A slow wave goodbye to Alabama politics

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 29, 2013

When I began Decaturish a few months ago, one of my early obsessions was the hiring of former U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner by the University of Alabama System. Jo Bonner’s sister, Judy, is president of the University of Alabama.

I wrote about it, tweeted about it, screamed about it and even hounded your state media about it. All of it proved to be an absolute waste of time, though I enjoyed making new connections and the thrill of uncovering the truth, or pieces of it at any rate.

Some of you continue to send me tips, and that’s the biggest compliment any reporter can receive.

But I won’t be covering this topic any more, or writing much about Alabama in a non-football context. The main reason is because Decaturish is evolving. Based on recent surveys, the overwhelming majority of visitors to this site are from metro Atlanta. In order to move forward, I have to serve the needs of my audience. (That’s a radical notion for a news website, I’ll admit.)

I’m also not close enough to the events in Alabama to be an effective reporter. I cannot devote the attention this story requires.

I haven’t stopped caring. I care more than any man should. I care because I have the University of Alabama logo on my diploma. Any shameful action taken by our university officials shames all alumni by extension.

When I tell people about graduating from UA, I want them to think about a school with a football obsession and a culture that inspires achievement. I want them to view my degree as an accomplishment and not a privilege.

I do not want them to associate my degree with … whatever the hell it is UA has become under Chancellor Robert Witt and Judy Bonner.

Now, in addition to all of the other strange occurrences surrounding the employment of Jo Bonner, it looks like Witt and Judy Bonner are dabbling in local politics as well. It appears that Witt and Judy Bonner made donations to a “Machine”-backed candidate in a recent Tuscaloosa election.

If you’ll recall from my earlier article, Witt, Judy and several other Board of Trustees members made large donations to Rep. Jo Bonner’s campaigns.

There are disturbing allegations of voter fraud in the recent Tuscaloosa elections.

Something is seriously wrong in T-town.

There’s only one thing that can put a stop to it: an aggressive, persistent media. I’ve tried my best to get your local media engaged but only one publication, the Lagniappe in Mobile, even bothered to pursue the issues I raised in my reporting. The Montgomery Advertiser has written about it in a raised-eyebrow fashion, but has not devoted the kinds of resources it will take to get to the bottom of what has happened.

Your media continues to fail you and shows no sign of changing course. Even an appeal from someone as respected as Butler Cain, who incidentally was manager at the local NPR station when I interned there, won’t be enough to change it.

The only thing more offensive than the transparent cronyism at UA is the media’s decision to ignore it.

What exactly will it take to get the state’s media to wake up?

What will these people be able to pull off before you decide to say, ‘Enough’?

When, may I ask, do you intend to stop nodding politely at every flimsy excuse that passes for an explanation?

Why is some reporter in Atlanta asking these questions?

How long will this continue?

I’m tired of waiting.

I am sorry that this is the current state of journalism in Alabama. When the inevitable awful truth comes to light and you look for someone to blame, assign the majority of it to the perpetrators – whoever they are – but save some for the enablers, your local media.

They didn’t cause this mess. But they sure as hell didn’t try to stop it either.

I don’t know where all of this drama in Tuscaloosa is going, but I’m fairly certain of one thing: it will not end well.

Editor’s note: I’m extremely grateful and thankful to those of you who helped me and supported me during my reporting about this issue. You remind me of why I love Alabama. There are people there who are as decent and sincere as the day is long. They don’t deserve the state government that they’re getting right now. No one does.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Mouse

    I have a lot of problems saying I went to SCAD because of the ridiculous amount of bad mojo surrounding the owners, there abuse of policy, and the overall state of the administration. Two things are going to help this: First, I will fill my resume with ado much work that my education doesn’t belong on it. Second, I will learn to laugh every time someone responds to my admitting studies at SCAD with “SCAD? There is a college named SCAD? What the hell were they thinking?”

    • Yeah, that doesn’t quite flow right, does it? It’s that long “ah” sound and the hard consonant at the end. It almost sounds like you’re swearing.

  • gin arnold

    Of course by “leaving the subject alone” who benefits by that? I don’t blame you a bit, as it is very frustrating attempting to tell the truth, when everybody else seems not interested. Lets face it, Alabama is a backward state, scores low on most scales that measure quality of life, has been ruled by a small minority for the benefit of that minority. Jack gave the ball to Sonny and Sonny gave it to Jo, and the game continues. Is Alabama worse than Texas? Probably not but that is like comparing death by a gun or knife, neither being a pleasurable experiences. Montgomery, Washington really not much different as both are bought and paid for by the same old minority. The big difference is, in Alabama a million bucks is a lot and in Washington it takes a billion but in the end, it is the same players. Bill Moyers said recently, “If the people really knew what went on in Washington they would tear the town apart”. Unfortunately far too many people are completely ignorant of the facts, and look for a political narrative that fits their framework and follow along with it. Go to a football party in Alabama, a much more sacred experience than in any church, and you will hear, ‘those people need to get a job’, ‘it is all those liberals in Washington’, ’it is not Obama’s color it is his policies I don’t like’, and on and on and on. Ignorance is a terrible thing.

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