Seigelman, Windom want accountability

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 26, 2000

Staff Writer


Ethics and politics have long seemed to be at odds.

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As another campaign season gains steam, the issue of ethics is at the top of the agenda. When the special session to deal with Congressional districts opens Tuesday afternoon, the governor and lieutenant governor are hoping to squeeze in some ethics reform bills.

Lt. Gov. Steve Windom, a Republican, has several items in what he calls an "Integrity Reform" package.

One of those could impact Troy State University since Windom is proposing a ban on legislators serving as university trustees.

During the TSU Board of Trustees meeting Thursday night, State Sen. Gerald Dial, a Democrat, told fellow trustees how he feels about the legislation.

"How I vote next week has not bearing on how I feel about this university," Dial said, adding he plans to vote in favor of the bills passage although he does not agree with it.

He told the board he hopes the bill does not pass and one trustee asked him to reconsider his position.

Other legislators who serve on boards of trustees are Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, Auburn University; Rep. Jack Venable, D-Tallassee, Auburn University; Sen. E.B. McClain, D-Brighton, University of Montevallo; Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, University of Montevallo and Sen. Pat Lindsey, D-Butler, University of South Alabama.

The bill does not address other state officials who serve as trustees, such as Secretary of State Jim Bennett who has been a member of the Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees for many years, former Siegelman chief of staff Paul Hamrick who was appointed to the University of West Alabama Board of Trustees or former Alabama Department of Transportation Director Mack Roberts who was appointed to serve on the board at Jacksonville State.

Gov. Don Siegelman, who appoints trustees for all state public universities except the University of Alabama System, has indicated he would probably support Windom’s proposal if put to a public vote.

On Thursday, the Democratic governor, signed an executive order requiring mandatory ethics education for state officials.

"The people of Alabama demand to know their leaders are held accountable and they deserve to know that they can be trusted," Siegelman said. "These and other basic reforms will gain the trust of our people so that we can move forward to reform our constitution and reform the way we invest in education."

His order will require all departmental and cabinet level officials and appointed agency directors to attend and "Ethics and Public Service ­ Continuing Education" session every two years, for a minimum of two hours, beginning next year.

Windom’s legislation is not a constitutional amendment, which brings up questions about how it would affect the boards of Alabama and Auburn since they are established by the Constitution of Alabama.

Also on Windom’s legislative agenda are bills that would:

· Require lobbyists to report all expenditures for entertaining pubic officials and employees to the State Ethics Commission. At this time, they only have to report if they spend more than $250 per day on any official.

· Prohibit legislators’ special projects from being hidden in appropriations to state agencies.

· Require all state contracts over $100,000 be filed with the State Ethics Commission for public access.

· Require voters to show identification at the polls.