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The Millbrook Independent

May 24th
Voting rights in Macon County trampled by federal judge
Written by News Desk   
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 09:17

bobmartinBy This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Publisher

A United States District Judge in Montgomery who believes that the citizens of Macon County who voted to authorize unrestricted forms of bingo there, obviously does not understand plain English.

United States District Court Judge Keith Watkins wrote that nothing in the plaintiff's complaint had to do with voting or an election. His comment in the opinion is about as far off base as a claim that winning is akin to losing.

And a state newspaper, in an unsigned editorial this past week, wrote that voting rights were "never in the debate" over gambling in Macon County. If voting rights issues are not a part of such a debate in a majority African American county in Alabama, then why doesn't the State crack down on bookmaking, the real illegal gambling in Alabama?

It is generally and legally assumed that bingo can be played in many forms, including on electronic machines throughout the United States and other countries. But more importantly, in the election to establish bingo games in Macon County, the fact that electronic devices would be used, was advertised at great length during the election on the issue.

Watkins then adds: "The complaint has nothing to do with voting rights. Instead, the complaint attempts to revive a legal private business offering electronic bingo that has been deemed illegal by the highest court in Alabama, the highest law enforcement official in the state, and the state's chief executive officer."

Let's see: Macon County should be on the same footing as Greene County which, under the law, can have the same type of gambling as other paleface entities in the state. Why is that not the case for Macon County? My latest count shows there are now almost 5,000 casino-style slot machines operating in Alabama. And we're not a gambling state? Folks should just look around them. In Montgomery, the capital city area, Gov. Bentley, there are thousands of slots operating under your watch. You should go visit.

My suggestion is that it does have something to do with voting rights when the state permits thousands of slot machines to operate at will in five or six other locations in Alabama and has never challenged the Poarch Creek Indian casino-style gambling. Yet it shuts down the same games in one of the state's poorest counties with the state's highest minority population. Funny, it sounds to me like voting rights fit in there somewhere. Are we headed into another voting rights violation and into other possible equal rights violations because of Watkins' wrong-headed decision?

Dr. Bronner fights back

For state workers and retirees who don't want to turn over their retirement investments to some unscrupulous investor hired by the politicians, it is good to see Retirement Systems of Alabama CEO, David Bronner, fighting back against those politicians who would stack the RSA boards with political cronies.

In full disclosure, I should report that I am a retired state worker. While I have never been in lock-step with Dr. Bronner and have, since I retired, been featured several times on the front of his RSA newsletter in "not so glowing" terms, I nonetheless believe he has protected both teachers (TRS), state workers (ERS) and state taxpayers from the state politicians and bureaucrats who would rape their retirement and investments for political and financial gain.

As Bronner writes this month in the newsletter, past legislatures had the foresight to establish the ERS so that investment decisions are made by professional staff. The law establishing the ERS provides that its board adopt an investment policy and establish an investment committee to review the RSA staff's recommendations to ensure they are consistent with investment policy. In addition, RSA's bank advisor, Regions, independently reviews each investment.

Bronner said he is proud of the staff's investment policy, which has achieved returns in the top 25% of State Street's Public Funds report for the past three years.

Then he sounded a warning that it appears the ERS Board's resolutions "exhibit a misunderstanding of the investment committee's role."

The ERS Board meets January 30. You've got my attention Dr. Bronner. I'll be there.

Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. He is the publisher of the Millbrook Independent. Email him at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 09:20
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