Jan 10 2006
By Tommy Stevenson
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby briefed a breakfast audience Monday about war, the economy and this year’s national elections.
But once he turned the meeting over to questions from about 200 people at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, nearly all of the questions were about such local issues as the renovation of downtown and the need to keep federal social programs intact.
The “Chamber in Session" town meeting, sponsored in part by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, is an annual event usually timed to the beginning of a new session of Congress. It has been dominated in past years with questions about the Bush administration’s attempt to revamp Social Security and the war in
On Monday, however, Social Security never came up. And
“And we make mistakes -- the president has told you this," the Tuscaloosa Republican said. “But I believe
“They are going to run their own country for the first time, we hope. But they have got to build their army, they’ve got to build their police force, and they’ve got to maintain control of their own country. And they are a long way from that. But I think they are making progress."
“I think the city can use this as a catalyst. And it is going to take a number of years for the revitalization of
But he said more money would be on the way.
“We’re really going to spend about $100 million in this area," he said. “I think it will be for the benefit of everybody in
He also said he is working on a plan with the
“If we are successful, we will be able to recruit and retain some of the top faculty in the world for research and teaching right hear on this campus," he said.
Asked a general question about energy policy, the 71-year-old Shelby, first elected to the U.S. House in 1978 and the Senate in 1986, said he has always supported drilling for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in
“If we can drill [for gas and oil] in the
“If we don’t, we are going to become more and more dependent on foreign oil."
Several representatives of local social agencies encouraged
Zelpha Wells, who teaches piano classes for the under-privileged, commended Shelby for helping her keep her doors open through several small federal grants.
In his remarks,
The town meeting in