Tom Fredricks
Republican for Alabama House District 4

Tom's Corner

Opinions, musings, and discourse by Tom.

Phood Phunds, Philanthropy, & Pholly!

To the voters of District 4 and the State of Alabama:

We have an emerging conflict in Morgan County...many of you have been following it, as have I, and insofar as this impacts our state and district, I need to weigh in.

I am close to the Sheriff's Office. I have many friends in the law enforcement community, and I am friends with the sheriff, and most of her staff. I have utilized the work release program for years, and have employees that have successfully transitioned from being incarcerated, to becoming productive citizens. I have worked with employees of the Sheriff's Office for years managing our concerts, and many friendships have developed.

It saddens me that we are currently under a national microscope, and I hope for the very best outcome for those affected, including our county and state. To that end, I need to offer my perspective in regard to the inevitable fallout and what I as a future legislator for District 4 intend to do about it.

The Sheriff's food account has been a contentious issue for some time. It is indeed a formula for corruption in it's current, archaic form and we need to fix it. No public official should have direct access to public monies for personal gain, it lends a corrosive allure to even the purest of public officials, and is a temptation that must be curtailed.

I propose a salary structure for all Alabama sheriffs, whereas the sheriff is compensated in accord with the task, and larger departments, with more employees, and larger budgets, command a greater salary, in much the same manner a business administrative hierarchy is structured. There are a variety of ways we can do this, either by formula, correlation to the highest paid judge (Limestone Co. has led the pack in this effort), or by discretion of the County Commission. Whatever the mechanism, it is vital that personal access to public funds be curtailed. I intend to put forth legislation in 2019 to this end.

Further, the business of pandering, often by trained, law enforcement officers, on duty or off, for the purpose of securing public entity resources outside of the proper channels of disbursement is also a formula for abuse, and contravenes the authority of the controlling body...in the case of the SO, the County Commission.

Consider this...you are hired by XYZ company to do a job. While on the job, you spend your time, or the time of employees you manage, soliciting money from customers you serve for an unauthorized, unregulated, and unofficial revenue stream, that has no accountability...sound bad? It is.

This goes on in a myriad of areas of public service. Pandering for supplemental income outside of the system of governance and control of the responsible agencies as put forth by the people of Alabama is improper, whether it be the SO's rodeo proceeds, or demands for individually funded school supplies and fundraisers, the people need to take a stand against abuses of power manifesting as a "good cause" for a publicly funded service.

To that end, I propose legislation limiting this sort of behavior. Public officials must be accountable to the people, and the usage of alternative funding sources, uncontrolled by the proper administration, is another potential formula for abuse and/or corruption.

And...I can give you some insight into how the pressure is applied. I was challenged publicly by one of the members of the Sheriff's Posse for turning him away when he came in my office with his hand out. I articulated my concerns with his actions, and he retaliated on social media, criticizing my philanthropy, suggesting I just wasn't a good guy for telling him no, suggesting I have no concern for the needs of the community, and indicating that a vote for me was improper.

Well, it turns out, I had my finger on the pulse, and not everyone claiming a need should simply be given hush money. The comments have since been removed after I challenged him, suggesting he knows he was engaging in improper behavior, but his PM conversation about his criticism of my philanthropy led to this response several weeks ago:

Message

I take no position on the New York Times article, and again, I wish only the best for those involved, and our county and state.

From the current special election in District 4, to the national spotlight brought forth in the NY Times, we need competent, proven, and trustworthy leadership. If you elect me to be your representative, I will strive to bring reform and accountability to our governance, and strive to restore trust in public office.

I thank you for taking time to read this in it's entirety, and I ask for your vote on February 27th!

Tom Fredricks