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Another sick deal for the Alabama political elite

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The most sickening moments in former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s public corruption trial came when emails between Hubbard and former Gov. Bob Riley were shown on screens and read aloud.

Those emails were mostly Hubbard whining about being unable to live on a measly $300,000-plus per year. But they were also an unfiltered look inside the world of two of Alabama’s political elite as they discussed the perks of their power and their influence over taxpayer money.

Riley, the guy in those exchanges not going to prison, had signed off on more than $150 million in economic incentives to lure Airbus to the state in 2008, and then, before the door to the governor’s mansion had barely closed behind him on his way out, Riley signed up as a paid lobbyist for Airbus.

And there he was in those emails, apparently holding influence – at least, Hubbard sure seemed to think so – over Airbus’ plans for suppliers and other expenditures. Hubbard wanted a few suppliers in areas that would help him, maybe prove his worth to his other clients.

Because that’s the way it usually works in Alabama. Our politicians selling us out for their own financial gain, doing the bidding of large companies at the expense of the people they serve.

And it just keeps going.

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On Wednesday, Airbus and Gov. Kay Ivey’s office announced a “partnership” to bring the Airbus Aviation Center to Mobile.

I put “partnership” in quotes because I can’t quite figure out how it is one.

The facility will cost $6.5 million (I’ll get to that in a minute) and of that money, the taxpayers of Alabama will pay $6.5 million. Now, I’m no math wiz, but I do believe that if you take $6.5 million from $6.5 million, that leaves Airbus’ contribution at a nice, round zero dollars.

It will be called the Airbus Aviation Center.

It will be managed by Airbus.

It will train Airbus employees.

It will charge the tax-paying citizens of Alabama who built it an entrance fee.

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The chairman of Airbus America was quoted in the release form Ivey’s office saying, “Airbus strongly supports the establishment of this education center.”

You don’t say?

What company in the world wouldn’t be all for a gifted $6.5 million facility to train its employees?

The better question is this: Why in God’s name is a state that’s as broke as Alabama forking over $6.5 million to build a training facility for a company that’s made more than $10 billion in pure profit over the last five years?

It’s not like we couldn’t have used the $6.5 million. For schools. For health care. For state worker pay raises or bonuses. For pretty much anything that government is supposed to do.

Instead, it’s going to a billion-dollar company that has yet to live up to even the first guarantee involved in the $158 million incentive package the state forked over to lure the plant.

Why?

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And then I remember who was selected as Ivey’s legal advisor. And which former governor was in attendance at a private party on the day she was sworn in.

And I start to get that sick feeling all over again.

 

Josh Moon
Written By

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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