Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 1:00 PM Â Â Â Updated: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 2:12 PM
Barnett Wright — The Birmingham News
A Jefferson County Commissioner today challenged an Alabama state lawmaker to a “civilized” game of chess instead of a pistol duel after the lawmaker said the Jefferson County Commission had no credibility.
Commissioner George Bowman said during today’s meeting that Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale “impugned” the character of the commission by saying in an interview last week that the credibility of the county is ”not poor. It’s nonexistent.”
“Two hundred years ago, if you have a dispute of this nature, it would be settled with dueling pistols at dawn,” Bowman said.
“But we are much more civilized now and, since we are so non-existent and obviously insignificant, I challenge you, Sen. Beason, to a chess match to prove your worthiness, since you are obviously so much more worthy than we are,” Bowman said. “This challenge, Sen. Beason, is anytime, anyplace, anywhere.”
Beason said his statement referred to the previous commission. “The reality is that the new county commission is doing a good job. They are doing the things necessary to restore the credibility of the county. I think it’s very unfortunate that Commissioner Bowman took my comments, which were meant to be historical, because of the lack of leadership from previous county commissions and the sewer debacle that was caused by previous, that he took that personally.”
Beason made his interview comment after meeting with John S. Young, the court-appointed receiver in charge of the county’s sewer department. Young discussed potential legislation to create an oversight board with authority independent from the commission to oversee the issuance and repayment of new bonds.
County officials and lawmakers say Jefferson County doesn’t have the credibility to issue the bonds and investors want a board free of political control.
Bowman called Beason’s comments a slap in the face to commissioners, department heads and employees.
“To say that the credibility of this county is insignificant overlooks the fact that since we have been elected, this new commission, we’ve brought a spirit of hope in the governance of this county,” Bowman said. “We’ve demonstrated that we can work cooperatively to forge a consensus as we govern and make the decisions on the issues in this county every day.”
Commissioner Joe Knight said Beason’s comments were directed to the previous commission and not the current one seated in November.