The confusion was apparently over a conflict between state and local statute concerning the manner in which a vacancy would be filled. State law gave the governor power to appoint a successor until the next election (in this case 2008). The county law however called for a special election to be held.
The commission district affected is a heavily minority district. So the method of selection will ultimately determine which party holds the district. A special election would most likely result in a Democratic win, while Riley would assuredly appoint a fellow Republican.
The GOP will continue to hold a majority on the three member commission as the other two seats are held by Republicans, but since the next general election isn't until 2008, whoever fills Jones' seat can have a considerable impact. Local Mobile Democrats took the issue to the courts and not only received a favorable ruling from a Democratic circuit judge, but also the all GOP State Supreme Court.
So Mobile will soon elect a successor (most likely a Democrat) to the vacant seat. But more interesting than that, is seeing the GOP Supreme Court unanimously side against the Riley administration, even on a relatively trivial matter.