Riley keeping Tucker, Tatum as nominees

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 19, 2004

Gov. Bob Riley is still waiting.

One day after an Alabama Senate committee ignored two of Riley’s nominees for the University of West Alabama’s Board of Trustees, a spokesman for the Governor said no explanation has been given about the committee’s decision.

On Tuesday, the Senate Confirmations Committee approved John Northcutt, Thomas Ballow and Margaret Lovett to begin 12-year terms on the UWA board. But two other nominees — Ken Tucker of Demopolis, and Foy Tatum of Montgomery — were skipped by the committee.

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“We have not been notified of any problem with [Tucker and Tatum],” said John Matson, deputy press secretary for Riley. “No one on the committee has talked to us about it.”

In Alabama, the governor has the authority to appoint board members to all universities. However, those appointments must be confirmed by a Senate committee and then be confirmed by the entire body of the Senate. Such was the case for Northcutt, Ballow and Lovett. But Tucker and Tatum were not discussed by the committee.

State Sen. E.B. McClain, who chairs the confirmations committee, did not offer much of an explanation over the omission of Tucker and Tatum. State Sen. Charles Steele, who also serves on the committee, indicated diversity was a key issue. Steele did not return phone calls Wednesday seeking comment.

According to Matson, Tucker and Tatum still stand as nominees for the UWA board. Tucker was nominated to take the seat of Terry Bunn, who rotated off the board in December. Tatum was nominated to replace Robert Keahey, who also rotated off the board.

“This is not unusual,” Matson said. “We had the same thing happen last year with the Auburn Board of Trustees. The same people were nominated again, and they sailed through the Senate.”

The three members who were confirmed immediately become members of the UWA board, Matson said.

Northcutt replaces Nat Watkins; Lovett replaces Dwight Duke; and Ballow replaces Paul Hamrick.

The UWA board is next scheduled to meet on March 1. If Tucker and Tatum are not confirmed, Bunn and Keahey will keep their positions on the board until new members are confirmed by the Senate.