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6 years ago

2012 Year in Review

Alabama politics had very few clear winners and losers in 2012. With few exceptions, most of the key players and organizations ended the year with mixed results.

Republicans continued to dominate the political landscape in the lingering wake of their 2010 electoral tidal wave. However, they also experienced some of the growing pains that come along with being the majority Party.

Meanwhile, the last statewide elected Democrat went the way of the Dodo bird. But the Dem’s ever-shrinking legislative minority managed to stop some of the GOP’s priorities in the legislature thanks to some help from their special-interest pals.

With this 2012 “Year in Review” post, we’ve set out to offer a short recap of this year in Alabama politics. Keep in mind, pointing out where a person or group succeeded or failed does not mean we agreed or disagreed with what they did. This post is simply our best attempt to give you a snapshot of what happened in Alabama politics during the past 12 months.

Here’s what we came up with:


1. Governor Robert Bentley:

Governor Bentley’s approval numbers have steadily risen throughout the year. All the polling we’ve seen shows that the overwhelming majority of Alabamians think the Governor is doing a great job.

He put his popularity to use by publicly advocating for two major ballot initiatives in 2012: Amendment 1 on Sept. 18 and Amendment 2 on Nov. 6. He was successful both times. His choice for the Republican Presidential nomination, Rick Santorum, also won the Alabama primary.

The Governor hasn’t yet shown a consistent ability to advance his legislative agenda and that is one area where he clearly sees an opportunity for growth. By bringing Rep. Blaine Galliher into his cabinet as legislative director, Governor Bentley seems to be addressing the challenge head on.

Bottom line: He started the year with some possible 2014 primary contenders lurking in the shadows. He ends 2012 with no clear challenger in his bid for a second term. Governor Bentley is 2012’s biggest winner.

2. Rainy Day Patriots & other conservative grassroots organizations

Despite not having the financial resources of other advocacy groups, Alabama’s grassroots organizations proved once again in 2012 that they are force to be reckoned with.

They played a big role in Rick Santorum winning Alabama’s Presidential primary. They also helped Roy Moore beat a sitting Chief Justice & another Republican primary contender with high name ID without a runoff.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard specifically tailored his Values & Rights Commission to reach out to grassroots conservatives for feedback on the 2013 legislative agenda.

More recently, their behind-the-scenes push against the Obamacare-mandated state Healthcare Exchange undoubtedly influenced key Republican leaders. Governor Bentley ultimately refused to setup the state-based exchange and decided against expanding Medicaid.

The Tea Party consistently polls at over 50% approval statewide. The conservative grassroots movement is alive and well in Alabama.

3. The Nursing Homes Association

The Nursing Homes Association through their high-powered lobbyists managed to engineer a budget impasse that led to the entire Sept. 18 Amendment 1 situation. The Nursing Homes’ needs were met and the state’s general fund budget was adjusted accordingly. Big win for the Nursing Homes. Big loss for Alabama’s fiscal solvency.

4. Twinkle Cavanaugh
Newly elected PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh holds the distinction of being the Republican who took out the last remaining statewide elected Democrat.


1. The Alabama Democrat Party
Democrats now hold zero statewide offices. They have almost no ability to raise money, and frankly, they have no hope for a resurgence any time in the foreseeable future. It’s a tough time to be a Democrat in the state of Alabama and it won’t be getting better any time soon.

2. Trial Lawyers
The group that at one point sent Alabama to “tort hell” was extremely unsuccessful in advancing their agenda in 2012. They lost on a significant liability bill in the legislature and all the Republican appellate court judges went virtually unchallenged.

3. Alabama’s coal industry
Obama’s re-election and the subsequent ambush of the PSC by radical environmentalists has made Alabama’s coal industry a prime target for liberal attacks in Alabama. 5,000 Alabama families count on coal jobs to put food on their table. Every Alabamian with an energy bill is rooting for the coal industry which has found itself under siege this year.

2012’s Biggest Disappointment

The Alabama Education Association is still a force. They used lies and deception to kill school choice legislation and to preserve racist language in the Alabama Constitution. They also killed a major component of the GOP’s jobs package during the 2012 legislative session. With Democrats continuing to lose strength, the AEA still found some success in 2012 by dividing Republicans any way they could. That will continue to be their strategy moving forward.

2012 Insider Awards

Top association – Business Council of Alabama

No category shows the mixed results of 2012 better than Top Association.

BCA won on “card check” and heavily supported the successful Amendment 1 and Amendment 2 campaigns. They won a tough floor fight when a guns-to-work bill they strongly opposed died on the Senate floor. The BCA-endorsed slate of judicial candidates also went undefeated in 2012.

But 2012 also handed BCA some major loses. Their most notable defeats came on school choice and HB 159/160 which offered incentives to companies locating in Alabama or expanding their Alabama operations.

Some Montgomery insiders would say that the AEA had the best year. But this category is for associations, not unions.

The Business Council didn’t have a grand slam year in 2012, but you’ll still be hard-pressed the name an association who carries more weight in Montgomery.

Top Lobbying Firm – Fine Geddie & Associates

The Fine Geddie crew once again did yeoman’s work at the Alabama State House. They notched their usual legislative victories, including killing an extremely contentious coastal insurance bill for one of their clients.

Their client list still so far outclasses the competition that the contract lobbying crown will remain theirs for the foreseeable future. And in a real rarity in Alabama politics, they pull it all off while remaining well-liked and respected by friends and foes alike.

Top Mover & Shaker – Angi Smith

In a matter of a couple of years, Angi Smith has gone from a Republican grassroots organizer to arguably the most trusted political voice in the governor’s inner circle.

She stuck with Bentley through his failed state senate bid, his time in the House of Representatives and the tough 2010 gubernatorial elections. After paying a lot of dues, she now has his ear like few others.

Smith may rub some folks the wrong way with her hard-nosed approach, but no one can deny her position in the governor’s sphere of influence.

1 min ago

Decatur High School teacher accused of having sex with students resigns

An Alabama high school teacher who was paid nearly $130,000 while on leave fighting charges that she had sex with students has resigned.

The Decatur city school board accepted the resignation of Carrie Cabri Witt on Monday.


Superintendent Michael Douglas tells the Decatur Daily that Witt quit the day before the board was scheduled to hold a hearing on her employment.

The 45-year-old Witt is charged with two counts of having sex with a student.

She’s been on paid leave since March 2016 while fighting the accusations.

Witt’s resignation letter says she “vehemently” denies committing any crime or having any inappropriate relationship with a student.

The school district has spent more than $128,000 on salary and benefits on Witt since placing her on leave.

She worked at Decatur High School.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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31 mins ago

How an incoming freshman overcame inner-city Chicago to get to Alabama State University – ‘This is the start of a new life’

Ivry Hall has a tale to tell – one that is too unbelievable, too tragic, to be anything but real. But it is who life’s challenges have made him, and where Hall is going from here, that he wants to be his life’s story.

Chicago born-and-raised, Hall just turned 18 last month.

“I grew up on the South Side. Englewood, 64th and Laflin,”  he told WLS-TV. “My mom did a lot of moving, but that’s where I spent most of my childhood.”

His upbringing, like that of most in this infamous part of the Windy City, was filled with serious trouble.

“Gang banging,” Hall admitted. “I used to smoke when I was little.”

He also dropped out of school, saying that is what was expected of children like him in that urban neighborhood.

Hall said, “I did a lot of stuff. That’s just from the image I was seeing so I wanted to do it, too.”

And that was all before his mom, who was raising him as a single mother, got cancer when Hall was only 12.


“When my mom passed away, I was so hurt,” he reflected. “And I just wanted to do better.”

This tragedy inspired Hall to go back to school, and after some time, attend Tilden High School.

While in a positive frame of mind again, his life did not necessarily get easier when he went back to get his education. Hall was living with a cousin who moved nearly two hours from where he went to class.

“I had to get on three buses and one train,” Hall explained.

However, through hard work and the right attitude, he always kept going.

“I don’t believe in giving up, and I think that failure is not an option,” said Hall.

Not only did his mom pass away when he was 12, but when he was a senior in high school, Hall’s dad died of lung failure.

“Of course, I lost my mom. I lost my dad,” he told WLS-TV in Chicago. “I wish they were still here to see what I’ve accomplished now, but they’re not. Everything is not going to come as you want it.”

Hall’s faith in Jesus Christ, sports and a local boxing gym got him through the hard times. He also had mentors at his church who never stopped encouraging him.

Hall said, “They are like, ‘Ivry, you’re going to be something. You’re so smart.’ And that stuff encouraged me to do good.”

“No pity party,” explained Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church, where Hall attends. “No ‘poor me.’ He was just a young brother who wanted the best for himself and others.”

Hall set a goal for himself when his mother died, and he never took his eye off achieving it.

“I always wish that I could graduate valedictorian, and look, I did,” he recounted. “I was beyond happy.”

Now, Hall is beginning his freshman year at Alabama State University in Montgomery, a triumph made possible in part by a $10,000 scholarship from his church.

The teen from the South Side of Chicago is just getting started on writing his life’s story, but he has a good plan for what comes next.

“Major in business, so I can open up my own business,” Hall forecasted.

He added, “I’m not for sure what I want to open up, but I want to help people.”

Hall now has his sights set on a new goal, and he is determined to succeed.

“I’m going to go to college and graduate, so I’m going to find a way to study,” Hall said. “I’m going to find a way to do everything without giving up.”

“If I give up, I will be just like everybody that I know,” he continued.

The young man also shared his key to overcoming the challenges life has thrown at him again and again.

“You have to give 100 percent in everything you do,” Hall emphasized. “Once you give up, you’ll only be used to giving up. At least try. If you can’t do it, continue to try.”

He has been through a lot in his short time on earth, but to him, a blank canvas awaits.

“This is the start of a new life,” Hall concluded.

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

1 hour ago

Former Prattville police officer gets 10 years for fraud, theft

A former police officer in Alabama who pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and burglary has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports 51-year-old Leon Todd Townson was sentenced Monday.


The former U.S. Marine is one of two former Prattville Police Department lieutenants charged with breaking into a home in 2015.

The other lieutenant, 48-year-old John Wayne McDaniel, is set to be sentenced Friday.

Townson also was charged in 2017 with defrauding an insurance agency by filing a claim containing false information.

The fraudulent claim prompted the agency to award Townson more than $190,000.

He resigned from the police department in 2005 before pleading guilty to trying to sell a modified rifle seized by the department’s drug unit.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 hours ago

GATR Technologies Inc. of Huntsville gets $522M Army contract for inflatable antennas

An Alabama company has a five-year, $522 million extension to an Army contract for inflatable satellite antenna systems.

GATR Technologies Inc. of Huntsville first won the contract in 2013.


It said in early 2014 that the contract made the antennas more broadly available to the armed services, which already were using them in special operations units.

GATR’s ground-mounted antennas look like giant beach balls with tie-downs to point them in the right direction.

The antenna inside is reflective fabric.

Fans keep the air pressure in the top half slightly higher than in the bottom half, pushing the fabric down into the right shape.

The extension brings the contract’s total maximum value to more than $960 million.

It was announced Friday in the Pentagon’s daily list of military contracts.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 hours ago

7 Things: Disgraced former FBI Agent Peter Strzok finally fired, 70 percent of Americans want the Mueller probe over, Rep. Mike Rogers says the Space Force is no joke and more …

7. A Mexican restaurant in Houston is under fire for daring to serve Attorney General Jeff Sessions

— El Tiempo Cantina posted a photo of Sessions and its owner on social media. It was immediately attacked for serving the AG. Eventually, the restaurant apologized for posting the photo and shut down their social media accounts.

— American liberals have decided that serving food to the wrong people is a crime punishable by loss of your livelihood in 2018

6. Alabama Senator Doug Jones makes absolutely no one happy with his incoherence on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee


— Sen. Jones appeared at a town hall in Birmingham and the issue of Brett Kavanaugh arose. Jones seems to be hanging his hat on the fact that he can’t read his notes from his time in the Bush administration and therefore just can’t decide what to do on this vote.

— Conservatives continue to pressure Jones to make his position known. Meanwhile, a Democrat at this town hall heckled Jones and then threw a pair of plush lips at him telling him to “Kiss my ass” if he votes to confirm.

5. Democrats continue embracing socialism while thinking less of capitalism

— The Democratic Party’s embrace of socialism is nothing new. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats view socialism positively, which has changed little since 2010. Only 16 percent of Republicans view socialism positively.

— The party’s view of capitalism continues to decline with only 46 percent viewing the American economic system positively.

4. Governor Kay Ivey continues to talk about issues while her opponent talks about debates

— Gov. Ivey’s focus on education and business matters, she touts investment in pre-K and that Alabama was named the nation’s “Best Business Climate” in the nation.

— Democrat nominee, and former AEA field representative, Walt Maddox continues to release videos about a debate that is just never going to happen.

3. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) makes it clear that Trump and Congress are serious about the Space Force

— While the idea of the Space Force has been mocked because it is an idea from the Trump administration, Alabama’s Rogers believes this new agency is very important. He said, “China set up their own separate space service a year and a half ago, and Russia reorganized before that — we are way behind the curve on it”.

— Rogers drove the point home that space is important to our war-fighting capabilities, saying, “People have to understand that we have become heavily dependent on space to fight and win wars, that’s our eyes and ears for the military.”

2. Sixty-six percent of Americans want the Mueller probe wrapped up

— Polling released this morning show that Americans want special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation wrapped up. This crosses party lines with Democrats and Republicans wanting it over for different reasons.

— The poll also shows 70 percent of Americans think Trump should testify “if asked.” Only 34 percent approve of how Trump has handled this investigation, and Trump’s approval rating is now at 42 percent (higher than Reagan, Clinton and Carter at this point).

1. Embattled FBI Agent Peter Strzok becomes the latest official fired by the FBI

— While the focus is on the anti-Trump e-mails that the agent sent to his lover, there are other issues including him sending a sensitive search warrant to his personal e-mail account, and he made the decision to drag his feet to examine new e-mails related to the Clinton investigation.

— The FBI clearly had some issues in their handling of these investigations in late 2016, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) pointed out how disastrous that period has been for the FBI with a tweet that laid bare all the discipline issues within the FBI with former Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe being fired, Chief Counsel James Baker and FBI Counsel Lisa Page being demoted. All of these issues stemmed from the Clinton/Trump investigations.