With corruption flowing like sewage in downtown Birmingham, it's time for a Phenix City-style cleansing, starting with the Alabama Power money machine

Jay Town and Mark Crosswhite


Has Birmingham become the epicenter of corruption in Alabama, much as Phenix City was in the 1950s? Is it time for a thorough cleansing in "The Magic City"? Should that process start by addressing the free-flowing money spigot at Alabama Power? The answer to all three questions is yes, according to an analysis at banbalch.com. Writes Publisher K.B. Forbes, pointing to a photograph (see above) of Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite and disgraced former U.S. Attorney Jay Town knocking down cocktails prior to the 2018 North Birmingham Superfund criminal trial:

The photo above of disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town chugging cocktails with the Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power Mark A. Crosswhite at the Moon Shine Lounge at the Elyton Hotel is the epitome of the unethical if not corrupt environment in Alabama.

After the criminal convictions of Balch-made millionaire Joel I. Gilbert, one of the most interesting and insightful comments made to us was from a seasoned federal official who stated that the alleged corruption in Jefferson County and North Birmingham was not caused by Balch & Bingham but appeared to have been caused by the embattled law firm’s sister-wife, Alabama Power.

The mother’s milk of all corruption and bribery is money, cash money.

Alabama Power is a money horse, the most profitable wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Company.

Alabama Power appears to spreads millions of dollars directly or through “pay-through” entities to political allies, political action committees, AstroTurf campaigns, yellow journalists, and of course, law firms like Balch & Bingham or White, Arnold & Dowd.

Folks who know their Alabama history have heard this kind of story before. Write Forbes:

In the 1940s and early 1950s, Phenix City, Alabama, was a hub of corruption and criminal misconduct. As the Associated Press reported:

“Criminals infiltrated local government, rigging elections and paying off officials. The crime figures were meticulous about paying their taxes, which kept taxes for others in Phenix City low. And they made regular donations to churches and civic causes — money that made them part of the fabric of the community.”

But all that changed on June 18, 1954 when the nominee and shoe-in for Alabama Attorney General Albert Patterson, who vowed to clean up corruption in Phenix City, was assassinated.

As Wikipedia describes:

Reaction from the state was swift. Within weeks, Governor Gordon Persons declared martial law in the city, effectively giving the Alabama National Guard the law enforcement duties in the city and the county. The state sent special prosecutors from Montgomery to replace the local judiciary.

Within six months, the Phenix City machine was dismantled.

A special grand jury in Birmingham handed down 734 indictments against local law enforcement officers, elected officials, and local business owners connected to organized crime. 

Three officials were specifically indicted for Patterson’s murder: Chief Deputy Sheriff Albert Fuller, Circuit Solicitor Arch Ferrell, and Attorney General Si Garrett. Of the three, only Fuller was convicted; he was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released after 10 years. Fuller died within the same year as his parole and claimed his innocence until his dying day. Ferrell was acquitted and Garrett was never brought to trial, as he was convalescing in a mental institution for most of the year after Patterson’s murder.

Is it time for similar action in and around Jefferson County? Is the area sullied by corporate entities and law firms -- and their political allies -- who are bad actors? Could a $75-million lawsuit from former Drummond Company executive David Roberson, essentially reopening the North Birmingham case, be the impetus for much-needed change -- and fresh air? Yes, yes, and yes, says Forbes:

Now, today, 67 years later, we see sheer and uncontrolled panic from the Three Stooges (Alabama Power, Balch, and Drummond Company) in the rebirth of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal.

Every political asset, every judicial trick, every tactic of fear and intimidation have been used as crushing weights against David Roberson, but they have backfired. Roberson’s $75 million sealed lawsuit still stands.

These four years of reporting have proven undeniably that Balch & Bingham, Alabama Power and their stooges are utter fools. Their foolish conduct has spiraled out of control.

Like a replication from long-ago Phenix City, we have reported about the manipulation of the judicial branch, an assassination attempt, alleged bribes, staged arrests, alleged prosecutorial misconduct, a mysterious head-on car wreck, judicial fraud, a counterfeit court order, and even when the wrong family was terrorized by Balch boosters.

Forbes points an accusing finger at a corporate behemoth in downtown Birmingham, one perhaps the feds need to cut down to size:

But now the feds need to zero in on where Alabama Power is most vulnerable.

Alabama Power, like Phenix City elements of 1954, may give regular donations to civic causes, but the ugly underbelly, the vile raw sewage from Alabama Power linked to environmental racism and possible corruption needs to be investigated and cleaned up.

Mark A. Crosswhite may be forced to resign or retire.

Unlike the long-ago politico, we don’t believe Crosswhite will be “convalescing in a mental institution” anytime soon.