By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
There are days when I find political maneuvering as baffling as Lady Gaga’s wardrobe.
While Gaga is obviously taking cues from her fairy godfather Elton John, is it not time for something new?
Shamefully, institutions and political organization are guilty of the same foolish imitation as the entertainment industry.
Michael Steele anyone? Did the GOP really think that having a man of African-American birth at the head of the RNC would give them standing alongside the first African-American president of the United States?
So, it was when Paul Hubbert and Joe Reed announced their retirement from the AEA. With Hubbert and Reed announcement there was a brief moment when many around the state thought that there might be a real change in the leadership at AEA.
But with the appointment of former business lobbyist and ex-state Finance Director Henry Mabry to replaced Hubbert and teacher-turned-AEA staff attorney Gregory Graves to take over from Reed it became clear that the AEA would not change of its own accord.
This selection reminded me of the switch-a-roo on the TV show Bewitched. In the sixth season of the show, Dick York was replaced by Dick Sargent in the role of Darrin, Samantha’s erstwhile mortal husband. There was never a public explanation for the change just poof, one day Dick York the next Dick Sargent. It has often been speculated that since TV audiences are sometimes not really paying attention, or worst, not very smart at all, that they would not notice the change. Perhaps the TV executives thought well, they are both named Dick so, maybe people won’t notice. So, it seems the genteel viewing public of the sixties was to be tricked when one Dick replaced another.
Is this what the AEA had in mind when it replaced the top guy with another white man and the number two with a black man? Did they think people would not notice?
Really, what is it with Alabama Democrats, always putting a white man at the head while keeping the black man at number two. In the Democrat leadership, there are many more capable men and women of color that should be leading the party. Why is there no one pointing out that this just might be racism?
I remember having a conversation with Dr. Reed at a Unity Breakfast a few years back when he recalled how every white man who wanted to be governor of Alabama came to his office to get his approval, Dr. Reed said to me that he was astonished by how dismissive these men were. Reed went on to lament that they never came to him and asked him to run for governor.
Sadly, this is at best soft bigotry, at worst full-blown racism.
The president of our county is a man of African-American decent, this shows that on whole the nation was ready for his leadership no matter of color. Why not in Alabama?
But once again the good old boys lead and smart and talented men and women of color are to follow at least according to the Alabama Democratic honchos.
Of course, the fact that Mabry was finance director under Gov. Don Siegelman, should scare the pants off any fiscal conservative. But this, while certainly troubling, is inconsequential next to the problems facing the AEA. Even with the Dick York/Dick Sargent conundrum the union is at a crossroads and is more than likely stuck on the tracks with a locomotive barreling like a cannonball down on them.
Mabry in his comment to the press has trotted out the same style of offense as Hubbert, making it sound like the AEA is all about the children.
The AEA has never been about the children, or education or even teachers. The AEA is built on the backs of custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and maintenance personnel.
It is not a teacher’s union, it is a labor union!
Teachers are professional educators not cafeteria workers and should be rewarded as professionals. Teacher serve a more important position within our schools—than their support staff—that being educating Alabama’s children.
If the state really wanted to trim the budget, get education under control and reward teachers according to their professional accomplishments it would privatize all school food service, all custodial work, all maintenance jobs and bus drivers.
But the AEA for years has dazzled the state with propaganda that pales in absurdity next to a Gaga outfit.
What Democratic voters should find most outrageous is that Republicans that are the ones bent on cleaning up education excesses not Democrats.
Are not Democrats the party of education? Then why is it that the GOP is standing up to fix education, because they have leadership.
Democrats you don’t have to be afraid of Hubbert and Reed any longer. They are out of power they can’t hurt you and they surely can’t help you.
Why is a party built on the votes of African-American citizens led by white men whose thinking, intellect and convictions are more attuned to the 50s than the realities of the 21st century. Today, good and equal education will be hard won if the African-American leaders within the Democrat Party do not stand up and be counted among leadership.
It is high time to awake from the past and not be tricked by the whirl and flourish of the same performers in different clothes.
Sometimes it really is about the children but with the AEA the change is not change.