If…

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The Alabama Legislature has been enjoying its 2016 Spring Break this week and had thought when they left Montgomery, that things would be relatively calm while they were gone. So much for what they thought. Consider the following things that have happened since they left town last Thursday:

  • The media frenzy around allegations of an improper relationship between Governor Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason has continued to grow with the release of additional tapes and transcripts purported to be conversations between the Governor and Mason;
  • State Auditor Jim Ziegler has filed an Ethics Complaint against both the Governor and Mason related to their work arrangement. The Ethics Commission has acknowledged that the Commission has opened an investigation;
  • Media reports of both a state and federal investigation of the Governor’s Office and related activities concerning the Bentley/Mason arrangement have been rampant;
  • A number of news outlets and elected officials have called on the Governor to resign;
  • Rep. Ed Henry (R-Decatur) has indicated that he intends to file Articles of Impeachment aimed at removing Governor Bentley from office when the Legislature returns on Tuesday, April 5, 2016;
  • Both the Governor and Mason announced they did not intend to resign amid repeated calls for both to resign. Mason announced her resignation on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 afternoon;
  • The FY 2017 General Fund Budget was delivered to the Governor for his action after the Senate agreed to the House amendments. Governor Bentley promptly announced his plans to Veto the Budget and return it to the Senate on Tuesday, April 5 when the Legislature returns. It is expected that both the House and Senate will override that Veto setting up a major problem for Medicaid, in particular, and the State as a whole. Bentley has also indicated that he would call the Legislature back into Special Session to address Medicaid funding and reworking the General Fund Budget. Given the current atmosphere in Montgomery that will be an interesting process to watch.
  • In the meantime, as the Governor has travelled the state, Governor Bentley has begun to tell those who will listen that perhaps a lottery will be the only option to bail out an ailing General Fund and Medicaid. This is the same Governor that last year heading into two Special Sessions was adamant that gambling, in any form, was off the table and would not be discussed
  • Judge Jacob Walker, the Lee County Circuit Judge presiding over the trial proceedings of House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), ruled that the trial would move forward, starting on Monday, May 9, 2016 in the Lee County Court House;
  • Judge Walker also dismissed Motions by the Defense to dismiss the case based on Prosecutorial Misconduct but did not rule out the possibility the lead prosecutor Matt Hart might be called as a witness in the pending trial; and
  • Preparations are well under way to begin moving the Education Trust Fund Budget through the Senate.

Certainly not the quiet week many were expecting when Spring Break was scheduled months ago and things will be anything but dull when the Legislature returns on April 5. The issues listed above are not in any way intended to place blame or judge those about whom issues have been raised. They are listed as examples of what can happen when humans make human decisions. With every decision someone makes there is likely a nagging question in the back of their mind asking “IF I had made the decision another way would I be in the position I am in today?”

In life, we have heard the phrase “snake in the grass” and understand it to refer to something nefarious. The root of that phrase can be traced back to the Bible in Genesis 3. This all too familiar Chapter details the results of the decisions of Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the Garden even though they had been instructed not to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life. Imagine, if you can, what might have happened IF Adam and Eve had not eaten the fruit.

Imagine for a moment how things in life might be different today IF we made a different decision as we go about our daily activities. Imagine what your life might be like IF your spouse, or significant other, had said no rather than beginning a relationship with you. Imagine what your life might be like IF you had not entered the line of work, or service, you chose. Recall decisions you have made that have had an impact on your life and the lives of those around you. How would things be different IF you had made a different decision? Unfortunately, in life we rarely have an opportunity for a “do-over”. As we all move forward perhaps we should reflect on the words of the renowned British poet, Rudyard Kipling in his classic poem, If. These words paint a wonderful roadmap for decision-making.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son.

The Alabama House will reconvene at 1:00pm on Tuesday, April 5, 2016
The Alabama Senate will reconvene at 2:00pm on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The views and opinions contained in this report do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the clients of Public Strategies, LLC.