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Ivey Administration set to kill parking deck bill over “optics.”

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter


A bill that would provide much-needed parking space for State employees and those doing business in Montgomery, overwhelmingly passed the State Senate and looked to be a shoo-in in the House. However, the project is being threatened by those in the Gov. Kay Ivey Administration who fear of “bad optics.”

Bad optics, according to the Urban Dictionary is, “What something will look like to the outside world; the perception a public relations person would have on something.”

If Gov. Ivey’s team is suddenly worried about “political perception,” it is worth noting that Ivey is filling key positions in her inner circle with former Gov. Bob Riley’s political hacks and those “optics” seem of little concern.

SB84 sponsored by Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) would authorize legislation to build a new parking deck, beside the Gordon Persons Building within the Capital Complex. The act would increase available parking for State employees and those with business before the State from 250 spaces to 1,300 spaces, according to a presentation by state Finance Director Clinton Carter. One level will be reserved for public parking.

The cost for the proposed parking facility is approximately $17 million which half will be paid for with Federal funds. The remainder would be funded by a bond issuance.

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But someone high on the Ivey food chain doesn’t want to see construction taking place near the State House in an election season.

Like her predecessor, disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley, it appears Ivey is heeding the advice of staffers with a personal political agenda and not those who wish to improve government efficacy or promote wise spending.

Seven senators voted against the measure including the powerful budget chairs Trip Pitman and Arthur Orr. What influence they have over Ivey’s intent to kill the parking deck legalization is unknown.

But, as several Senators have observed that sabotaging SB84 is about political consideration not sound fiscal planning.

State employee parking is shrinking, and anyone who works or does business in the Capital Complex knows first hand a fix is needed.

It’s ironic that members of the Governor’s staff are stalling SB84 while they enjoy premium parking spaces and/or curbside service. Ignoring the need for a cost-effective option to increase employee morale and provide a safe and secure option for the State workforce all because of optics is unacceptable.

In a 2010, Ben Zimmer, writing on language for the New York Times found, “When politicians fret about the public perception of a decision more than the substance of the decision itself, we’re living in a world of optics.”

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Ivey promised to “right the ship of State,” so far at least some who have her ear are more interested in getting the next election right instead of enacting sound policy based on good judgment. Politics not progress seems to be the order of the day.


Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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