OUR OPINION: State has provided no evidence that sale is wise

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2007

The State of Alabama should not sell Farquhar Ranch. It is evidently clear that this is a politically motivated decision that simply plugs ongoing budget deficits with one-time money.

Why are we so confident in labeling Gov. Bob Riley&8217;s decision as politically motivated and unwise? Because, quite simply, neither the governor nor Department of Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen has provided any credible evidence that the farm is losing money and is a drain on the state budget.

In fact, this newspaper has acquired more financial information pointing to the fact that the ranch is making money than the state has provided that the ranch is losing money. And the state&8217;s answer to the positive financial statements? Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

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Allen has refused to grant our request to interview the warden at Farquhar. Instead, he passed the buck to the governor&8217;s office, saying only Riley could grant the request. It seems that the governor&8217;s office wants to control the spin surrounding Farquhar, to the point that Riley will not allow Allen to decide whether or not his own people can talk to the press.

Likewise, Riley&8217;s office has denied us access to the Farquhar warden. Why? We can only deduce that the ranch is not in as bad of a shape as Riley would lead us to believe, and the warden might actually tell us that.

Furthermore, the &8220;detailed&8221; records we requested from the DOC and the governor&8217;s office showing the financial situation of Farquhar came to us in the form of two pages showing partial financial information and no detailed line items.

Both Riley and Allen are clearly holding back important details about the fiscal viability of Farquhar. In short, we do not trust the governor or the commissioner on this one.