The other says to deny the deductions is to silence the voices of government workers.
Both sides need to tamp down the overblown rhetoric.
Mac McArthur, executive director of the employees association, said, “What this is about is taking away the ability of state employees to be heard.”
Really? A state employee has several options when it comes to donating money to his Montgomery advocates. Instead of automatic withdrawal, the employee could simply write a check.
Of the payroll deductions, Jeff Emerson, Riley’s communications director, said, “The dues go toward political purposes. Taxpayers should not have to fund the political activities of special interest groups.”
Really? With or without payroll deductions, if a teacher contributes part of his or her salary to the AEA, then taxpayer dollars will be funding a special-interest group. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Despite the denials, this part of ethics reform looks like score-settling against the Alabama Education Association and Paul Hubbert, a powerful Montgomery player, perhaps the most powerful player.
Hubbert plays politics like Cam Newton plays football; opponents usually wind up looking foolish. For evidence, see the 2010 race for governor, where Hubbert and the AEA played a large role in deciding who replaced Bob Riley. More importantly, Hubbert ensured that Bradley Byrne, a longtime AEA enemy, did not become the next governor.
As the hollow arguments drone on, a few things become clear. The new Republican-led state House and Senate will look for ways to make life unpleasant for the AEA. Hubbert, blessed with survival instincts that are as strong as his political skills, won’t roll up his shades and retire.
In fact, the Legislature’s efforts to thwart payroll deductions will likely strengthen Hubbert’s standing among AEA members. Think of it. AEA members have a leader so powerful that much of Montgomery crafted a special session bill to knock him down a few pegs.