Siegelman, Riley debate how to debate

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2002

BNI Newswire

Gubernatorial race opponents Don Siegelman and Bob Riley continue to debate when and how to debate in a series of letters back and forth.

Incumbent Gov. Siegelman, who last week accepted an offer to debate from a Huntsville TV station, asked Riley, the Third District Republican Congressman, why he has not yet accepted an offer to debate.

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"I am eager to debate you,"

Siegelman wrote in a June 11 letter sent to Riley and to the media. "I am prepared to answer any question, on any subject, and frankly, you’re running for governor, and you should be too. I can tell you, from 3.5 years on the job, you have to be prepared to handle more than one subject at a time."

In his own letter, Riley said he wants debates to concentrate on one issue at a time, beginning with ethics, the issue Riley has pushed most.

"In light of the indictments, convictions, no-bid contracts, charges of corruption and pending state and federal investigations that have swirled around your administration, I believe the first debate should concentrate solely on how to restore honesty, ethics and accountability in government," Riley wrote.

But Siegelman, who has again proposed a lottery to fund education three years after a lottery for a scholarship fund failed, said Riley is ignoring the "central issue facing the state: how we adequately fund schools."

"I have presented a plan to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in education," Siegelman wrote. "You have presented nothing, not one idea."

Riley has said that he wants to budget for the education trust fund based on prior-year tax receipts. The budget is currently based on projections.

Siegelman first challenged Riley to a series of debates the night of the primary last week.