The truth the voters need to know

Published 12:29 pm Monday, October 30, 2006

By By Tray Smith
Some Bottom Line readers, including my own mother, felt I overstated my point when, in my article two weeks ago, I stated that several state Democrats have been running campaigns revolving around lies and distortions. True, I may have liberally used the term "lies", something that should never be done in politics. But if the Democrats are not lying, they are definitely distorting, as the facts clearly show.
First, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lucy Baxley continues to criticize Gov. Bob Riley for mandating annual property tax reappraisals. But Mrs. Baxley knows that the governor cannot simply mandate such a drastic change in tax policy by executive order. In fact, annual tax reappraisals are required not only by Alabama law, but by the Alabama Constitution, as interpreted by a federal judge. Thus, the governor would have been in defiance of the law and his constitutional responsibilities if he did not direct the state government to abide by that court order.
In truth, the Governor has called for repealing the portions of Alabama law that require annual property tax reappraisals, and he pledges to do away with such assessments during his next term. But the Democratic leadership of the Alabama Legislature has blocked these issues from coming to a vote in order to campaign on the tax reappraisal issue.
Gov. Riley may be painted as a man that is consistently trying to raise your taxes, but since his failed Amendment One initiative, the governor has returned to his conservative roots and worked to deliver a record surplus, a historic tax cut, and a sales tax holiday. The Democrats can harp on about the past, but thankfully Gov. Riley has turned his focus to the future.
Secondly, Senator Pat Lindsey, who need not attack any person in light of his own ethically questionable conduct, is making false allegations about his opponent in our district's state Senate race. Lindsey asserts that John McMillan, his Republican opponent, never has and never will live in our district. In fact, McMillan was born and raised in Stockton, and he served in the State House on behalf of Baldwin County residents in the 1970s. He only left south Alabama in order to serve in the governor's cabinet. After he left that post, he remained in Montgomery to work with the Alabama Forestry Association, but he returned back to his hometown soon after his retirement.
This race is more than a partisan issue. John McMillan has worked for years in Montgomery-representing the Forestry Industry, serving in Gov. Fob James cabinet, and working in the State House. But in each of these capacities, he was working for constituents among the public or among the forestry industry in this district and across this state. He did not pack up and leave his home for an extended period because he liked another city better only to suddenly revisit and enter the State Senate race. He devoted his life to public service in our capital only to decide he would serve the public best as his hometown's senator. His experience with state government and his dedication to public service make him the best possible senator we could ask for. Yet, he has become the victim of Lindsey's negative attacks solely so Lindsey can hide his own record of poor service and ethical misconduct.
Finally, the Republican candidate for our State House seat has seen his actions distorted, again by a Democrat. Skippy White has alleged that Republican Alan Baker took a pledge that locks him into voting with the House Republican leadership on every issue. In effect, White alleges that Baker will become a robotic arm of the House Republican Leader. However, Baker has signed nothing of the sort. The only commitments Baker has given to the Alabama GOP is that, if elected, he will support the party's nominee for Speaker of the House and the party's procedural rules for bringing votes to the floor of the legislature. Those two commitments are procedural commitments that will have very little effect on public policy. Most candidates, whether Democratic or Republican or on the state or federal level, are forced to sign commitments that are much broader.
The only thing worse than deliberate Democratic distortions in these instances would be the Democrats believing what they are telling people. I understand that the governor was the first person to air a negative campaign ad in this race, and there are a number of Republicans, including myself, who disagreed with that decision. But going negative is better than distorting the facts and exploiting voter ignorance, as the Democrats have done. We may not be able to keep this campaign civil, but can we at least stick to the facts? That is the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a sophomore at ECHS and former intern in the Riley administration. He can be reached for comment at

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