Again, it's the Constitution: Another example to ponder
Editorials from the Anniston Star
In our opinion
10-17-2008

Have you noticed that when problems arise in Alabama, somehow either the cause of the problem or the lack of a solution can be traced back to the antiquated, oft-amended 1901 state constitution?

Consider the mess Jefferson County is in.

Put simply — if that's possible — years ago Jefferson County was sued for its failure to meet federal clean-water standards. So Jefferson County embarked on a massive sewer-system improvement undertaking, which it financed with bonds that now it is having trouble repaying.

Efforts to refinance the debt have failed, so the county is facing one of two choices. It can either fall back on its own resources, which would mean cutting county services, drawing money from other sources such as the 1-cent education sales tax and raising sewer rates, or the county could become the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Since no one wants bankruptcy, it looks like belt-tightening, rate-raising and money-moving is the answer.

The problem is that pesky 1901 constitution.

When Alabama's Founding Fathers wrote the state's fundamental law, they were concerned that counties might launch reforms that would threaten the status quo they were writing the document to defend. So they made sure that just about anything a county proposed had to be approved by the Legislature, which they controlled. So it follows that if Jefferson County wants to solve its problem in ways other than bankruptcy, the Legislature is going to have to give its OK.

Which means that nothing, short of bankruptcy, can happen until the Legislature meets in 2009. And even then, it is doubtful that senators and representatives from around the state will rush to rescue Jefferson County.

So unless someone has a creative solution that hasn't been proposed, Jefferson County might make history in the worst sort of way.

And while one cannot blame the Alabama Constitution for the mess that county is in, it sure isn't helping that county resolve it.

Thanks again, Founding Fathers of Alabama.

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