If Mike Hubbard's nose grew like Pinocchio's, he might have trouble getting through the door after his statement on legislative redistricting.
"This is proof positive that the districts were created fairly and drawn without a political agenda," Alabama's speaker of the House said after getting word that the U.S. Justice Department pre-cleared the plan approved by the Republican-dominated Legislature. "The only political agenda that exists in this process is among those who would continue to fight this plan, even after a Democrat-dominated Justice Department has determined it to be fair and equitable to all Alabamians."
We agree that it is fair and we agree that approval by a Democratic administration's justice department is ample evidence of its fairness. But to say there's nothing "political" about redistricting requires a stretch of the imagination that we lack the creativity to make.
Redistricting always has been, is and likely always will be political. It certainly was for the century and a half that the Democratic Party controlled the Alabama Legislature. At times, gerrymandering left such tortured lines that one was left to wonder whether the meanderings of a blind mule were used as a model. ...
So for those who are still confused by the political speak surrounding this issue, here's what happened. Republicans gained supermajority control of the Legislature and drew the lines fairly but with an eye on protecting Republican interests. That's political, but political doesn't mean wrong.
The constitutional amendment Alabama's voters approved Sept. 18 authorizing a $437 million transfer over three years from the state's trust fund to its ailing General Fund contained no mechanism for repaying the money.
Still, Gov. Robert Bentley vowed during his fight for the amendment's passage that the money would be repaid. So did Alabama's most powerful legislators, House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, and Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston. ... They said a repayment bill would be the first piece of legislation passed in the 2013 legislative session four months from now.
It's likely some voters were thinking "yeah, sure" even as they checked "yes" on their ballots. We know there are exceptions, but politicians aren't known for high batting averages as far as promises kept.
There are welcome signs, though, that folks in Montgomery are serious about keeping this one.
The Senate Republican Caucus has gone on record with a unanimous commitment to repay the money. As adamant as Bentley, Hubbard and Marsh have been about repayment, that commitment is going to be impossible from perception and political standpoints to renege on. ...
There seems to be a sense of urgency to get this done as quickly as possible. We hope there's similar urgency, again sooner than later, to find a permanent solution to Alabama's budgetary issues.