Langford scandals just a media ruse
War on Dumb by Kyle Whitmire
It'92s all a conspiracy. News media who are upset that another candidate '97 Patrick Cooper '97 didn'92t win the mayoral election last fall have been conniving with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice to frame Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford with everything from securities fraud to global warming. Or at least, that was the gist of what Langford told an interviewer on WBHM last week.
I have a confession to make.
Langford is telling the truth. We made it all up.
Just like the moon landing.
Me and a cabal of fellow journos in local, state and national media '97 we got together, many times over the years, usually over drinks. And we concocted it all. Every last bit of it.
It began as a joke, but that joke has gotten out of hand and my conscience won'92t let me take it any further. So now I'92m going to set the record straight on a few things.
'95 Previously it has been reported that VisionLand cost nearly four times the original projections, almost all of which was backed by junkbonds, that 11 cities paid millions toward the park'92s construction, and that bondholders lost nearly 80 percent of their investment before the park sold for a little more than $5 million.
All that was totally bogus.
In fact, VisionLand was a success, coming in under budget before being sold for a handsome profit. It made investors more money than Google and Coca-Cola combined, and the proceeds will pay for the county'92s costly sewer expansion.
'95 Previously it has been reported that Mayor Langford has trouble with money. Nothing could be further from the truth. He shops frugally and invests conservatively. When he told me once, '93I don'92t wear no cheap shit from J.C. Penney,'94 he meant the double negative literally. In fact, he wears nothing but cheap shit from J.C. Penney. He doesn'92t even know where Shaia'92s and Gus Mayer are, much less the New York garment district.
'95 Previously it has been reported that lobbyist Al LaPierre loaned Langford as much as $150,000, money federal investigators say LaPierre got from Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount. In fact, it was Langford who loaned the money to LaPierre, frequently admonishing him for his financial recklessness and instructing him directly to disclose the loans as required by state law.
'95 Langford did not say, '93If a penny is going to break you, then you'92re already broke, anyway.'94 Rather, he said, '93If you'92re already broke anyway, then a penny is going to break you.'94
'95 The city'92s logo is a magic hat with the skyline coming out of it, but that wasn'92t Langford'92s idea. Instead, it was an experiment to see if the City Hall bureaucracy would respond to a bogus memo as quickly as a real one. A colleague sketched the logo on a bar napkin, which I stapled to the bogus memo. Sorry.
'95 Mayor Langford did not hire a landscape supervisor he met in Linn Park to be his Public Works director. To the contrary, he conducted a national search, eventually selecting a candidate with an engineering degree from MIT and 20 years management experience.
'95 Mayor Langford'92s actual campaign slogan was rather humdrum pabulum: '93Progress for the people.'94 That seemed boring, so the cabal and I toyed with '93Let'92s do everything'94 before finally settling on '93Let'92s do something.'94 I liked the first one better, but I lost to a majority vote. My cohorts believed it too much of a stretch.
'95 Mayor Langford'92s recent sackcloth and ashes prayer rally was a complete hoax. Participants were paid $20 a head and told they were extras in a direct-to-DVD Left Behind sequel starring Kirk Cameron.
'95 Mayor Langford did hire former Jefferson County Finance Director Steve Sayler to be finance director for the City of Birmingham. However, far from being the architect of potentially the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, Sayler presided over transparent budgets and sound investment practices.
'95 In fact, there was no investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The actual investigation by the SEC, or Southeastern Conference, was into the University of Alabama football program. However, that story had been written a hundred times already, and we needed a new twist. As Commissioner Shelia Smoot argued earlier this year, the county'92s financial troubles really are a hoax manufactured by the commission'92s Republican majority to make the Democrats there look bad.
'95 Personally, I thought all the reporting on Computer Help for Kids was too fantastic for anyone to believe, but everyone fell for it anyway. Really now, ATM withdrawals at casinos? When that money was supposed to help children in need? A friend of the mayor practically living out of the charity'92s coffers? Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in the mix, too? It was all out on a limb, but as a reporter pal of mine said, '93No one cares about this bond stuff. We can write about it all day, and nobody will read it. But if you put '91gay porn star'92 in your copy, then you'92ve got a story.'94
'95 Finally, contrary to previous reporting, there actually is no such person as Larry Paul Langford. Well, there was, but he disappeared into obscurity after losing a race for Birmingham mayor nearly 30 years ago.
The person you see on television is actually a paid-actor, cosmetically altered to look like the '93real'94 Langford, or approximately what he would look like today. The actor'92s salary comes out of dues paid by the media cabal members. The fake Langford is in fact a character composite of Judge Roy Moore, Marion Barry and Michael Milken.
The ruse nearly exposed itself last fall when a few folks out of the loop discovered that the actor paid to play Langford actually lived in Fairfield and not Birmingham. The conspiracy'92s cover remained safe when a judge accepted that Langford lived in a loft downtown and nobody seemed to care if the mayor lived in the city or not.
Some will say that this is all a bunch of black-helicopter, conspiracy-theory nonsense, but let'92s be real for a second. Is it any harder to believe than the truth?
War on Dumb is a column about political culture.