Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Patriotic Protests, Apologetic Reporters, and The Ultimate Bizarre Political Bed Feller
Ahhhhhhhh.....nothing makes me feel prouder to be an American than a good, old-fashioned, protest and that is just what we had on the steps of the Alabama State House yesterday to let our elected officials know just how unhappy we are about their outrageous pay increase of 62% and their sneaky, slimy, underhanded way of passing it into law. Between 300 to 400 people showed up with signs after Matt Murphy and the crew at 101.1 The Source put out the call to thier listeners to descend on the Capitol and raise a little hell. It was the largest protest I have seen in Montgomery in some time.
Congratulations Matt and crew for a job well done!!
I know, in the end, the good people who made the trip yesterday may feel that they didn't accomplish anything because the legislature overrode the veto. But they did, in fact, accomplish a great deal. Since we do not have a recorded vote on the first passage of this payraise it is impossible to know how many legislators changed their minds, but I'd bet it was quite high. I spoke with a few before the vote who said they were voting no when they had been considering voting yes. Lots of legislators were looking out their windows.
The protest participants showed the legislature that we are, in fact, willing to travel to Montgomery and confront them on this issue. Not only confrontation in front of the State House, but also inside the State House, as many participants also lobbied their elected official face to face after the protest was over. I cannot overstate how important those meetings were and how important it is to do that each and every time you disagree with what our governing body is doing. Protest is important, but walking into your elected oficials office and looking them in the eye and saying "I, as your constituent, do not approve of this piece of legislation and I will not forget it come election time" is absolutely priceless.
It was an all around fun day for me. As I stated earlier, I love to protest. I get a pure adreniline rush off of it. Yesterday's was particularly good as it was a great mix of people and many of them were fans of mine from the election and others wanted to know more about the "STOP ARRESTING PATIENTS FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA" t-shirt I was wearing and about what they could do to help get the Compassionate Care Act passed. I was practically mobbed as soon as I arrived and I was really surprised by that. I didn't expect so many people to know who I am and I didn't expect so many others that didn't know me to be interested in medical marijuana. I made a lot of new contacts. These kinds of contacts are the best kind because they have already shown that they are willing to be active for a cause they believe in. It doesn't get much better than that.
As you can see from the photo above the media was out in force yesterday. Every news station in the state was there it seemed along with hordes of reporters form many newspapers. And then, the weirdest thing happened. A reporter who had written an article about me that I was not particularly fond of during the election, came over and said hello. This reporter then proceeded to apologize for the way the article came out and said it was not intended to be that way, but was edited after submission. This reporter said they understood I was pretty unhappy about it and they wanted me to know that they were sorry and that they had actually voted for me. I have to say that made me feel pretty good. I accepted their apology and told them that, while I did not like the tone of the article there was nothing in it that was untrue, I was mostly unhappy about how it was presented. I also said I wasn't really mad because I understand that when you put yourself in the public spotlight then these things happen and you have to just kind of roll with it. I don't think I have ever had a reporter apologize to me for a smear piece. I find it absolutely astounding. Wow! I know such a thing has to be rare.
Jeff Sanders from Channel 8 stopped and said hello. I didn't recognize him and had him confused with a legislator and for that I apologize. I think Jeff only interviewed me once during the election and that was at my news conference in April of 06 after I had secured the LP nomination. I also saw Monica Allen from Channel 8 and got a hug from her. Monica is a gem! Rhonda Colvin of APTV's Capitol Journal asked me for an interview for last nights show. Unfortunately, the show only contained a brief mention of the protest and no comments from anyone made the cut. This probably happened because the news at the end of the day was that the legislature overrode the veto. That's too bad. The protest was an important part of yesterday and deserved more coverage. My comments were also good. I basically said that most Alabamians would not have had a problem with a reasonable pay raise for the legislature that was conducted out in the open with a recorded vote the first go round, but that what happened was nothing short of robbery. Rhonda asked me about the money the legislators have to spend on gas, hotels and food. I told her that I campaigned for a whole year, drove my own car which required gas, stayed in numerous hotels rooms and ate every day for way less that what a legislator currently makes for three months work. I said if a legislator cannot afford to eat out at lunch then they should pack a tuna sandwich.
And in perhaps the strangest and most unexpected twist of the day I found myself shaking the hand of Senator Hank Erwin ....yeah...the same Hank Erwin of "God sent Katrina to destroy New Orleans" and Hank's Home for Alabama's Inbred fame and thanking him for his rejection of this pay increase. He spoke at the protest and he is a consumate politician. An excellent speaker. I had no idea that he was capable of such intelligent speech that didn't involve his warped and very frightening religious views. I also live by the code of not only telling legislators when they do wrong but making sure to also praise them when they do right.....even when it is Senator Hank Erwin.
After the protest I walked over to him and introduced myself. I told him that I have never once agreed with him on anything, but that I was very pleased with his words to the protesters and his encouragement of their continued involvement in the political process. I mentioned ballot access being a problem because it eleminates competition and he seemed agreeable that the laws need to be changed. He thanked me and asked for my contact information. I gave him a card and asked him his position on medical marijuana. He said he is against it which was no surprise. I told him that I would like to sit down with him sometime and have a discussion to see if maybe he wouldn't change his mind. He said to come by his office anytime. He may not ever change his mind but at least he is open to discussion and that is a start. While I was standing there in my medical marijuana t-shirt talking to him, my friend Debbie Murphree walked up and snapped a photo. That one will be one for the history books. I'll post a copy as soon as I get one from Debbie. Talk about politics making for strange bed fellers....Lordy!
Here is a video clip of the protest. You can see me at the very end but only my head.
Here is a photo gallery of the protest.
Click here to find out how your elected officials voted. Then click here to find your representative and either Thank them or Spank them by emailing, calling, writing a letter or paying them a visit to express your thoughts on this issue.