Little known fact — if a columnist sees his shadow on Groundhog Day, he can’t write that week’s column about just one thing. Most of the time this isn’t an issue since computer screens don’t really throw off much of a shadow, but I actually ventured out into the sun Monday and was terrified out of a very touching Pulitzer Prize-winning piece on a cat I once had.

Instead you’re getting some thoughts on a few different subjects. None of them is cats.

Really Roy?
I’m as big a fan of meaningless political grandstanding as the next guy, but after U.S. District Court Judge Ginny Granade effectively overturned Alabama’s ban against same-sex marriage, our state’s Supreme Court Chief Justice couldn’t wait to jump up on the soap box and embarrass the state once again.

Moore immediately began spouting scripture and offering the Biblical definition of marriage, then warned probate judges across the state that they’d be violating Alabama’s laws and constitution if they married two dudes, or two chicks.

Moore’s acolyte, Dean Young, quickly whipped up a press conference to denounce the ruling, quote some scripture and thump some Bible as well. You can never have enough Bible thumping in situations like this.

While I understand Moore’s feelings about gay marriage and his strong desires to always be out proselytizing rather than interpreting or even following the law, this latest effort seemed even more insincere than usual.

Like it or not, the gay marriage issue has essentially been decided in this country. The vast majority of states allow it, meaning the idea that a couple is married in one state and not in another is bound to create an unacceptable legal mess.

As a judge and lawyer, Moore should know the federal law on this is going to supersede whatever Alabama cooks up. So why run his mouth? He knew there was really nothing to win in this case.

I’ve always been a bit more sympathetic to Moore’s stand for the Ten Commandments since they’re etched at the U.S. Supreme Court as well, but in this situation he just seemed like he was intentionally trying to get out in front of an issue where he was bound to lose just to stir up his base.

Ten minute tags forever!
Speaking of sympathy, it never fails to amaze me how every time another story comes out about embattled Mobile County License Commissioner Kim Hastie, the comment boards online are flooded with people expressing the view that no matter what she might have done it doesn’t matter because she gave us “ten minute tags.”

For anyone who might have been dead for the past few years, TMT was Hastie’s magic carpet into the license commissioner’s office and a promise she did indeed live up to, give or take a minute. True to her word, going to the get a car tag is no longer the arduous two-or-three-hour wait among the unwashed masses. Still, I’m not quite sure it’s up there with parting the Red Sea.

Hastie is facing all manner of federal charges that she abused her position for political purposes in hopes of combining her office and that of the county revenue commissioner in one higher-paying, more-powerful job. Now the feds are saying she ordered subordinates to pull the email addresses of thousands of citizens in the license commission database in order to use them to send out political messages in support of Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s election. Federal authorities are also now alleging Hastie and her husband engaged in tax evasion. So they’ve got a bit of a mess.

But to read comments and hear people talk, it wouldn’t matter what Kim may or may not have done, as long as you can get a tag in 10 minutes. I sort of imagine her attorney’s closing arguments will be “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, yes my client may have done some things wrong, but lets not forget — Ten … Minute … TAGS!”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been trapped down there with all the other mouth-breathers who forgot to mail in their license tag renewals. It used to be a pretty awful situation. Not sure it was ever the six-to-seven-hour ordeal many of Hastie’s supporters recall online, but it definitely sucked.

I absolutely believe in innocent until proven guilty, but the opposite of that shouldn’t be “do whatever you want if you can get us ten minute tags.”

Hopefully this mess will all be over sometime soon so Kim can either get on cracking the whip at the tag shop or get busy making tags in Atmore. Either way, those of you so hung up on the efficiencies of the License Commission really ought to expect a little more out of your public officials than getting you an easier trip to the tag shop.

Trashed
When the city lost an $8 million lawsuit to Waste Management last week over a contract it apparently began violating several years ago, it felt like yet another ghost of the Sam Jones Administration rising up.

I couldn’t help wondering who provided the legal counsel to the city that it would be OK back in 2008 to start shifting yard waste disposal to Dirt Inc. instead of keeping it with Waste Management as the contract apparently dictated?

Right now that stands as a pretty huge mistake — especially at a time when the city is already very cash strapped.

An accounting should be made of who decided to change this contract and who gave the legal OK to the city that it wouldn’t be a breach of contract. Right now, the decision looks boneheaded at least.


Waste Management awarded $8.5M judgment in breach of contract case against city’s Solid Waste Authority.

Waste Management awarded $8.5M judgment in breach of contract case against city’s Solid Waste Authority.