Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, says, “The governor didn’t talk to the state superintendent of education. He didn’t talk to the state board and he’s the chairman of the board. That’s a betrayal.”
Gov. Robert Bentley says, “You have to know the rules. There was nothing illegal or unethical done.”
More than a week after passage of the so-called Alabama Accountability Act, the charges are still flying and the measure is stuck in limbo, held up in an Alabama courtroom that is preventing Gov. Bentley from signing it until the middle of this month.
Spot the governor this — he might be right about the rules. Maybe what took place to get this miss-named act passed was not illegal. We won’t know for sure until this matter is resolved by the court system, which must consider if the governor and GOP legislators violated the state’s open meeting law.
What we do know is that the governor and his legislative allies no longer have the trust of many of the people and agencies that they need in order to govern effectively. That’s a problem beyond a single piece of legislation and beyond the current session of the Legislature.
Although most Republicans don’t give a rip for the feelings of Henry Mabry and the AEA, the teachers organization has a lot of clout and can mobilize supporters quickly and effectively. Leaving them out of the loop was strategically wise; the AEA would have opposed the act and might have prevented its passage. However, we can assume that future Republican-sponsored legislation, whether it deals with education or not, will not get much support from AEA.
House Democrats are also up in arms. They know the rules as well as the governor does, and House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, is promising that his party will “slow things down” in future sessions, which will make it harder for Republicans to get their bills passed.
As for the State Board of Education, even some of the Republican members are expressing their displeasure at the manner in which they were ignored during the process. It’s only human nature to resent being kept out of a loop related to your job.
Not that the Republicans are worried.
To the Republicans in charge in Montgomery the ends— passing a major schools bill — trumped the means — keeping any perceived opposition in the dark. In words and deeds, the Republicans and their supermajority appear unconcerned about this loss of trust.
They should be.