No…Really?

Larry Langford said today that he thinks he’s the target of a criminal probe. To that, I’d like to respond, “Duh!”

Larry and Bill Blount, Chairman of a Montgomery-based investment firm, showed up in Miami last week to respond to an SEC (that’s Securities and Exchange Commission, not Southeastern Conference) subpoena but refused to answer questions. Each of them cited some unspecified constitutional right to avoid giving testimony under oath.

In a 21-page document filed with the U.S. District Court in Florida, the SEC states that its staff “is investigating whether any persons or entities, including but not limited to Langford and Blount, committed violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws relating to the offer, purchase or sale of Jefferson County, Alabama, municipal bonds or security-based swap agreements.”

Langford, as [former Jefferson County] commission president, was “instrumental in selecting participants in county bond and swap transactions during the relevant time period. The staff intends to question Langford about, among other things, his activity in connection with those transactions and the source and nature of certain payments he received. This is certainly relevant to whether anyone, including Langford, violated the securities laws in connection with these bond and swap transactions,” the filing states.

“The staff intends to question Blount, among other things, about his role in these transactions and the aforementioned payments to Langford,” the document says. “Again, this is obviously relevant to whether anyone, including Blount, violated securities laws in connection with these bond and swap transactions.”

The SEC says Langford and Blount may be within their rights to refuse to testify if they’re taking the Fifth, but they’ll have to say so — and they must do so personally, not through their attorneys.

So yeah, I think Larry may be on to something. He’s not worried, though.

“I’d be a liar if I said no,” Langford said, “but the fact of the matter is I’m not scared.”

…”I did not need to cite the Fifth Amendment,” Langford said today. “From now on, I’ll listen to my lawyers and let them handle it.”

He’s going to listen to someone else? Mark the date, people. This might be a first. And it just might be time to inaugurate a “Larry Watch” category.

18 Responses to “No…Really?”

  1. ALmod says:

    I’m just waiting on bhmhomeboy to claim that the SEC are sore loosermen.

  2. ALmod says:

    I forgot to mention…

    Langford also received around $175k in benefits from lobbyists connected to the bond-swap deal. He keeps referring to the money as “a loan” that he will repay, but I happen to know Langford’s history on paying back loans… Not good. Either way, he’s not going to come out smelling like roses.

  3. bhmhomeboy says:

    Almond,
    YOU are a sore loserman, but that’s OK, I understand. I felt the same way when George W. Bush was SELECTED by the Felonious Five. Welcome to the sore loserman club. You are going to have to get over Langford like I had to get over Bush and Dick.

  4. Kathy says:

    bhmhomeboy, your user name is more difficult to type than ALmod’s. She got yours right; get hers right.

    That said, if you like Larry, great. I sincerely hope you’re right and I’m wrong, because I would like to see Birmingham prosper.

  5. Jennifer says:

    It’s a right wing conspiracy!!! Or a left wing conspiracy!!! Regardless of the wing, it’s definitely a conspiracy!!

  6. ALmod says:

    Actually, bhmhomeboy… I couldn’t be more tickled pink that Larry Langford is Birmingham’s mayor. I live in the Trussville area, and who do you think is going to prosper as a direct result of Birmingham going downhill? I have absolutely NOTHING to lose from Langford being in office and, as a blogger, I have everything to gain. I haven’t had this much material since Roy Moore ran for governor.

    I’m just fairly amused that you are such a fanboy for Langford that any disqualification and/or criminal activity on his part MUST be someone else’s fault. Heaven forbid that Langford be responsible for his own debacle.

  7. bhmhomeboy says:

    Sorry about the typo for ALmod, it wasn’t intentional, sometimes I have this eye hand coordination thing going on.

    For the record I could care less about Larry Langford the man, I care about the democratic process. Langford ran and won the election by the voters who live in Birmingham. Since you live in Trussville and as you say stand to gain from his Mayorial election just get over it and move on.

    I must say that your post (and others) prove Langford’s point about being “targeted” You seem to have tried and convicted him without charges or a trail. You already know the SEC is going to find him “guilty” of something. Why exactly is the SEC investigating Langford?

  8. bhmhomeboy says:

    Typo in previous post: It should read: You seem to have tried and convicted him without a trial. (It’s that hand/eye thing ).

  9. Kathy says:

    bhmhomeboy, if the press coverage is correct (and I have no reason to believe it isn’t), the SEC is investigating Langford and Blount because of interest rate swaps overseen by Langford during his tenure as JeffCo Commission President that have so far resulted in more than $150 million in excess interest payments. It is also investigating the relationship between Langford, Blount, and lobbyist Al LaPierre.

    ALmod, I’m right there with you re: Larry as a great generator of blog fodder, but I don’t think the greater Birmingham area will benefit if he drags down the city proper. Someone (I wish I could recall who) described downtown as the living room to our collective house. It’s the first room a visitor sees, and if it’s in disarray, the rest of the house looks bad. Not to mention the tremendous human cost to people who are already among the most vulnerable.

  10. ALmod says:

    bhmhomeboy, we have been through this before. It’s not the democratic process you are defending, because the democratic process IS set up so that those who do not live in a area should not be able to run. If you were interested at all in the law and democratic process, you’d have gone with my earlier suggestion, in which I said that the people of Birmingham should push for a clarification of such a law in order to make any legal protest of Langford’s mayoral qualification moot. And you’re so easily emotionally prodded any time any mention of Langford’s name pops up in the negative, regardless as to any tangible evidence and/or argument. A lack of conviction hardly makes the story less than pressworthy.

    Larry Langford isn’t being “targeted” any more than Don Siegelman, Richard Scrushy, Troy King, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or Alvin Holmes. Where is your defense of these people?

    Lack of a criminal conviction has little to do with lack of evidence. It has everything to do with getting a jury to believe you, and trust me when I say that they can be convinced not to convict you. If you don’t believe me, just ask Richard Scrushy and O. J. Simpson and a number of other criminals who have gotten off on a technicality. Kenneth Lay was never convicted, either, but I don’t see you rushing to his defense. The least you can do is be honest with yourself and with us.

    And what of the democratic process should Langford actually go to jail? What then? Are you suggesting that he should be able to run the mayoral office as a convicted felon from a jail cell?

    When a person admits in front of news cameras that he doesn’t live in a place… When UPS deliveries to that place go ignored for weeks at a time… It doesn’t take a judge or a genius to tell you that the person doesn’t live there. When a person orchestrates a bond swap deal, and when those who profit pay that person’s debts for him, and those things are readily admitted from the person’s mouth, it doesn’t take the SEC to tell you that the person was bribed. It’s what we call a “Duh” conclusion. These aren’t made up claims, either. There are plenty of past quotes from Langford in which he admits them. If anything were ever in question regarding Langford, it would be the definition of “residency” and the definition of “bribe.”

    Kathy to answer your earlier statement… I’m not suggesting that it will help Birmingham at all. In fact, I’m suggesting the opposite. I’m very much a Libertarian in that I believe people gain the lifestyle that they earn. The people of Birmingham allowed themselves to be scammed into voting for Langford and therefore must live with their decision. The only objection I have is when (not if) the other county and state taxpayers will be forced to clean up the mess, and they did NOT vote for Langford. But I do believe that it will cause more business and businesses to travel outside of Birmingham– the most likely places being Trussville and Hoover, although Hoover would most likely see the bigger boost of the two.

    Yeah, you should keep up your living room, but if your living room is built over a sink hole, you can’t fix the problem by throwing your bedroom furniture into the hole.

    Birmingham has become our sink hole. We can throw money at it all day, but the hole will still be there. And the outlying areas will be the ones who suffer as their money is continuously thrown into the sink hole that is Birmingham. So maybe we take the house in a different direction and build a new “living room” elsewhere. I know that Mobile is waiting in the wings, and it already attracts a comparable number of tourists.

    Honestly, I think that Birmingham is going to have to hit rock bottom before it gets better– much like a drug addict. Until the people of Birmingham get so fed up that they’re willing to work to improve it rather than rely on the government or a politician to do it for them, it will only get worse.

  11. Kathy says:

    “The people of Birmingham allowed themselves to be scammed into voting for Langford and therefore must live with their decision.”

    Well, no, not exactly. 50.3% of the voters allowed themselves to be scammed into voting for Langford. The other 49.7% preferred someone else. That’s a bit like blaming me for George W. Bush. Yes, I realize in an ideal Libertarian world, every one of those 49.7% would have jobs that are portable, families that don’t mind being uprooted, parents in perfect health who won’t suffer if the kids move out of town, etc., etc., and they could all just up and leave if they don’t like it. Back here in reality, actual people who didn’t do anything to deserve it are going to suffer in large and small ways if Larry completely screws up. And many of those people have been working hard for years to improve the city and the region. I can’t celebrate that.

  12. Kathy says:

    (And yeah, I know there were lots of registered voters who didn’t go to the polls for one reason or another. I think I’ll reserve my disdain for those who were able-bodied, had the time and the transportation, and still didn’t bother to vote.)

  13. ALmod says:

    But KATHY!!! Langford was DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED!!!

    Don’t you see the REASON in that argument? Langford was DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED and therefore, everyone else should just shut up and deal with it.

    And if you thought George W. shouldn’t have been president, you are nothing more than a sore looserman. I mean, who cares that there were uncounted ballots and confusion at polls and even allegations of outright cheating? Am I right?

    Yes, that was sarcasm.

    You are correct. There are those who didn’t vote for Langford and who will suffer. There were also those who reported problems at the polls and never had their votes counted, and it was suspicious that some districts went the way they did… Truth be told, there’s no way out of this that will be fair and will have no problems. Even with Langford removed, you still have a corrupt council, and the next dunderhead will take over. Bhmhomeboy’s previous statement that the nation survived Geroge W. Bush isn’t entirely correct. This nation has suffered great losses in finances, morale, and even in lives as a direct result of his presidency. It remains to be seen what effect we will see in the far future.

    And just as some in other countries will suffer if the U.S. ceases to intervene in international affairs, the consequences of intervention are far greater. The same can be said for state and county intervention into the city affairs of Birmingham. It may put a band-aid on things for now, but ultimately, it will suck the county and state dry if we continue on this path. The best that we can hope for is that those who dissent now will get fed up and convince more of their neighbors to take action.

  14. ALmod says:

    I forgot to add… And this is going back to the subject of your post…

    You might find it interesting that the same guy who was involved in the overpriced bond deals for Jefferson county under Larry Langford, Steve Sayler, has been hired to be the finance director for Birmingham so that he can handle the bond deals for Birmingham. I’m, of course, referring to bond deals for the school construction (under the 1 cent JeffCo sales tax), the bond swap deals that are under investigation by the SEC, and the bond deals to fund the building of the domed stadium.

    There’s a rather interesting article in today’s Birmingham News regarding how JeffCo didn’t take bids on the bonds and as a result paid more than the state.

  15. Kathy says:

    Yeah, I saw today’s article, and hiring Steve Sayler is just an in-your-face to people who care about fiscal responsibility and ethics — which should be everyone. You know I’m not defending Larry, right? A mayor who thinks Frank Matthews should be handling citizen complaints has no interest whatsoever in the concerns of his constituents.

  16. bhmhomeboy says:

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

  17. jaleo23 says:

    I’ve tried to stay nonchalant with this whole debacle, but Larry Langford has shown that he is a bigger fool than anything else.

    Anyone with a rational mindset would realize that if a county government like Jefferson County with a track history of convictions of corruption wouldn’t have done what he did with the bond swipes. However, over and over again he has shown that he is too busy thinking about keeping own personal finances via the county’s by pulling this act. If he does get indicted I say, “He deserves it.”

    I am also a citizen of Birmingham and feel that it is not right for this city or this region to suffer because of the bumbling of one person. I didn’t vote for him for this very reason, but I’m not bitching about this like some. Hopefully, Langford won’t make the same mistake twice with the City of Birmingham.

  18. ALmod says:

    Technically, it would be the fourth time. He was already being investigated for some questionable financial activity as the mayor of Fairfield, including bond deals to back VisionLand. THEN came the debacle with the bond swaps in Jefferson County. Then came the bonds behind school construction from the 1 cent sales tax– bonds that were considerably overpriced in comparison to the state due to lack of bidding. Now, he’s planning on selling bonds for city building. It would be his fourth bad bond deal. (Both Jeffco deals were overseen by Steve Saylor, and he has now been brought in by Langford to oversee any for Birmingham.)

    Here’s the pattern: As both mayor of Fairfield and president of the JeffCo Commission, he raised taxes and promised better schools, laptops for those schools, and college scholarships. He also supported the building of major tourist attractions each time. And each time, he never delivered on the school promises, but he did build VisionLand, and you know the history of THAT catastrophe. He also sold bonds to fund these grand schemes each time.

    Now, based on that pattern, he’s already STARTED to make the same mistake again. He’s raising taxes, making promises, there’s a dome involved, and he’s selling bonds. The same man is overseeing those bonds. Now, based on the law of probability, what is most likely to happen next?

    It’s not that he MIGHT make the same mistake again. It’s that he WILL make the same mistake again unless someone slows him down, and don’t count on the City Council to be the ones to do it. They’ve already been bought off for the tidy sum of $1 million in pork slush each.

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