The Birmingham News

Constitution reform foes: Rewrite aim is tax boost

News staff writer


MONTGOMERY - A sprinkling rain dampened the clothes but not the rhetoric Wednesday of the two dozen or so opponents to constitutional reform who attended a rally on the steps of the State Supreme Court.

Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, attended but didn't speak at the "Keep Our Constitution Rally," which featured speeches by two former state lawmakers who said constitutional reform is about raising taxes.

"What this would do would allow them to increase taxes, and whenever taxes increase, then you have less freedom," said former state Sen. Dwight Adams of Enterprise.

"Amen!" came a voice from the crowd.

Former state Rep. Larry Sims of Eastaboga, who represented Talladega and Calhoun counties from 1994 to 1998, said Alabamians "have never agreed to let county governments have the authority to zone and the authority to tax, and that's what the proponents of a radical change of our constitution want.

"They have a two-part agenda to take away the right of the people to vote on property taxes and the right to freely use your property. Folks, we don't need to let this happen."

Mrs. Moore, after the rally, said she is not a member of the Association for Judeo-Christian Values, which cosponsored the rally, but supports the group's opposition to constitutional reform.

"I'm here as a housewife and a mother," she told reporters.

Gwen Kennedy, a Montgomery lawyer and former head of the consumer fraud section in the attorney general's office, said she was asked, "Why, as an African-American, am I here.

"Who better to be here than an African-American, a proud citizen of the United States of America and of the great state of Alabama?" she said.

"If you're proposing change, let me see it, let me kick the tires on that thing, and show me exactly what you're saying," she said. "Otherwise, don't push it down my throat and say it's a racist document. I'd have to leave this entire country if that were the case."

One rally speaker, Kelly McGinley, a Mobile radio talk show host, accused the "NEA, governor, trial lawyers, secular media, gambling purveyors and probably the Mafia and the United Nations" of trying to bring about constitutional reform in the state.

John Giles, executive director of the Christian Coalition, also attended the rally but didn't speak. He later said he's concerned that a constitutional convention would be driven by special interest groups, such as gambling interests.

If changes are needed in the constitution, "the article-by-article approach is the safest for the people," Giles said.

State Sen. Albert Lipscomb, R Magnolia Springs, attended the rally and at times held an umbrella over those waiting to speak, but didn't speak himself. Lipscomb's office did issue a press release saying "constitutional reform is all about raising taxes."