Wasting our tax dollars
State Rep. Sue Schmitz (D-Toney) was neither vindicated nor convicted of federal fraud charges after a mistrial was declared in her three-week public corruption trial Monday.
Schmitz, a former history teacher at Sparkman High School in Huntsville who was elected to the House in 1998, was accused of using her government connections to land a job as program director of community and external affairs with the CITY (Community Intensive Training for Youth) program in Huntsville and failing to fulfill her job duties.
Three people – former two-year college chancellor Roy Johnson, Alabama Education Association secretary and lobbyist Paul Hubbert and Speaker of the House Seth Hammett – testified during her trial that they helped Schmitz get the position, which paid her $177,251 from January 2003 to October 2006.
Schmitz, a member of the House Education Appropriations Committee, will be tried again after an 11-1 decision by the jury resulted in a mistrial since a unanimous decision is required for a conviction.
The CITY program is funded through federal and state funds and assists troubled teenagers in 10 counties. The Franklin County program recently announced that due to a budget shortage in the Education Trust Fund, three staff positions – two counselors and one reading coach – will be eliminated this month without approximately $145,000 in additional funding.
For the upcoming fiscal year, proration has been predicted for our state's secondary and postsecondary schools and community programs. I think the trust fund would be in better shape if our legislators did a better job of appropriating funding instead of practicing back-scratching politics.