By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington addressed the Etowah County Republican Party in Rainbow City, Alabama, at the Western Sizzlin.
Carrington had previously announced that he was running for governor; but after incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey announced that she would seek a term, he announced that he would not be a candidate. He also is not running for county commissioner again.
Carrington said that on the first day he was elected, Jefferson County had $3.2 billion in defaulted sewer debt and $105 million in general obligation debt that was also in default.
“We were three years behind on our audit,” Carrington said.
The county-owned hospital was losing $10 to $14 million a year. There was a county-owned nursing home that was losing $2 to $5 million a year, and the county commissioners were functioning as both the legislative and executive branches.
“Today we are fiscally and operationally restored with 1000 fewer employees and without raising no new revenues,” he said.
Carrington said that they began by separating the legislative and executive branches and by hiring a county manager.
The nursing home was appraised at $8 million; but when we opened the sealed bids, the highest bid was $3 million. We didn’t accept that. Instead, we broke up the assets and sold them separately and got $11 million. That was the leveraged buyout model that was so popular. Applying business principles to government.
“The hospital was losing $10 to 15 million a year,” Carrington said. “We could not keep it open. We were then in bankruptcy. We had a 24 hour a day 7 days a week hospital for 312 beds, but we were averaging only 37 patients a night.”
“We now pay the other hospitals for the indigent care.” Ms. Moseley was my biggest critic at the time. Carrington said that he talked with her recently and she said, “You were right and I was wrong. I am receiving better health care today than I ever received at that hospital. I just didn’t trust you.”
“We applied proven business principles to solve complex government problems,” Carrington said. I think we need to elect more business people. We need to elect trustworthy people. Having good character is not enough. To be truly trustworthy you need both good character and competent. “Stop electing so many lawyers to office.”
Carrington said that the focus of the Commission is to regain our position in economic development. Harrington said that they have not landed the home run-like Airbus, but have been hitting a lot of singles and doubles.
“The GDP of Greater Birmingham is greater that Mobile, Montgomery, and Huntsville combined,” Carrington said. AutoCar, which manufactures big trucks, recently announced that they were opening a plant in Jefferson County and bringing 748 jobs averaging $58,000 per year. They have suppliers that are going to have to move or put a warehouse in or near Jefferson County.
Carrington said that government-like businesses have to set some aggressive goals and demand that those goals be achieved.
Carrington said that government should not raise revenues unless they have run out of other options. Carrington said that the state is about to that point on roads and bridges. Carrington predicted that a transportation plan will be released soon.
“I look out at this crowd and it is all white. Many of the Republican crowds that I speak to are all white. If that does not change in 20 years we won’t have a party,” Carrington said.
“Roy Moore was not my first choice, but he is going to vote with my President so he is my candidate and I am going to vote for Roy Moore on December 12,” Carrington said. “We have to be very careful. This is going to be low turnout. I look around Vestavia and I see a lot of Doug Jones signs and in a lot of yards I did not think were Democrats. We are going to have some Republicans cross over and vote for Doug Jones.”
The special election between Judge Roy Moore and former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones is on December 12, 2017.
“We have a structural problem in Alabama,” Carrington said. Half a million working-age Alabama adults don’t even have a high school diploma. Today’s jobs require that you have a high school equivalency, can pass a drug test, and will show up on time. Getting those adults a high school equivalency will allow them to compete for good jobs and increase the median income. Only 32 percent of jobs require a college degree. We need to be managing Mama’s expectations. “It’s ok to be a plumber.”
Carrington grew up in Texas and came to Alabama to work for Parisians. Today, he owns Racing USA.com. They had four stores selling NASCAR merchandise and then went on the internet. Now, they have no stores, and it is all online. Carrington said, “Amazon was killing us so we went on Amazon. Now it is 40 percent of our business.”
Jay Holland emceed the event. He said that retired Congressman Jim Martin (R), age 99, who comes to the meetings every month, fell and is recovering so could not be there.
Holland said that he and Randy Johnson went to Washington D.C. where they met with Rick Dearborn (the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative, Intergovernmental Affairs and Implementation). “If the media would report just 20 percent of the good things that are happening we would have a better perception of the administration,” he said. Holland reported that Cliff Simms’, who founded the Yellowhammer News, office is just 30 feet from the Oval Office.
Holland predicted that “President Trump will wind up as one of the most popular presidents we have ever had.”