Dothan, AL (WSFA) - Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver responded to Friday's raids at VictoryLand and Country Crossing.
HOUSTON COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN
Today has been a dark day for the State of Alabama. The events of today constitute one of the largest abuses of power and waste of tax payer dollars in the history of the State.
The Governor of this State has become irrational in his behavior related to the issue of charitable electronic bingo and it should be concerning to everyone in the great State of Alabama. I have heard today from candidates for Governor, legislators, elected officials and many citizens expressing this concern.
In 2002 and 2006, I personally worked to get Governor Riley elected. I worked for a man of vision and compassion, not someone obsessed to the point that he would try to eliminate thousands of jobs in this State. I campaigned for a man who said he would work with and lead the citizens of this State, not abuse the power of the people's office and create a police state to enforce his personal views rather than follow rules. I asked people to vote for a Governor, not a tyrant who would ignore the wishes of the people he represents at any cost and the legal authority of a legislative body, the County Commission.
Consider the lack of concern for public safety shown by the Governor's Task Force concerning these raids, using tax payer funded law enforcement officers, particularly in planning a raid during the grand opening celebration two weeks ago with 15,000 law abiding citizens on sight that would be mixed with hundreds of armed officers. Who possibly could have thought that was a rational decision.
Consider the lack of regard for the strapped state financial situation by mandating these costly raids that include manpower, vehicles, fuel, motel rooms, food, and more, particularly when we have invited the State to come calmly inspect the facility with little or no cost as they pursue these misdemeanor charges. These are huge expenses at a time when we are prorating both budgets, cutting teachers, furloughing employees, and facing a budget for next year that, assuming Medicare and corrections are level funded, will require a near 50% cut in every general fund department unless our Republican Governor gets his wish and the Democratic plan for a second Federal stimulus program passes and bails us out. Thank goodness the election of Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts may keep that from happening so I ask again; is it rational thinking to expend all those task force funds when the State if virtually broke? I don't think so.
Lastly, consider the lack of thinking for our Republican Governor to appoint a Democrat as Task Force Director who has obvious ties to a group that the Governor continues to be linked with and after losing the last Director because he was patronizing a casino operating by this same group. How can the creation of a monopoly in our State possibly be rational thinking?
It has been the desire of the Houston County Commission and a majority of the citizens of the Wiregrass to address any issues in our county in a civil manner. It has been our desire to help create thousands of jobs at a time when the State's unemployment rate is the highest it has been in over 25 years in spite of claims of new job creation. The employees of Country Crossing have new jobs that have been created NOW and yet I get calls from single moms crying because they need this job and don't understand why the Governor is trying to eliminate them. We are fighting for those individuals right to work and our right to promote economic development.
This is not being handled right. There is a better way that won't hurt families and children of Alabama, further depress our economy and destroy a huge tourist destination for our State. I call on Governor Riley to be rational and work together with us for a prosperous Alabama and not leave a legacy of division and unemployment and financial crisis. We stand ready to work with the Governor and the Task Force in a rational manner through the courts as we have stated in letters and public statements and look forward to that opportunity.