Baldwin Board Member Speaks His Mind About Auditor Ziegler

Last March 31 the Baldwin County school system had a vote as to whether or not to increase taxes to be used to support a bond issue for new school construction.  The vote failed.  The school board used public funds to encourage a yes vote.  Opinions from the attorney general supported this decision.

State Auditor Jim Ziegler later brought suit, contending that the Attorney General’s opinion was not justified.  However, he did not sue the school board, he personally sued four members of the Baldwin County school board as well as then superintendent Robbie Owen, along with Attorney General Luther Strange.

When the school board decided to defend the suit, Zeigler said in a statement, “This is the worst political arrogance I have seen.  They are sued for illegally spending taxpayer money in an election campaign, so now they want to spend more taxpayer money defending the individuals in the lawsuit.

“Will wonders ever cease?”

In July, Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin dismissed Zeigler’s suit, agreeing with opinions from several attorney generals that public officials could engage in issue advocacy.

The Baldwin County school board met on Oct. 15.  One of the agenda items was approval of paying attorney fees incurred to defend the suit.  These amounted to $33,000.

Board member David Tarwater, one of the individuals sued by Zeigler, spoke out forcefully about the auditor’s action that took money away from local students.  You can see Tarwater’s remarks here.  They begin at the 12:15 mark on the video.

Among points Tarwater made were:

  • Board members were sued for following the opinions of the attorney general which the state auditor did not happen to agree with.
  • Information on the state auditor’s web site does not show in any form or fashion that Zeigler has the authority to do what he did in Baldwin County.  “Since when does the auditor’s role include fund-raising for frivolous law suites against local boards of education?” asked Tarwater.
  • Frivolous law suits such as this one keep good people out of public service.

Tarwater summed up his remarks by stating that while on the one hand Zeigler accused the school board of taking money from the classroom–he was guilty of doing the same thing by filing suit.

A suggestion.  No doubt some school in Baldwin County will soon hold a fund-raiser and there is a good chance that a dunking booth will be involved.  The school board might consider inviting Jim Zeigler to participate.

 

 

 

7 Responses to Baldwin Board Member Speaks His Mind About Auditor Ziegler

  1. Larry Lee, you are amazing….Your constant barrage of research, facts and trying to “do the right thing” should be getting the attention of everyone that has a child in school….anywhere in the State of Alabama. In fact, public education should employ you as a lobbyist to help them keep the legislative branch straight…Thank you for your continued battle for public education.

    • You are far too kind. It’s more about having a number of contacts and keeping your ear to the ground. And all of us know what the “right thing” usually is. Some folks just forget their moral compass.

    • Scratching your head? I doubt that is the case. You just can’t believe how far some politicians will go to get their name in print.

  2. I’ve always been fond of Tarwater. He was one of the first people ever to come up to me at a meeting and say kind words about BMES. As far as the auditor goes…….he clearly looooves to toot his own horn and get attention. It’s not only this, look at the things he posts on his FB page. Nothing short of a bully. As far as the fall festival….we are heading a booth and the haunted hayride. Maybe I can talk him into some tiger gear with all that money, “his own money” he saved when the lawsuit was dismissed. Proceeds go back into the school.

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