By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—To say life is full of the unexpected is perhaps a gross understatement. Anyone who has lived into middle age understands that life most often doesn’t turn out the way we plan. Human events bend, twist and turn in the most unpredictable ways.
So, it is after a year of publishing “Alabama Political Reporter” things have not gone as I had imagined.
When Susan and I came to Montgomery to report on the political news of the state we thought that the Republicans were the good guys and many are good. But the leadership abounds with hypocrisy and greed.
Naively, we thought it would be members of the GOP who would help us attract advertisers, that for the most part has not been the case and in some cases the leadership has actively worked against us.
With a few exceptions, all of our ad dollars have come from Democrats. I mentioned this to a democrat once and he laughed and said, “We actually believe in small business.”
I have never given the Democrats more than a far shake. The same can be said of anyone who does business with us. As a capitalist, I will take money from pretty much anyone.
The AEA and the Poarch Creek Indians have advertised with us. I hope they do more in the future. I doubt FOX News worries much about who advertises on its shows.
We have a new advertiser starting with us this week, it is Milton McGregor’s VictoryLand.
For the record, I am not a fan of gambling, it is an ethical issue with me as I have a problem with zero sum games played for money. I also worry about the vice that comes along with such activity. But, as a citizen of the United States and a believer in the Constitution as originally intended, I must respect the rights of free individuals to spend their money anyway they choose as long as it is legal.
We do not have the expertise to speak to the legality of gaming in Alabama. However we have looked extensively into the machines used at VictoryLand. After speaking with the technical people who design them, it is my opinion, based on the technical evidence that the eBingo machines played at Windcreek or VictoryLand are no more slot machines than the game of checkers is the game of chess. Yes, they look similar but they are not the same.
I am not a lawyer, so I don’t have to argue the point but as a thinking human and can tell the difference. My wife and I understand technology having worked in the world of computers and the Internet for over twenty years. I also think they are eBingo in the same way that my iPad reads eBooks and my iPhone reads Email. To say that an eBook or Email is somehow not a book or mail is to be living in a cave of willful ignorance.
Having also looked at the Macon County Constitutional Amendment granting the right to play bingo in any form I am left with the conclusion that they have a right to play these machines. Again, I am not a legal expert, but I do have pretty good reading comprehension skills. Alabama has lots of amendments from one county that do not apply to others and it appears that in such cases state law does not trump a local constitutional amendment.
Of course this situation looks as if it will be played out on the political stage by way of the courts. With Republicans in control and their need to win elections first and foremost in their minds, I worry that there is little chance McGregor or the eBingo machines will get a fair hearing.
Much like Del Marsh and Mike Hubbard who take Indian gaming money and lie about it so will some judges render an opinion based on politics and not the rule of law.
What is mystifying to me is the actions of the state’s Attorney General Luther Strange, a man I like and admire.
I don’t understand his actions toward McGregor’s operation and his inaction toward GreeneTrack.
I fear there is the odor of politics and not the sweet smell of law in the air.
We will keep reporting on the ongoing tensions and will keep both eyes open to discern the facts from the sideshow.
For now, I am happy to have Mr. McGregor’s business as I am any company that wants to advertise on our site.
As for us, we hope to have more advertisers so we can grow and continue to report unbiased news.
It seems there are any number of people who would like to see us go away, but let me assure them we will work harder, dig deeper and report the truth on anyone and everything political. A state without a vigorous investigative news organization is a state likely to be run by crooks and phonies.
Threats and bullying do not move us, neither does money buy us. My wife and I are of a breed that doesn’t fear and isn’t bribed. We have known poverty and we have known prosperity, but mostly we know Him who is the giver of all good things and so we are happy to say we will be around for a long, long time.
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