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The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

2 hours ago

Auburn Police officer shot in the line of duty

(Pixabay)

An Auburn Police Department officer was shot in the line of duty Friday evening.

Sources reportedly confirmed the shooting to WVTM. The condition of the officer was not immediately known.

The shooting occurred at the Dollar General near Niffer’s Place off of Opelika Road.

WSFA was on the scene live in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, which resulted in a massive police presence. The suspect is believed to still be at-large, with a “manhunt” underway.

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This comes after Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Wytasha Carter and Mobile Police Department Officer Sean Tuder were shot and killed in the line of duty in recent weeks.

This is breaking news and may be updated.

Update 8:00 p.m.:

WSFA posted a new live stream.

Update 8:15 p.m.:

Police administrators told reporters the incident occurred shortly after 5:30 p.m. as the officer pulled the suspect’s vehicle over responding to an armed robbery call. The officer was talking and alert when he left the scene. More on his condition was not released by law enforcement on the scene. The officer was shot “multiple” times. His name has also not been released.

The suspect is Christopher James Wallace. He is 38 years old. A female was in the vehicle with Wallace at the time of the shooting. Her name is not being released at this time.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Del Marsh on Trump declaration: ‘It is an emergency — It is about protecting this country’

(Del Marsh/Facebook, ICE/Flickr)

Alabama Senate leader Del Marsh (R-Anniston) voiced his support for President Donald Trump’s latest action on border security while blaming Democrats for their inability to fix the long-standing issue.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Marsh said he supports Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency along the Mexican border.

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Marsh explained that the urgency of the threat made it necessary.

“It is an emergency,” Marsh stated. “It is about protecting this country. That’s where the threat is. The threat is the southern border. All our borders should be secure. But the threat right now is the southern border. No one can deny that.”

When asked where border security should rank among the country’s priorities, Marsh said border security should be number one.

And he expressed frustration at how policy-makers have approached the issue.

“I cannot for the life of me understand how people in Congress can put people who are not citizens of this country above our citizens’ welfare, and that’s what I see happening,” he remarked.

He cited a single reason why, in his mind, the issue of border security has gone on for so long without resolution.

“Politics,” Marsh declared.

Specifically, he believes Democrats view illegal immigration as providing a pool of potential new voters and that has threatened national security.

“They have put that above the safety of the citizens of this country,” he said. “Democrats are basically saying, ‘Don’t worry about a process. Come on! We’re your buddies!’”

Marsh also pointed out the fact that he has already filed a bill in the Alabama legislature to allow Alabamians to help build the wall.

The legislation would provide taxpayers the option of checking a box on their tax returns should they want to donate to We Build the Wall, Inc.

Marsh has already donated to the fund himself.

“It’s about sending a message to this president, President Trump, that we support him and by sending these dollars to build the wall, showing our support for him,” he explained. “I believe it and I think the people of Alabama believe that security is the most important thing, the most important issue at this point in time. We want to support the wall, and we want to see the wall built.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

3 hours ago

Alabama Supreme Court reinstates Alabama Memorial Preservation Act

(Facebook)

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Friday that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the state’s motion to stay a recent “[erroneous]” Jefferson County Circuit Court judgment that declared the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 to be unconstitutional.

This means the law, which prohibits the removal and alteration of monuments more than 40 years old on public property, will still be in effect while the state appeals the decision. Marshall requested the stay three weeks ago.

“I am pleased that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the State’s motion to stay the Circuit Court’s ruling,” the attorney general said in a statement. “We think that U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly demonstrates that the Circuit Court erred in striking down the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Thus, we asked the Alabama Supreme Court to preserve the status quo regarding the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park until the Court rules on our appeal.”

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It was reported that the City of Birmingham was considering removing the monument at the center of the controversy after the law was struck down. The Sailors Monument has been covered by a large black wall since August 2017, near the end of former Mayor William Bell’s tenure.

“The Supreme Court’s stay allows the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act to remain in effect until the Supreme Court resolves this appeal over the Act’s constitutionality. We continue to hold that the Circuit Court erred when it ruled that the U.S. Constitution grants cities free speech rights that they can enforce against the State,” Marshall added. “For more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has held just the opposite, recognizing that ‘a political subdivision, created by the state for the better ordering of government, has no privileges or immunities under the federal constitution which it may invoke in opposition to the will of its creator.’ We look forward to presenting these arguments to the Alabama Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court’s order Friday also stayed the accrual of any financial penalties under the law.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

David Cole departs Alabama Farmers Federation for BCA

(ALFA Farmers/Twitter)

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is adding another star to its governmental affairs team.

Shortly after breaking BCA’s hiring of Molly Cagle from Manufacture Alabama, sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News that Alabama Farmers Federation Director of State Affairs David Cole is coming on board at the same time.

Cole, like Cagle, is joining BCA’s governmental affairs staff effective February 28, just in time for the March 5 start of the state legislative session. Most recently, Cole spearheaded the federation’s lobbying efforts in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan sent out an email announcing Cole’s departure and thanking him for his commitment to Alabama agriculture — the state’s biggest industry. Pinyan also outlined how the staff would be moved around in response to Cole leaving.

Director of External Affairs Matthew Durdin – and his staff members, Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts and administrative assistant Jessica Mims – will now be involved in some state governmental affairs work. Former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who has been working as a political consultant for the federation, will now add governmental affairs work on contract.

An official announcement with details of the federation’s staff changes is expected to be released in the coming week.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt announced the two major additions in an internal email sent out to the business council’s leadership Friday evening. Britt took the reigns of BCA January 2. Cagle and Cole are her first hires.

The email detailed that Cole is being named senior vice president of governmental affairs and Cagle vice president of governmental affairs.

“These two additions to our team position the BCA to serve our members and advocate effectively on behalf of the business community,” Britt wrote.

Mark Colson, who most recently filled in as BCA’s interim president after serving as chief of staff and senior vice president for governmental affairs, will continue to serve the organization in his new role as senior advisor through the transition period.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

Molly Cagle joining BCA from Manufacture Alabama

(YHN, Manufacture Alabama)

One of Alabama’s rising stars in the governmental affairs world is on the move.

Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that Manufacture Alabama (MA) Director of External Affairs Molly Cagle has accepted a governmental affairs position with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). While an exact title has yet to be released, Cagle is expected to bolster BCA’s legislative affairs team.

The hire marks the first in BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt’s tenure. She was hired by the organization’s executive committee in December and took office January 2.

Cagle’s last day at MA is February 20, according to an email from her to the association’s membership obtained by Yellowhammer News.

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“My time at Manufacture Alabama over the last four and a half years has been incredibly rewarding. The friendships, lessons, and advice are things that I cherish and will take with me throughout my career,” she wrote.

Cagle comes to BCA with an impressive track record in legislative work, including past service as the Senate Liaison for Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh. She received her bachelor’s in Political Science, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Troy University.

Named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “Power and Influence: Who’s Next?” list for 2018, Cagle will be a major addition to BCA as the organization refocuses on its pro-jobs mission of “making a sweet home for business” in Alabama.

Cagle’s email noted, “As I prepare to take on my new role, I want to assure everyone that the staff at Manufacture Alabama has taken the steps to make my departure as seamless as possible. A special thank you to George Clark for his guidance and support not only over the last several years but also throughout this process.”

The state legislative session begins March 5.

As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., BCA had taken down its online staff directory. An official announcement of the hire is expected in the coming days.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

Cagle is being named BCA’s vice president of governmental affairs.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

It is time for the Alabama legislature to end the state-mandated subsidy to print media outlets

(YHN, Pixabay)

Who won the 2018 general election in Alabama?

You might think with all the talk of $900 prison spending bills, gas taxes, Medicaid expansion and the lottery that Democrats won in a massive landslide and were preparing to implement their agenda. But that is not what happened — Republicans actually picked up seats.

The state of Alabama, with a Republican super-majority, is preparing to spend big and grow government.

As they do this, maybe they can toss the citizens of Alabama a bone and make the government a little more efficient by saving state agencies, counties, cities and school boards a substantial amount of money every year.

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Current Alabama law requires government entities in Alabama to advertise legal notices, legislation, constitutional amendments, voter rolls and other public matters in the local print media outlets.

This is not chump change:

  • The state of Alabama spends up to $800,000 each year.
  • The city of Huntsville spends up to $115,000 each year.
  • Madison County spends up to $153,000 each year.

If we were to add up all the costs to local governments, we would find that these costs are in the multiple millions of dollars range.

In a state that has a $6+ billion dollar education budget, this may seem like something that is minuscule and irrelevant, but that is not the case when adding all the entities required by law to hand government money over to private companies to print a product that very few use and could easily be uploaded to an official state/county/city website and be more accessible to your average Alabamians.

The only counter-argument, which will be made by those working in or for the print media industry and no one else, is that there are communities in Alabama that don’t have high-speed Internet and can’t access these websites.

This is a canard that only allows legislators to do nothing and not face the wrath of people who “buy ink by the barrel.”

Keeping these laws on the books only acts to subsidize the print media. It does not benefit your average Alabamian one bit.

This print media subsidy should be ended immediately. Surely there are other things these government entities can spend this money on.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

8 hours ago

Tennessee Valley Authority selects next president and CEO

(TVA/Facebook)

The nation’s largest public utility has picked the leader of one of Canada’s largest power companies to head the $11 billion federal corporation.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Valley Authority board announced the selection of Jeffrey Lyash as president and CEO effective in April.

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Lyash is president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation Inc. He was formerly president of CB&I Power and executive vice president of energy supply for Duke Energy.

He also served in management roles with Progress Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Lyash is chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute, an international nonprofit for public interest energy and environmental research.

Lyash replaces Bill Johnson, who is retiring after joining the federal utility in 2013.

TVA serves about 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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10 hours ago

Doug Jones on Medicaid expansion: ‘We’re losing out on billions of dollars … the state of Alabama damn sure could use’

(MSNBC/YouTube)

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Thursday, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) offered his thoughts on rumblings that policymakers in Montgomery were considering expanding Medicaid rolls.

The renewed discussion comes in the wake of Butler County’s Georgiana losing its hospital and some GOP lawmakers in the statehouse suggesting it was something to consider.

According to Jones, the expansion of Medicaid would be one of the ingredients necessary in ensuring rural hospitals in Alabama are sustainable.

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“I think it would go a long way,” Jones said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “There are a lot of factors that come into play when you’re talking about rural hospitals, including the wage index that we try to get things changed, so we get the same reimbursements as other states. But I think expansion of Medicaid would be a big help. I think it would be a huge deal for rural hospitals. It would bring in billions of dollars – billions of dollars that’s our money, by the way, that we haven’t been getting since the state refused to do that. And candidly, it was a political decision when they refused to do it. Everybody knows that. There was a legitimate concern about the cost.”

“But now that we look back, we can see that the cost-benefit – the benefit outweighs the cost tremendously,” he continued. “Plus the benefit with the good health outcomes – more people with good health care, better health outcomes. It’s just a win-win. And so I am hoping this year they can do that.”

Jones said he and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) were working on legislation to gives states that have not yet expanded Medicaid the incentive to do so, and that way the “money would start flowing in.”

When asked about the possibility of the state of Alabama being on the hook for extra cost when that initial infusion of federal money runs out, the Jefferson County Democrat said he expected the money to continue to be there for Medicaid.

“I don’t think the money will run out,” he replied. “I think the money is here to stay. It is one of those things that passed in the ‘60s. It is here to stay. I think the money is going to continue to be there. And the fact of the matter is, no one would get left holding the bag because if the Medicaid money went away, then obviously the insurance goes away. I don’t think anybody’s going to want to let that happen.”

When asked about lawmakers considering the possibility, Jones described his attitude as “hopeful.”

“I am very hopeful,” Jones said. “I think there’s a couple of dynamics in play, including the fact that we’re not really talking about ObamaCare anymore. We’re talking about the Affordable Care Act, and we’re talking about things – keeping people with preexisting conditions and making sure they have health care. And the other thing, too – now we have the evidence. No one can really say, ‘Oh, this is going to cost too much. We can’t afford it.’ We got the evidence from all the states to show that is just not the case and we’re losing out on billions of dollars that come in, and that’s billions of dollars the state of Alabama damn sure could use.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

10 hours ago

Watch: Alexander Shunnarah helps with Alabama ‘promposal’

Billboards. Television commercials. Print ads. Everyone in Alabama knows Alexander Shunnarah.

In fact, the Birmingham-based trial lawyer has become a true celebrity figure in the Yellowhammer State, with his ubiquitous advertisements driving his name identification sky-high.

While he has poked fun at his own billboard empire before, the advertisements appear to be paying off through not just clients, but fans. The latest example of this was posted on the eve of Valentine’s Day, with the gregarious Shunnarah playing a starring role in a Birmingham-area high school student’s “promposal.”

Watch:

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For all those at home wondering, she said “yes.”

(Christy Burnett Ingram/Facebook)

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

A Story Worth Sharing: Alabama’s Red Tail Scholarship Foundation takes flight to help African-American students soar to new heights

(Red Tails Scholarship Foundation/Facebook)

If anyone knows hard work, it’s Torius Moore. A self-professed “small-town kid” from Attalla, Alabama, Moore is an undergraduate student and pilot triple-majoring in Aerospace Science Engineering, Physics and Mathematics at the historic Tuskegee University.

Moore is the first person to receive a scholarship from the Alabama based non-profit, The Red Tail Scholarship Foundation, and now, the program’s chief pilot.

The Red Tail Scholarship Foundation’s mission is to honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African Americans trained by the U.S military to participate in combat situations. Funded solely by private donations and operating with no administrative costs, the foundation honors their mission by providing scholarships, mentors and flight training resources to African American students pursuing careers in aviation.

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According to Moore, “The scholarship foundation is revitalizing the historic, successful and gritty flight program from the 1940s. ”

He added, “For me, it is a change that is worth not just witnessing – but actually implementing.”

Not only does the foundation give back to their community, but they encourage their students to do so as well. In his role as the foundation’s chief pilot, Moore will teach members of the scholarship program to fly.

“I am always adamant about getting scholars in the airplane and in the skies where the Tuskegee Airmen used to fly. Let’s continue this tradition and uphold this legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by creating more black pilots and transforming them into the new Tuskegee Airmen,” Moore said.

According to the foundation, only two percent of pilots in both commercial and military aviation are minorities, a statistic they are hoping to change, one student at a time.

Rich Peace, an accomplished military and commercial pilot, is a co-founder of the foundation and a mentor to many of the program’s students.

Peace says their organization is more than a traditional scholarship program.

“We’re going to teach you how to fly, we’re also going to provide guidance and mentorship beyond that,” Peace said.

Along with Torius, many other scholarship recipients have gone on to achieve success in the world of aviation. Since 2017, the non-profit has already awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships and training resources to 16 deserving students pursuing careers in aviation.

Peace says the foundation has had incredible growth over the last few years and is now facing a high demand from students hoping to become part of their program, which they hope to continue expanding.

“As leaders, not only do you have to lead the guys in this program, you have to develop them to do your job better than you can. That’s leadership,” Peace said.

To learn more or donate to the Red Tail Scholarship Foundation visit their website or email info@RedTailScholarshipFoundation.org

12 hours ago

Birmingham seeks to maintain Confederate monument ruling

(Facebook)

The city of Birmingham is asking a judge to maintain his ruling that overturned a state law protecting Confederate monuments.

In a court filing last week, city attorneys opposed a motion by the state attorney general to stay the decision while Alabama appeals.

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A judge last month ruled a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments violates the free speech rights of local communities.

The state argued that staying the order would prevent cities from removing monuments while the state appeals.

Birmingham lawyers said the city has made no suggestion that a Confederate monument would be removed during the appeal.

Alabama sued the city of Birmingham in 2017 after officials erected a wooden box that obscured the view of a 52-foot-tall obelisk honoring Confederate veterans.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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13 hours ago

i-Ready could help reinvigorate Alabama’s public education system

(S.Ross/YHN)

BOAZ — Boaz City Schools produced Alabama’s current lieutenant governor. And now, thanks to the system’s participation in a cutting-edge program, Boaz could be paving the way for not just the next generation of students in Marshall County, but young Alabamians statewide.

While the Yellowhammer State boasts the nation’s best state-run pre-k program, surging workforce development programs through AIDT and public-private partnerships and world-class universities, it is no secret that Alabama has been desperately needing a renaissance in K-12 public education for years.

That awakening might just be on the horizon. Last week, Yellowhammer News attended the annual community appreciation breakfast at Boaz High School. In attendance were Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, state Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) and state Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-Arab), who all got a firsthand look at i-Ready – a program new to the state that might just be one of the missing pieces in Alabama’s public school puzzle.

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i-Ready

A program of Curriculum Associates, i-Ready is a virtual assistant of sorts for teachers, providing a toolkit of resources and delivering differentiated instruction. The online, data-driven program functions in two main ways: diagnostic and instructional.

The first aspect of this is assessment based. Through an initial evaluation to see where a student is academically (identifying both their strengths and weaknesses), i-Ready plots a unique learning pathway just for them. This is where the instructional component comes in, as the program provides online lessons and teaching resources designed to fit that individual student’s pathway.

And, just as importantly as the two aspects themselves, the diagnostics and instruction are intertwined. The online program is keeping track of a student’s progress daily, so teachers can adjust in real time to what is working and not working in the classroom.

In a tour of Corley Elementary School, i-Ready can already be seen making a difference firsthand in second- and third-grade classrooms.

One of the biggest takeaways, after speaking with school system and Curriculum Associates leaders, is that i-Ready is custom designed to help teachers, not supplant them.

A Powerpoint presentation delivered by the school system emphasized, “We know and believe that the classroom teacher is at the center of [success]. The teacher is making instructional decisions based on his/her knowledge of the students.”

i-Ready and the constant individualized data it puts in teachers’ hands only increases their ability to help students succeed.

Still, in schools where some students are at or above grade level while others are varying degrees of playing catch up, teachers cannot possibly reach each individual in the best way for their unique situation just by teaching to the group and going over lessons in front of the class as a whole. This is where differentiated instruction and custom pathways are so important.

“We know realistically that kids are at all different places when they start each grade level,” a school administrator explained. “You have some kids that are accelerated learners that have learned a lot of their grade level skills and standards. And you have some that are grades behind. Well, we can’t sacrifice one for the other. And we understand the importance of choice, we understand the importance of flexibility, and that’s something, in a public school, that typically has not always occurred in the past. We have to learn how to meet the needs of individual students in a setting where you teach multiple students.”

Boaz’s implementation

In practice, at least in the classrooms observed, the teachers would split the class into three groups after introducing the lesson of the day to all of them. The groups would rotate between three stations. The group on the i-Ready station would go online and work their pathway. A second group would work a more traditional assignment or project related to the lesson. And the final group would work with the teacher to add another layer or reinforcement level to the lesson; tactile or visual activities are good examples of this.

Another of the points of emphasis of the program is building skills, as opposed to teaching to a standardized test. Curriculum Associates, through i-Ready and Ready (traditional printed math and reading instruction the company also specializes in), stresses high standards. Yet, the curriculum is flexible and uniquely designed not just for the individual students, but for the differing needs and wants of states and localities, too.

Take Boaz City Schools, for example. The school system has major demographic challenges that Curriculum Associates has helped with. From 2014 to 2018, Boaz City Schools’ percentage of Hispanic students went from 1.57 percent to 32.70 percent. Instead of working around challenges and leaving various subsets of special needs students behind, i-Ready carves out roads to success. In this case, this meant not only English as Second Language (ESL) students, but students who are proficient in English conversationally but still struggle with it academically.

Boaz City Schools, which has approximately 70 percent of its students on free or reduced lunch, began implementation of i-Ready strictly at the Tier III level (at-risk students) in the 2017-2018 school year. Now, they are in the first full year of a two or three-year scale-up of the program to the core level.

The results have already been off the charts.

Last school year, Boaz City Schools achieved 148 percent in math and 162 percent in reading of its targeted growth on average across all students. These remarkable results spanned from kindergarten to eighth grade, which is especially impressive considering it is harder for students to make up lost ground after their first few years of school.

Take the teachers’ perspectives into account.

While on classroom tours, Ainsworth pulled multiple veteran educators aside, who each raved about i-Ready. His conversations left him to conclude, “[T]he proof’s in the pudding.”

One third grade teacher, who had taught various elementary and middle school grades over 14 years, confidently said the program should be implemented statewide.

“As a teacher, it’s the best thing that I’ve seen,” she told Ainsworth.

How can other school districts benefit?

While Boaz City Schools was able to implement i-Ready through an at-risk student grant from the state, Ainsworth said he would like all public school districts to have the funds to use the program if they see fit — and not just for Tier III.

It might take some work in Montgomery to make this possible, but Boaz City Schools Superintendent Dr. Shannon Stanley is such a believer in the program and what it has already done for her district that she is willing to personally travel to the state capital to share the success story with legislators and executive branch leaders.

Currently, Curriculum Associates is working with 15 districts in Alabama between Ready and i-Ready, with some districts running small-scale trials and others enjoying more widespread implementation. Until the time that all districts have the funding option to utilize the program, applying for at-risk grants and being able to show positive results of trial runs seems to be an advisable move for districts across Alabama.

However, this is still not ideal.

“One of the things that I think is kind of a shame is that y’all have to use [i-Ready] through at-risk funds,” Ainsworth told Stanley and other school district leaders. “Because to me, there’s tremendous value and for not just at-risk students… what I’d like to see y’all do is be able to have the money to do this and then use the at-risk money for just at-risk kids.”

Speaking to Curriculum Associates representatives in attendance, Ainsworth reiterated the thing that impressed him most was what the teachers thought of i-Ready.

“Y’all have a product that the people that use it every day [love it]. To me, the value’s not in what I think, it’s the value that the actual teachers think. They love it,” he said.

“You can’t argue with people that are using it, and the fact that it’s actually changing lives. That’s important,” Ainsworth added.

Scofield, speaking to Yellowhammer News after the school tour, emphasized that he is “proud” of the schools in his district, including the Boaz City Schools system.

“They’re doing the right things to make sure our students are achieving and coming out workforce-ready. Boaz is on the frontline of that, and I’m very proud of this system and very impressed by this product,” Scofield remarked.

He continued, “I would like to see us really focus on trying to move [i-Ready] beyond the city limits of Boaz. I’d like to see this not only all over my district but statewide. Listening to these teachers – when you have 14-, 15-, 20-year teachers tell you that this is the best thing that they’ve seen, it’s had the biggest impact on their students – that’s what we need to listen to.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

7 Things: Trump set to declare national emergency and sign the deal, Mo Brooks urges a veto, Alabama Democratic Party in chaos and more …

(WH, CBP/Flickr)

7. Brilliant politicians in New York cost themselves 25,000 jobs and untold billions of dollars; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) cheers

— Amazon will not be bringing their second headquarters to New York after outrage over the three billion dollars in economic incentives cause the economically illiterate in the city to believe the city was losing money on the deal. Ocasio-Cortez is ecstatic her district will not receive the jobs, tax dollars or infrastructure this deal would have eventually brought.

6. Remington has failed to meet its employment goals and now must repay some of their incentives

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— The deal to bring Remington to North Alabama may officially be a bust at this point. They suffered bankruptcy and only hired about a quarter of the people initially promised. Now, the company has repaid some of the incentives totaling more about one million dollars to Morgan County, Limestone County, Madison County and the city of Athens.

5. Another social justice warrior hoax has been exposed — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is suspected to have made up his attack narrative

According to reports out of Chicago, the police knew Jussie Smollett was not telling the truth from the beginning of this ordeal where the actor said he was attacked by two white Trump supporters for being liberal and gay. It is believed Smollett and the two “persons of interest” perpetrated this hoax because Smollett was about to be written out of the television show.

4. The Alabama Democratic Party has its leadership elections voided; They must redo them within 90 days

— The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) credentials committee has essentially voided the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) leadership elections, meaning they must hold new elections for the top two spots within 90 days. This means very little to most people, but the power struggle in the Alabama Democratic Party is one of many reasons Democrats have almost no power in the state. This decision also forces the state party to change their bylaws, which will limit the ability to party boss Joe Reed to stack the deck. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) called the last elections “a total sham.”

3. The city of Birmingham is still trying to get at their monument to Conferedate soldiers

— Attorneys for the city have asked a judge to keep in place a ruling that would allow Birmingham to remove a Confederate monument, even though the city has not said it will remove the monument while the legal case is ongoing. Another judge ruled last month, 20 minutes before his term ended, that state law barring the modification and removal of these monuments was unconstitutional because it violates the free speech rights of local communities.

2. Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) urged the president to use his veto and have the military to build the wall

— In a fruitless effort to get the president to not sign the latest deal to keep the government open, Brooks said the compromise was a failure by Congress and that “the massive 1,169 page spending bill is a debt junkies’ dream.” Brooks said he will vote no because the bill forces him “to choose between two really bad choices: vote to shut down the government or vote to aid and abet the killing of at least 50 Americans per day who die from illegal alien homicides or from overdoses on poisonous drugs shipped through our porous southern border.”

1. President Donald Trump is set to sign a bipartisan agreement to keep the government open and build some of the wall, also plans an emergency declaration

— The U.S. Senate voted 82-16, with both Alabama senators voting in the affirmative, and all Alabama House Republicans except Martha Roby voted “no” on the compromise to keep the government open and give the president some money for his desires to beef-up border security. Now, to the chagrin of Democrats and shock to Republicans, the president is prepared to make an emergency declaration that he will use to build walls and expand security with monies allocated to other measures. The president will sign the bill and the emergency declaration after the U.S. House votes today.

16 hours ago

Roby on New York, Virginia late-term abortion, infanticide trends: ‘I have never been as disturbed as I am now’

(M. Roby)

Thursday on WVNN, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) hammered the alarming efforts by statehouses around the country to lessen abortion restrictions.

Two states, New York and Virginia, are making efforts to move toward the legalization of on-demand abortions allowed in the late stages of the pregnancy, or even after birth.

Roby expressed her astonishment regarding this “unfathomable” trend.

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“[I]’m unapologetically pro-life,” Roby said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “I count it a tremendous privilege to be a voice for the unborn, those that do not have a voice. I want you to know in all the years the people of Alabama have given me the opportunity to represent them in Congress, in all the years that I have been on the floor, pounding my fist and defending the unborn, I have never been as disturbed as I am now that this country requires legal provisions to protect living babies. And the fact that the babies are being born alive as a result of an abortion gone bad, that there are those in our country who are suggesting that they ought not be given every bit of medical attention that a child born live outside of the womb would otherwise have is just unfathomable to me.”

The Montgomery Republican explained to listeners that legislative efforts to curb these practices have been stymied, given the Democrats control the House of Representatives.

“We have been working tirelessly to force a vote,” she said. “Now remember, we’re in the minority. We do not control the actions on the floor, but there are rules in place that we can use to force the majority to take up our legislative priorities. And we have been working and pushing tirelessly to force a vote on the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act. I’m a co-sponsor of this bill, and this bill does advance legal protections for babies that are born alive during a failed abortion and implement criminal penalties for doctors that fail to provide the medical care necessary to care for that living infant.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 day ago

Jones backs challenge resulting in increased DNC ‘supervision’ of Alabama Democratic Party

(D. Jones/Twitter, AlabamaTV/YouTube)

On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) credentials committee voted to call for new elections for chair and vice chair of the Alabama Democratic Party.

According to The Associated Press, the resolution approved by the committee would have the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) hold new elections for the top two spots within 90 days.

The full DNC voting body is expected to approve the recommendation, which would also see the national Democratic Party oversee the re-do elections in Alabama.

The action arose after challenges were filed contesting this past summer’s election of Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Vice Chairman Randy Kelley.

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Allegations have been made that the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) run by the state party’s vice chair for minority affairs, Joe Reed, has stacked the composition of the SDEC so as to control the outcome of the party’s internal elections.

Worley said last year that “there could be a tiny bit of racism” behind the challenges, which were backed by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL). Jones helped lead the charge for the candidate running against Worley in the summer and spoke against her at the DNC credentials committee meeting Thursday.

Jones and other critics of Worley and Reed want less African Americans on the state party’s executive committee.

Worley will remain chair until the re-election is held, however, that decision was barely approved by the credentials committee via a 12-11 vote on an amendment to the main resolution.

Worley said that she disagrees with the decision to hold the re-election. However, she looks “forward to the opportunity to lay any concerns to rest.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Byrne: ‘Anti-semitic’ Dem Rep. Omar ‘should not be allowed to continue serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’

(B. Byrne/Facebook, Omar.House.Gov)

President Donald Trump is not the only one who thinks that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) should face consequences for recent anti-semitic comments and other “absurd” behavior.

Now, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) is joining in on the call for Omar to face real consequences for her actions.

Omar came under “justified criticism” over the weekend after a tweet that has widely been condemned as anti-semitic, including by members of her own party. Trump called on the freshman congresswoman to resign, and Vice President Mike Pence called her remarks “a disgrace.”

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Omar received further criticism for claiming to “unequivocally apologize” while continuing to equivocate in the same statement, with her second paragraph beginning, “At the same time…”

To make matters worse, Omar used her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday to berate a Jewish-American, well-respected diplomat.

Byrne said he is “outraged” by Omar’s “absurd comments.”

“I am outraged by the continued absurd comments from Rep. Omar, as I think most Alabamians are,” Byrne told Yellowhammer News. “Frankly, they show just how radical the Democrat Party has become.”

He concluded, “Given her anti-semitic views, she most certainly should not be allowed to continue serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Mo Brooks: Dems prioritizing illegal immigrants ‘the worst betrayal of America in history,’ ‘9/11 deaths pale in comparison’

(Rep. Brooks/YouTube)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) Thursday delivered a powerful speech on the U.S. House floor urgently calling on President Donald Trump to “declare a national emergency, and to use every other statutory and Constitutional power he possesses to direct the military to secure our southern border, build the wall and protect and save American lives.”

The congressman from north Alabama explained that over 2,000 illegal immigrants were arrested for homicides on American soil the last fiscal year alone. Additionally, Brooks said, “[O]ver 70,000 Americans are killed each year by poisonous drugs, much of which is shipped illegally into America across our porous southern border by illegal aliens, MS-13 and other drug cartels.”

As critical a threat as Brooks views the issue of border security, he lamented that Congress is not currently in a position to solve it.

“[A]n extraordinarily weak and conflicted Congress is of no help. Worse yet, this Congress is a hindrance,” he summarized.

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He called “Socialist Democrats” elevating illegal immigrants over American citizens “the worst betrayal of America in history.”

“Inasmuch as socialist Democrats refuse to protect American lives from illegal alien homicides, drug deaths, and America’s porous southern border, I urge President Trump to secure our borders and build the wall under existing law and presidential powers,” Brooks stated.

He then outlined the president’s legal authority to order the military to assist in this “fight,” warning that “a minimum of 50 Americans die each day we delay securing our southern border.”

Brooks added, “While 9/11 was horrible, 9/11 deaths pale in comparison to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead, or will die, over the years because of illegal alien homicides and overdoses caused by deadly drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border.”

Full text of Brooks’ speech as follows:

Mr. Speaker, in Fiscal Year 2018, more than 2,000 illegal aliens were apprehended by federal agents for homicides committed on American soil.

In addition, over 70,000 Americans are killed each year by poisonous drugs, much of which is shipped illegally into America across our porous southern border by illegal aliens, MS-13 and other drug cartels!

Stronger border security, which must include wall construction, will save thousands of American lives every year.

Unfortunately, in the worst betrayal of America in history, Socialist Democrats, motivated by a lust for political power, selfishly elevate illegal aliens over American citizens because illegal alien families overwhelming rely on welfare, thus making them highly reliable Democrat voters who elect Socialist Democrat politicians by diluting the votes of American citizens.

Inasmuch as Socialist Democrats refuse to protect American lives from illegal alien homicides, drug deaths, and America’s porous southern border, I urge President Trump to secure our borders and build the wall under existing law and presidential powers.

For example, Title 10, Section 284 of the United States Code empowers presidents to order America’s military to assist federal drug and law enforcement agencies in the fight against drug and transnational organized crime.

Pursuant to this law, the president may deploy active military and National Guard troops to:

• Establish and operate bases of operations;
• Detect and monitor surface traffic in Mexico and in the United States within 25 miles of the southern border;
• Construct roads, fences, barriers and lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across the southern border; and
• Use aerial and ground reconnaissance.

For emphasis, this federal law empowers President Trump to order America’s military to construct walls and barriers to block drug smuggling corridors, with the side benefit of stopping illegal aliens.

Mr. Speaker, another example of existing presidential authority is the power to declare a national emergency and divert Congressionally appropriated money to border security and wall construction.

America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan based on 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed roughly 3,000 people. In response, America spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of lives in military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While 9/11 was horrible, 9/11 deaths pale in comparison to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead, or will die, over the years because of illegal alien homicides and overdoses caused by deadly drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border.

For emphasis, a minimum of 50 Americans die each day we delay securing our southern border! That is a minimum of 15,000 dead Americans each year!

That death rate easily justifies a presidential declaration of a national emergency. In fact, not one of the 58 national emergencies declared by a president since 1979 is supported by a worse death rate or threat to America and American lives!

Mr. Speaker, an extraordinarily weak and conflicted Congress is of no help. Worse yet, this Congress is a hindrance.

As such, I urge President Trump, as America’s commander in chief, to invoke Title 10, United States Code Section 284, to declare a national emergency, and to use every other statutory and Constitutional power he possesses to direct the military to secure our southern border, build the wall, and protect and save American lives!

America’s military protects the borders of, and lives in, South Korea, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Europe, and many other countries.

America, and Americans, deserve no less protection!

Update:

After Brooks’ speech, the White House on Thursday afternoon announced that Trump will indeed declare a national emergency and “take other executive action” to help secure the border. The president also will sign the border security and funding deal negotiated largely by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL).

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Forbes magazine editor-in-chief sees strong economy leading to Trump’s re-election

(WH, G. Skidmore/Flickr)

In an interview with Huntsville’s WVNN, Steve Forbes touted his new TV special on PBS and the strengthening economy.

Forbes said Thursday on “The Dale Jackson Show” that he believes President Donald Trump will be re-elected, saying the president “will win re-nomination from Republicans, and he will beat the Democrats” because of a multitude of factors, including a new trade deal with China and the massive tax cuts.

He dismissed fears of a slowing economy or even what some economists call an “overheating” economy and praised the economy as the president’s strongest asset.

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Forbes also explained that the Democrats’ lurch leftward and their focus on liberal policy dreams like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and 70 percent tax rates will doom their chances of regaining the presidency in 2020.

When asked about how Republicans should handle these extreme policy proposals, Forbes laid out a plan for Republicans in Congress to fight these proposals that include humor and grim reality.

He praised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) plan to “put it up for a vote and let them squirm.”

Forbes suggested highlighting the absurdity of these views by asking the Democrats, “[W]hat do you have against cows?”

He also hit the real world danger of their implementation.

“You’re not going to get the healthcare you need any more. You think you have problems now, wait until you just can’t get it for months or years on end,” Forbes stated.

My takeaway:

The former Republican Presidential candidate is clearly optimistic about his party’s future and re-election chances of Donald Trump, both because the economy is doing and because the Democratic Party has adopted the policies of its most extreme members.

Listen:

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

1 day ago

Hillary Clinton to receive ‘International Unity Award’ at annual Selma march

(Hillary for America/Flickr)

Hillary Rodham Clinton is headed to Alabama in the coming weeks, with activists set to honor the former secretary of state, senator and first lady, in Selma.

Leaders with the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee and the Selma-to-Montgomery March Foundation held a press conference in the Statehouse Thursday, confirming that Clinton will be “headlining” the 2019 jubilee, which runs January 28 – March 4.

While in Selma, she will also announce her support for the national initiative “Lift Our Vote 2020.” Several candidates running to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020 will also be in attendance during the annual event.

A press release outlined that Clinton will receive the “International Unity Award” and be inducted into the National Voting Rights Museum Women’s Hall of Fame while in Selma. She is also scheduled to speak at the Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast on the Wallace Community College Selma campus the morning of March 3.

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Clinton, who has previously participated in the annual Bloody Sunday March, will do so again and also speak at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church.

Recently retired State Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma), who was at the center of racially charged controversy this past election cycle in Alabama while spearheading the “Vote or Die” campaign, said that Clinton’s attendance could result in “one of the best” jubilees ever.

“This will be a great Jubilee with Secretary Hillary Clinton, the kickoff of the national Lift Our Vote 2020 initiative, a number of presidential candidates coming to speak, and various other powerful speakers and so many events,” Sanders remarked. “It could be one of the best of many great Jubilees.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Man charged in Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter’s murder

(Birmingham PD)

A suspect was arrested and charged Thursday in the January shooting death of Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Wytasha Carter.

Jeremy Owens, 31, is charged with one count of capital murder, one count of murder of a police officer and two counts of attempted murder.

He has been under guard while receiving medical treatment since the shooting. He was taken into custody at Spain Rehabilitation Center Thursday morning, with officers using Carter’s handcuffs to take the alleged murderer to Jefferson County Jail.

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This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Powerful Alabama-based legislative tracking platform, Dragonfly, offers digital workspaces for governmental affairs staffers in the Yellowhammer State

(YHN)

With the 2019 Alabama legislative session set to begin on March 5th you can be sure governmental affairs staffers and consultants across the state are rushing to prepare for a busy season. Fortunately for these politicos, Dragonfly, an innovative and affordable legislative tracking platform, is prepared up to make life in the state house a breeze.

Dragonfly is the digital component of BillStatus, the legislative tracking service established in Alabama in the mid-’90s. Initially known as the Alabama Legislative Reading and Research Service, the software was created as a response to the need for organized information coming from the Alabama Legislature.

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With Dragonfly you can quickly and easily produce detailed custom reports and critical legislative updates for your stakeholders. Whether you need a play-by-play of the action as it unfolds on the floor or a 10,000-foot view of politics in Montgomery, this platform will keep you informed with constant alerts and notifications.

According to Dragonfly owner Stephen Morris, the platform is best described as a “one-stop shop” for all legislative tracking and research needs.

Clients can immediately access all the information needed from the platform’s dashboard. In addition to receiving information, Dragonfly allows clients to save time and energy by enabling them to email custom reports to stakeholders directly from the platform.

Say goodbye to missing important votes, hearings and committee meetings with the powerful digital platform available right at your fingertips. All the information you need can be accessed on a mobile device, freeing you to travel freely without the extra weight of a laptop.

For anyone working in a group, Dragonfly’s Team Workspace feature takes the stress out of coordinating with your team. Bill amendments and daily to-dos can be seamlessly shared with your colleagues.

“No matter what the person’s role, every tool is there – track bills, create and email reports and bills, notifications, it’s all there,” Morris said.

With 25 years’ experience in Alabama legislative tracking as BillStatus, Dragonfly’s staff knows exactly what you need, when you need it. Whether it’s a special-order calendar, a bill’s status, committee schedules, or automatic reporting, Dragonfly will keep you up-to-date, all in one powerful platform.

Find out how Dragonfly can simplify your legislative life and take the platform for a test drive at www.billstatus.com/tracking.

Have questions? Email (trackbills@billstatus.com) Dragonfly or call and speak to a member of their staff at 844-50-TRACK.

2 days ago

Fairfield mayor removed from office by city council

(WVTM 13 News/YouTube)

A Birmingham-area mayor has been removed from office for failing to attend city meetings.

AL.com reports that members of the Fairfield City Council voted to remove Ed May II as mayor.

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City Council President Eddie Penny says the vote follows a law that says a mayor can be removed if absent from council meetings for 90 days.

Penny says May has missed at least 135 days.

May posted a video on Facebook claiming opponents have been conspiring to remove him from office. He says the decision will wind up in court.

May was elected mayor in 2016.

The council voted last year to hire a manager to run the financially plagued city of about 10,600 people.

May vetoed the decision, but council members did not recognize his decision.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers on 2016 election: ‘Undisputed’ that no evidence exists of tampering, hacking election machines that would have changed votes

Rep. Mike Rogers (C-Span.org)

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) explained what has inspired the House Democrats’ push for HR1, a bill that he described as a Democrat “wish list” on voting so that “Republicans can’t win.”

Rogers is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, which held hearings this week on the legislation and included testimony from Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

According to Rogers, much of what Democrats are doing regarding H.R. 1 comes out of the 2016 election defeat of Hillary Clinton. However, Rogers contended as far as the actual elections are concerned, so-called Russian hacking did not result in a single vote being altered after it was cast.

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“That’s exactly what started Democrats talking about it,” Rogers said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “They’re still in denial that Donald Trump won the election and they’re pushing this theory, ‘but for Russian interference, he could not have won.’ But the fact is, and that is undisputed testimony in our hearing today, both the [Department of Justice], … and [Department of Homeland Security], I think, have studied the election systems in the 2016 and 2018 election, and there is zero evidence of any tampering with or hacking into the election machines that would change a single vote.”

“What there is evidence of, and it is undisputed, is evidence that Russia placed ads on social media – about $20 million – trying to spread disinformation,” he said. “But as I made the point in today’s hearing, there’s nothing new about that. Russia has been meddling disinformation in our elections for decades. They’ve been doing it all over the world, whether you’re in the Middle East or Western Europe or Eastern Europe. They’re very aggressive in Eastern Europe in spreading disinformation. There’s nothing new about that, and I expect that’s going to continue.”

The Calhoun County Republican argued for vigilance regarding entities hostile to the United States infiltrating social media platforms to influence election outcomes, in addition to guaranteeing the “mechanics of voting” are protected.

“What we have to make sure of is when there is disinformation being spread on social media that we pointed out it being what it is – we’re getting help from the social media platforms to do that – after 2016, but we’ve still got work to do on that front,” Rogers outlined. “We have to make sure when it comes to actually the mechanics of voting that there is no doubt when those elections take place, the accuracy of the count is confirmed as being valid.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 days ago

7 Things: Trump hasn’t seen the deal and is looking for ‘land mines,’ Manafort is screwed, Merrill talks voting issues and more …

(WH/Flickr)

7. Birmingham’s mayor wants to name a municipal facility after a convicted felon who used his office to enrich himself

— Mayor Randall Woodfin wants to honor the late Larry Langford by naming the CrossPlex after the corrupt politicians because “it’s fitting for all the work he did.” The pious government watchdog at AL.com who excoriated Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R) for a completely legal event at Topgolf in Birmingham and convicted former Speaker Mike Hubbard for his legal issues, is fine with a guy who received guilty convictions on 60 of 101 corruption charges being lauded.

6. You may hear that your taxes are going up — it’s not true; 69 percent of Americans are optimistic about their economic future

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— There is a disingenuous storyline, that even the IRS has debunked, that tells people their taxes are going to go up because of the Trump tax cut. Even with that silly narrative floating around, Gallup found that over two-thirds of Americans expect their financial outlook to improve this year. That is a 16-year high.

5. The media was totally wrong when they relentlessly smeared the Covington Catholic school kids

— When the video of a confrontation between a “Native American elder” and some MAGA hat-wearing Catholic school kids went viral, they were vilified by the media, liberal celebrities and their own church. As usual, this narrative has been busted. An investigation found “no evidence of offensive statements by the kids, no evidence that of a ‘Build the Wall’ chant and the elder in the middle of this lied about his military service, his actions that day and refused to participate with the investigation into this incident.”

4. Alabama legislator continue to demand failing school districts be able to hold students hostage

— State Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) has brought back a bill that would make it harder for smaller communities to break away from failing school district to start their own. This is just another effort by Democrats in Alabama to control students and keep them in failing situations for the benefit of the failing status quo.

3. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill testified on voting issues to a Congressional committee

— Secretary Merrill told the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee that there are a lot of problems with a proposed “vote by mail” legislation being pushed by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham). He specifically mentioned problems with holding people accountable for voter fraud, usually done by mail, saying, “[W]e have a number of prosecutors in our state that are not really interested in advancing investigations into voter fraud because they think the penalties are too stiff.” Merill also told the hearing that he doesn’t believe we need a national standard for voting, which is something that could be gaining steam for fear of irregularities and foreign bad actors.

2. A judge has now voided a plea deal from former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

— After cold water was thrown onto the collusion narrative over the last few days, news that Manafort has had his plea deal voided for “intentionally” lying tossed fuel on the fire for the advocates of that storyline. The issue he lied about includes “$125,000 he received for the legal bills, about another unnamed Justice Department criminal investigation and about his interactions with his longtime Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik while he was campaign chairman and later,” according to CNN.

1. President Donald Trump has still not officially agreed to sign on to the deal to avoid a shutdown he praised “hard working” U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) for putting together

— All signs point to the president signing the compromise deal, but the White House still hasn’t said he will sign it. The bill has the support of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but there are many members raising concerns about the deal. The White House had not seen the deal as of last night, and Trump said, “[W]e’ll be looking for “land mines.” Soldiers are heading to the border as part of a plan to send 3,750 troops to do surveillance and build wire barriers.