By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
If the Governor calls a Special Session of the Legislature, House Republicans must call for Reorganization.
The failure of the 2015 Session can be traced back to the vote by the Republican House Caucus to reelect Mike Hubbard as Speaker of the House.
Hubbard, who is charged with 23 felony counts of public corruption, is unfit to serve as Speaker, and that fact has been borne out by his history, and performance during the session. He has been distracted, unruly and all together unhinged. Factions, incompetence, secret deals, and scandal, all joined forces to doom this session, leaving the “ship of state” in chaos, and perhaps, in peril for the foreseeable future. And Hubbard has been the loose cannon that inevitably damned the entire process.
Actions taken in the House and Senate last Thursday were emblematic of the failures that have marked the 2015 legislative session; but again Hubbard’s actions were the most egregious.
On Thursday, the Senate, in a hurried state, tried to pass measures that would offer a temporary fix to the General Fund Budget, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey broke the Senate’s long-standing rule on filibuster, and Hubbard closed the House Journal; effectively ending any chance of a budget resolution.
A willingness to disregard the rules and to work for personal gain, has marked this session like none in recent memory.
When Hubbard closed the journal on Thursday, that was, in effect, the end of the session, and an abdication of the Legislature’s constitutional responsibility to pass a budget.
As to why Hubbard chose this course of action is still a question that remains to be answered. Perhaps he was still stinging from the failure to pass his tax plan, which would have also given the Poarch Creek Band of Indians (PCI) a monopoly over gambling in the State; maybe he has cut another deal that will profit him personally; or, it may just be another attempt to hang on to his power for a little while longer. What has become clear from his own emails, is that Hubbard does not do anything without expecting to be paid. Personal profit is at the center of Hubbard’s every thought and deed. His emails reveal the ugliness that is deeply rooted in his heart.
Hubbard, in an email to Investment guru and BCA member, Will Brooke, wrote, “It’s ironic that I was the ‘architect’ of putting a pro-business legislature in place yet businesses seem to want to avoid any personal association with me like the plague!” He also stated, “I will make it through this session, try to do as much good as I can, and make a decision as to what to do. It is amazing, and quite disappointing, that after the sacrifices I’ve made personally and professionally to finally get Alabama a pro-business legislature, no one in the business community is willing to work with me professionally to keep me there. Maybe I’m too much of a lightning rod. I suppose, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished.”
Despite the self-pity, Hubbard was able to parlay his Speakership into around $40,000 a month in “consulting fees.”
Hubbard was so desperate for money that he threatened to leave his position as Speaker, unless the business community helped him:
“As you know, my concern is financial and the fact that serving as Speaker consumes a enormous amount of time and generates virtually no income. I have been in discussions with Governor Riley and believe I would have an opportunity to work with him and his company if I were to give up being Speaker and resign from the Legislature. Although I believe I am making positive changes in Montgomery, need to think of my obligations to my family. Please keep me in your thoughts as I make this decision.”
It has been widely rumored around the State House that Hubbard has cut a financial deal with the PCI. Speculation has been that the PCI would pay his legal fees if he passed legislation giving them a gambling monopoly, or killed Marsh’s gaming omnibus.
So, how can anyone believe that Hubbard was not acting in his own self-interest when he closed the journal on Thursday? With his previous self-centered actions in mind, how can anyone believe that Hubbard will not try to profit from legislation? Hubbard is constantly distracted due to his legal problems, missing legislative days and huddling with his attorneys at the State House, rather than conducting State business.
He has threatened legislators, privately and publicly, and has routinely acted in a manner unbecoming his office. The State’s financial house is in disarray, factions within the republican caucus are on the verge of forestalling any real progress. And, at the center of all the confusion is Hubbard, a loose cannon, who threatens to take everyone down with him.
The phrase “Loose Cannon” is believed to have been coined by Victor Hugo, author of such renowned novels as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables. In the short story, “A Fight with a Cannon,” Hugo writes,
“A cannon that breaks its moorings suddenly becomes a kind of supernatural beast. It is a machine, which transforms itself into a monster. That mass speeds on its wheels, tilts when the ship rolls, plunges when it pitches, goes, comes, stops, seems to meditate, resumes its swift movement, goes from one end of the ship to the other with the speed of an arrow, spins around, slips to one side, dashes away, rear up, spins around, slips to one side, dashes away, rears up, collides smashes, kills, exterminates.”
Hubbard has become such an instrument of destruction.
If legislators in the House truly want to make sound decisions for the betterment of the people of our State, if they really believe in offering conservative answers to the problem which face our State, then the first order on business for a Special Session is a call to Reorganize the House.
Many in the House and Senate profess Christian faith. Let each one remember how the Bible instructs those with faith to lead in I Peter 5:1-3
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
Hubbard has served for money, he has lorded over the House and even the State, and he is an example of all that is wrong with Government.
If the House is to lead as the scriptures advise, then it is well past time for Hubbard to go.