A reporter for Cullman Today called it the “epicenter of the Alabama political universe” and we were right in the middle of it ourselves the last week of July. We joined the 200 people at the Cullman County Republican Party annual dinner and fundraiser.
Waid Harbison did a good job chairing the event, and I appreciated having a few minutes to speak. After I left, the senatorial candidates spoke and rumor has it that it became a slugfest. They were taking the gloves off because it’s getting so close to their election.
Then we traveled to the epicenter of Alabama law enforcement. The Alabama Sheriff’s Association and the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police were both holding their conferences in Orange Beach.
Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning was nice enough to introduce me around to a lot of his colleagues and we had the opportunity to speak to the group on Monday morning. Afterward, we went over and met with a lot of police chiefs at their convention and had dinner with a group of them. They’re good folks, people who take on the difficult job that comes with wearing that badge, and they really have to stand up for what’s right.
I heard their frustrations, that they don’t feel as if The Capitol Hill Gang has really listened to them. When legislation comes up, whether it’s education or law enforcement, the elected officials in Montgomery haven’t gotten the opinions and expertise of teachers or superintendents or sheriffs or officers --- the people who are experts in the subject matter, the people who think about those issues 24/7.
One of the things I promised the sheriffs and chiefs, whatever legislation comes about, if it’s talking about law enforcement or prisons or any other thing that affects them, I’ll be talking to them, the people who have the boots on the ground, to make sure we get their input on these issues.
We’ve done that with great success in Huntsville by communicating with the Chief of Police. He’s asked for more officers to meet the growing population, and we’ve budgeted for that. When he first mentioned acquiring tasers, I was somewhat skeptical. But he convinced me and sure enough, we’ve had half-dozen cases this year where people were apprehended safely who needed to be taken to a facility to get help.
My friend Rex Reynolds, who is a former Chief of Police in Huntsville, traveled with me to Baldwin County. It turns out that Rex was a much better policeman than car mechanic. After we had some good visits elsewhere in Baldwin County – with Probate Judge Tim Russell, Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and some other elected officials and prominent leaders – we were about four miles up I-65 when the Big Red Truck had a flat tire.
Rex and I got out to change the tire on the interstate at 3 o’clock in the afternoon – and we couldn’t figure out how to lower the spare from where it’s stored under the chassis. Once I read through the manual, we finally got it fixed, but we didn’t have a dry stitch of clothing by that time.
A few months ago, NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was in Huntsville and I presented him with a commemorative coin. Maybe I should call him and see if he needs Rex and me to give him some help this fall at Talladega!