Sweet Home Alabama

The State’s Appointment of a Polluter as Environmental Chief Shows Just How Bad Things Have Gotten

Even by the free-wheeling standards of Alabama politics, John M. Smith seemed an unlikely choice for the post of the state’s top environmental watchdog. In the early 1980s, he served as spokesman for an abortive scheme to export hazardous waste abroad from the Birmingham area. A few years ago, state and auditors questioned his computer company’s performance in fulfilling state contracts.