One day, funding to courts will be fair

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 13, 2003

Almost one month ago, Alabama voters &045; including a majority in Marengo County &045; voted that a tax increase proposal by Alabama Gov. Bob Riley was not the best way to fix the financial problems in Montgomery.

In the past week, we have begun to feel some of the after-effects of that vote. In the Weekend Edition of The Times, we reported on possible job losses in the Marengo County Circuit Clerk’s office along with budget cuts being made in District Attorney Greg Griggers’ office.

As voters, we understood the ramifications of the vote against the state’s tax increase plan. We knew there would be less money available. We also knew we wanted to send a message to Montgomery expressing our distrust in the way state government has been run in the past.

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Hearing the news that Circuit Clerk Rusty Nichols may be forced to lay off an employee in his office is not good news. Nichols and his staff run a smooth operation that allows the judicial system to process the men and women who are charged with crimes in Marengo County. And what most citizens don’t realize is that the job of the circuit clerk’s staff may be the most important job in the entire judicial process.

As Griggers said in a story last week, the particular details and paperwork completed by the circuit clerk’s office may be the most vital part to getting criminals off the street and having innocent people set free.

Griggers and Nichols both have competent staffs that make the judicial process in Marengo County an effective one, and news that cuts have or may come will hurt the effectiveness of our court system.

In the coming years &045; sooner than later, we expect &045; Montgomery will change the way it practices government. Funding for special projects that fatten the pockets of legislators will go away and real needs of a community, like the court system, will be adequately funded.

And adequate funding for the courts won’t be the only change. One day, education and other vital government agencies like public safety will become the priority for the men and women representing the citizens of this state.

That won’t happen unless change is made in Montgomery. It won’t happen until the men and women who can’t manage our state’s money are replaced with men and women who know what it’s like to process a subpoena and file an arrest warrant.