Monday, June 11, 2007

Alternative School For Senator Charles Bishop

Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The Alabama Senate blow seen around the world has resulted in a complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee over the conduct of Sen. Charles Bishop, who threw the punch, but Bishop figures there won't be enough votes to expel him.

The Ethics Committee, which hopes to get organized this week, could take any kind of disciplinary action ranging from a warning to recommending Bishop's expulsion.

Bishop, R-Jasper, said Monday some members of the Senate's Democratic majority would like to expel him or force him to quit over hitting one of its leaders, Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe.

"That group would like to see me gone, no doubt about that," Bishop, 69, said in an interview.

But he said he plans to file his own ethics complaint accusing Barron of calling him a "son of a bitch" before the blow. He said he had "absolute evidence" to back up the claim.

Barron did not immediately return telephone messages left on his cell phone and at his business and legislative offices Monday. An aide said the 65-year-old senator was traveling and unavailable for comment.

Bishop hit Barron with a fist to the head during a heated exchange at Barron's desk on Thursday, the final day of the 2007 session. The blow, captured by Alabama Public Television, quickly became one of the most popular videos in the world, showing up on news media Web sites, on international television and on YouTube.

After the blow Thursday, Barron and four other senators filed the complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee. On Monday, an Ethics Committee member, Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, said he forwarded the complaint to Bishop, who has 15 days to respond.

The committee, which has not yet met, hopes to get together this week to elect a presiding officer and decide how to proceed, said another member, Sen. Kim Benefield, D-Woodland. Benefield said any comment beyond that would be inappropriate until the committee reviews the complaint.

Beason said he hopes all the members will address the complaint with an open mind and won't let it linger.

"It's best to go ahead and get things like this out of the way," he said.

Under the Senate's rules and the Alabama Constitution, the committee can do anything from nothing to issuing a warning to recommending the Senate take more drastic action, including voting to expel Bishop, committee member Zeb Little, D-Cullman, said Monday.

Doing nothing or issuing a warning would require the vote of three of the five members. Recommending the Senate do anything stronger, including expulsion, would take four votes.

Bishop said he doesn't expect an expulsion recommendation because the Senate's Democratic majority only has three members on the Ethics Committee and the minority, of which he's part, has two members.

If he is expelled, Bishop said, "it will be enjoyable to go into their districts and raise money and tell the people what kind of senator they've got."

Here is what I think. When Alabama school children get into a fight at matter what the reason, the police are called, the kids are carted off to juvenile handcuffs, dragged through court, suspended, face expulsion, and more often than not they are forced into 'alternative school' which is a fancy way of saying 'prison school'. Quite frankly, if our elected officials are going to act like children settling a score at recess then they should be treated accordingly. After all, 'what kind of message are we sending to the children' to allow the folks who passed the laws that send kids to jail for striking another person to be exempt from those same laws?

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