News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2006


Nancy Worley tough taskmaster, but good

Politicians generally go out of their way to make friends and avoid creating an enemy's list. Nancy Worley gives the impression that she'd rather be right than to continue as Alabama secretary of state.

She rules the office with an iron fist and creates controversy. But then, she's a rare Democratic fish out there in a sea that Republicans dominate today, and they may have baited her into projecting the unfavorable image she carries.

The Contract Review Committee recently delayed her $563,000 proposal for voter education ad campaigns before the June primaries and the November general election. Republican Rep. Blaine Galliher said she was wasting public funds, even though as secretary of state voter education is her responsibility as is making sure elections run smoothly and honestly. That sounded awfully political on the committee's part because it would have put her name before voters at a critical time prior to the election.

She recently agreed to a $150,000 settlement in a lawsuit that an attorney who worked in her office filed after he said she fired him for religious and free speech reasons. But settling cases that hang around for years is sometimes an option. In this case, litigation dragged on through three plaintiff's attorneys.In agreeing to settle, Ms. Worley admitted no wrongdoing.

She's also involved in a Personnel Board hearing of another former employee, Anita Tatum, who resigned in tears after a confrontation with her boss over discrepancies in some county voting lists when Ms. Worley demanded they be corrected quickly.

Here in Decatur we might shrug off some of the controversy as "that's just Nancy." At Decatur High School, her reputation was as a hard-nose English and Latin teacher. She was exacting; she demanded the best.

That's what we look for in public servants.

Her Democratic opponent is Edward Paul Packard, who works in her office. He, too, is highly critical of Ms. Worley's conduct of the office, but she says he is a disgruntled employee.

We know Ms. Worley's work ethic and approve of it, while conceding that her confrontational management style creates controversy.

Still, THE DAILY recommends Nancy Worley for secretary of state in the Democratic June primary because she cares about and works hard for good government.

The winner will face state Auditor Beth Chapman in November.

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