“Everybody complains about the weather,” the old saying goes, “but nobody does anything about it.”
While we are encouraged to hear so many Alabama politicians talking about cleaning up corruption in Montgomery, we also hope there’s as much action as conversation.
Star reporter Tim Lockette pointed out in an article Sunday that several candidates for governor are focusing on moving past the state’s multiple scandals of this decade. Alabama’s recent PR black-eyes include:
-- The conviction of former state House Speaker of Representatives Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, on corruption charges.
-- Former Gov. Robert Bentley’s 2016 exit from office following an admission that he violated campaign-finance laws.
-- Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s removal from the bench after he attempted to defy a U.S. Supreme Court ruling he disagreed with.
More than half of respondents — 54 percent — to an Anniston Star/Veracio online survey cited corruption in Alabama politics as one of their top concerns.
Candidates for the state’s 2018 race for governor are paying attention.
Tommy Battle, a Republican gubernatorial candidate from Huntsville, vows to take on a system that has tolerated “corruption instead of opportunity, scandal instead of education.”
During her State of the State address in January, Gov. Kay Ivey, the Republican who became governor following Bentley’s resignation, declared: “My cabinet and staff are capable, honest and dedicated. They take their charge to serve the people of Alabama seriously. They provide the people of Alabama with the open, honest and transparent government that they deserve.”
Montgomery’s scandals have created “a cloud of shame,” says Walt Maddox, a Democratic candidate from Tuscaloosa.
It’s time for Alabama to recover from “the ethical lapses of a number of our elected officials,” says Sue Bell Cobb, a Democratic candidate for governor.
Talking is great, but acting is even better.
We encourage each candidate to present voters with specific ethics plans he or she would implement if elected.
Personal character certainly plays a significant role in ethical government. However, the path away from corruption requires a systematic approach. A government watchdog can’t be some toothless beast chained to the porch. A cleaner Montgomery will require tougher rules and stricter oversight of state politicians.
This is how Alabama can transition from complaining about corruption to actually doing something about it.