Pity poor Dale Peterson. He didn't even have time to settle his horse in the barn at the Agriculture Department before Commissioner McMillan rescinded his cushy job offer. Or maybe Peterson quit (before he ever started). The charges are flying as the two former political rivals offer competing versions of the story:
McMillan had planned to hire Shelby County businessman Dale Peterson, who ran against McMillan in the Republican primary in 2010, but Peterson announced Thursday he's not going to work at the state agriculture department. Peterson says he realized McMillan was trying to neutralize him and keep him from being a potential candidate in 2014.
McMillan said he notified Peterson on Wednesday that the nearly $73,000-a-year job was off. McMillan said he received negative reaction to the hiring and it would be a distraction for the department.
That makes sense: a lot of people find Dale Peterson to be totally distracting.
But now the fun begins! Peterson wasn't content with that tiny hint of conspiracy quoted by the AP, so he took to his Facebook page to deliver a broadside against McMillan, the Agriculture Department, the Deputy Commissioners, even the office space to be provided for him.
Here's a sample. The entire rant is on the flip. If even a tiny sliver of it is actually true, then this could be the race to watch in 2014:
At that time I agreed, after John told me the Department is crumbling, in shambles and he needed someone there who has extensive business experience to put it back together. I knew it would make the other Deputy Commissioners uncomfortable due to their lack of farm and business experience.
“Commissioner John McMillan and I have discussed me coming to the Department no less than four times over the last two years, most recently at my farm the week before Christmas. At that time I agreed, after John told me the Department is crumbling, in shambles and he needed someone there who has extensive business experience to put it back together. I knew it would make the other Deputy Commissioners uncomfortable due to their lack of farm and business experience. Nevertheless, I thought I could do well for the Department and the people of Alabama by accepting.
I have had an overwhelming amount of support from the public and nearly an equal amount of negative reaction from those who think I sold them out by agreeing. The position I accepted was one that previously had been held by a gentleman named Oates who, as I understand, was paid about six- thousand dollars more than I was to be paid.
When making a preliminary visit and arrangements at the Department last week, I was told my office would not be in the headquarters building with the rest of the executive staff, but in a building at the farmers’ market. The building is in disrepair and leaking so badly when it rains that it takes at least six buckets to catch the water falling from the ceiling. It’s an embarrassment. This is also where the prisoners who do maintenance for the department are too. I was ok with that, as it was clear John did not want me at the headquarters building. As I saw it, my first task would have been to get the farmers’ market back into shape and make it something for Alabamians to be proud of.
The morale of the department’s workers is in the toilet and justifiably so from what I could tell. They seem to be ignored and unimportant to senior management, while senior management does as they please. I got the feeling that the everyday worker could see what I already knew about senior management and especially the appointed Deputy Commissioners. Their lack of experience and failure to produce any meaningful results in the last two years is understandable, with one, Wayne Walker, apparently only there to be the driver for the Commissioner and another, Brett Hall (ex-campaign manager for Tim James) whose apparent real purpose is to prepare McMillan for his next campaign. It became crystal clear to me that my hiring was not to help the Department or the people, but to remove me as a potential political opponent.
Apparently McMillan’s goal wasn’t to look out for the good of the Department and the people, but rather to look out for his political interests by neutralizing me and keeping me obscure (like Glen Zorn, his Democratic opponent that he hired to be Assistant Commissioner), so neither of us would run against him for Commissioner in the next election. Had this been a real job where I could help the people of Alabama, I wouldn’t have considered running against McMillan.
I also had a meeting with McMillan where he told me he visited the Poultry and Egg Association and ALFA to get their blessings before he hired me. They were big financial supporters of the McMillan campaign, and he didn’t want to lose that support in the next election. He also said he visited several other entities that the department regulates and asked for their permission to hire me.
So, my question is: Who is running the Department of Agriculture and Industries? I don’t know who is, but I do know it certainly is not John McMillan.
Most who know me know I am very direct with little regard for political correctness, and when I say something you can take it to the bank; therefore it will be interesting to see what concocted political spin a professional politician like John McMillan will put on this. You can bet it will be positioned to prevent blow back on him, but crafted in a manner that alludes to the good of the Department.
I supported John McMillan for his run for Agriculture Commissioner, because without me in the race I believed then as now, he was the best of the worst left for the people to vote for. So, two years later it is apparent that the people of Alabama have gotten a raw deal. Is that just the way politics works?”
Will McMillan respond? We'll keep you updated!