in Technology Turf War

August 3, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—An Attorney General’s Opinion issued July 29, confirms the State Personnel Board (SPB) and the State Personnel Department (SPD) have the specific authority to “promulgate the manner by which State agencies are to maintain time and leave records.”

The legal definition of promulgating means, “to formally proclaim or declare a new statutory or administrative law as in effect, after it receives final approval.”
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Lawsuit Filed Over STAARS

July 22, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—A lawsuit was filed late Thursday night in Montgomery Circuit Court, over the $47 million dollar black hole known as STAARS.

At the heart of the complaint is the no-bid contract entered into by Governor Robert Bentley and the State Department of Finance. The suit brought by State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who is suing in his official capacity and as an individual, will go before Montgomery Circuit Judge William Shashy. In the complaint, Zeigler is also representing, “a class of all taxpayers whose taxes are funding payment for the illegal STAARS contract.”
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Is eSTART the New STAARS?

July 19, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Even though the shoddily implemented STAARS accounting software is still causing major headaches for agencies and vendors, the Department of Finances is doubling down on a troubled new time and attendance system named eSTART.

All agencies, major and minor, are reporting unanimously: eSTART doesn’t lives up to the hype.

eSTART is the State’s name for the Kronos time and attendance program that, according to the company’s website, “makes easy work of the tedious tasks involved with monitoring employee time and attendance… simplified time-tracking software — working in tandem with our data collection devices — helps you control labor costs, minimize compliance risk, and improve workforce productivity … without breaking a sweat.”
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