Capitol Observations - Written by Beasley Allen on Thursday, March 4, 2010 9:23 - 0 Comments

Politicians Should Pay Attention

A recent poll shows that 74% of Alabamians believe government officials in don’t care what they think. The results of this poll, which was commissioned by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), should get the attention of all persons seeking a statewide or legislative office this year. The respected think-tank, based at Samford University in Birmingham and led by former Governor Albert Brewer, provides objective, nonpartisan information to help improve state and local government in Alabama.

At its annual meeting last month, PARCA officials reviewed the results of the statewide poll that shows how people feel about some of the most important issues facing Alabama. The candidates should pay special attention to the following statement by one of the persons polled: “Government officials in do not especially care what people like me think.” The poll results showed that 74% of people in Alabama agreed or strongly agreed with that statement.

The general sentiment among many folks seems to be that legislators and other state officials are more interested in keeping their positions and gathering money from lobbyists than in representing the interests of voters. Eighty-two (82%) percent of those polled said the Legislature should not allow transfers between political action committees as a way of hiding the source of campaign contributions. Most Alabamians would like to know where the money is coming from to fund the ads by competing gambling interests. Also, 91% said lobbyists should report all spending on legislators. Fifty-one (51%) percent said the state Ethics Commission should have subpoena power. And 71% believes $250 is too much for lobbyists to spend in gifts for legislators.

Most Alabama citizens believe the Legislature should pass the strongest ethics bill possible this year. I totally agree that this should happen. Changing the perception that lobbyists are running state government would certainly be a good thing. But actually restricting the influence of powerful lobbyists for special interests should be the goal. The people in Alabama have spoken through the PARCA poll and the politicians – both Democrats and Republicans – had better listen.

Source: Times Daily

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