“We’re continually finding mold. It’s mold-infested. Employees are getting sick. Legislators get sick when they’re there during session, having to stay there three days a week. It’s just not a good situation.”
— Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) on the Alabama State House
No one asked for this. This wasn’t the plan. Yet, here we are, Alabama, in a blighted state of affairs born of negligence, habit, and plain old bad luck. It’s just not a good situation. Action is needed: The Alabama Legislature requires a new State House.
I’m usually the first to complain about multi-million-dollar expenditures by the state government, especially when the benefits of such largesse will mostly accrue to the insider political class. But in this situation, I may reconsider, for maybe it’s the mold in the State House that has been holding Alabama back for so long.
The medical community has long known that mold can cause respiratory issues along with headaches, runny noses, watery eyes, and dry, scaly skin. A debate is also raging amongst medical researchers regarding the potential for mold to cause other physiological effects, including cognitive deficits and emotional dysfunction. As a layman, I humbly submit to this scientific debate the case of the Alabama Legislature in its old, moldy building.
If the lackluster decision-making prowess and hampered cognitive ability of legislators can be shown as a side-effect of mold exposure in the current Alabama State House, not only would it be a major breakthrough for medical science, it would also prove crucial to explaining Alabama’s sorry political situation.
So let’s consider:
When Alabama’s red-state politicians sincerely claim to be committed to standing up to Washington, D.C., all while Alabama remains in the top 10 of states most dependent on federal funds, maybe it’s the mold talking.
When Alabama’s conservative political leaders declare they are champions of small, limited government, yet have grown state government spending by 35% over the last three years, maybe it's the mold signing bigger checks year after year.
When Alabama’s Republican politicians promise “school choice” in their public speeches, yet punk the PRICE Act and balk on passing meaningful school choice reforms, maybe it’s the mold inspiring cowardice.
When the Alabama Education Association, along with the GOP politicians they buy each election cycle, remain strangely proud of a failing government education system that leaves scores of kids dumb and dependent, maybe it’s the mold expressed as vain idiocy.
When a majority of Alabamians, regardless of political party, support repealing the predatory grocery tax, yet a measly 2% cut indexed out over several years is the best the legislature can do, maybe it’s the mold being stingy.
When Alabama’s only black Republican in the legislature has to face allusions to a racial slur — you know the one — from a Democrat lawmaker dolled up in make-up so camp that even Tallulah Bankhead would cringe at the sight, maybe it’s the mold making a mockery of progress.
When Alabama claims to be under the dominion of Christ and to uphold the values of biblical teaching, yet her prisons resemble the wrath of Dante’s Fifth Circle of Hell, maybe it’s the mold turning a blind eye.
When Alabama’s judicial system remains constipated with too few judges and a backlog of too many criminal cases, maybe it’s the mold gumming up the works.
Alabama has long been run by a few “big mules” at the expense of the people’s liberty and wealth, but maybe it’s just the mold pretending oligarchy is actually democracy.
According to 1819 News, "the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) just released a request for proposal (RFP) Monday seeking architectural services to investigate a 2.5-acre site in Montgomery and design a new state house for the Alabama Legislature.” Once the move is made to a new State House, maybe we will indeed find it’s the mold that has left the Alabama Legislature addlebrained and unwise for so long.
But if it’s not the mold, then much bigger renovations are in order.
No one asked for this. This wasn’t the plan. Yet here we are in this blighted state of affairs. It’s just not a good situation. Blame it on the mold if you like, but I suspect Alabama needs to build a whole new political culture that doesn’t spread toxins to the body politic while calling it a public service.
Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and is currently the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. His column appears every Tuesday in 1819 News. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback, please email email@example.com.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819news.com.
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