Holmes pushes Bentley to dismiss head of National Guard

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State Rep. Alvin Holmes, after becoming agitated that Adjutant General Perry Smith did not answer his calls and respond promptly to his request for information about the Alabama National Guard, has asked Gov. Robert Bentley to remove him.

But a spokesman for Bentley said the governor has no plans to dismiss Smith.

“Major General Smith is doing a great job. We have the finest National Guard in the United States,” said Jeremy King, a spokesman for Bentley.

State Rep. Alvin Holmes

Holmes, in what are not uncommon press conferences in a room near his downtown real estate office, told reporters on Thursday that he wanted Smith removed after the adjutant general did not promptly respond to his Jan. 3 request for the race and rank of guard officers. He said he called Smith four times to follow up his request and Smith would not take his call and would not return his call.

Holmes, D-Montgomery, said David Perry, chief of staff for Bentley, called him Thursday afternoon and said he would make the information available to him that afternoon at his State House office. The longtime lawmaker said he appreciates the assistance of the governor’s office.

Major General Perry Smith

“This however does not excuse General Perry Smith from responding to a member of the state Legislature when he is making an inquiry into a state department,” Holmes said. He said information should be provided to lawmakers and to the public.

King and a spokesman for the Alabama National Guard confirmed that the information Holmes requested was made available to him on Thursday afternoon.

Col. Dennis Butters, vice chief of staff and public affairs officer with the Alabama National Guard, said there are procedures for requests, which can take up to 30 days, and Holmes’ request was within that window. He said they were not ignoring the request, but were compiling the information.

“We have no reason to try to conceal any information. We are totally an equal opportunity employer,” Butters said.

Holmes, who has been a member of the Alabama House of Representatives since 1974, said he has requested information from the Alabama National Guard during almost every one of his terms and he has never been denied the information. He said he has requested similar information from other state departments.

Holmes said the governor should not have to devote his time to intervening on behalf of his cabinet members on such requests.

Holmes said he requested the information to inquire after black members of the guard said white members with less experience were being promoted ahead of them. He said he believes there is a pattern of discrimination in promotion and that is why Smith did not respond.

Butters said they are proud of their gains to ensure everyone receives a fair opportunity.

“We’re proud of the record we’ve got and what we’re trying to do to make the National Guard more diversified,” he said.

– posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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