The Governor of Alabama, Republican Robert Bentley, has decided to spend between $1.5 million and $1.8 million of money given to it for disaster relief after the 2010 BP oil spill to finance a renovation of the Governor’s second mansion on the beach. Yes, the very same Governor who not that long ago announced the closure of 31 driver’s license offices in primarily black neighborhoods, because of “budget deficits.” Looks like we know where the Governor’s priorities lie.
Also – the reasons why Bentley wants to use the 2nd Governor’s mansion are highly questionable. For one, the beachfront mansion hadn’t been in commission since 1997, when Hurricane Danny destroyed it. No Governor over the last two decades has been willing to put their political lives on the line to restore it, especially at times when so many Alabamians are hurting. Governor Bentley, however, reportedly owns beach property near the mansion, and because it’s an “eyesore” and likely hurting property values, he thinks it’s a priority.
The timing isn’t exactly the best, either. Alabama has just declared a State of Emergency after severe weather has hampered the state over the holidays. This money needs to go to those in need, not for a second Governor’s mansion.
Now, technically the money isn’t taxpayer money, but rather settlement money given to the state after the BP oil spill in 2010. But, that argument is null and void. Here’s why: the state already planned on using the $56 million or so it will receive every year from BP to shore up the state’s General Fund. So, in essence, the state is already pooling the money with it’s other resources. Any expenditures on renovating 2nd Governor mansion just doesn’t make any sense when other needs are being neglected.
In addition to getting rid of so many driver licenses offices already widely reported on, Alabama is also closing five state parks, six National Guard armories, and has even transferred $100 million from the education budget to cover the deficit.
Here’s what Senator Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, had to say after he tried to filibuster the move by the Republican majority:
“We are a bunch of cowards who are afraid to say to the governor take the pen and expand Medicaid. This (transfer of education money) is a cop out, a cop out by the Republicans who will not expand Medicaid and who will not raise taxes on the big businesses in this who do not pay their fair share. Instead they are willing to put this on the back of school children.”
When Senator Singleton made the statement in September, little did he know that the Governor would end up thinking that fixing up the beachfront mansion for himself would be more important to him than school children. Now he knows.
Here’s the time Apple CEO Tim Cook ran into Governor Bentley last year. He didn’t exactly have a whole lot of nice things to say about how the Governor was doing his job.