The Wire

  • Mayor Battle asks Gov. Ivey to appear with him at Huntsville and Birmingham area debates

    Excerpt from Battle for Governor advisory:

    Top Republican gubernatorial challenger Tommy Battle, emailed a letter addressed to Governor Ivey on Tuesday. The letter invited Ivey to appear with Battle at events throughout Alabama to discuss the qualifications of each candidate.

    Tommy Battle has committed to attend all of the following:
    — April 12 – 7 a.m. – A debate hosted by the Birmingham Business Journal
    — April 12 – 7 p.m. – A debate hosted by NBC 13 in Birmingham
    — April 14 – 8 a.m. – A candidate forum hosted by the Mid Alabama Republican Club in Birmingham
    — May 9 – 2 p.m. – A candidate forum hosted by the Association of Builders and Contractors in Huntsville
    — May 10 – 11:30 a.m. – A candidate forum hosted by the Moody Area Chamber of Commerce

  • Bill is a ‘bold statement’ that Birmingham will compete for tourism dollars — Sen. Jabo Waggoner

    Excerpt from an Alabama Senate news release:

    “Tourism is an important economic engine to our state and particularly to Birmingham. By final passage of Senate Bill 311, we are making a bold statement that we can and will be competitive again for tourism and convention business,” Waggoner said.

    Waggoner pointed out that just in the short-term, the expansion and modernization of the BJCC (Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center) during construction is projected to generate over $325 million in economic impact, over $130 million in wages, and employ over 3,700 people.

  • ‘Career politicians’ in Montgomery killed my term limits bill — Sen. Bill Hightower

    Except from an email sent by Sen. Hightower:

    I’m outraged. Earlier today the career politicians and Montgomery insiders voted against my term limits legislation. But I will not stop fighting.

    More than four in five Alabama voters believe we need term limits, but career politicians understand this is a threat to their personal ambition and power. This morning the Montgomery insiders put cronyism and smoke-filled backroom deals above the people they are supposed to represent.

    I will not stop until we end the old boys network. You and I both know that Montgomery will not change if we continue to elect the same insiders.

    That is why I am running for Governor, to shake up the establishment and bring positive change to Alabama. As Governor, I will continue to push for term limits and many other reforms that the career politicians know will end their grip on power.

1 month ago

Former Miss America Mallory Hagan running to unseat Rep. Mike Rogers in AL District 3


In 2013, Mallory Hagan beat Miss South Carolina and Miss Oklahoma to be crowned Miss America. In November of 2018, Hagan is looking to take the congressional seat of 16-year incumbent, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks).

The details:

— After years of living and working in New York City, Hagan, an Opelika native, has returned home to take a shot at adding another Democrat to Alabama’s congressional delegation.

— “I want to represent the people of this state because I want to be a voice for Alabamians that is clear and strong. I want to be a voice that sparks positive change,” Hagan says on her fundraising page.

— Hagan has spoken about addressing issues of poverty and education, as well as the importance of adding another young woman to congressional ranks.

— Before taking on Rogers, Hagan must defeat her Democrat competitor, Adia McClellan Winfrey, in the June 5 primary.

— Rogers does not face a Republican primary challenger.

— In 2016, Rogers won reelection against Democrat Jesse Smith, with 67 percent of the votes cast.

— This is not the first time Hagan has reentered the public spotlight since being crowned Miss America.

— Hagan was central to the controversy that led to former Miss America CEO Sam Haskell’s resignation last December.

Emails exchanged between Haskell and Miss America executives show Haskell maligning former pageant contestants, particularly Hagan.

1 month ago

Republicans are not hypocrites for voting to increase spending — at least, not yet

(Opinion) Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) called last week’s budget deal the worst piece of legislation he has voted on since being elected to Congress, with no close second.

No doubt, it spends a lot of money – too much, and it’s borrowed money at that – but it doesn’t mean Republicans have completely reneged on their principle of fiscal responsibility and become a lot of hypocrites. Not yet, at least.

Republicans had three options last week: let the government shut down (which it did anyway, briefly), pass a continuing resolution (which Congress has already resorted to time and again this fiscal year, much to our military’s chagrin), or strike a deal with Democrats and pass a long-term funding solution (which they chose).

That leads me to a key mitigating circumstance against charges of Republican hypocrisy: Though Republicans are “in control of government,” they really aren’t. The Senate’s 60 vote threshold precludes Republicans from pursuing the conservative ideal. They have to make deals. Conservative critics seem either to forget that or to remember it and reinforce pushes to end the 60-vote rule, a bad idea.

Other mitigating circumstances include the desperate need to pass long-term military funding, coupled with appeals for the deal’s passage from both Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

“They both strongly expressed that this is the best deal possible to end the harmful cuts to our military and, on behalf of President Trump, asked for my support,” Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) said in a statement. It’s tough to say no to General Mattis, let alone the president, when your party’s chief talking point (rightly or wrongly) during the January shutdown was that giving our military the funding it needs is not a priority of the Democrats.

Critics, from Republican Sen. Rand Paul to the New York Times editorial board and CNN’s Erin Burnett, are calling Republicans hypocritical for passing a budget that increases spending when they complained about increased spending under President Obama.

This certainly borders on hypocrisy, but doesn’t quite amount to it. Republicans derided particular types of deficit spending under President Obama. For many, there was an implicit distinction between domestic entitlement spending and defense spending.

These are the overlooked questions dividing Republicans over this deal: Is any new deficit spending acceptable? But moreover, shouldn’t we deal with spending reforms before increasing it?

I see no reason to believe Republicans don’t care about spending reforms anymore. Many of them simply saw the need to fund the military more pressing than solving complex spending problems.

Sen. Paul wants to address federal spending habits now, as do I. In fact, I argued last year that they needed to be addressed simultaneously with tax reform. To avoid becoming a lot of hypocrites, Republicans must take that task on this year.

Jeremy Beaman is in his final year at the University of Mobile and also writes for The College Fix. Follow him on Twitter @jeremywbeaman.

1 month ago

No surprise: Huntsville ranked best new tech hub to live in

Another company has listed Huntsville as one of America’s best places to live.

Trulia, an online residential real estate site, recently judged the Rocket City as the country’s best new tech hub (“new” meaning it’s gaining national attention; to Alabamians, it has long been a tech hub).

The details:

— Along with its long-existing aeronautical and defense industry footprint, Trulia used Huntsville’s year over year 309 percent growth in tech jobs as a chief reason for its #1 ranking.

— Trulia also pointed to Huntsville’s low cost of living.

— Huntsville’s median home price is $150,000, and Madison’s is $190,000, both below the national median home price.

— Huntsville often makes lists like these.

— ZipRecruiter called Huntsville 2017’s fastest growing tech town.

— ranked Huntsville the best affordable place to live in 2016.

1 month ago

Huntsville-based law firm offering cash prizes to students willing to raise awareness of distracted driving



Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. is encouraging Alabama students to apply for its annual scholarship essay competition, meant to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

The details:

— Alabama’s high school students and college freshmen are eligible to apply.

— Applicants must answer the question, “How can we educate our community about the dangers of distracted driving and what are some practical ways we can drastically reduce distracted driving related accidents?”

— Both written and video essays are accepted.

— Three winners will receive scholarship awards in the amount of $2,000 for first place, $1,200 for second place, and $1,000 for the third place winner.

— Submissions are due by April 13, 2018.

Apply for the scholarship here.

About distracted driving:

— Nationally, 477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in vehicle crashes due to distracted driving in 2015.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving is the most dangerous form of distracted driving.

— Texting while driving is a violation of Alabama law.

The Code Of Alabama reads, “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a public road, street, or highway in Alabama while using a wireless telecommunication device to write, send, or read a text-based communication.”


1 month ago

Reminder to Alabama’s college-bound: Don’t forget to apply for financial aid



Alabama Possible, a state-wide education advocacy group, is promoting its Cash For College campaign to remind prospective college students to take advantage of all the resources available to help fund their educations.

In order to receive financial aid, students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for both federally and state-funded aid.

And that aid is available to just about everybody.

“The vast majority of families who fill out the FAFSA get some form of help paying for college,” Kristina Scott, Alabama Possible’s Executive Director, told Yellowhammer.

Federal and state governments, in combination with institutions, offer all kinds of financial aid through grants, scholarships, work study programs, and loans.

Federal Pell grants are the main form of need-based aid.

“50 percent of Alabama public high school seniors who file their financial aid form will qualify for the Pell grant,” Scott said. “The average amount is $3,737. It could be as much as $5,920.”

Scott also stressed that aid is accessible to students of all income levels and academic abilities.

“Even if students have merit-based scholarships – we see this all the time – what a lot of families don’t realize is that [a full-tuition scholarship] doesn’t cover housing, books, and the meal plan and so even if your student has a full-tuition scholarship, there are so many other costs that go along with paying for college that it’s important to fill out the FAFSA. Students who fill it out after their college’s priority deadline get half as much financial aid as students who fill it out earlier.”

For most major Alabama universities, the priority application deadline is March 1.

Get more information about available aid and the FAFSA here on Alabama Possible’s website.

1 month ago

Memogate demonstrates that moderate politics is dead, but maybe there is hope in people like Trey Gowdy


(Opinion) The Republican House Intelligence memo has cemented two prevailing and partisan perspectives on matters of the FBI and its relationship to President Trump, neither of which has any real nuance.

Among conservatives: The FBI, Department of Justice, and Robert Mueller’s special investigation into all things Trump and Russia are illegitimate (or at the very least, compromised), as evidenced by: texts exchanged between FBI staffers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page; the political donations that former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s wife, Jill, took from a PAC with close Clinton ties; and most importantly, the bureau’s use of admittedly-partisan and highly-discredited opposition research as reason to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Among progressives: Trump is guilty of collusion with the Russians; the reason that Republicans wanted to release the partisan memo was to manufacture distrust in Mueller’s investigation and in the FBI; the FBI and DOJ are our top law enforcement agencies and ought not to be so challenged.

But there is one individual – who as part of the House Intelligence Committee helped draft the Nunes memo – offering a refreshingly divergent perspective, giving hope that moderate views may still have a chance in Washington.

Here are some excerpts from Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) interview with Margaret Brennan on “Face The Nation” last Sunday:

REP. GOWDY: “…I’ve had my differences with Rod Rosenstein and I still think that he is fully capable of helping run a Justice Department that we can all have confidence in. I’m actually really impressed with Chris Wray and I say that, even though we are on totally opposite sides of this issue and probably will always be.  He doesn’t think the memo should have been publicly disseminated. I have real questions about the process that the bureau went through in 2016, but I also think he’s the person to lead the bureau. I think he’s doing a good job.”

BRENNAN:  “Well, the FBI was gravely concerned that there was information missing from this memo that it actually was dangerous in setting a precedent in terms of disclosing classified information, and it could actually hurt future intelligence efforts. How do you respond to that, and to Chris Wray?”

REP. GOWDY: “Difficult facts make for really bad precedent. I hope this is a one-off. I hope it is a one-off that Congress takes this position, but I also hope it’s a one-off that a FISA application contains errors and product that is funded by a political opponent. I hope that that’s a one-off.”

MARGARET BRENNAN: “That’s the Steele dossier that you are pointing to there.”

REP. GOWDY: “But it’s both the Steele dossier, and who paid for it, and whether or not it was vetted, but it’s also what was not in it. This is an application to a court. So, I get that Adam Schiff and others are worried about what’s not in my memo. I wish that they were equally concerned about what’s not in the FISA application, which is a lot of really important information about the source, and its sub-sources, and the fact that he was hired by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, and the fact that he was biased against President Trump. That is all information that the finder of fact is entitled to.”

Later in the interview:

REP. GOWDY: “Well I’m actually in a really small group, I think, of Republicans that think that this FISA process is suspect and wrong and should not have taken place. But you still have a Russia investigation even without it.

So, I don’t know how many other Republicans feel that way. I am on record as saying I support Bob Mueller 100 percent. I think you would have a Russia — look Russia tried to interfere with our election in 2016 with or without a dossier. So you need an investigation into Russia. You need an investigation into Trump Tower and the Cambridge Analytica email, separate and apart from the dossier. So those are not connected issues to me. They may be for other Republicans, but they’re not for me. I say investigate everything Russia did, but admit that this was a really sloppy process that you engaged in to surveil a U.S. citizen.”

Gowdy offered plenty of criticisms of the FISA application and how FBI and DOJ officials handled it, but never wrote the agencies off altogether. In fact, he reinforced his trust in them. Rather than selling out to simplistic, all-or-nothing talking points, Gowdy outlined a coherent middle-road position on both the memo and status of the FBI. Washington needs more leaders who can distinguish smoke from fire, and fire from inferno.

Jeremy Beaman is in his final year at the University of Mobile and also writes for The College Fix. Follow him on Twitter @jeremywbeaman.

1 month ago

Party for our patriots: Mobile welcomes the USS Philippine Sea to port for Mardi Gras

USS PHILIPPINE SEA, "Eternal Vigilance" (U.S. Navy)

USS PHILIPPINE SEA, “Eternal Vigilance” (U.S. Navy)


This Friday, Alabama’s Port City will welcome to town the USS Philippine Sea, combining two things that are so Mobile: ships and Mardi Gras.

The Navy League of Mobile and the Alabama State Port Authority have been coordinating annual visits of dubbed “Mardi Gras Ships” for years to demonstrate reverence for our service members and in turn to thank them with a little bit of Mobile carnival.

While their ships are moored in the Mobile River, sailors are able to come ashore and experience various Mardi Gras festivities, including parades and other exclusive receptions and balls.

“We give them the real, true taste of Mobile,” Judy Adams, Vice President of Marketing with the Port Authority, told Yellowhammer.

It’s the perfect mix of patriotism and party. “If someone sees them downtown, someone’s going to buy them a beer,” she said.

As this year’s official Mardi Gras Ship, the USS Philippine Sea will be officially welcomed at 11:00 am on Friday. Public access to the ceremony is through the Alabama State Port Authority’s temporary Pier 2 gate located at the north end of Arthur Outlaw Convention Center on Water Street.

Mobile will also welcome the USCGC Jacob Poroo, a newly-commissioned Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter assigned to Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Tour the ships:


Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Mardi Gras Day, Tuesday (Feb 10 – 13) between the hours of 8:00 am – 11:00 am and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm (CST)

The gate entrance is located on the north side of the Mobile Convention Center on Water St


Saturday, February 10 beginning at 11 am until 4 pm. (CST)

Sunday, February 11 beginning at 11 am until 2 pm. (CST)

The ship will be moored at the Gulf Quest Maritime Museum.

Read more about the USS PHILIPPINE SEA and the USCGC JACOB POROO.

1 month ago

New app lets you track concentrations of flu and other illnesses in your zip code



What if you could access real-time data analyzing the severity and commonality of various common illnesses like the flu in your own communities?

Thanks to Knox Spencer Associates, LLC’s new website and app Doctors Report Illness Tracker, you can – all the way down to your zip code.

Doctors Report is the brainchild of Daniel Shaw, a retired attorney living in Pittsburgh.

Shaw enlisted in the Navy as a young man and thereafter began a career in law, working for the Department of Justice, a firm in Washington, D.C., and then spent 35 years as part of H.J. Heinz’s legal team. It was his extracurricular interests that got him thinking about sickness.

“One thing I was always interested in was the weather,” Shaw said in an interview with Yellowhammer. “I think that’s what got me thinking about the possibility that common illnesses were kind of like the weather.”

The Doctors Report website and app uses the de-identified data that doctors send to their payors, be they insurance companies or government agencies. Doctors must file diagnoses in order to be compensated. Taking those data, the Doctors Report team tracks 15 common illnesses, including the various flues, strep throat, conjunctivitis, common colds, and pneumonia among others, as well as other not-so-common ones such as Lyme Disease and MRSA.

The app – free for download on the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon – is very simple to use. Simply put in your ZIP code, which age group you want to track, and then the illness you want to look at.

The results offer a severity rating for that area, as well as suggestions for avoiding tagged illnesses.

“Most of the data you hear from the CDC is based on a region or state, and obviously our data goes down to your neighborhood, which I think is an additional benefit,” Shaw said.

The app also indicates national trends. According to Doctors Report, the top four illnesses nationally are currently: Influenza (flu), acute sinusitis, bronchitis and bronchiolitis, and Influenza A (flu A).

Other features include News and Forecast/Trends sections, which offer more information about particular illness trends, as well as advice about how to stay well.

Shaw said he sees Doctors Report as something people will want to look at frequently, especially if they have young children or older family members who are prone to catching illnesses.

“When I started this process, we asked people – telling them what the app would do – and we had a significant number that said they would look at the app every day or every couple of days.”

ANTLR Interactive of Pittsburgh designed and developed the website and app. Iron Bridge Corp of Pittsburgh, PA and Nashville, TN is a healthcare technology company and provided the data transformation and delivery that fuels the platform.

The Doctors Report app is available now for download. The website officially launches Wednesday, February 7.

2 months ago

Super Bowl coin toss will include Medal of Honor recipient from Alabama

Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins participating in a press conference just after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House, Sept. 15, 2014. (Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)

Among the 15 Medal of Honor recipients who will participate in the Super Bowl’s opening coin toss ceremony will be Opelika resident and retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, who showed extraordinary heroism in the Vietnam War.

Adkins’ full Medal of Honor citation can be read here, and includes this stunning detail: “During the 38-hour battle and 48 hours of escape and evasion, fighting with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades, it was estimated that Sergeant First Class Adkins had killed between 135 and 175 of the enemy while sustaining 18 different wounds to his body.”

About Adkins:

— President Barak Obama awarded Adkins with the Medal of Honor on September 15, 2014, for heroic efforts during his second of three deployments to Vietnam.

— After retiring from the Army, he earned two Master’s degrees in education and management from Troy University and taught night classes at Southern Union Junior College and Auburn University for a number of years.

— He also established the Adkins Accounting Service, Inc. in Auburn and served as its CEO for 22 years.

— Adkins now serves as the President and CEO of the Bennie Adkins Foundation, which works to help former Special Forces soldiers transition from military back to civilian life.

Read more about Adkins’ story here.

The controversy:

— The NFL has long made a point of honoring the military at games, but the invitation to veterans will undoubtedly be viewed by many through the lens of all the pushback the league has received due to players protesting during the National Anthem.

— Adkins intends to use the opportunity to speak with those players who choose to kneel during the National Anthem, an act he views as disrespectful, the Opelika-Auburn News reported on Thursday.

— “If I can change one person’s life and teach them patriotism, I have done my job,” Adkins said.

— The NFL could not immediately be reached for comment regarding if and how this plays into the controversy.

— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made the focus about honoring our veterans.

— “The NFL is proud to honor our Nation’s heroes at Super Bowl LII,” Goodell said in a statement announcing the plans for the coin toss.

— “These courageous individuals deserve to be recognized on America’s biggest stage.”

— “We are grateful for their service to our country and we are pleased to continue the NFL’s longstanding tradition of hosting special tributes to service members at the Super Bowl.”

2 months ago

Boeing of Huntsville awarded another $6.56 billion for missile defense

(U.S. Missile Defense Agency/Flickr)
(U.S. Missile Defense Agency/Flickr)


The Boeing Co. in Huntsville, Alabama, just had its Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) development and sustainment contract (DSC) modified to include another $6.56 billion for the program.

The details:

— The Department of Defense announced the contract modification on Wednesday.

— “The scope of work under the current DSC includes development, fielding, test, systems engineering, integration and configuration management, equipment manufacturing and refurbishment, training, and operations and sustainment for the GMD weapon system and associated support facilities,” the Department of Defense said.

— The contract extension, which runs January 2018 through December 2023, is meant for an expansion of capabilities at Fort Greely, Alaska, to complete “the accelerated delivery of a new missile field with 20 additional silos and two additional silos in a previously constructed missile field” and “procurement and deployment of 20 additional Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs).”

— Ballistic missile defense has been one of President Trump’s military priorities.

— The contract extension meets a request that he made to Congress last November, asking for funding for new silos and other improvements at Fort Greely.

— Other companies with Huntsville-based operations are also a part of the contract, including Raytheon Co., Orbital ATK, and Northrop Grumman Corp.

Read more about the Ground-based Midcourse Defense here.

2 months ago

Senators use fetal abnormality to defend against abortion restrictions, ignoring prevailing motivations for abortion



(Opinion) On Monday, the Senate debated the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and then voted against it. Among the various arguments that Democrats offered against the legislation was that it would prevent women from electing to abort in cases of fetal abnormalities.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) shared stories of some of her constituents who have made that decision. One woman had carried a child with a malformed brain. Another woman had carried a child with a malformed heart.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) told a similar story of a woman who decided to abort one of her twins at 23 weeks whose lungs had failed to develop.

Why this matters: Sens. Warren’s and Murray’s discussion only of cases of fetal abnormality had the rhetorical effect of burying the overarching motivation for abortions in this country: inconvenience. Why? It’s much easier for them, and perhaps their consciences, to argue for abortion in cases of fetal abnormality because it may be perceived as compassion; that the child is actually spared from a life of suffering (Sen. Warren says the aborted child is given peace). In any case, the senators failed to explicitly defend – and even to address – abortion motivated by inconvenience, and instead defended “bodily autonomy” because even for them, such motivations are morally dubious.

2 months ago

Mind your manners: Alabama second-most polite state in the U.S.



That stereotype about the American South being more polite than other parts of the country is true.

Or, at least, it’s true for Alabama. According to a recent study by FreshBooks, a Toronto-based accounting software company, Alabama is the second-politest state in the Union.

You may be wondering, what’s the angle? How is an accounting firm equipped to measure politeness?

The answer:

— The survey’s authors examined a large group of FreshBooks clients, looking at how many businesses begin and end their invoices with “please” and “thank you.”

— 27 percent of business owners in Alabama meet that criterion of politeness, according to the study.

— Oklahoma leads the states, with a 49 percent politeness rating.

— The study is problematic for our stereotypes overall, however, because Tennessee – certainly part of the South – is tied with Utah at the bottom of the list with a 6 percent politeness rating.

— Mississippi is also quite low, with a 7 percent politeness rating.

2 months ago

BOOM! Alabama excellence at the Grammys



Alabama showed up at the Grammys last night.

— Alabama Shakes took home “Best American Roots Performance” for their rendition of Memphis Minnie’s “Killer Diller Blues.”

— The Blind Boys of Alabama were also nominated for “Best American Roots Performance” for “Let My Mother Live” (which is incredible – listen here).

— Jason Isbell, who hails from Green Hill, Alabama, won “Best American Roots Song” for his song “If We Were Vampires.”

— Isbell also won “Best Americana Album” for his album “The Nashville Sound.”

— Rick Hall, the Muscle Shoals music staple who owned FAME Studios, was remembered among those artists who died in the last year.

— For the full list of winners, click here.

2 months ago

If Alabama history repeats itself, should voters have Senate options like Lee Busby and Doug Jones?



Earlier this week, the Alabama House of Representatives passed HB17, a bill that would do away with special elections for vacated U.S. Senate seats, instead relying on the governor to appoint replacements.

Were this measure to eventually become law, and assuming the governorship remains in Republican hands, a vacated U.S. Senate seat would become a de facto Republican seat.

Alabama would no longer have the option of going in another direction, as it did last December, by electing a Democrat, or third party candidate like Lee Busby.

Busby, the retired Marine Officer who challenged both Roy Moore and Doug Jones in the December special election, spoke with Yellowhammer News shortly after the special election in December.

“It was wild,” Busby said of the whole thing, especially regarding the support he received.

“I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came out to knock on doors.”

But that on-the-ground support was not what touched him most.

“I got notes from around Alabama [saying] that you’ve given me someone to vote for; notes from around the country; from around the world. A soldier in Afghanistan sent me a note saying thank you for what you’re doing.”

Busby said that in his view, the special election was a referendum on party politics. That’s what motivated Busby to run as an unknown, third-party candidate.

“There’s a Churchill quote,” he said, that goes something like, “’You can’t leave war up to the generals.’ I think it’s the same in politics. You can’t just leave it up to politicians to run the country.”

HB17 wouldn’t prevent non-partisan candidates like Busby from challenging the partisan landscape altogether because they could still run in general elections, but it would effectively prevent them from filling vacant seats.

What do you think? Do you think Alabama should be able to vote for its Senate replacement?

2 months ago

Major drug-trafficking investigation in Alabama leads to 11 arrests

(Attorney General Steve Marshall/Facebook)

(Attorney General Steve Marshall/Facebook)

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Wednesday arrests and charges that resulted from a major drug-trafficking investigation by state, federal and local law enforcement in Selma.

The details:

— Authorities conducted surveillance and wiretapping of the alleged drug-trafficking network from February of 2016 through July 2017.

— Eleven individuals have been indicted, and charges vary from violation of the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act to unlawful distribution of cocaine.

— “One of the worst parts of my job as Attorney General is the breadth of my knowledge and exposure to violent crime occurring throughout our state—much of which is related to drugs,” Attorney General Marshall said in a statement, noting that perhaps many would be surprised to know Alabama has the seventh-highest violent crime rate in the nation.

— “Criminals in Selma and the surrounding areas should be on notice: we will not tolerate this menace to our citizens.”

— Marshall also celebrated Alabama’s three new U.S. attorneys who were involved in the investigation.

— “It is clear to me already that we are of like minds and have the potential to do a great deal to improve public safety by working together.”

— “The productive cooperation between every level of law enforcement – state, federal and local – has made this town safer and we want to continue to foster this, not only in Selma, but around our state.”

— The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Selma Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama were all involved in the investigation.

The arrests:

— Marcus Oneil Pritchett, also known as “Mack,” 26, charged with Violating the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act (1 count), Trafficking in Cocaine (1 count), Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (21 counts) and Conspiracy to Unlawfully Distribute Cocaine (9 counts)

— David Dashawn Lowe, also known as “Lil Lowe,” 30, charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act (1 count), Trafficking in Cocaine (1 count), and Conspiracy to Unlawfully Distribute Cocaine (1 count)

— Keisha Latreece West, 38, charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act (1 count) and Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (2 counts)

— Irvin Montel West, also known as “Trippy,” 22, charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act (1 count) and Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (1 count)

— Leo Carter, also known as “Bo Peep,” 25, charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act (1 count) and Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (1 count)

— Jamarrious Shaw, also known as “Dukie Duke,” 23, charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act (1 count) and Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (1 count)

— Jeremiah Brown, also known as “Unc,” 59, charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act (1 count) and Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (1 count)

— Mitchell Williams Jr., also known as “Mini Man,” 20, charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act (1 count) and Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (1 count)

— Kareen Walker, also known as “Chrome,” 35, charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act (1 count) and Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (1 count)

— Jamarcus Jermaine Brenson, also known as “Lil Savage,” 21, charged with Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (1 count)

— Choiis Jamal Kathevian Harris, 22, charged with Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (1 count)

2 months ago

Gov. Ivey’s proposed pre-k expansion plan takes another step forward

(Governor Kay Ivey)

(Governor Kay Ivey)

Momentum is swinging in Gov. Kay Ivey’s direction as the Alabama School Readiness Alliance’s Pre-K Task Force just published its recommendations for 2018, reinforcing its support for her proposed expansion of the First Class Pre-K program.

The details:

— Ivey earlier this month proposed a $23 million increase for the program in her FY 2019 education budget.

— “We recommend expanding Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary First Class pre-k program so that all families have the opportunity to enroll their four-year-olds,” the task force said.

— The decision is ultimately left up to the legislature.

— “The House Ways & Means Education Committee expects to take up the Education Budget in the next 1-3 weeks and anticipates that pre-k funding, as well as funding all levels of education, will be addressed at that time,” Rep. Bill Poole, chairman of the House Ways and Means Education Committee, told Yellowhammer News on Tuesday.

— Poole did not comment specifically about whether the committee plans to meet Gov. Ivey’s $23 million request.

— The National Institute for Early Education Research last year named Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program among the country’s best.

— Alabama’s program is so well-reputed that a film crew from Harvard University is working on a documentary about it, recently visiting Madison City’s First Class Pre-K Center.

2 months ago

Alabama ranks 10th most affected state by the partial federal government shutdown

Alabama ranks the 10th most affected state as a result of the current partial federal government shutdown, according to an analysis by Wallethub.

Note to limited government conservatives: The shutdown’s effects serve as a stark reminder of Alabama’s economic reliance upon the federal government.

The details:

— Wallethub used six key metrics to determine which states are being most affected, including each’s share of federal jobs and contracts, access to federal lending programs, and percentages of children reliant upon the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

— Congress is still looking for a long-term solution for CHIP, putting those who rely on the program at risk as it remains unfunded.

— Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal is being affected with furloughs and other disruptions to operations, Leada Gore of has reported.

— When the government shutdown in 2013, the arsenal’s 12,000 federal employees were furloughed, as well as the many civilian contractors who were affected.

— The Alabama Policy Institute released a study last fall that showed while Alabama relies on the federal government for 42 percent of its budget, a large majority of Republican primary voters surveyed considered it important for the state to become less dependent on federal dollars.

(Do you think Alabama should become more self-reliant? Take this article over to social media and start a conversation with your family and friends).

2 months ago

Alabama Rep. Sewell supported a short-term CHIP extension in December but just voted against a long-term extension. Here’s why:

Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL7)

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) voted against a resolution on Thursday that would have extended government funding through February 16 and, among other things, would also have extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years.

“The congresswoman voted against the [resolution] this past week because she would like to see Republicans work with Democrats to pass a long-term funding bill,” Sewell’s communications director, Christopher MacKenzie, told Yellowhammer.

Sewell’s no-vote is notable because back in December, she broke with her party and voted for a short-term funding bill, chiefly because of CHIP.

“The government funding/CHIP bill that passed in December wasn’t perfect, but Rep. Sewell voted for it because she was not willing to let CHIP expire,” MacKenzie told Yellowhammer earlier this month.

So what has changed? Why was the Congresswoman willing to vote for a short-term CHIP solution back in December, but wasn’t willing to support this recent bill which had a six-year CHIP extension?

“In December, CHIP was facing a slightly different timeline,” MacKenzie said. “The vote on the CR happened on Dec. 21 as members were leaving for the holiday and the CHIP freeze was starting Jan. 1 – there was zero room for any additional votes to ensure CHIP had funding.”

“Also, the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill means that new cost estimates have come out this month about the price tag on extending CHIP,” MacKenzie said. “According to the CBO, extending CHIP for ten years would actually provide savings because fewer families would enroll in the federally subsidized healthcare marketplaces. So why extend for just six years?”

2 months ago

Feminist pro-life marcher: This is not a partisan movement … ‘It’s a human rights movement’


As tens of thousands of people from the country were gathering on the National Mall for the annual March For Life, a couple hundred from all along the Gulf Coast were gathering in Cathedral Square in downtown Mobile for the second annual Mobile March For Life.

Before marchers trekked key downtown thoroughfares like Dauphin and Government Streets, they gathered to hear from march organizers and other guests who have first-hand knowledge of abortion and end-of-life issues.

“We have made this into a Democrat and Republican movement. It’s a human rights movement,” said Emily Montague, president of Mobile March For Life, at the pre-march rally.

Montague and two others organized the first Mobile march last January.

“We did it last year kind of as a response to the Women’s March,” Montague told Yellowhammer in an interview. “I consider myself a feminist and I wanted to be a part of that march but when I found out that pro-life people weren’t really welcome, I was like, well, I want to march, and this is a cause I can get behind and it’s one that everyone can be a part of because we’re all human.”

A prevailing reason that some women say they choose abortion is that they fear having a child will disrupt their lives, particularly their career aspirations. Montague said the pro-life cause can bring hope to women by changing those assumptions.

“I think that the pro-life movement means that women will now hopefully have the support that they need, that a child won’t be a career-killer. It won’t be a reason she has to give up all aspects of her life to only care for that child.”

“For so long, we’ve been told that it’s either one or the other, but we’re trying to tell people that it can be both. You can have both and you can do both, and be successful at both.”

2 months ago

Rep. Martha Roby to Democrats on CHIP: This is not time for political games

(Rep. Martha Roby / Twitter)
(Rep. Martha Roby / Twitter)

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) appeared alongside some of her fellow House Republicans yesterday to call attention to the importance of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in Alabama.

The details:

— “Many of the families that I represent in Alabama depend on CHIP funding to make sure that their children have access to health care,” Roby said in the press conference, recalling her time working as a young lawyer when she served clients who relied upon CHIP.

— The GOP is on the cusp of passing a six-year CHIP extension in their temporary government funding bill.

— “I’ve also been hearing directly from our governor in the great state of Alabama and many state representatives who are working diligently to craft a budget on the state level and they are depending on Congress to get this done,” said Roby.

— Roby joined a chorus of Republicans who say the Democrats are playing a political game by threatening a government shutdown, and a failure to extend CHIP, if a deal on DACA isn’t included in the spending bill.

— “That’s why it’s incredibly disheartening that Democrats are playing party politics with children’s health insurance.”

— “This, of all times, is not the time for games.”

2 months ago

Pro-life Passion: Alabama will lead in Friday’s March For Life in Washington, D.C.

(James McNellis/Flickr)
(James McNellis/Flickr)


Alabamians will lead Friday’s annual March For Life in Washington, D.C.

Thirty-five students from Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School and two representatives from three other groups from the Archdiocese of Mobile are carrying the head-of-the-line banner as Marchers For Life trek across the National Mall to the Supreme Court steps.


Marchers from all across Alabama are caravanning up to D.C. over the next few days to take part in the annual March For Life.

Justin Castanza, principal of Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School and the Youth Leader at Holy Spirit parish, is leading 165 people from four different area parishes to the nation’s capital, 100 of them students from Montgomery Catholic.

Montgomery is part of the Archdiocese of Mobile, which has more than 600 young people and adults going to the march with 11 different parishes and four different Catholic schools represented. Many of the young people going along with the group are from public schools, homeschool, or non-Catholic private schools.

“We’re very proud of this large participation, especially since we are driving close to 20 hours to get to our nation’s capital,” Adam Ganucheau, director of Youth & Young Adult Ministry for Mobile’s archdiocese, told Yellowhammer News.

The Diocese of Birmingham also has five buses of marchers, with groups coming from all over North Alabama.

Christina Semmens has gone to the March four of the past seven years. She is leading a group of six folks from Our Lady of the Valley in Fort Payne.

“It’s an absolutely, phenomenally beautiful witness of the vibrancy and life of the church in the United States,” Semmens said of the march and many other activities.


Castanza refers to those heading up to D.C. as more than marchers.

“Our entire journey is a pilgrimage,” Castanza said in an interview with Yellowhammer News.

The trip itinerary reflects that, beginning and ending with masses, to express the solemnity and gravity of abortion.

Castanza said he and his group are there because of the tens of millions of babies who have been aborted since Roe vs. Wade was decided in January of 1973.

“We are marching on this weekend specifically because of the Roe v. Wade decision and the 60 million unborn babies who have been aborted in the United States alone since that decision,” Castanza said.


They are also there to honor our fallen service members. Their first stop will be Arlington National Cemetery.

“A lot of people have fought to give us the right to protest. A lot of people have fought to give us the right to say what we want,” Castanza said.

Even so, Castanza gives the numbers. “There’s about 400,000 folks buried in Arlington National Cemetery and when we drive in and our kids see rows upon rows of perfectly situated white headstones, that represents less than one-one hundredth the number of babies that have been aborted since Roe.”

As for the day of the march itself, young people from across the country will wake up early Friday for a Youth Rally & Mass for Life, held in the Capitol One Arena.

“There will be about 25,000 Catholics celebrating Mass together,” Castanza said, “and if you’re from Montgomery, Alabama, where it’s two percent Catholic, that’s pretty amazing to see tens of thousands of your high school-aged peers there celebrating. It’s our faith coming to life in a way that kids from Montgomery, Alabama, just don’t get to see.”

Marchers from Alabama gather with Bishop Robert Baker on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in 2016 (Courtesy Christina Semmens)


Montgomery Catholic is contributing in another big way as 2016 graduate Agnes Armstrong speaks at the pre-march rally.

Before the march begins, everyone will meet on the National Mall and hear from a number of speakers, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Matt Birk, former NFL player, and his wife Adrianna Birk. Armstrong will be among them.

“She’s been asked to share the perspective of a young female college student that can empower people to get involved,” Castanza said.

“Her words are pretty special. She’s going to share about how she comes from a place where, in the last 60 years, Rosa Parks [led] the bus boycott, and Martin Luther King gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech from the National Mall where she’ll be speaking and called our nation to respect the civil rights and liberties of others. She is carrying on that legacy and has so much to say and so much to do.”


2 months ago

Young Alabama: A political organization started by millennials

(Young Alabama)

(Young Alabama)


Many successful ventures begin as a group of friends who are after something: Apple, The Skimm, Ben & Jerry’s.

It’s too early to determine the success of Young Alabama, but the friends are certainly after something.

Young Alabama is a small bunch of Auburn grads who love politics and love Alabama, and who want to see the concerns of young people given more attention in Montgomery and Washington.

“Our parties are not speaking to young people,” said David Wisdom, Young Alabama’s president, in an interview with Yellowhammer. Wisdom said both Democrats and Republicans, on both national and state levels, are guilty of fielding older candidates who do not talk enough about issues affecting young people.

Wisdom and Young Alabama’s Vice President, Collier Tynes, also hold leadership positions in the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans, who notoriously withdrew their support of Roy Moore.

Wisdom said a key reason for Moore’s and other candidates’ failures have proved to be their inability to appeal to young people.

He also said that young people are more politically and socially consequential than often thought.

“Millennials are no longer the kids in high school and college. They’re doctors and lawyers – or about to be doctors and lawyers – and accountants and nurses and they deserve to be spoken to on policy issues.”

Executive Director Michael Bullington, who met Wisdom as they served in Auburn’s Student Government Association, said the idea for Young Alabama bloomed in 2016 as the group began gathering to put their political conversations into a podcast, and it grew into an initiative to improve politics for young people.

“We just kind of realized that there was a lot of room for an organization like this that could kind of push an ideology, but also at the same time not be bound by a party,” Bullington said.

Wisdom continued, “We’re not bound by some of the rules that some of the Republican clubs are. Republican clubs cannot endorse primary candidates – or they’re not supposed to. That’s one thing that we’re able to do, not being directly tied to ALGOP or other Republican groups.”

Bullington reinforced that even though Young Alabama’s founding members are conservatives, they want to keep it from becoming closed.

“I think we all agree on our personal politics pretty well, but we want to keep an open mind, not box ourselves in.”

Join the conversation by following Young Alabama on Facebook here, and check out the podcast and blog posts on their website here.


2 months ago

Birmingham marches for life today, anticipating next week’s national March for Life

(OLS Edge Youth Group/Instagram)
(OLS Edge Youth Group/Instagram)

Despite frigid temperatures, pro-life advocates gathered today in the streets of the Iron City for the annual Birmingham March for Life.

The details:

— Organizers encouraged folks from all walks of life to join the most important of causes, calling the march “one of the most meaningful opportunities for the entire community to gather and proclaim publicly the sanctity of every human life from the moment of conception to natural death.”

— The day began for marchers at 9 a.m. with a Respect Life Mass at St. Stephen the Martyr Church.

— The march itself began at 10:45 a.m. in Brother Bryan Park and continued through the Five Points South area of Birmingham. 

— Local marches are going on all over the country this weekend, in anticipation for the national march in Washington D.C. next Friday, January 19.

— For more information about the march’s aims and for resources regarding pro-life issues, click here.

2 months ago

MILLENNIALS RISING — New Yellowhammer talk radio show: Kyle Morris ‘The Conservative Savage’ premieres Saturday


Yellowhammer Radio Presents: Kyle Morris “The Conservative Savage” is a new political talk radio show featuring a millennial host that premieres Saturday on 101.1 WYDE in Birmingham and Huntsville.  

The show is the latest in Yellowhammer Multimedia’s expansions in news, film, TV and radio programs and will air every Saturday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“So many people see millennials as a bunch of cry-babies, or sore losers, or perhaps even socialists,” said Kyle Morris, the show’s host, in an interview. “It’s going to be a show from a millennial standpoint, but also something that the older generation can connect with. … I hope to bring a new light to the millennials, and to conservatism as a whole.”

Morris, a student at the University of Alabama and Yellowhammer News contributor, has gained a lot of attention on social media for his conservative take on politics, with more than 60,000 people following him on Twitter, which is where Yellowhammer CEO B.J. Ellis first noticed his tweets and recognized his potential.

“The first time I talked to Kyle, I realized this kid’s special,” said Ellis. “I believe that before long he will be one of the thought leaders in the conservative movement and I’m just fired up about him and believe in him. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be a really big deal and I’m looking forward to growing together with him.”

Morris, 21, intends to challenge the common perception of young people, progressivism, as well as certain not-so-good trends that he sees occurring within conservatism.

“We can’t have these people who are always-Trumpers. They say never-Trumpers, but there’s also always-Trumpers. And those people get under my skin just as bad as the never-Trumpers do.”

Overall, Morris says the show is about engaging others.

“I’m going to have guests on that are left-leaning because I want to have those conversations.”

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