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Week 1 in Montgomery gives surprising view

By By Tray Smith
On Thursday, June 8 I arrived in Montgomery for the first day of my internship in the Governor's Office. Since then, I have been given a surprising view of the inside of Alabama's state government.
First, I was given a tour of the Capitol, both houses of the state legislature, and the Governor's Staff offices. I was introduced to the employees who work for the Governor, and I got to meet with the Governor's Chief of Staff, Toby Roth, who I had met previously at the Governor's Mansion.
The tour ended Thursday afternoon when I reported to the Governor's Press Office to assist Governor Riley's communications team. There is a lot of work to be done in the Governor's Office; after all, he is responsible for running an entire state. I immediately got to work on various projects. I had been told of my assignment in the Press Office when I was accepted into the internship program, but I had not been told about my specific day to day duties. I quickly found out that is because there are no specific day to day duties.
In the world of politics, things are always changing, and you never know what you will be facing the next day. I have gone from writing proclamations to be signed by the Governor, to filling out a contact list on Microsoft Excel and stuffing envelopes.
The most surprising thing about the Governor's Office was the way that interns are treated. I was expected to be responsible for making copies, answering the phone, and transporting documents. Those tasks do make up a portion of my responsibilities as an intern, but I spend most of my time writing letters, proclamations, or quotes for press releases. Interns are treated like they are members of the Governor's staff.
I have been able to participate in several interesting activities while in Montgomery. I have met Anthony Leigh, the Deputy State Treasurer for Kay Ivey. Leigh is a young Republican who seems very interested in politics, and he is most likely going to be Governor one day. I have also had the pleasure of meeting Governor Riley again and taking a picture with him.
I also got to participate in two unforgettable events. The first took place on Friday, June 9th. Interns in the Governor's Office joined interns with the Attorney General's office to tour Kilby prison with the Deputy Director of Corrections Terrance McDonald. Kilby prison is located just outside of Montgomery, and it is the processing center for all of the state's incoming male inmates. As soon as male criminals are convicted, the county Sheriff's bring them to Kilby in order to have them processed and classified. From Kilby, the convicts are transported to the corrections facility that officers at the processing center deem best. According to McDonald, and I quote, "your worst ones are going to get sent out from here and go to places like Holman."
I found the prison very interesting because it was nothing like I had anticipated it would be. I expected all of the prisoners to have their own cell just like they do in the movies. Instead, nearly 200 prisoners share one room about the size of a high school gymnasium. Only the very worst are placed in an individual cell. Prisoners are also given opportunities to work in various capacities inside of the prison, but they do not receive compensation.
The second event was this past Thursday. I got to attend a press conference Gov. Riley held just outside of the Communications Office. I was able to watch him speak to reporters about his upcoming trip to recruit jobs and businesses from around the world. During the trip, which he will begin on July 10, Gov. Riley will visit South Korea, China, and the United Kingdom. This is part of his ongoing devotion to bringing more jobs to the State of Alabama. Throughout the time, I have been able to witness the strong character of Gov. Riley and his staff, and have witnessed first hand their unparalleled devotion to the betterment of this state. They work very hard, and they deserve four more years in office.
I am learning a lot of information that I know will be beneficial to me further down the road through the Governor's internship program, and I am grateful the Governor has given me this opportunity.
That is the bottom line.
Tray Smith is an intern in Governor Riley's Office. He can be reached for contact at tsmith_90@hotmail.com. His column appears weekly.