The Wire

  • 16-year-old murder suspect admits setting fire that killed mother, records state

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    Nicholas Lamons is charged in his mother’s fire death.

    A teen murder suspect admitted setting the Morgan County fire that killed his mother and sent two others to the hospital, court records state.

    Nicholas Lamons, 16, is charged in the Tuesday-morning fire death of his mother, 32-year-old Kimberly Lamons, at their Alabama 67 home in the Joppa area.

    “Nicholas was located a short time later asleep in the van in Somerville,” Investigator Jeff Reynolds wrote in an arrest affidavit. “Nicholas was questioned and admitted that he had started a fire in his bedroom prior to leaving the residence. Nicholas also stated that he came back by the house a short time later and saw the trailer burning but did not make an effort to notify anyone.”

  • Moore slams Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize in fundraising email

    Excerpt from Associated Press:

    Former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama is trying to raise money by pointing to the Pulitzer Prize that The Washington Post won for its investigation of him.

    In a Friday fundraising email to supporters, Moore’s legal defense fund, said The Post won for “lies and slander.” The email sent by the Moore for U.S. Senate Legal Defense Fund then asked for people to help replenish his legal fund.

    The Post won a Pulitzer for investigative reporting for its stories revealing allegations that Moore pursued teenage girls sexually decades ago while he was in his 30s. Moore denied any misconduct.

  • Birmingham considering another Democratic National Convention bid

    Excerpt from WBRC:

    Birmingham is going after another Democratic National Convention, but the city says this time the committee asked to make a pitch.

    Last month, the Democratic National Committee reached out to Mayor Randall Woodfin about the city applying to host the 2020 convention.

    In a statement to WBRC, Mayor Woodfin says he’s considering applying.

    “We are very excited that the Democratic National Committee has recognized the City of Birmingham as an attractive, possible site for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Such recognition shows how much progress our city is making when we receive these kinds of unsolicited invitations,” Woodfin said.

9 hours ago

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones could be a deciding vote in Pompeo confirmation

(PolitiFact/YouTube)

With Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) publicly opposed to CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s confirmation to be Trump’s secretary of state, Pompeo is seeking to win votes from Democratic U.S. Senators to get across the finish line.

Among the possible Democratic targets for Pompeo are Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Alabama’s own Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook).

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At a town hall meeting for University of Alabama students in Tuscaloosa last week, Jones addressed the Pompeo matter and explained how he sought to follow in the footsteps of one of his predecessors, former Alabama Sen. Howell Heflin.

“I start with any presidential nomination with a needle in favor of the president,” Jones said. “I go back to my role as a staff member for the late Sen. Howell Heflin from Alabama.”

According to Jones, Heflin began with a view of the confirmation process in favor of the nominee.

“As chief justice [of the Alabama Supreme Court], he always felt constitutionally bound that his role and his view that the president should be given the benefit of the doubt with regard to nominations,” Jones said. “However, that does not mean that it would take a lot to move that needle back. If you do the appropriate work, you can figure this out and determine for yourself whether or not a nomination is qualified, whether or not they’re going to uphold the law. And that will mean voting for someone that I did not personally agree with and would not have personally appointed if I were king or I were president.”

At the time the Tuscaloosa event on April 13, Jones had not met with Pompeo. A representative from Jones’ office told Yellowhammer News Jones and Pompeo met on Thursday.

“He has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill,” Jones said. “He has not made it to my office yet. I fully expect him to at some point. I want to reserve my judgment on him. He has been confirmed once.”

Critics of Pompeo have opposed his confirmation on the grounds of his view on U.S. involvement in the Middle East and the use of “torture” as a means of interrogation.

“I have heard and understand the criticism and concerns and I want to talk to him about it,” Jones said.

For the time being, Jones remains non-committal on the confirmation, especially given he was not a U.S. Senator when Pompeo was confirmed to be CIA director in 2017.

“The jury is out for me at this point as a freshman senator that didn’t have the benefit of voting on him the last time,” he said.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

Editor note: This story was updated to reflect Jones had met with Pompeo two days earlier per Jones’ office.

2 days ago

Roy Moore and Confederate monuments — AL(dot)com’s Archibald dabbles in lefty irrelevancies as GOP gubernatorial debate panelist

(Screenshot/Facebook)

BIRMINGHAM — The gubernatorial debate HOSTED by AL(dot)com’s Reckon, Wednesday at the Lyric Theatre, went about as expected.

There was a little spice though. All three of the four GOP candidates weighed in on the recent spate of student-teacher romances and Alabama’s age of consent. We also learned the candidates’ positions on raising the gas tax. This is notable as rumors abound that Gov. Kay Ivey may call a special session in a lame-duck period to hike the state fuel tax.

Ivey was, however, noticeably absent from Wednesday night’s debate thanks, in part, to an empty dais emblazoned with her name and helpfully featured on the debate stage.

Otherwise, it was a lot of the same. Evangelist Scott Dawson is going to do a performance audit when he is elected governor. State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) wants to privatize the ALDOT. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle believes in having computers in our public school classrooms.

And of course, AL(dot)com columnist John Archibald is still a self-righteous left-winger. Archibald and HIS beliefs were on display Wednesday. By the way, he won a Pulitzer Prize if you haven’t heard.

As expected, Archibald began the debate focused like a laser on those issues Republican voters really care about: Roy Moore and Confederate monuments.

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“We just come through this situation in which allegations were made against Roy Moore in the Senate race. He was not a teacher, of course. But in his 30s, he was alleged to have relationships with under-aged women,” Archibald said, transitioning from a question from co-moderator and Birmingham ABC 33/40 reporter Lauren Walsh about student-teacher sexual relationships.

The largely Republican audience was not pleased.

“Roy Moore’s not here!” one woman yelled.

Archibald continued, “And there were many people in and outside the party who said that they would support him no matter whether the accusations were true or not because politics was more important than that. What is your reaction to that and did you support Roy Moore?”

WARNING (and, if we are being serious, duh!) to Republicans (and this goes for the absent Kay Ivey as well): The pseudo-intellectual left in Alabama, emboldened by Doug Jones’ victory, is going to try to make 2017 Roy Moore a 2018 issue.

None of the candidates took the bait.

Archibald lobbed several out-of-touch-with-Republican-voter questions at the candidates. The kind that you might expect from someone with a warped liberal view of the world. How could a state where so many that practice Christianity allow for Alabama to be at the bottom of so many quality of life listicles? The subtext being, a religious population would recognize this and therefore elect those that would govern with progressive social impulses.

And of course, Confederate monuments.

“I feel like, at this point, this is a softball,” Archibald said, prefacing his question. “Gov. Ivey has recently staked her flag on the Confederate monuments issue. She said we shouldn’t try to erase our history, which I guess is easy politics. But do you think the monuments we have in Alabama accurately reflect the history in our state and all its people, and why or why not? And what can be done to portray our history in a way that includes all Alabamians?”

This was tied to Ivey touting the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 in a campaign ad, which seems to be perceived as an obstacle to some to want to rewrite the history book. However, none of the candidates took the bait on this one, either.

Somewhere on I-65, probably around Calera, there’s some woman stuck in traffic. She probably has a job in or around Birmingham. She and her family moved away from Birmingham to that part of Shelby County so that they could live in an affordable house with good quality of life services – schools, police and fire protection, etc.

It’s pushing 6 p.m. CT, and she wants to get home to be with her kids. But she is sitting in gridlock near the Shelby County Airport.

Meanwhile up in Jackson County, there’s another guy who over the past two decades has managed to work construction jobs on projects that have come to Tennessee Valley. Once those projects wrap up, he is laid off and has to live off of unemployment until the next job comes along. It isn’t a great lifestyle, but he and his family manage.

If the unemployment benefits run out, he might take something up in Chattanooga, or over in Huntsville – but the drive back and forth is onerous.

Down in the Toulminville neighborhood of Mobile, there is another man. He has a management job in retail across town in West Mobile. He’s not getting rich from it, but that paycheck goes a long way in his neighborhood.

He lives with the mother of his two children. They haven’t gotten married because such as the welfare system is constituted, a wedding band might mean a scaling back of those benefits.

All three of these Alabamians have one thing in common: They don’t care about the aging early 20th Century Daughters of the Confederacy monument sitting in front of their county courthouse. It is not important to them, nor is determining how to portray history in a more inclusive way. That chapter in their life closed when they completed Alabama history in the ninth grade.

They probably care even less about how Tommy Battle, Scott Dawson, and Bill Hightower voted in the 2017 U.S. Senate special election. Roy Moore is definitely yesterday’s news. He could absolutely show up again, and probably will. But most GOP voters have learned their lesson about Roy Moore.

Are John Archibald’s antics allegedly born out of a desire for a compassionate outcome and better leaders for Alabama? Or is it just to satisfy a craving to throw out a liberal hobbyhorse gotcha question, and perhaps lay some ground for any of these candidates’ possible future Democratic opponent?

My guess is the latter.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 days ago

No, Ivey shouldn’t participate in the GOP primary debates

(Governor K. Ivey/Flickr)

Although Gov. Kay Ivey hasn’t won a gubernatorial election, she is playing this one like a seasoned pro.

If you haven’t heard (or care), Ivey is taking a lot of heat for not participating in the numerous Republican gubernatorial primary debates, which for some reason are all in Birmingham.

(That latest count is three in the last week-and-a-half for the Magic City, by the way.)

If you believe the polling that is being whispered around, Ivey is right on the 50 percent threshold that would push her over the top and avoid a runoff contest.

Would her appearance at a debate, which would feature an older lady on a stage taking fire from her three male competitors, better her position or diminish it?

My guess would be neither. In fact, it might hurt Ivey’s challengers. At least this way, they can take shots at her from afar.

What’s in it for her? Very little.

But what about democracy? What about all the people that are planning to tune away from “Empire” or “The Voice” tonight so they can watch a debate and make an educated choice for a primary election that is two-and-a-half months from now?

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Ivey has been governor for a year. If you’re that involved in the process, you know her by now. The other three, Bill Hightower, Tommy Battle and Scott Dawson, are somewhat unproven commodities to the state. They are the ones that should be proving themselves as a contrast to the status quo.

Much of the angst you see from the pseudo-intellectuals at AL(dot)com (that now includes a Pulitzer Prize winner – congrats John Archibald) is born out of a desire to promote their own product. Of course, they want the incumbent governor at the sponsored-debate.

Why should Ivey be concerned with the outlet that hammered her during the 2017 U.S. Senate special election cycle for not disavowing Roy Moore? Perhaps they will run a front-page editorial reminding her how unacceptable they found it for her to support a Republican nominee selected by the voters, which by the way was also the choice of nearly half of all the voters in the state.

It’s a bit puzzling why Ivey’s competitors would agree to a debate that included AL(dot)com columnist John Archibald as a moderator, who is openly hostile to the conservative position on policy. We’ll wait and see how that turns out.

Strategically, avoiding debates is a smart move for Ivey. Isn’t that what you want to see from the person at the helm of the ship of state?

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

5 days ago

Pardon our progress: Sheffield making comeback as an Alabama ‘classically funky’ Bohemian hub

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Historic but not pretentious – that might be how you could describe Sheffield, one of the four municipalities that make up Northwest Alabama’s Quad Cities.

It’s a Wednesday in mid-April. I had scheduled a sit-down interview with Sheffield’s Mayor Ian Sanford to talk about the resurgence of his city’s downtown. What I ended up getting was a personally-guided walking tour from the mayor.

As we walk along Montgomery Avenue, the downtown’s main drag, Sanford points to an apartment building where Jason Isbell, the Grammy-winning solo artist formerly of the Drive-By Truckers, once resided. He notes this because over the past few decades, it was not uncommon for musicians in the early stages of their careers to make Sheffield a home.

Later on in our tour, we visit the site of the old Sheffield Community Center, a venue where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis performed. There is a background to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s lyrics, we all know “Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers, and they’ve been known to pick a song or two;” and that history has been the foundation for this revitalization.

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This region of the state referred to as “the Shoals,” is believed to be named for a once-shallow spot on the Tennessee River and includes the cities of Sheffield, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia and Florence.

The Beginnings

Sheffield sits on a high bluff on the southern shore of the Tennessee River. Its namesake comes from the city’s founders Alfred Moses and Walter Gordon, who wanted to build an industrial city reminiscent of Sheffield, England. The two men purchased 2,700 acres and founded the Sheffield Land, Iron and Coal Company in 1883.

Their city was incorporated two years later. Moses served as the first mayor. In those early days, Sheffield was home to five blast furnaces that operated until 1926.

Since then, the city has been a railroad hub, the nearby home to two of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nitrate plants, a plant for aluminum-producing Reynolds Metals, and perhaps most famously the Muscle Shoals Sound studio and many of its offshoots.

(The Graphic Co., c.1875; for the Sheffield Land, Iron, and Coal Company / http://alabamamaps.ua.edu)

From boom to ‘doormat’ of the Quad Cities

The city of Sheffield had its best years following World War II. In his book, “92 Years in Colbert County, Alabama: Before & After Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks,” O. W. “Woody” Stanley described Sheffield in 2007 as a “struggling” place.

“Sheffield is and has been struggling with no great promises in sight,” Stanley wrote. “In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Sheffield was a very progressive town on the move, Not so now. Sheffield has been on the decline for several years. Here’s hoping that something will happen to bring Sheffield back.”

Mayor Ian Sanford has lived through Sheffield’s ups and downs.

“Sheffield used to be a booming city,” Sanford told Yellowhammer News. “When I was growing up here in the 1950s and 60s – after World War II, it was going. You couldn’t find a parking place downtown.”

“Everybody remembers riding their bicycle downtown,” he added. “If you had a dollar, you could pretty much do anything. You could go to a movie, go get a hamburger – whatever.”

According to the mayor, several factors led to the “slow demise” of Sheffield, which he added, did not happen overnight, and therefore it should not be expected that it could be brought back overnight.

The economic data bears out that Sheffield has had its struggles over the past several decades. With a median income of $33,869 annual, it lags behind the other three other Quad Cities of Florence ($37,058), Tuscumbia ($47,500) and Muscle Shoals ($52,132).

The blight left over from the down period gave Sheffield a bad reputation.

“We were kind of the doormat of the Shoals,” Sanford said when asked about his city’s standing in the region. “But we never believed it.”

Weathering the storm

Despite that bad rap associated with Sheffield, Carl Cassidy, a florist and proprietor of Lola’s Gifts & Flowers, stuck it out in downtown Sheffield through the lean years.

He explained to Yellowhammer News how he came to Sheffield when there was nothing and started his business with the help of his family. Since then he has grown into one of the state’s biggest florists.

“It started out doing just $50,000 a year,” Cassidy said. “Now we do some parties that are $50,000.”

“It’s just been family-oriented, and I’ll say I just weathered the storm,” he added. “My product didn’t matter if I was in a warehouse somewhere or if I was on the main street. Yes, I probably would have had more walk-in [business], but I entered the industry at a time when things were changing, from FTD to people doing extravagant weddings and parties. I’m in little downtown Sheffield, and we have clients from Iuka. We have clients from Huntsville. We have clients from Decatur.”

Lola’s Gifts & Flowers, Sheffield, Ala.

At one time, Cassidy said his clients would come to visit him and ask why he was located in the middle of a blighted industrial Sheffield, but that has changed.

“Now they come, and they go, ‘Wow, what’s going on?’” he said.

Cassidy said that now he describes his current location to customers as the “Midtown of the Shoals.”

He explained that once a “very good” and “wealthy” client urged him to move his business to nearby Florence, which he pronounced as “Flaah-ar-ence” to indicate the client’s “old Shoals area” demeanor when making those overtures. But Cassidy resisted and remained in Sheffield.

“It’s just home,” he said of Sheffield and noted that many of his wealthy clients who reside outside of Sheffield around the area initially made their fortunes in Sheffield.

The comeback started with Outback

Sanford, who was first elected in 1996, said he knew they had to do something different. The first step of this new course he said was convincing Outback Steakhouse to build within Sheffield’s city limits.

“In 1999, and this was a big deal for us, was to get Outback here,” he said. “We formed a commercial development authority, and we had to borrow money to buy the land. We did the site prep. We did everything.”

Sanford explained that the Outback recruitment was a bit of a windfall and group effort. A resident who was doing plumbing on Outback’s buildings brought an executive from Outback, and one thing led to another, resulting in a Sheffield Outback located just on the eastern edge of Sheffield.

“We had to borrow the money, and our debt that we had to pay back every month was around $50,000,” Sanford said. “But the income coming in was $100,000. I will do that every day. That was almost 20 years ago, and they haven’t missed a beat.”

He likened that effort and others, including bringing in another retailer called Discount Dan’s, to spokes extending from the hub of a wheel, with the hub being the downtown.

“You can get by with one broken spoke, maybe two, but [downtown is] the hub,” he said. “When I got here – the stationary had smokestacks on it because it used to be a smokestack thing back when it was founded. Hell, we didn’t have a smokestack anywhere. I thought, why is that our logo? I thought, well then what are we? We are the center of the Shoals.”

Renovations underway

It’s springtime in northeastern Alabama when nature comes out of hibernation and back to life. The trees are growing new leaves. Flowers are beginning to bloom. In keeping with that theme, along Montgomery Avenue, many of the downtown’s older buildings are under renovation. The city’s currently fast-paced and obvious facelift is what piqued my initial interest in Sheffield.

When walking around, it is immediately apparent that there is a transition underway. Behind the various storefronts, there is a mix of the newly refurbished, the old and the dilapidated, and underway renovations everywhere.

Downtown Sheffield then and now: A side-by-side of the west side of Montgomery Ave in Sheffield of April 2014 and April 2018

Sanford introduces me to developer Laquita Logan, who has been at the vanguard of Sheffield’s renaissance. She is the proprietor of three of the city’s newer downtown businesses. In what were boarded-up buildings with rusting awnings and chipped and fading paint just three years ago, Logan renovated and made into The Rock Christian bookstore/coffee shop and Salon 310 spa and hair salon. Adjacent to that is a building that was the city’s first new construction in decades, which Logan has made into Zoey Belle’s, a men’s and women’s clothing store.

“I call it a hidden treasure because it’s got so much history, and it’s so cool,” Logan said in an interview with Yellowhammer News. “And I just like the community. I like the people.”

Logan explained how she and her husband were involved in the city’s annual springtime downtown street party and inquired as to why Sheffield’s downtown seemed to have a dearth of life. That led to a meeting between Logan and Sheffield’s longtime mayor, Ian Sanford and resulted in Logan purchasing the lot where Zoey Belle’s is located.

So far, her efforts have shown promise.

Downtown Sheffield then and now: A side-by-side of the east side of Montgomery Ave in Sheffield of April 2014 and April 2018

“Business is good,” she said. “It could be better, but you know when you’re a pioneer, and you’re the only one.”

Logan hopes the influx of people living in the 30 new loft apartments downtown will help business and remains committed to downtown Sheffield. In addition to the existing business, her family owns the building housing a new hardware store and is renovating another building that will be home to a restaurant.

Entrepreneurship in the spirit of the city’s music tradition

Willy Cardin, a 40-something resident of Nashville who spent the better part of the last two decades as an educator, is now one Sheffield’s most important entrepreneurs.

Cardin hopes to take a venue in the heart of Sheffield’s downtown that has struggled under previous ownerships and turn it into a multi-purpose venue that will be called Dorm Eleven. It is an idea he had in mind since the late 1990s as a student at the nearby University of North Alabama.

“I have been interested in Sheffield for years,” Cardin told Yellowhammer. “Actually, I’ve probably been looking around for about 15 years. I always found it romantic – just the old town, the main street, lots of beautiful old buildings. I’ve always had a dream of finding one to put a business in. Just so happens, the one I found has everything I was looking for.”

Future site of Dorm Eleven, Sheffield, Ala., April 2018

Cardin has undertaken much of the remodeling effort on his own, but his vision for the venue includes a stage for music performances, room for food trucks, a bar with beer and wine offered and perhaps at some later time lodging options for acts performing at his venue. In keeping with the Shoals tradition, it also will also include a studio for musicians to record and a place he can still teach music.

“The space is for all this – mixed-use,” he said. “Some of the rooms that were here were kind of a bonus, but I would have found one I wanted to put a recording studio in anyway. It already had that. You can build out a venue, but it already had a venue space that was already being used.”

During our visit, Cardin asked Sanford about overcoming some of the government hurdles that come with starting a business in 2018, to which Sanford seems to be somewhat in his element. Later on, I asked him about his role in helping new business navigate the bureaucracy.

“We didn’t have people knocking down our doors to come here,” he said. “When you get somebody, sell them. Sell them on the city. We tried to make it easy – not to cut corners. You know people – they like to feel welcome. Don’t act like they’re bothering you.”

A ‘classically funky’ but realistic vision

Sanford described the revitalization of his city’s downtown as a perfect storm given that there were people who wanted to buy the downtown buildings just as the people who owned the buildings were wanting to sell them.

“We never really lost hope, but we just weren’t sure when the luck was going to show up, and it showed up about three or four years ago,” he said. “I call it the big miracle.”

Alleyway converted to a breezeway, Downtown Sheffield, Ala.

While things are certainly on the upturn, Sanford remains realistic with no grand plans of overtaking any of his Quad Cities rivals, especially Florence.

“It’s a small town,” Sanford said. “It will never be as big as Florence. Florence is the regional retail here, and it is lovely, no qualms. And over here you have Sheffield, Muscle Shoals and Tuscumbia.”

Sanford pointed out those three municipalities opposite of Florence are all adjacent, separated only by imaginary lines.

“Everything crosses those city limit lines, whether it be crime, odor, you name it – other than sales tax. Sales tax just goes to a screeching halt.”

The longtime mayor emphasized his desire to keep the history, but he also seeks to improve upon it – a grand vision which he labeled “classically funky.”

“We’re somewhat a bedroom community but coming back – the thing that I tell people when they ask what do you want Sheffield to be – I tell them I want it to be classically funky. I like some funk, but it has got to be nice funk.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

6 days ago

Doug Jones addresses University of Alabama students on net neutrality — Argues to keep FCC over regulation of the Internet

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

TUSCALOOSA – Keeping the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in charge of regulating the Internet is a key in the net neutrality debate for Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook).

Friday at an almost-full Ferguson Center auditorium on the campus of the University of Alabama, Jones hosted a forum on net neutrality and argued that Internet service providers shouldn’t play favorites with content.

“What net neutrality does do is to say we don’t like to have Internet service providers that will try to block content, try to restrict content, try to throttle back content for favored businesses, for favored companies,” he said. “In other words, if you want to pay more for Netflix, here is the price. And by the way, if you want Hulu or Amazon Prime, we’re not offering that.”

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Jones explained how recently the FCC had abdicated its role as the Internet’s regulator, which he said made “no sense.”

“The FCC came up with the Internet protections, the Internet regulations, the open Internet rule to try to levelize the playing field,” he said. “Make sure that everyone that had access to the Internet had essentially the same access from all places.”

“This past year, the recent FCC has decided to roll back that,” Jones continued. “They decided to change that and say, ‘We don’t really have this jurisdiction. It needs to be from somewhere else.’ The Federal Communications Commission, which I can’t really understand why – the Federal Communications Commission is saying we do not have the authority or should not have the authority to regulate the Internet because it is not under our jurisdiction. That makes no sense to me.”

According to Alabama’s junior senator, the hope by some is to put the Internet under the purview of either the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice.

“Now, they want to put it over the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Department of Justice – none of that makes any sense to me,” Jones said. “It may make sense to you. If it does, I would like to hear, seriously.”

Jones argued the Internet was a communications device, and therefore should remain under the jurisdiction of the FCC.

“I’m having a hard time with the FCC deciding how someone else – particularly the Department of Justice,” he added. “I mean, I’ve done two stints with the Department of Justice, one as an assistant U.S. Attorney many years ago, and then as U.S. Attorney about 15 years ago.”

Jones explained how Congress could get involved and by statute put the Internet back under the FCC’s regulatory duties. He cited using the Congressional Review Act of 1996 to override the FCC’s decision.

“It is not used very often, but it gives Congress the opportunity to weigh in,” he said. “Right now there are 50 senators out of the 100 – not quite enough to get us over the hump – that have signed on to the congressional resolution, the Congressional Review Act, the CRA, that would roll back and halt the FCC’s doing away with their own rule that they had in 2015.

“I don’t know where that’s going to go,” he added, noting that it wasn’t something that would require the signature of President Donald Trump to put into motion.

Jones went on to pledge his support for a “free and open” Internet, and warned that without net neutrality big Internet companies would put profits ahead of consumers and perhaps created fast and slow “lanes.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 week ago

Reps Byrne, Palmer warn Commerce Secretary Ross against Trump newsprint tariff — ‘Consider the downstream effect’ on Alabama newspapers

Over the last few weeks, several smaller Alabama newspapers have cried foul over President Donald Trump’s tariff on Canadian newsprint, which will significantly raise their costs.

According to Jackson County Sentinel editor Brandon Cox, newsprint, which is sold in increments of tons, will increase from $600 per ton to nearly $800 per ton, and that could cost his newspaper’s business $100,000 annually.

Recently, Reps. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) petitioned the Trump administration to reconsider the tariff.

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In an April 6 letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross obtained by Yellowhammer News from Byrne’s office, the two Alabama Republicans explained the importance of small- and medium-sized newspapers, which they said were the “heart and soul” of small-town America.

Byrne and Palmer urged Ross to take into consideration the impact of this tariff, warning it could result in papers laying off employees or even shutting down.

See a copy of the letter below:

(Office of Rep. Bradley Byrne)

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 weeks ago

Alabama newspapers warn Trump tariffs threaten business — Jackson Co. Sentinel: Could cost $100k annually

(Pexels)

Over the past several days, at least three Alabama newspapers have warned that President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs could come at a significant cost to their businesses.

The Cullman Times, The Selma Times-Journal and The Jackson County Sentinel say a tariff levied against Canadian-manufactured newsprint at the behest of a single newsprint mill in the Pacific Northwest, North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC) will raise their cost significantly.

“In August 2017, NORPAC petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce to begin applying tariffs to newsprint imported from Canada,” an editorial published in Friday’s Cullman Times explained. “NORPAC claimed the imported paper was harming the U.S. newsprint industry. NORPAC’s assumption is wrong, and this one company’s act is not in the best interest of the U.S. paper industry or the millions of readers of newspapers across the country, including those who read this newspaper.”

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Selma Times-Journal president and publisher Dennis Palmer echoed the same concerns in an op-ed featured in the Saturday edition of his newspaper. According to Palmer, even though the newsprint for the Times-Journal doesn’t come from Canada, the tariffs have increased the price for all newsprint, and that raises his costs.

“The Selma Times-Journal is printed almost entirely on paper made in Grenada, Mississippi,” he wrote. “Community newspapers like ours represent a sliver of newspaper demand. Despite still-healthy print readership, we alone cannot create enough demand to stimulate the U.S. newsprint market and bring shuttered mills back to life. Yet our need for newsprint to fulfill our obligation to readers is as enduring as that of the Washington Post or New York Times.”

Jackson County Sentinel editor Brandon Cox estimated in an editorial in his newspaper last week the annual cost for business as a result of the tariffs could be $100,000 annually.

“Newsprint, sold in increments of tons, will see costs rise from $600 per ton to nearly $800 per ton. Last year, the Sentinel required approximately 450 tons of newsprint to produce Jackson County’s newspaper and the eight other community newspapers that print in Scottsboro,” he wrote. “The effects of these tariffs represent a nearly $100,000 increase to material expenses for our operation that employs 30 people in Jackson County.”

All three newspapers urged their respective members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Sens. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) to intervene and halt the tariff on newsprint.

“We join others in the news industry and in communities across the U.S. in calling for an end to the unnecessary newsprint tariff,” the Cullman Times editorial concluded.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 weeks ago

Auburn’s Bruce Pearl on Israel: If a foreign country threatened to destroy Boston or Auburn within the next 25 years, how should our country react?

(Auburn Basketball/Twitter)

Sunday on Twitter, Auburn University head basketball coach Bruce Pearl reiterated his support for Israel by posing the question, if his hometown Boston or his current residence Auburn were threatened by a hostile power, what would be the appropriate reaction?

Pearl made those comments about a Jerusalem Post story published on Saturday that quoted Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a senior member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, threatening to turn the Israeli cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv “into ghost-towns”:

“You’ve tried your chances twice,” and failed, Khatami said, according to an Iranian Student News Agency report. “Despite the fact that Hezbollah is stronger today than ever, if you want Tel Aviv and Haifa razed to the ground, try your chances again.”

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Auburn’s Jewish head basketball coach has been a staunch advocate for Israel in the past. In 2016, he lashed out at the Obama administration for what was deemed to be an anti-Israel move at the United Nations.

Before that, Pearl led the U.S. men’s basketball team at Israel’s 2008 World Maccabiah Games, known to some as the “Jewish Olympics.”

He won a gold medal for the United States during those games.

“I wanted the guys to understand that the trip to Israel wasn’t just about basketball, although we took our basketball really seriously,” he said of the games according to a 2014 report from the Times of Israel. “It was about our Jewish heritage. It was about our young Jewish men [having] the chance to go to the homeland, if you will, and experience it — and for me, the same thing — and have a greater appreciation for who she is and what she faces and how we stay connected and protect her.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 weeks ago

Pruitt’s backlash a symptom of Trump Derangement Syndrome

(G. Skidmore/Flickr)

Environmentalists are an emotional and petty lot.

Never was there so much anguish in the aftermath of a presidential election as there was from the environmental left with Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton a year and a half ago.

For the first several months after Trump was sworn into office, environmental activists posing as constituents infiltrated congressional town halls all over the country to decry the president.

“Resistance is here to stay, welcome to your hundredth day,” climate activists chanted in front of the White House nearly a year ago while waving their Greenpeace paraphernalia in the air.

That was the emotional. Now we’re on to the petty.

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Scott Pruitt was one of President-elect Donald Trump’s first cabinet-level nominees when Trump announced him as his pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency in December 2016. Trump’s opponents immediately denounced Pruitt as unfit for the post given he was a “climate change denier.” Nevertheless, that following February, the Senate confirmed Pruitt by a 52–46 vote.

Since arriving at the EPA, Pruitt has rolled back many of the Obama-era regulations, including those on fossil fuels and coal-fired power plants. These regulations granted the federal bureaucracy more power over states and municipalities.

This has not set well with the career bureaucrats within the EPA, and now we’re on to the incredibly petty.

Critics and self-appointed watchdogs have hit Pruitt for a $50-a-night rooming arrangement, as if Capitol Hill rent for $1,500-a-month was going to be the cherry on top of the ice cream Sunday that would sway Pruitt’s environmental policy to favor evil corporate-billionaire executives who want to pollute the air and water to maximize profits.

These critics have also called into question Pruitt’s travel expenses, which are comparable to his Obama administration EPA predecessors.

It has not stopped Alabama’s “Mr. Work with Both Sides” Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) from joining the fray. Jones toed the Democratic Party line when asked about Pruitt.

“I think he’s in real trouble,” Jones said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.” “I think that there is a perception is not good at all. The fact that he has been – has a controversy with expenses, which I think is one of the things that people are just frustrated with, with cabinet members who seem to want to use taxpayer dollars to fund a life, their own personal lifestyle. And now on top of this, the — you know, not just the $50, but the fact that it was going to energy company lobbyists, that – it just looks so bad. And I think it seems that he may be on his way out.”

It isn’t as if Pruitt is operating in uncharted territory. Obviously, conservatives would like to see less government where possible, and for many the abolition of the EPA altogether. However, these charges are phony.

Disappointed and defeated environmentalist activists are targeting Pruitt because he is effective. Pruitt’s opponents are not willing to accept that elections have consequences, and attempting to discredit him for doing things at the EPA the way they have always been done is one of the few weapons they have left in their paltry arsenal.

Pruitt’s real crime here is failing to see this coming.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 weeks ago

Don’t be fooled by the anti-Sinclair Media movement’s hidden agenda

(Deadspin)

If you have not watched cable news in the last few days, consider yourself lucky.

If you have, you have probably seen a video compilation of Sinclair Media anchors all reading from the same script, denouncing “biased and false news” on social media. Deadspin—the sports blog to which many of Gawker’s potty-mouthed lefty reporters fled following the infamously crippling Hulk Hogan lawsuit—created the video by combining a series of clips from Sinclair newscasts. Deadspin’s compilation has been making the rounds on social media and television.

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Apparently, as shown by the Deadspin compilation, news anchors company-wide were instructed to read that script, which was nothing more than a sort of harmless pledge that was some variation of the follows:

ANCHOR 1: Our greatest responsibility it is to serve our communities in [insert name of community here].

ANCHOR 2: We are extremely proud of the quality of the balanced journalism [insert station name here] produces. But we are concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible one-sided news stories plaguing our country.

ANCHOR 1: The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, some media outlets publish these fake news stories without checking facts first. Unfortunately, some in the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.

ANCHOR 2: [Insert station name here], it’s our responsibility to report and pursue the truth. We understand truth is neither politically left or right. Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility now more than ever.

ANCHOR 1: But we are human, and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair, please reach out through [insert station name here]’s website, [insert station’s website address here] by clicking on content concerns.

ANCHOR 2: We value your comments. We will respond back. We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual.

ANCHOR 1: We consider it our honor and privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day. Thank you for watching.

ANCHOR 2: And we appreciate your feedback.

The pledge was aired on two stations with coverage in Alabama, Mobile/Pensacola ABC affiliate WEAR 3 and Birmingham’s ABC 33/40.

At worst, Sinclair Media is guilty of micromanaging their properties. However, if you have seen people decrying it on cable news and social media (with some even calling for a boycott of Sinclair), you would think this message was a sinister right-wing media plot to overthrow American democracy.

And do not fool yourself. The hysteric, left-wing coverage is no accident.

The establishment media is less concerned about the impropriety of identical scripts in multiple media markets than it is about blocking Sinclair Media’s effort to expand its foothold in their world.

Sinclair Media is looking to expand, by acquiring Tribune Media Company for $3.8 million. The merger would grant Sinclair coverage to 70 percent of American households. That creates two problems for the self-appointed media watchdogs in the media:

First, Sinclair is right-of-center, and it poses a threat to the liberal orthodoxy that dominates the mainstream media. Aside from receiving praise from President Donald Trump, often a target of the media, the left-wing storefront Media Matters has focused on telling the public why such a merger must not be allowed.

Second, as those in the media opposing the merger see it, Sinclair Media will now have a competitive advantage vying for advertisers’ dollars, including the size and national presence to go head-to-head with Internet giants Google and Facebook. Obtaining that ability was sure to create headwinds for Sinclair Media.

But now with the trumped-up Deadspin video, Sinclair Media’s opponents hope to sow the seeds of doubt and hostility in the public so that a movement is inspired to stop the merger.

Here’s the Alabama connection – for years, Sinclair has given James Spann, a meteorologist who does not accept the liberal conventions on anthropogenic global warming, employment. Many other media outlets would have shunned Spann. Despite this non-conformity, Spann is one of the most universally liked figures in the state.

Perhaps it is the fear of the James Spanns that has Sinclair’s detractors worried.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 weeks ago

Greenville, Ala. mayor warns Trump proposed tariffs would have detrimental impact on his city

(City of Greenville/White House)

GREENVILLE — Although many Alabamians seem to welcome President Donald Trump’s pushback against the shift to a global economy, there could be consequences for some of Alabama’s small towns.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News recently, Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon said Trump’s proposed tariffs on imported aluminum and steel would have consequences for Butler County’s economy.

A short ride north on Interstate 65 from Greenville is Hyundai Motor Manufacturing facility, which it and many of Hyundai’s local vendors stand to lose from a tariff.

“The biggest thing that is facing us right now is the tariff tax,” McLendon said. “That’s something the president wants to do. We’ve got a lot of Korean companies here. They’ve been to see me. They’ve also been to see [Richard] Shelby, Representative Roby and they’re really concerned about that. They get a lot of steel here. Hyundai Steel has provided a lot of steel to Hyundai cars. If they have to start paying these tariffs and everything, it could affect them. So, we’re concerned about that. They’re a big part of our economic development here.”

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Following the interview with Yellowhammer, McLendon raised the issue to Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) during a question-and-answer session of a luncheon hosted by the Greenville Rotary Club.

Roby explained there could be exemptions to the tariff that would address his concerns, but said she had not seen the specifics of Trump’s proposal.

“What the answer is going to have to be is I’m going to update you as we learn more information about processes,” she said. “I am hearing what you’re hearing in the same real-time that you’re hearing it in terms of exemptions of countries and exemption processes that would relate to certain types of industry.”

Roby vowed to stay in contact as she learned more.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 weeks ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Attention not on reelection — ‘I’m focused on doing my job’

(J. Poor/YHN)

GREENVILLE – On Thursday, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Greenville Rotary Club and offered attendees an update on what was happening in Washington, D.C.

Among the topics were keeping the government funded, economic development, the soon-to-expire farm bill and infrastructure.

Following the event, Roby talked to Yellowhammer News about what she heard from constituents around the state, as the Greenville event was one of many like it that Roby had attended.

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“Honestly, I’ve been encouraged,” she said. “People have more confidence in our economy. People are excited about some of the policies we’ve been able to get across the finish line. Clearly, certainty in funding of our government, now having that passed us – I think that generally causes angst for people who are dependent on federal funds, whether it is the United States Military or anything else. So, I’ve been encouraged by hearing people’s comments. General about what’s happening in Washington, what’s next – a lot of folks are very interested in the infrastructure plan.”

“Again, the president has just laid out a framework,” she added. “So the devil is in the details on that, but I get a lot of questions about that.”

As for a specific infrastructure project, Roby stressed the importance of rural broadband.

“I think clearly, as I said earlier, having reliable roads, bridges, railways – that’s all very, very important to our ability to be able to create economic growth in our state,” Roby said. “I will tell you one of the biggest priorities and one of the things I think could be the most beneficial to the most people in our rural communities is access to broadband. And so, I would want to make sure that alongside basic infrastructure as we know it that that would be included in the conversation.”

Currently, Roby faces a crowded field for the Republican nomination, which includes Barry Moore, Bobby Bright, Rich Hobson and Tommy Amason.

Roby, who had faced competition for her party’s nod in past election cycles, declined to speculate why so many had lined up against her in this midterm election cycle.

“You know, look – I’m just focused on doing my job right now,” she said. “Again, we’ve got a lot of things that we’ve accomplished. As I said earlier, we’ve got priorities that we need to focus on right now. So again, when it comes to ensuring that our men and women who wear the uniform have what they need as we work toward this farm bill to ensure that we have strong federal agricultural policy for our country’s farmers, but mainly for Alabama’s agriculture and industry, which as you know is the number one industry in our states. And also continuing to work with leadership at the VA to make sure that we are providing the best quality health care that we can for our veterans in a timely fashion.”

“I have a full plate, and I’m focused on doing my job,” she added. “That’s where my efforts are right now.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 weeks ago

Getting to know Alabama State Sen. Bill Hightower — GOP gubernatorial hopeful talks education, infrastructure, social conservatism

(Hightower Campaign/Facebook)

MOBILE — As this year’s legislative session winds down, Alabama gubernatorial hopeful State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) finds himself juggling the duties of running a statewide campaign and the responsibilities of being an Alabama state senator with the legislature in a rush to adjourn for 2018.

With the June Republican primary around the corner, the father of three and grandfather of three insists he is running as an outsider despite having served as the senator for Alabama State Senate District 35 since 2013.

From a side room at the Whole Foods Market on Airport Boulevard adjacent to his campaign headquarters, Hightower explained to Yellowhammer News his motivations for running, his governing philosophy and how he would change the status quo to make the state of Alabama better.

YHN: Why are you running for governor?

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HIGHTOWER: Well, I’ve been a senator for five years – a state senator. And I’ve always been a student of public policy, but when I saw up there the lack of leadership that is occurring in the executive office. And since I work for businesses – I’ve been a businessman, I know when a company that doesn’t have a properly functioning CEO what happens in those companies, and I think that’s the issue that we’ve had. We’ve not had an executive to lead the state. So, I thought I could make a difference in that regard.

YHN: One of the problems with candidates from Mobile is getting the statewide recognition. You’ve always had that with a Huntsville candidate and a Mobile candidate. What are you going to do differently to broaden your presence in the state?

HIGHTOWER: Well, geographic location might be a factor that you look at. You try to correlate on the probabilities. To be honest, there is no magic city in the state, but I am the only southern candidate. So, I’m not fighting – there’s nobody competing for the people down here.

I’ve got a fairly good platform already politically. My dad was a medical doctor here and in Birmingham. And I have a son that lives in Birmingham.

What I like to say that is different is the message that I have. I’m not just talking about what I’m trying to accomplish in the Senate, but what I plan to do as an executive. I have a 12-point plan that I’m calling “Alabama First.” It is on my website at BillHightower.com.

The ideas, the challenge of reform, and also just having a governor that we can point to and say, “That’s a governor,” somebody like a Nikki Haley, or like a Scott Walker. We haven’t had that, and I think we need that in order to recruit businesses and also deal with some of the fundamental issues that we have in Montgomery.

YHN: When it comes to economic development and recruiting of businesses, what ideas do you have that are different that hasn’t been tried yet, or aren’t already in place?

HIGHTOWER: I want to be strategic about our business recruitment. Georgia is not trying to recruit automotive companies because they know the future of the automotive industry is going to be very, very different.

I think we’ve gotten a good automotive base, but with that comes technology now, and we need to focus on that technology. Artificial intelligence is coming at us at a rapid pace. And we have clusters of competence in Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and you know here in Mobile, other cities. And I want to leverage that.

The business recruitment – I feel like we’ve done pretty good, but we’ve had a dermatologist doing our business recruitment. He doesn’t know much about big business. We’ve had a lawyer before that. What could we do if we had a business guy?

My background is working for Fortune 500 companies, globally. I’ve lived overseas. I’ve lived throughout the United States. Those companies taught me the fundamentals of business – about supply chain, contract negotiation, personnel, leadership, leadership development, organizational development.

These companies have budgets the size of the state of Alabama. They have as many employees as Alabama has. So, big organization and leadership is something I am familiar with, and I know how to go in and turn situations around.

That is competency we haven’t had in Montgomery, and that’s one I want to lend to the state.

So, my familiarity with that whole business development-recruitment process comes from two sides. One side is I’ve been in the big business making decisions about where we’re going to put a plant or where we’re going to move a production line to. I’ve dealt with the international companies.

But the other is I’ve been inside the government and know how it is we incentivize those companies to come. So, I will be the one that protects the Alabama investment from those companies that just want to take everything they can get.

I have asked for the Secretary of Commerce to do a third-party review of their recruitment model to make sure that we are getting a positive return on investment. Sen. Trip Pittman and myself required that a couple of years ago. It is an issue that is close to me because I’ve seen both sides of the issue.

That would be what I would do different. We can recruit any company we want if we give them everything they want. The question is you don’t want to give them everything they want. They’ll take all you have. So, I want to try and do it differently.

Also, we’ve got a new age coming at us. Before we didn’t have jobs and we had people. Now we have jobs, and we don’t have people. I want to focus on certification programs in high schools throughout the state — stop assuming that every student is going to go to college. The certification programs goes beyond shop. It goes into cosmetology and bookkeeping certification, or nurse certification.

We’ve let community college – they used to be trade school. Now they are college prep. And with dual enrollment in high schools, that is college prep. And we don’t really it. There is kind of a redundancy there. I want to cause the junior college system – some are very well run, but when the assets are not well utilized, I want to pull that in and focus it on high school so that when a student graduates, they’ll have a certification that enables them to go get a $35,000-$45,000-a-year job.

That’s going to affect juvenile hall. That’s going to affect truancy. That’s going to affect Medicaid. That’s going to affect prisons. It’s enormous.

In New Mexico, they calculated if they can decrease the dropout rate by 2,500 students in high school, they would save $700 million in their budget. There’s an enormous connectivity in the cost of operating state services when people don’t graduate.

But I think the vocational thing will boost that graduation rate. Some cities are doing it already. But I want to get the visibility throughout the state and try to push it much more.

YHN: When you go to the rural counties around the state, the one complaint they sometimes have is the attention tends to be given to Huntsville and Mobile with economic growth, and they feel left out of the mix. This goes back a little to the skills part of the last question, but how do you make these other places around the state a more viable option for business looking to locate in Alabama?

HIGHTOWER: Infrastructure, and what I mean by that is roads, bridges, waterways and Internet connectivity, and improving that because I have a business that I know of in Alabama right now that wants to locate in a rural county that does not have Internet connectivity, and therefore cannot. I want to do that.

Go back to education – right now at Murphy High School, a midtown school here, the students are taking live University of Alabama courses and interacting with a professor there in Tuscaloosa. That’s incredible because we can take that broadband connectivity and we can take our best teachers and run them in schools in rural areas and change the cost model and availability of coursework.

I think the Columbia [Southern University] over in Baldwin County, it is one of the largest Internet schools in the states. You can take Harvard and Yale courses online right now. Why can’t we do high schools?

You can be remote. Outside of Birmingham, there’s a school system that has a virtual school platform, and they’re making money. A public school is making money by enabling students who can’t access the school, whether they’re handicapped or unable or special needs. They can take high school courses at home online.

So, with that Internet connectivity, you can change the education model in the rural areas. If you change the education model, I think you can have a workforce that is more prepared.

You know, I’m not talking about a three-month program here. I think one of the biggest things that we’ve done is we’ve talked in terms of a year or two. But I’m going to try to put the building blocks in place for the next 40 years. I don’t want to just think about a decade. I want to take it by the century.

That’s where artificial intelligence and, I think the expansion of STEM programs in high schools is so critical. The automotive industry, as for instance – driverless cars, fractional ownership, lighter cars, battery-powered cars.

I mean, I think in some places, I would be selling my dealership right now if I were a car dealer owner because it’s going to shift radically.

That’s some of what I would do, but I also want to leverage the strengths of each of the regions because we need to pick a few, not everything – pick a few industries that are very conducive to certain regions in the state, and then we can focus on those industries.

If everything is your priority, then nothing is your priority. So, we’re going to have to pick.

YHN: When you talk about infrastructure, people of think of roads and bridges. Do you have a punch list of projects in mind?

HIGHTOWER: Well, what I want to do is right now, the governor politicizes roadbuilding and shifts the spin around to get legislators’ votes. I want to develop a road, bridge and waterway commission. Might even make it broadband.

See, we’re thinking about roads and bridges. That is what everybody is thinking. But tomorrow is broadband.

And we have the fourth-most navigable waters in the nation. So, waterway maintenance is huge.

What I want to do is put a commission together like Tennessee, like Georgia – that not only develops a 10-year plan, but sticks to it, and therefore take the politicization of the roadbuilding process out.

So then I do two things – I get a long-term view instead of a short-term view. I think everybody agrees to the benefit of that. But I also benefit my road and bridge builders, and waterway maintenance and broadband because they’ll be able to maintain a workforce, and not be jerked off-and-on, left-and-right and north-and-south, and have more of a steady volume. I want to maintain our road and bridge building capacity here in Alabama. We’ve lost maybe 10 bridge builders since 2008.

I don’t want to rely on bridge builders outside the state. I want to have that capability inside the state.

[…]

YHN: Tell us about how you would fund infrastructure.

HIGHTOWER: I think also you know, one of the things I wanted to initiate and that is the sell-lease back.

We own a lot of real estate, a lot of buildings in this state. If we don’t have a five-year purpose for that – if we can’t identify a purpose within five years, we have to sell that land. I pushed some legislation this session that said if you didn’t have a strategic purpose, you had to sell it. That money would then come into a central depository. I want to use that in order to build infrastructure projects and leverage for specific capital purchase projects.

That involves privatizing the DOT. Texas has a budget 10 times our size, Alabama’s size — yet they only have 50 percent more people to execute that budget.

So, I want to outsource as much government where it makes sense.

YHN: Privatizing the DOT – that would probably raise a lot of eyebrows. How would you do that?

HIGHTOWER: I know it can be done. Look at the Texas numbers. We can outsource more of the planning. And when you talk to county commissions, they feel like the Alabama DOT raises their costs by making them over-engineer projects.

But we have a lot of lands and buildings we can sell off if we don’t have a specific purpose for. That would definitely be one of the focus areas. We’ll take that savings and redeploy it in our infrastructure projects. That’s the whole idea. […]

YHN: When you talk about waterways – that seems to be sort of an antiquated means of transit. Talk a little about that as a priority.

HIGHTOWER: We’re moving into a new era with the expansion of the Panama Canal. Now we have post-Panamax vessels, and they have deeper drafts and wider berths. And I’ve gone to the Panama Canal and have seen these ships. They’re amazing.

So that brings a whole other realm of cargo and capability into the state, and our waterways go up through the state. So this isn’t just a coastal issue. This is an Alabama-wide issue. We ship automobile steel. We ship copper. We ship coal. We ship scrap – just enormous amounts through our waterways.

It’s not just for tourism that we have waterways. But it is a tremendous industrial boon to our state as well, and it does reach all the way to Huntsville. It is not just a coastal phenomenon, but it is one that FEMA is increasingly unable to fund.

I think one of the things I want to bring to the state is a focus on making the easy-to business and always have continuous improvement in mind. I am from manufacturing. We have the phrase “continuous improvement, best in class.” And I’m always looking for those to implement.

So, making it easy – but also, the element of tax reform. Thirty states around the nation have revised their taxes, and that’s why for three years, I have tried to implement the flat tax in Montgomery.

My first rendition would take the 5 percent tax rate down to 2.6 percent. It would be revenue-neutral and eliminate the need to file the Alabama state return. I think it would unleash a tremendous amount of economic upside for the state.

But what I’ve found is the Montgomery interests put it down. They won’t let change come.

I’ve also focused on trying to eliminate waste and fraud, and also improve educational funding by addressing the fact that we have the most earmarked budget in the nation at 93 percent. We go every year over the decision to spend 7 percent of the state’s budget, and no state is looking at us as a poster child on how to do it.

So, I introduced a bill that would from here on out if ever you earmark something, or you get a credit exemption or deduction, after seven years it would have to fall off. It wasn’t in perpetuity.

The difficult aspect of how earmarking is that it was done in 1940 and our priorities have changed significantly. We can’t change anything. So, I’ve tried to implement budget reform so that we could have … more dollars in education.

Now I think, part of that … immovability of the Montgomery scene has something to do with term limits. And that’s why I introduced and carried to the Senate floor a term limit that would limit everyone’s service to three consecutive terms or 12 years.

Now what was amazing about that is that a month ago, the Senate and the House passed a joint resolution calling on Congress to introduce term limits in Washington, D.C., part of the Article 5 convention.

So I said if they want term limits in D.C., they ought to have them in Montgomery. So, I submitted a bill to do it, and they killed it. I had nine colleagues stand with me on this.

That was an effort to try to change the landscape. If I did that, then I could get people that hadn’t been there, part of the system – going out to dinner every night with the lobbyists and looking to the lobbyists for the funding and everything – I could change that mentality somewhat, not radically.

Once more about the term limit thing, you know it is a constitutional amendment, so people have to vote on it. Our polling shows 84 percent of the public want term limits – just the fact, they won’t even let it come up for a vote for the public.

YHN: The stranglehold in Montgomery – what else besides term limits would change that culture? It seems like every decade or so, you have some big political shift, and they say, “We’re going to clean up the corruption in Montgomery.” But they have been saying that for a hundred years.

HIGHTOWER: We’ve had some bumps for sure, and I’m not proud of it. I am tired of people outside of Alabama laughing at us. We’ve got a horrible reputation outside of Alabama in some circles.

But we know how Alabama is. We like it here. It’s a great place to live. We got some incredible businesses and incredible people here. I think businesspeople running is a big help. And, I think you’re not going to get any change in Montgomery with people that have worked there for 20 and 30 years are in office. You’re not going to get the reforms that people want.

And that’s what I want — that’s part of my message is I don’t want to maintain. I want to reform. My reforms will be focused on – this may be simple to say, but children. If my focus is on children, I’ll focus on education. I’ll focus on business. And I’ll focus on the future if that is the core issue.

We’ve gotten alternative education possibilities for students now, which I think has helped the low-income tremendously.

Having somebody that has business acumen talk about where you’re going to develop a strategy – when I went to the Senate, I asked the Senate leadership, “What’s the three-year plan here?” They said, “We don’t have a plan for next week. What do you mean a three-year plan?”

So, I want to have a longer-range plan, and I want to work with the legislature on trying to execute that plan. Governor Bentley never came over to the legislature and said, “Guys, let’s pull together, we need to get this done.”

It’s my understanding Bob Riley did. Bentley never did it, and I think that was not the way to operate. You’ve got to lead by example, and you have got to try to serve people.

YHN: The current governor now – what would you do differently from what she has done during her first year or so in office?

HIGHTOWER: I think she took over at a difficult time. And many people are grateful for it. I know Kay Ivey. And I was in the race four months before she ever was. And I determined when she announced after I had been in it four months that Alabama still needs somebody that is a businessperson in order to bring kind of a new level of professionalism and visibility to the state.

I hope it is me, but if it is not me, we need to have a governor that we can be proud of, somebody that can run the right start for four years to really make the changes that we need in Montgomery.

YHN: Social issues – talk about your positions on marriage, abortion, your view of the separation of church and state.

HIGHTOWER: Everybody else can talk about their position on it, but I’m the only one you can actually go and see my record.

Look up my bills. You know, I passed a bill to make it illegal to sell baby body parts. I’ve supported every piece of pro-life legislation, not because it is fashionable. My wife and I have worked in the pro-life movement ever since we were married.

I also want to make adoption easy and at a lower cost for people. We have got to do it right. We have got to make it easy because we have more and more, quote, unquote “orphans” in our society. And the state government can’t take care of that. The community has to help us.

YHN: We’ll wrap it up on this – give me a closing sale’s pitch if you were standing before voters on election eve.

HIGHTOWER: There are four things that I like to point out – my business background. There’s no other candidate – these companies I’ve worked for, they have budgets the size of Alabama. And I’ve had corporate leadership in that. That’s important because they’ve taught me how to turn tough situations around. That is what I want to do in Montgomery.

Two is I am an outsider. People say, “Well wait a minute. You’re a senator.” I am, but when I ran for the Senate, Montgomery spent a million dollars to defeat me. The other candidate was a long-termer, and I spent $100,000, and I beat him. And Montgomery was shocked when somebody they didn’t pick won.

And I’ve remained outside the bubble. I’ve voted against every tax increase that has been proposed – primarily because I want reform before I want revenue. Until we fix our budgetary problem, why add money? It just perpetuates the same problem.

Montgomery has a history of transferring money out of education to other programs. So, we’re already taking from education when education needs more dollars. They need more resources, not less.

[…]

The third is I am conservative. I am not a conservative because it is stylish. I’ve been that way ever since college. I read von Mises, and Hayek, and Friedman – conservative economics. I like that stuff.

But we also know it works. Rudy Giuliani implemented a conservative agenda in New York. He turned New York around. Rick Perry – Texas has been amazing economically.

I’ve been voted consistently in the top three conservatives in the Senate every year I have been there. But look, I don’t want to just be – I tell everybody first I’m a conservative, and second a Republican. I call myself a Bill Hightower Republican because I’m going to vote on what’s right. I’m going to do what’s right.

The Republican Party is something I’ve been a part of. I’m on the county executive committee. I’m on the state executive committee in the Republican Party. But I’m looking for solutions that work, and that’s what I’m going to aim at. So, that’s the conservative, but the record part – the one you can see.

The last thing I want you to walk away with is the leadership. A lot of people in the race are talking about what they have done. I’m going to talk about what I’m going to do. And I’ve got a 12-point plan that I’ve published and made public for everybody.

My biggest concern in this particular race is that people are not going to have the opportunity to vet all of the candidates properly. We need to have debates. We need to get out, all of us so that everybody in Alabama knows the vast bench strength that is being offered here. When a candidate isn’t there, there is not an appropriate vetting procedure. That’s a big concern of mine in this particular race.

YHN: I asked you early about being the “Mobile” candidate. What have you done making the rounds around the state?

HIGHTOWER: I think we put 20,000 miles in four months on the car. My wife and I have driven all throughout the state visiting everybody that will meet with me. But also strategically, people that I know have the values that I have would see me as a valuable candidate – businesspeople, a lot of businesspeople.

As I’ve worked overseas, I’ve done missions work at the same time. And that’s enabled me to be in touch with many, many faith-based organizations throughout the state. But also, I teach at a Christian camp and things like this.

So you know, those relationships have been there long before I ran for office. I’m with Outback America. Outback America does camps out in West Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville. I helped carry that camp out to Poland and to Ukraine. There’s a lot of people in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa that are working with me on that.

Now as far as penetrating it more, [Monday] my commercial hits the airwaves and in that commercial, you’ll see that I talk the whole time. I don’t have a narrator. That’s on purpose. And I touch on the points that I’ve worked on ever since I’ve been in the Senate.

You know, I didn’t bring up these issues like term limits, budget reform, tax reform just this year. I’ve been doing this ever since I’ve been up in the Senate. I certainly don’t want it to be perceived as this is just coming out in the last year. I’ve enjoyed working in the Senate, and I was about to go back into private work and bring that to a close because I never felt I wanted it to be a career. I want to serve and get out like the Founding Fathers did.

But when I looked over across the road … the casual observer – they saw it in newspapers and tweets or Yellowhammer – I saw it up close. I said this is just bad, bad leadership. And I thought I could do better. And that’s when I decided I would offer myself up for this. I don’t have a big group behind me. The incumbent is not really incumbent. She wasn’t elected in.

My fear is Alabama is going to accept something average when they can have something exceptional.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

[Editor’s note: Some changes were made for clarity. The mention of Columbia Southern University was changed for specificity. The earlier use of “post-Panama” was changed to post-Panamax due to a transcription error.

Also, an earlier version left out a key qualifier on Hightower’s position on the buying and selling of baby body parts. The initial version said I passed a bill to sell baby body parts, that should have included “to make it illegal.”]

3 weeks ago

Joann Bashinsky given Yellowhammer’s Lifetime Service Award for ‘selfless generosity and dedication to improving the lives of Alabamians’

(J. Poor/YHN)

HOOVER — At the 2018 “Women of Impact” event held at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa on Thursday, Yellowhammer News honored Joann Bashinsky, the vice president of 1996 SYB Inc., and also the vice president of the Bashinsky Foundation Inc., with a Lifetime Service Award.

Bashinsky was given the award for “a lifetime of selfless generosity and dedication to improving the lives of Alabamians.”

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(J. Poor/YHN)

Following the event, she expressed her gratitude in an interview with Yellowhammer News and explained how her work with the Big Oak Ranch and providing scholarships for college students was a passion of hers.

“I love the children at the ranch,” Bashinsky said. “I love to do for them, and I love to send children to school that can’t afford it, and I can, and I want them to have an education.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 weeks ago

Gov. Ivey honored at ‘Women of Impact’ event — Remembers Alabama’s first female governor Lurleen Wallace

(@GovernorKayIvey/Twitter)

HOOVER – Thursday at the 2018 “Women of Impact” event held at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa, Yellowhammer News honored Gov. Kay Ivey, Alabama’s second female governor.

Upon accepting the award, Ivey took a few moments to remember the state’s first female governor, Gov. Lurleen Wallace, who also served as the state’s first lady with former Gov. George Wallace.

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“I am very proud to stand here tonight with you as the second female Alabamian ever to serve as governor, and as the first Republican woman to serve as governor,” she said. “Lurleen Wallace, former governor of Alabama, the very first one – was a strong leading voice in Alabama. She asked me to run her campaign on the college campus when she was running for governor, and I did. And we became friends.”

Ivey said Wallace had asked her to join her cabinet after graduating from Auburn University upon being elected governor, but she declined.

“I should have done that,” she said. “Instead I was called on to get married. That’s what you did back in the 1960s. Lurleen was a friend to me and a mentor.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

4 weeks ago

AUDIO: Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville endorses Tommy Battle for governor

Tuesday on Auburn radio’s WANI, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville gave his endorsement to Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle in the race for governor.

In an appearance on the station’s “Auburn/Opelika This Morning with Bob Wooddy,” Tuberville explained how he came to the conclusion Battle would be best suited to be Alabama’s next chief executive.

“You know, I got into politics and I came very close to being in that race,” he said. “I just think, Bob, that there’s a lot of people that got to get more involved in politics – not just local, but state and federal. You know, I think we have a lot of problems. But, there’s a lot of good people that can make a difference. You know, I’ve looked at this race, and I think we need something different for Montgomery. I think we need something different for the state of Alabama. I think Tommy Battle is a very, very good candidate for this state.”

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“I think he’s a guy, he’s put together staff, and it’s kind of like being a head football coach,” Tuberville continued. “You put together staffs, you know people who can help you make decisions, and he’s done that in Huntsville.”

Tuberville acknowledged people from the other parts of the state could be unfamiliar with Battle, but he urged them to consider him.

“A lot of people from Birmingham south, you know, Mobile, Dothan, Auburn – those areas,” he added. “They don’t know a lot about Tommy Battle, but Huntsville is one of the most growing parts of the country and not just the state of Alabama. He’s got a big job up there.”

According to the former Auburn coach, one of Battle’s qualities was being from “outside the Montgomery realm.”

“We need somebody from outside the Montgomery realm,” he said. “Kay Ivey is kind of an interim governor, and she stepped in when the other governor moved out. But, I think Tommy Battle is the guy people should look at, and I’m going to continue to look at it.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

4 weeks ago

Charlie Daniels, political candidates take the stage at Opp’s 58th annual Rattlesnake Rodeo

(Image: Country musician Charlie Daniels at 2018 Rattlesnake Rodeo -- Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

OPP — Over the weekend, South Alabama’s Covington County hosted the 58th Rattlesnake Rodeo, an annual event that highlights the Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake billed as one of that area’s leading attractions.

For two days, attendees of this family-oriented occasion held at Opp’s Channell-Lee Stadium were treated to snake races, a buck dancing contest, a greasy pole climb, and the grand finale, which was a concert given by The Charlie Daniels Band.

Given this year’s festivities coincided with the early stages of this year’s state elections, it was a political draw that included visits from Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

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Among the offerings were crafts for kids and vendors offering a variety of foods, including fried rattlesnake.

That delicacy is made possible by a local group called the Trailmasters, which serves the cooked rattlesnake to raise money for its efforts to improve nearby Frank Jackson State Park.

“This is one of our projects every year,” Marvin McCullough of Trailmasters said to Yellowhammer News. “We’ve processed, cooked and served meat. By processing, we no longer clean it. That was done during the Jaycee years, years ago. It now comes from a USDA-certified retailer out of Texas. It comes to us completely frozen. We processed, I believe, over 200 pounds.”

(Image: Fried Rattlesnake offer at the 2018 Rattlesnake Rodeo — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

McCullough explained that his group works to maintain the walking trails and offer assistance on things like electrical repairs for the state park.

“It’s a bunch of retired people that enjoy donating their time to the community,” he said.

McCullough said that despite the Trailmasters handling the rattlesnake cooking duties, they don’t actually eat it.

“I’ll tell you a secret,” McCullough said. “All the men you see in here that helps prepare it – there’s eight or ten of them – we do not eat it. But we tell everybody the truth. It’s got bone in it. It’s a reptile. I’ve heard all kinds of comments about it. It may taste like chicken. It may taste like frog. I suspect it tastes like rattlesnake.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, a candidate for the GOP nomination in this year’s attorney general race, called it a positive for Opp.

“It’s the remarkable history of the rodeo itself,” he said to Yellowhammer News. “I’m learning a little more about how it got started – very small, interesting assortment of animals over the years they’ve had here. But you know, great event for the community. It brings attention to this area, and I think that’s always a good thing.”

(Image: Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall addresses attendees at the 2018 Rattlesnake Rodeo — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Marshall is one of four candidates vying for the GOP nod, which also includes Chess Bedsole, Alice Martin and Troy King.

“I mean, we’re out there – it’s busy,” Marshall added. “It’s nice for me to be able to share the kind of stories I did earlier about remarkable opportunities I have to work with law enforcement and I need to be able to make sure I’m their advocate. There’s a lot of issues we’re dealing with in this state and to be able to talk about those with people it matters to. So, I’m very appreciative for the opportunity I’ve been given and look forward to the opportunity to try to be able to stay there.”

(Image: Kay Ivey talks to attendees at Opp’s Rattlesnake Rodeo — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

One of the vendors set up for the weekend was former University of Alabama football running back great Sherman Williams, who also had a stint with the Dallas Cowboys. Williams, who was hawking his book “Crimson Cowboy,” said eventgoers had been supportive.

“Rattlesnake Rodeo business has been pretty good,” he said to Yellowhammer. “A lot of people come out and support the organization. Me and David Palmer – we got this organization called the Palmer-Williams group.”

Williams urged anyone interested in his effort to visit the group’s website for more information and praised the city of Opp for hosting the Rattlesnake Rodeo.

(Image: Sherman Williams talks to attendees at Opp’s Rattlesnake Rodeo — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

“We’re raising funds for our organization,” he said. “People get the book – they support the book. We have a lot of Alabama and Auburn fans out here. They really enjoy the sport of football. It’s a fun book and people like it. The city of Opp putting on this Rattlesnake Rodeo has been a blessing for our organization.”

Covington County Sheriff Dennis Meeks, also a candidate seeking re-election this year, told Yellowhammer News it had been a good year for the annual event and explained it had drawn people from other parts of the country.

“The Rattlesnake Rodeo is the biggest event that Opp puts on every year,” he said. “It’s been going on for 58 years now, and I have been to several of them. It’s a great event. Yesterday was a good day. We had lots of folks come through. But it is a big booster for Opp. It’s unique, too. A lot of people come from all over. I had a couple come through yesterday. They were from Arkansas. A lot of people set the date – they come down here just for it. They’re not just passing through. They actually come for it. It’s fun. Lots of vendors here, lots of good eats.”

He also touted the educational function of the event, which offers attendees information about snakes.

“It has been great weather,” Meeks added. “I’ve been here in years past when it would still be cold – you know, we’d have a cold front come through, or it might be rain or whatever. This weekend, the good Lord shined down on them. We’re having great weather.”

Meeks, however, declined to comment on the ongoing controversy involving the loophole that allows Alabama county sheriffs to pocket excess funds leftover from monies allocated for county jail inmate food when asked.

(Image: Panoramic view of Opp’s Rattlesnake Rodeo — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Covington County voters will also have the opportunity to vote on the Republican Party’s nominee for this year’s second congressional district election. Incumbent Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is among a crowded field of GOP hopefuls that also includes Tommy Amason, Barry Moore, Bobby Bright and Rich Hobson.

Hobson, formerly the administrative director of the Alabama Judicial System and Roy Moore’s 2017 U.S. Senate campaign manager, greeted voters on Sunday and told Yellowhammer News of his ties to Opp.

“The Rattlesnake Rodeo is great, and all the folks out here are very excited and having a good time,” Hobson said. “I’ve been having a great time meeting the folks of Covington County, and proud to say I lived here from 1987-92 and it’s good to see a bunch of old friends and make new friends. Also, my kids were born here, and they turned out pretty good, too. But I’ve just been out here meeting the voters trying to tell people about me. I’m trying to unseat Martha Roby.”

(Image: GOP congressional hopeful Rich Hobson at Opp’s Rattlesnake Rodeo — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Hobson offered his thoughts the passage of the omnibus spending bill last week, which criticized Roby for supporting.

“My hopes were up that the president was going to veto it,” Hobson said. “I tell you what – I would have been a ‘no’ vote on that. And I was real surprised that our congressman, the one I’m trying to unseat right now did vote on it.”

“It included half-a-billion dollars to fund Planned Parenthood, and I’m telling you I would never vote for a budget that included any money to pay for abortions,” he added.

During the concert, Charlie Daniels took a moment to offer his thoughts on current events, including his use of social media, specifically Twitter, as a sounding board.

Daniels told the audience he had resisted some of the technological offerings but embraced Twitter. With that, he explained he had gotten some unfavorable responses to his tweets.

“For you folks that call me a redneck and a hillbilly, I got two words: thank you!” he said.

(Image: The Charlie Daniels Band closing with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)


@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

(Image: Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

4 weeks ago

Getting to know Scott Dawson — GOP gubernatorial hopeful talks gov’t accountability, social conservatism, improving Alabama’s economy

(Dawson Campaign)

ATHENS — For the last 30 years, evangelist Scott Dawson has preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to crowds far and wide. Now the founder of the Birmingham-based Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association is making a foray into the bloodsport of Alabama politics and seeking the state’s top job.

It’s Thursday afternoon at Athens, Ala.’s Square Clock Coffee, a spot off the main square near the Limestone County Courthouse. A few days earlier, the Alabama Republican gubernatorial candidate held a rally in Shelby County signifying the formal “kickoff” of his campaign, which also happened to be the formal kickoff for his start in politics.

Since a fundraiser in Birmingham and the rally in Pelham later that day on Monday, Dawson has been from the bottom of the Yellowhammer state to the top, a pattern Dawson is sure to become accustomed to in the coming weeks.

YHN: Why are you running for governor?

DAWSON: When the former elected governor, not selected governor, but elected governor had allegations come out, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this can’t happen again.” Two of the last three, three of the last six – you can literally go back to the history of Alabama. We’ve only had two governors serve consecutive terms without being impeached, indicted or arrested. Now George Wallace was the one who set the consecutive terms – so you can go back 50 years and only two, Riley and Wallace – Wallace was one of those that got through without being impeached, indicted or arrested.

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It’s just one of those deals, where I was like this is going to stop. And so I became part of that grassroots. Rick and Bubba joked about it. But they were like, “You need to pray about this.” So that’s what we did. And it was an agonizing journey.

Now they were all-in, but I was like – I don’t want to risk 100,000 people that I spoke to last year. Why would I put that in danger? I’m not bragging. I’m just going that is what I’ve built over 30 years, and 4.8 million Alabamians I think are looking for a leader.

That’s why I’m running.

YHN: Let’s say you are elected, what are some the punch list items you look to accomplish?

DAWSON: I think the first thing I would do is do a performance audit across all agencies. Let’s see where our money is being used, where our resources are being used.

And everybody goes, “Are you talking about firing people?” No. I’m just talking about making sure we’re organized, that we’re effective. You know there’s a difference in being busy and being effective. I know some people that are busy all day long. If you run on a treadmill, you’re busy. But you don’t ever get anywhere. So you have to learn to be effective. And that’s organizing to most effective means possible.

Then you’re looking at, with education, being there for the meetings, leading not only the initiatives of pre-K – we will make it available, but not mandatory. I just don’t think the government can do a better job than parents. I just don’t. So I’m always going to lean towards the family, the parents.

So, education in elementary – I’m going to try to do an initiative where we get volunteers in that classroom to help teachers – that every kid by the time they reach third grade is reading, writing and they have arithmetic – get back to the basics of education, get them prepared for life, not just to take a test.

In middle school, teaching leadership – that every middle schooler is already a CEO because if you are a leader, you act different. There’s just a countenance about you. Not everyone is going to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but every person can realize their potential in life.

I use a quote – Helen Keller. OK, we could discuss her all day long, but you know she lost her sight and hearing … and later on, when they learned to communicate with her, they asked her, “What would be worse than being blind?” And she responded, “To me what would be worse than being blind would be to have sight and no vision.”

And that’s who I speak to almost on a weekly basis, when I speak to student groups and school assemblies – people who can see the color spectrum but have no vision for their life and I think that is the responsibility for us to at least give them the opportunity to dream big.

Now when you get to high school, you start focusing in on drug testing – not so that we can harm kids, but so we can give them help, and do two forms – do state-based drug rehab, which isn’t very effective if you look at the stats. But, open the door for the option of faith-based drug rehab. And I use the word so that we can restore some of these young men and young ladies back into our communities. That would help us with our prison overcrowding situation.

When you look at this, everybody wants to make government the first option. And government was never designed to meet your needs. It can’t. And when you start allowing it to be like that, then you got socialism or communism or anarchy.

There are four levels before the government should get involved. There’s churches, there’s charities, there’s communities, and there’s corporations. Why is it that we make government the first option? Let’s unleash those four areas for communities to work together. If their churches, or you know religious institutions you can call them – synagogues, you know whoever wants to be a part of making Alabama get ahead in life.

But it seems to me in Alabama we always look to the government, either the state or federal. And I’m like, let’s start turning away from that and make Alabama the best it can be by working together. It’s no longer going to be they’re going to do it. We’re going to do it together.

YHN: Would it be fair to say you’re the “social conservative candidate” in this race?

DAWSON: I mean, I don’t know – I haven’t really polled the other candidates. I think anyone who knows me knows I will be fiscally conservative and socially conservative. But I don’t want to wear religion on my sleeve. I think people are tired of that.

I want to tell you this – it’s how we built the ministry. You don’t have to earn the right to speak in our society. I got First Amendment rights. I can go right out there and start screaming to the top of my lungs. No one is going to listen to me.

In America, you have to earn the right to be heard. And I think as we go forth in this campaign, I want to be able to be heard – that people will listen to my ideas and listen to my platform. And then when they peel behind the edges, if they don’t already know me, they go, “Oh hey – wow. And he comes from the faith background.”

Again, I’m not touting it. Jesus is not what I do. He’s changed my life. He is who I am.

And so, again perfection – not by any stretch of the imagination. I’m on a journey just like you are, just like she is, just like he is. For 30 years, I’ve tried to live my life before people consistently since the day we started this.

I get that people are going to look at me and go, “Oh, there’s the religious right.”

You know what – that’s the reason we intentionally brought Mike Huckabee in because Mike Huckabee is the type person I think has earned the right to be heard. And that’s the way I want to live my life.

YHN: Let’s say for argument’s sake that is the label you get in this race. What do you say to Alabamians who say Roy Moore played that role in this last election? Why should we go in that same direction this time?

DAWSON: I don’t want to be Roy Moore. I’m not saying that in a bad way. Honestly, what I want to be is Scott Dawson. I didn’t want to be Billy Graham. I just want to be who I am.

You know, I get the illustration if you go outside tonight and see all the millions of stars, and one falls, and you put your attention on the falling star when all those other millions are so brightly lit, that’s kind of unfair.

And so when somebody says, and I’ll even use this term – people go, “Well, Robert Bentley – Gov. Bentley said he was Christian, said he was called to be governor – that God called him to be governor and look at the debacle.”

And I go, you can’t compare me to other people because how far is that comparison going to go?

YHN: Let’s get back to policy – on infrastructure, what are your planks in that platform?

DAWSON: Well, I’ll tell you this – Fob James was the last governor elected without any prior political experience. You can go to a used bookstore and find a book named “Fob!”

You need to read it. In that book, here’s an interesting fact – in that book, the three most pressing issues – I read it and I screamed out to [my wife], “You’re not going to believe what I just read.” Here’s what it says: In 1978, the three most pressing issues in Alabama were prison overcrowding, education, and roads.

That’s 40 years ago. I go – John Maxwell says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. We’ve been electing the same people over and over again expecting different results.

So when you look at this – that’s the reason why I’ve tried to come out with the drug addiction or the prison overcrowding. It’s supposed to be correctional, not generational. And that’s what happening – second and third generation, education. Let’s get some new ideas.

With roads, everybody wants to talk about the gas tax. “You know, we got to have a gas tax.” I go, “Wait a minute – let’s look at this. Let’s budget our money properly. If you look at ALDOT’s budget, $1.2 billion, $63 million is taken off of the top to go towards ALEA and court costs. Now, they need to be taken care of. But it doesn’t need to come out of ALDOT.

Everybody goes, “What can you do for $63 million?” and I go, “Well, that’s true, but if you do it over 12 years, that’s three-quarters of a billion dollars that could have been done in roads across our state.

What I have come to understand by asking a lot of questions is Alabama has two, not that one is good and one is bad, but we just have two different styles of counties. We have 55 rural counties and 12 metropolitan counties. They want different things. If you live in the metro area, you’ve got different needs than they have in rural.

Part of what you got to do as a governor and as a leader is you’ve got to listen to people, and you’ve got to find out not what they’re saying but what do they really need. What do they want, OK?

So you take these 55 counties – you want to talk about bad roads. You think Huntsville has bad roads? Let me take you over to Fayette County. Let me take you down to Wilcox County, home of our governor.

What Haley Barbour did in Mississippi I thought was a brilliant idea, called the Golden Triangle, where in 10 years a billion dollars-worth of industry came into that Golden Triangle. If we could build consensus and allow counties to work together, private-public partnerships – get those started.

Everybody goes, “Well, you know all the obstacles?” I was like, you know what? If we sit around the table and talk about everything we can’t do, we’re going to have a long conversation. But if we can get around the table and talk about what we can do, and let’s get three counties together and go, “You know what? One of you can’t bring that industry in. But if all three of you can, then all of a sudden we can provide infrastructure. We can provide tax revenue. We can provide opportunities for schools.”

To me, you have just got to get our entire state working together. So, with that, I think we can get some roads done pretty quickly.

YHN: What about other economic development initiatives? Is there anything not currently being done?

DAWSON: Absolutely. Want to know the big one? Everybody is talking about recruiting industry. That’s static noise to me. That’s my job. OK? Hopefully, you’ve seen I have the gift of communication, and you get me in a room with a CEO, and I’ll connect with them, and we’ll get them here.

But what I want is I want to set Alabama businesses free. It’s not a tax issue in our state. It’s regulations and occupational fees, licensing fees – all the different fees that start piling up. Our son tried to start a business while he was at Samford. Basically a landscaper – put some flowers out, cut grass. He to start with going through ADEM. He just finally went, “It’s just not worth it.” He decided not to do it.

Well, here’s what I realize: No one starts a business to hire an accountant and a lawyer. Everybody starts a business because they have a dream, a vision, an opportunity, OK? So, let’s make starting a business as easy as possible – one-stop shop. It should just be a place they get everything they need. Then they move on.

Now you balance that with the current existing business, which I think you and I would both agree 70 percent of our economy is based on our businesses. I was with a CEO in his boardroom, and I’ll never forget this. He’s an Alabama-based business. He said every month we joke around this table we should move our business over to Georgia so Alabama will come and recruit us and give us the incentives that they’re giving everyone else.

And what I realized – again, he wasn’t talking about taxes, he was talking about all the incentives of, “I’m going to make sure this happens for you.”

It’s almost like if you’re a DirecTV customer and you’ve been with them for three years, and they start a new promotion, and you go to them and go, “I want that promotion.” They go, “No, you’re already a customer.”

Alabama has got to realize our businesses are our backbone. So, I created – I say I created – I did and I realized someone else is already doing it. But there is something called “Cut the Tape” that I would love to have an independent council set up. Independent, that if an agency has given a fee or a license or a regulation and they cannot defend it to the independent council once someone complains – if they can’t defend it, then it’s removed from the books. It’s just set free so that if we can incentivize and expand our businesses to export our goods and services and grow, Alabama businesses do something for us.

You know what they do? They pay Alabama taxes. That would set our economy on fire.

YHN: Let’s talk about the campaign. Just in general, how is the campaign going?

DAWSON: There’s been three that I know of, three straw polls or online polls. Though none scientific – let’s go ahead and understand that we are not living in the la-la land as a documentary. We know that it is not scientific. But I keep telling them you can’t win it all if you don’t win at all. So, we’re trying to be out there and do everything we can to the best of our ability. Get the word out, keep the message going.

The rally, you know it was 450 strong in an inclement weather situation. It was on Facebook Live. We probably had another 700 to 800 look at it. Now it’s been viewed over 5,000 times across the state.

You know, it’s one of those where when I announced that day, we had 7,000 Alabamians – the day I announced, 7,000 said we’re going to be a part of this campaign. We now got 23,000 followers on Facebook.

At the very beginning, I knew this was going to have to be a very different campaign. So, you know, I made a budget out. And I shared it that night. It’s a million dollars. I don’t think anyone ever thought because a lot of times, the evangelical candidate can’t raise any money. But, we’re getting very close to seeing our budget fulfilled.

We’re not going to raise as much money as a sitting politician. I am very proud of the fact that most of our donations have come from just ordinary small businesses or families.

I mean, our largest contribution is from Hobby Lobby. It was $100,000. And the reason why – we’ve known Barbara and David [Green] for 20 years. And when we were walking through this, they’re the ones who said, “Hey, we’re all-in because we almost lost our business because Christians were leaving government.”

They were like, “We would be a part of this.” But I knew we didn’t want them to, quote, “buy,” unquote, the election. We just wanted them to be a participant. So a large majority of this is just grassroots-oriented. We’re out knocking on doors. We got lots of college students that are nailing signs up and down the Interstate, side roads and yard signs. It’s just going all over the place.

YHN: Talk about some of the individual counties. Obviously, the rally was held in Shelby County but what are some of the other things you’ve been doing around the state?

DAWSON: We left the rally the next night. We were in Pike County. I’ve been in Covington County today. Tonight we’re in Limestone County.

YHN: You came all the way up here from Covington County?

DAWSON: No, I was in Covington – I want to say Wednesday night. To show you how good Alabama is, Wednesday nights are still the off-night. That goes back to the old church days. You know, you used to have church on Wednesday night. So, very few political events take place on Wednesday nights or Sunday nights.

On Saturday, I will start my day in Covington at the Rattlesnake Rodeo, go to Chambers County, then back to Shelby County.

I want to tell you, on the road, I’ve made some friends. Tommy Battle, you know, he and I are usually at the event. There’s two of us. I’ve seen him more than anybody else. We have fun.

And so, when he promotes his “visited all 67 counties,” and I never say his name. I say, “Some candidates celebrate when they visit all 67 counties.” I’ve been preaching for 30 years to youth camps and youth conferences. I’ve preached in every county.

I’ve either done their youth camp. They come to my conference. I’ve spoken to their high school. The only guy who knows more backroads than me in Alabama is probably James Spann. And I’m going to let him keep that award.

YHN: So, you know the state pretty well. Having that experience in every county, how would that translate in a role as governor?

DAWSON: Because I am an Alabamian. I’ve been here all my life. I’ve never lived outside of Alabama. I’ve traveled this state. I’ve met its people. I’ve stayed in their homes when I was younger and doing all of these revivals.

I know Alabama is full of good people. They want to raise their family. They want to provide for them. They want a roof over their head, and they want to be able to trust.

We all just want to be able to be proud, and not just, “Oh, my gosh.” And every time someone brings up politics, we have to bring up college football. I want us to be able to be like, “You know what, we’re leading.”

All my life, Alabama has been a good place, but we’ve always kind of followed everyone else. Alabama is poised to be leaders. That’s the reason when you say, “Governor, Alabama needs a leader.”

You’re going to hear some people say you need a businessperson. You’re going to hear some people say you need a seasoned politician who can hit the ground running. Alabama needs a leader. Alabama needs someone who can walk in, survey the situation and go, “This is what has got to happen,” and bring people together.

Dale Carnegie would tell you if you’re leading and no one is liking you, they’ll never get anything accomplished. So you have to have that likability. But you also have to have the strategic vision. And I think you have to be able to build that consensus and be like, “This is what’s best,” and convince people this is the direction that we need to go.

If you look at the candidates – you know, I always say, and I didn’t meet everyone, but I was not in this to run for governor. I just wanted to find somebody.

YHN: What would you do differently from Kay Ivey as governor?

DAWSON: Let’s just start at the beginning. She says she has three hours to prepare, but she has been in Montgomery for 40 years. And I think you give respect where respect is due. She says she has stabilized the ship or steadied the ship. My statement is we’re going in the wrong direction. So we have got to turn this thing around.

I think there were a lot of things that were already in place when she became governor. I think in order to get us down the field, it’s going to take a lot of energy, a lot of drive. It’s probably going to be the hardest task I’ve ever taken on in my life. And you got to build relationships. It’s not just what you say. It’s what you do.

I’ve said from the very beginning. I’m not running against Kay. I’m not running against Tommy. I’m not running against Bill. I’m running for Alabama.

And I think the problem has been in Alabama in the past that we run against each other and then Alabama loses in the end. I have been with her several times. Haven’t really had a lot of in-depth conversations with her.

I guess that’s just my personal conviction of going, “Let me talk to her privately because I talk publicly.”

YHN: Finally, give a closing sales pitch about your candidacy. Why should people consider you for governor?

DAWSON: I think Alabama is right now at the crossroad and we deserve better than what we’ve been getting in politics. We deserve better. I mean, the corruption, the absence of someone taking action.

I mean, the one thing I’ve realized in politics, politicians seem to come in and have all the answers. Leaders come in and ask all the questions. I’ve been asking that question over and over again – why? Why is it that in my lifetime, we’ve always seemed to be 48th, 49th, 50th, OK?

Why? Why is that? We deserve better. We can do better. We can do better when we start making decisions based on 10 years down the road instead of 10 years behind us.

We need to do better instead of listening to special interest groups – doing what’s best for the average Alabamian. We can do better if we all just kind of work together.

On June 5, we’ll go to the polls and answer the question, “Do we want to do better?”

And the greatest distinguishing factor that I can give you to myself is to line them up, and Alabama has got a choice between seasoned politicians and me. And everybody goes, “Well, wait a minute – why would you want to give somebody who has no experience as being a head coach?”

Dabo Swinney did a pretty good job when he stepped in his first head coaching position because he had been preparing all of his life. Some candidates will say they only had three hours to prepare. I’ve been preparing for this all of my life.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 month ago

Getting to know Tommy Battle — GOP gubernatorial hopeful talks education, ethics, infrastructure, economic development

(Battle Campaign)

HUNTSVILLE — For the last several decades, Alabama’s northernmost major city has been one of the state’s crown jewels for economic development. From rockets in the 1950s to landing a Toyota-Mazda joint venture manufacturing facility earlier this year, little stays the same in Madison County.

For the last 10 years, a number of Huntsville’s achievements have come under the leadership of Mayor Tommy Battle. The Huntsville Republican thinks he can take his recipe for the Rocket City’s success and apply it statewide as governor.

From his campaign headquarters on the fifth floor of the historic Times Building in downtown Huntsville, Battle explained to Yellowhammer News in a one-on-one interview why he should be elected governor and some of what he would do to improve the lives of Alabamians.

YHN: Why are you running for governor?

BATTLE: I guess the whole reason that you run for public office is to make your community a better place – make your state a better place. That’s your basic bottom line. That’s where you start from, and you build from there.

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Over the last 10 years, we have had a great success in the Huntsville community. We’ve been able to add 24,000 jobs, $3 billion worth of investment. And the question is can you take that same success – the strategy and plan that got us to the place that got us 24,000 jobs and $3 billion worth of investment. Can we take that same strategy and plan and can we do it on a bigger scale in Montgomery and provide jobs and provide an economy for the whole state, not just one section of the state, and provide for people who maybe you already have a job, maybe can get a better job.

That’s the key. To do that, a) You have to education, b) You have to have infrastructure and c) You’ve got to have quality of life, and that quality of life has to be something that makes people want to be part of your community. So we started 10 years ago – we started with a plan and a strategy for the city of Huntsville. That plan and that strategy has proven, has worked very well here. It is a proven plan and strategy. That’s why we got into the governor’s race. We thought we could do something a little bit better than what was being done.

The second thing I think that people are looking for – this is coming from going to all 67 counties and across the state – is they’re looking for good, ethical, honest government. Ethics are very big in this campaign. If you look at our past history, ethics needs to be very big. Honesty is something that has to come to government. And what it basically means is you have got to get government back to where people trust it. And if we don’t have the people’s trust, we can’t make any achievements that we need to make.

Right now, most of the people look at Montgomery as a place where not necessarily good government happens, but government happens. We’ve got to get it to the stage where people believe Montgomery is working for Alabama and the future of this state.

YHN: One of the problems candidates have from this part of the state is that it is hard for someone from Huntsville or Mobile to win statewide. And you talk about going to all 67 counties. What else are you doing to overcome that geographic obstacle?

BATTLE: The interesting thing is we got county organizations throughout the state. Those county organizations are what you call grassroots. You have got to have grassroots to be able to talk to people. With social media nowadays, you can talk to people in any county and talk to them on a regular basis – let them know your plans, your dreams, your visions – what your vision is for the state, and I think that is important.

If you look at where the numbers are – if you remember the old numbers used to be flip-flopped in the old history books. But the numbers are really advantageous for anybody that can capture Shelby County-north.

And capturing that does not mean that you give up on the other portions. But if you get Shelby County-north, you get Mobile, Baldwin Counties, you get the Wiregrass area, Lee County, and Tuscaloosa County areas and you’ve covered the whole state. Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore is a good area. We’ve got grassroots organizations in every one of those areas.

YHN: On Kay Ivey – what is she doing wrong that would suggest, “I need to be in office to steer the ship of state in the right direction”?

BATTLE: I think you got to look at where the emphasis is. We tell everybody we have a track record. Our track record is the last 10 years. Look at the last 10 years. I’ll compare it to Kay Ivey, to Scott Dawson, to Bill Hightower – to every one of them. You look at the last 10 years. What have we accomplished?

We have accomplished jobs. We’ve grown the economy. We’ve added to the job base. In the last 10 years, those 24,000 jobs equal 62 percent of the growth of the whole state of Alabama. That means we have grown more than any place in the state of Alabama. And that’s not to be bragging about it. But it is to say that’s my track record.

For the last eight years, Kay Ivey has been lieutenant governor. And as lieutenant governor, what’s her track record to make the state better? Bill Hightower has been a state senator. What has he done to make the state better? Scott Dawson has been an evangelist. All those people need to have the same questions asked of them. What have you done over the last 10 years to make this state a better place?

What structurally can we look at that makes us understand that that’s a reality that you can do it as governor?

YHN: You mentioned education, infrastructure, and quality of life. Do you have some specific examples?

BATTLE: Education – we built $250 million worth of schools. We added digital education. Every child, every student in our school third grade and up had a laptop that was digitally connected to the teacher, and the teacher could see where the students were going forward and where they needed help.

People say, “What’s so important about digital education?” If you’re working at Walmart today, you’re going to be working on a computer. If you’re working at Jack’s or McDonald’s, you’re working off of a computer system that tells you what the order was and how quick you got it out.

Digital education is the key to the future. Advanced manufacturing requires a digital education. The third thing we did was we put in an accountability system where we tested the first of the year, the end of the year, peer reviews, student reviews with teachers and made sure we had a year’s worth of advancement out of a year’s worth of education.

Accountability pays more into school than anything else you can do because you’ve got to make sure your teachers can provide the instruction that you have a year’s worth of advancement from a year’s worth of education. If they don’t, then we need to remediate. We need to team-teach with those teachers. We need to help them to ensure we’re getting a year’s worth of advancement out of a year’s worth of education.

That is the three pillars of what you got to do in education. And we’ve done it. We’ve done it here and we’ve put together an education system that is the kind that when you want to attract companies like Polaris or Blue Origin or GE Aviation or Remington or even Toyota-Mazda or Aerojet Rocketdyne – all of those tie back to your economic development and the idea that you can develop or add jobs to your community.

YHN: Say you’re elected governor, would you just implement all of these things into the state?

BATTLE: I think your key, or your cache of keys, is you’ve got to have an accountability system in our education system. You’ve got to make sure you have a year’s worth of advancement out of a year’s worth of education. That is key to every system. That means testing at the front, testing at the end – just seeing the advancement of the student from where they started to where they’ve ended up. I think that’s the fairest thing to do for the teacher.

Second, I think you’ve got to start entering some of the essentials of the digital education. That has got to be in place. And third, you’ve got to make sure your school system has an accountable discipline process so that you can have discipline in the schools.

YHN: What are some infrastructure goals?

BATTLE: What we did here – infrastructure is a lot more than just gas, water and sewer. Roads is the main thing. We’ve ended up building $450 million worth of roads in our own area. And $450 million worth of roads means our quality of life is the same today after we’ve grown as it was before. We have an average 18-minute commute to work, an 18-minute commute coming home.

With that average commute, that’s part of your quality of life. Instead of being stuck in traffic, you’re able to get home. Many people we compete against have an hour commute to and an hour commute back home. You’re always asking, “What can you do with an extra hour and 24 minutes of your life? What makes your life better?”

Another part of infrastructure is fiber to the home – either that or working within the system to provide connectivity. That provides for a whole shadow economy. It provides for an economy where parents can work to be home taking care of kids. Also, you can work long distance. We had a young lady here that worked for Disney World in Orlando. She does her CAD drawings. And she gets on her fiber Internet, ships it down to them. They mark it up, ship it back to her. She’ll work on it some more. And at the end of the month, she gets a check from Disney World in Orlando, and it comes back into the Huntsville economy. It is spent in the Huntsville economy.

It is a whole shadow economy that comes out like that. And that’s one of the keys that you’ve got to have the vision for, to be able to look at and to be able to have the vision to be able to move forward with.

YHN: What is your opinion on city-run utilities, like Internet?

BATTLE: You need to be careful. You need to do it in such a way that you protect the taxpayers. That’s what we did. Our utility system put in the fiber and putting in fiber is no more than hanging wire. It is the same thing utilities do on a day-to-day basis. So, we put in fiber to the home for every home in the city of Huntsville – a $60 million cost. Google Fiber came in and leased out some of the dark fiber and is using it to light it up and use it for their connectivity.

There’s still more dark fiber in the system that can be leased out from others, so you have that competition edge in there. But Google Fiber is basically their payment for leasing out that section pays for putting in the fiber in the community.

That’s one of the great things we’re able to get through partnership with business. We’re able to get business to provide that part of the infrastructure to us.

YHN: Social issues tend to be a driving force in Alabama politics. Are you just the typical Republican on social issues – abortion, same-sex marriage, those sort of issues?

BATTLE: I believe in sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage.

I’m a Republican. I’ve been a Republican – gosh, since I started the College Republicans, or initiated a chapter of the College Republicans back in 1976. I was College Republican chairman in 1976.

When we came in, there were the social issues out there, but there was also the fiscal issues – the fiscal issues of balancing budgets and trying to get us back to the stage we spent what we brought in.

I remember back in those days we lamented we spent $200 million more than we brought. And today, we wish we could go back to that with trillion-dollar deficits. We were budget hawks, and we believed fervently that you needed balanced budgets to be able to continue to provide the kind of government we’ve always been able to provide.

That’s I think the key to the Republican Party today – that we have got to provide a government that has sustainability for years and years and years to come. That’s one of the most important things we can provide to people. We can provide defense. We can provide government that will be here for years and years because we’ve all seen what happens to other governments when they’ve spent beyond their means, and they’ve put austerity measures and everything else. They go away from the world scene, and they become countries that aren’t necessarily prosperous moving forward the way we have always seen America move forward.

YHN: When you go to a lot of these small towns in Alabama, and you talk to the locals, they always talk about how Huntsville gets an unfair share of the economic development. What do you say to people around the state that think you ought to grow the smaller towns and put more of a focus on those?

BATTLE: That’s why I’m running for governor. As governor, I can give you the same opportunity as we’ve been able to in Huntsville.

For the past 10 years, we’ve added jobs. We’ve added industry. We added companies to our area. And I want to offer the same thing to the entire state of Alabama. By doing the same practice, the same plan, the same strategy that we’ve been doing, we can do the same thing for the whole state of Alabama.

Is it easy? No, it’s always a hard push to make it happen. But, if we take the proven method and apply it, we can change the state of Alabama.

YHN: A lot of these local county and municipal governments don’t have the luxury that Huntsville has with the tax base and the ability to offer those economic incentives. How do you get that plan in motion in a place like Wilcox County or other places in the Black Belt?

BATTLE: I got a call from one of the county commissioners in Clay County yesterday, and we were talking about how to bring up an area. You’ve got to work off of the strengths in that area. You’ve got to work off whatever is there, and you’ve got to work off the strengths.

One of the things we’ve got to recognize is Boston Consulting Group just put out a study talking about how manufacturing was going to come back to America. And I think there’s some open places that we can go back to and look at the manufacturing we used to do in places – some of the mill manufacturing, some of the textile manufacturing – things that we used to do old days here.

I think we have an opportunity to bring that back. To bring that back it’s going to take work. It’s going to take shoe leather. It’s going to take visiting a lot of executives in a lot of different places. But that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. If we continue to do it, I think we can see a growth pattern for the whole state.

You will grow from your strengths. The areas that are growing will be part of your strengths, and they will grow. But as they grow, there will be future growths.

Take the Toyota plant that came in – we’re going to have spinoffs from that that go all the way to the Gulf. We bring in containerized parts. We use transportation companies that take those parts from Mobile all the way up to Huntsville.

The second thing that spins off – there are going to be second- and third-tier automotives that are going to be coming in and looking to provide for the plants that are here in Alabama. They’ll provide for Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes, Toyota, Mazda. They will be providing for everybody, and they will locate throughout the state. They want to be 50 miles from a manufacturer.

So they will find places throughout this state – whether it is Jasper, whether it is Hamilton, whether it is the Quad Cities, maybe Russellville or Sand Mountain, or maybe Birmingham. They’ll want to be part of the success we’ve had. There are spinoffs all throughout the state.

There’s multiplier effects for what we do, and if we can bring industry here, there will be multiplier effects that make the whole state – as we call “state of the ship” float. A rising tide floats all ships, and that is surely the case.

YHN: Back to infrastructure – are there any highway projects we as a state need to be focused on?

BATTLE: You know, we’ve got an interstate system that is crumbling right now – I-65, I-10, I-565, I-85 going to Auburn. Each one of those are systems we need to look at and look at seriously. You compare the differences of I-75 in Georgia to I-65. I-75 is six, eight, ten lanes all the way up and down. Every intersection, there’s probably a billion dollar’s worth of business there because they have distribution centers. They have strip centers. They have hotels, motels and restaurants all located there.

Our interchanges may have gas stations, hotel, motel and restaurants. But they don’t have everything else because we don’t have the capacity to make our systems grow. That’s going to be something that we’re going to have to start working on from day one.

And the thing that people need to realize is that when you start working on roads, it’s not a quick two-year fix. If you start working on a road today, it takes 10 years to build a road and to ride on the results of that road. So, if we started today in 2018 to expand I-65 to get rid of the slowdown in Calera, we’re talking about 2028 that we’ll actually be riding on that road.

If we want to work on I-10 and fix I-10 where you can get traffic from east to west, and get workforce into Baldwin County – if we start today, it’s probably a 13-year fix. So we’re looking at 2031 before we’re actually riding on that road.

Everybody has got to realize we’ve got to have some vision in this. We’ve got to understand the timeframe in this. The best time to be building these roads is 10 years ago.

YHN: We’ll wrap it up on this – for those people in the other parts of the state, give a closing sales pitch.

BATTLE: I think what people are looking for, and this is just from talking to people throughout the state, they’re looking for honest government that they can believe in. That’s something that we have provided here for 10 years in the city of Huntsville. They’re looking for a government telling them here’s a plan, here’s a strategy and here’s where we’re going to end up.

We’ve been doing that for 10 years because of that. We have trust in our government. People trust us to do things that are necessary to make sure our community is a prosperous community and one that will continue.

We’re offering to do the same thing for the state of Alabama. Come to Montgomery, come to Capitol Hill, work with people throughout this state. Make sure that this whole state is a prosperous state, make sure that this state is going to believe in government again and believe that we’re going to do the right things, honest things that are necessary to be done in government.

And that is one of your first missions when you get down there. You’ve got to re-instill trust, and re-instilling trust is not easy. We have got take it step by step and show people that I’ll work harder than anybody else. Show the people that we have a plan and a strategy and that strategy works. We’re going to have to show people that we have an end-game and that result is we have a better Alabama at the end of this than what we started with.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

(Image: Tommy Battle for Governor)

1 month ago

AUDIO: Birmingham radio’s Matt Murphy confronts Alabama GOP AG hopeful Alice Martin over Robert Bentley ‘interview’ contradictions

Tuesday on Talk 99.5’s “Matt and Aunie Show,” show co-host Matt Murphy and Republican Alabama Attorney General hopeful Alice Martin had a heated back-and-forth over Martin’s claim she had not “interviewed” for the Alabama attorney general vacancy that opened up after then-Attorney General Luther Strange was appointed to the U.S. Senate.

Martin had raised the issue about the merits of current Attorney General Steve Marshall’s appointment by then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who at the time was under an investigation headed by Martin by the Alabama Attorney General’s office.

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“If memory serves me correctly, you expressed concern when we had you on in February about the process by which [Steve Marshall] achieved that post,” Murphy said. “And I asked you a question – I just want to clean this up – regarding your interest in the job because you were acting attorney general at the time. And I think you said publicly since then you didn’t ask for the position.”

Martin responded by explaining she expressed interest upon learning of Bentley’s decision to appoint Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate but denied she had received an interview.

“Somebody was going to get that appointment,” she added. “What I hoped by saying ‘I will do it’ is that I could control that situation because whoever took that appointment was going to have to recuse from the Bentley investigation, which I had been running. But I wanted somebody who I knew would appoint, which I would have, somebody who had a background doing public corruption work and would go all the way to the end of the road.”

She went on to indicate she wasn’t satisfied by the progress made in the Bentley investigation to date.

“What happened to that grand jury investigation, folks? I think taxpayers want to know,” she said.

Murphy asked her again if she perceived her meeting with Bentley after the news of Strange appointment was an interview, to which she replied it wasn’t.

“When I got there, it wasn’t an interview,” Martin said.

Murphy then asked if she had written Bentley and thanked him for the interview.

“I don’t know if I did or not,” she replied. “And that’s fine if I did.”

Murphy then revealed his possession of a thank you note to Bentley from Martin, which according to Murphy said, “Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the appointment to serve as Alabama’s 50th attorney general.”

“Yes, that is what I said,” Martin said.

From there, the two debated the propriety of Martin seeking the appointment.

“How is it appropriate if you were over the investigation for the governor that you asked for something of value from the person you were investigating?” Murphy asked.

Martin cited the Alabama State Bar’s opinion that it was not inappropriate for Strange to have asked for the U.S. Senate appointment from Bentley, which she argued applied to her circumstances as well.

After a lengthy back-and-forth, which Murphy accused Martin of having “misrepresented herself” and then citing a February appearance, which Martin denied having the interview, Murphy pressed on.

“Were you lying then, or were you lying to the governor?” Murphy said.

“Thank you very much,” Martin replied. “I think I’ve answered the question.”

“So you misrepresented yourself during our first interview?” Murphy said.

“I don’t believe I did,” she answered.

In the February interview, Murphy asked Martin about interviewing for the position, to which Martin said did not consider her meeting with Bentley to be a job interview.

“He never asked me any questions about serving as the attorney general, so I don’t consider that it was a job interview,” she said. “I was asked to come, and by law, I was the acting attorney general.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

1 month ago

Sen. Shelby’s ascent to Appropriations chair has Georgians worried over decades-long water war with Alabama, Florida

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

With Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) departure from the U.S. Senate on April 1, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) is set to become the next chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

That has some on the Georgia side of the long-running water war over the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa, and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basins between Florida and Alabama worried Congress will enact legislation to give Alabama an edge according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tamar Hallerman.

“The 83-year-old has kept Georgia’s lawyers and congressional delegation in a constant state of paranoia over the past two decades by quietly using government spending bills and other must-pass legislation to aid Alabama’s position in the tri-state water fight,” Hallerman wrote. “Georgia lawmakers have mostly thwarted Shelby’s under-the-radar moves by banding together and going over his head to party leaders. But Shelby’s likely promotion could change the political dynamic on Capitol Hill, where committee chairmen have outsized power to look out for their interests.”

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The population explosion of the Atlanta metropolitan area has led to an increased demand for water, which it has met by drawing from the Chattahoochee River. That according to those on the Alabama and Florida side of the issue crying foul given it means less downstream flow from the Chattahoochee. It has especially impacted oyster harvesting in the Apalachicola Bay of Florida.

Hallerman wrote that Shelby has attempted to insert language into government spending legislation for what he has referred to as “equity in the distribution of the water,” but those efforts have been thwarted by Georgia lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

With Shelby’s new role, it may be harder for Georgia’s congressional delegation to continue to resist his efforts, Hallerman explained.

“Ever since a 2015 blowup, the Georgia delegation has been able to contain Shelby’s efforts. But that could all change in the months ahead,” she wrote. “Shelby’s promotion is all but assured in the seniority-focused Senate, and he has backup on Senate Appropriations from Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, since the two states frequently work together on the issue. No Georgia lawmaker sits on that Senate committee.”

Shelby joined the Environment and Public Works Committee in 2017, which is the committee that authorizes projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as laid out by the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).  The Army Corps of Engineers’ activities are traditionally authorized every two years by Congress through the WRDA and are funded annually in appropriations bills, which will give Shelby significant influence.

Neither of Georgia’s two U.S. Senators, Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson have a seat on the Environment and Public Works or Appropriations committees.

In a statement provided to Yellowhammer News, Shelby urged a solution at the state level, but maintained he would seek to “preserve” Alabama’s interests.

“It is my continued hope that the Alabama, Florida, and Georgia governors will work this out at the state level,” Shelby said. “However, I will carefully consider all options to preserve our state’s interests.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

1 month ago

Huckabee touts Scott Dawson’s social conservative bona fides, Shrugs off 2017 special election fatigue

PELHAM – Monday before taking the stage at the Pelham Civic Complex to stump for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) offered Yellowhammer News his insight into the upcoming gubernatorial race and why he thought Dawson was the best choice in that race.

Huckabee explained that given the circumstances of disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley’s departure from the governor’s mansion and the disappointment some may felt because of it, the time was right for a candidate like Dawson.

“Obviously the people of Alabama have had some tough times,” Huckabee said. “I understand it because it is very similar to what the people of Arkansas went through. It’s an emotional gut punch to see governors get in trouble. I think Scott is the kind of governor that is not going to disappoint people. He’s got leadership skills. He’s got charisma. But he has something that keeps a person out of that kind of trouble, humility. If you don’t have some perspective and don’t recognize that you’re not being elected to be a king or a prince, but a servant. He’s got a servant’s heart, and I think that’s his greatest asset going in. He knows what he doesn’t know and the person that will get you in the most trouble is the guy who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.”

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When asked if voters might be reluctant to participate in this year’s primary or dispirited because of the loss suffered at the hands of Roy Moore, the perceived social conservative candidate, in last year’s U.S. Senate special election, Huckabee dismissed any similarities.

He explained that Dawson’s convictions were not born out of political expediency.

“It’s not the same because you don’t have the scandals,” he said. “You don’t have accusations. You don’t have the controversy that was even unrelated to the scandals of the senate campaign. You have a candidate who nobody has surfaced to say, ‘Let me tell you about this guy.’ And what they have said is, ‘Yes, let me tell you about this guy. I’ve known him since he was a little kid.’ That’s something that very, very dramatically different. He’s a social conservative that has truly lived it.”

“His views and convictions are not because of politics,” Huckabee added. “He’s in politics because of his convictions. That’s very different because I’ve seen guys – they’ve never thought a lot about these issues. But they run for office and then they know they got to take a position because that’s what the voters want them to do. But they really don’t have those core values or deep convictions.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

(Image: Mike Huckabee — Fox News Channel / YouTube)

1 month ago

Alabama GOP gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson showcases star power at Pelham ‘Kickoff to Win’ rally

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

PELHAM — The threat of severe weather didn’t keep rallygoers from attending Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson’s campaign kickoff rally on Monday.

Before for a crowd of a few hundred at the Pelham Civic Complex, Dawson hosted an event that featured syndicated morning drive talkers Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey of “The Rick and Bubba Show,” and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a two-time presidential candidate and Fox News Channel personality.

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(Crowd on hand at Scott Dawson kickoff event — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Before the event, Dawson told Yellowhammer News about the early stages of his campaign and the reception he had received since announcing his candidacy.

“When I said yes to run for governor, it’s been amazing the people that have come around us,” Dawson said. “It’s friends. I think Rick Burgess says it best. It’s not just endorsing us. It’s vouching for us – lifestyle, character. Character does matter, and character is not built over an election year. Character takes a lifetime. Character is what you do when no one is watching. And I think that’s what Alabama is looking for.”

(Scott Dawson and family at kickoff event — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Dawson went to explain he wasn’t running against other candidates, but instead on his accomplishments.

“I think when [voters] look at the candidates, I’m not running against any other person,” he explained. “But I do believe what the Lord has done through our lives — building a ministry. We actually built something, from zero to a multimillion-dollar non-profit organization. We work with Major League Baseball, the National Football League. It is one of those deals where we bring people together. And now more than ever before as Alabama comes together, tonight as we kickoff to win, we’re praying for a big crowd.”

(Bill “Bubba” Bussey and Rick Burgess of “The Rick and Bubba Show” at Scott Dawson event — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Attendees were entertained by Burgess and Bussey and were also treated to a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” featuring Huckabee on bass guitar.

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

(Top image: Mike Huckabee plays bass guitar for “Sweet Home Alabama” cover — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

1 month ago

Talladega Superspeedway lands sponsor for October’s main event

(Image: Talladega Superspeedway, View from O.V. Hill South Tower -- Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Talladega Superspeedway announced today that the company 1000Bulbs.com would sponsor its October NASCAR Monster Energy Cup, which is one of sanctioning body’s 10 “playoff” events that determine who is the champion of its premier series.

The event scheduled for October 14 will be known as the 1000Bulbs.com 500. In previous years, the event had gone with the “Alabama 500” moniker without a primary sponsor.

The sponsor, 1000Bulbs.com, in a Texas-based company that focuses on specialty lighting. According to a release from the track, the company started with two employees and had grown to more than 240 people and “has over 2500 orders daily from 30,000 new customers each month.”

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“We can’t wait for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 to get here,” Talladega Superspeedway chairman Grant Lynch said in a statement. “What a company 1000Bulbs.com is to partner with, one that strives for excellence with cutting-edge technology and so many incredible lighting products to take care of their customers’ needs. Our fans know that when they come to Talladega, we will do everything in our power to make sure they have an incredible time. We are the most competitive track in all of NASCAR, and we welcome Kim and his staff to the Talladega Superspeedway family.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

(Image: Talladega Superspeedway, View from O.V. Hill South Tower — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)