3 months ago

7 Things: Doug Jones favors census plan that harms Alabama, voter suppression evidence non-existent, Trump tax cuts help Alabama meet new revenue highs and more …

7. Roy Moore lost the bid to relocate the hearing of a defamation case but he may still run for Senate

— Most political observers have expected Moore to enter the 2020 U.S. Senate race for some time, however that is not the headline Moore is getting right now. Instead, we are learning that the former judge is losing court cases to a TV comedian. Moore’s lawsuit against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and Showtime for “Who is America?” over a skit where Moore was scanned with a bogus device that was said to be able to detect sex offenders and the device went off to imply Moore is a pedophile. However, Moore signed a consent agreement that also includes a provision that any disputes are to be held in New York. Moore’s argument is that he was tricked into going to Washington to accept a fake award from Israel. This is not the only legal situation the potential candidate is currently embroiled in.

6. Potential terror attack on a ne0-Nazi rally by a former soldier who converted to Islam foiled

— Mark Domingo wanted to create “another Las Vegas” and sought to avenge the mosque attacks in New Zealand by attacking a Nazi rally in California. He had multiple plans, including attacks on cops, churches and a National Guard Armory. After the FBI initiated contact, Domingo showed up to a meeting in camouflage pants, holding a backpack and an AK-47-style rifle. He then took what he thought were pressure cooker bombs and went and scouted his potential targets. After this, he was arrested. The rally he was going to attack was purportedly put on by white nationalist group United Patriots National Front. The Nazis did not show, but 200 counter-protestors did.

5. The abortion ban will be debated in the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday

— Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur) sponsors the bill that could potentially start legislation that would overturn Roe v. Wade. When the House returns on Tuesday afternoon, the abortion bill will be the first one to be considered. The bill has already caused a lot of controversies because it doesn’t include any exemptions for rape or incest, only if the mother’s life is in danger. However, supporters of the bill feel good about it due to Amendment 2 passing last year. Even if this bill passes the House, concerns have been raised by State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) about the bill, which does not help its chances in the Senate.

4. CNN poll shows Joe Biden up huge on his Democratic rivals

— A new poll shows Biden opening a commanding lead on his rivals and with 39 percent of those polled choosing the former vice president as their choice to take on Trump. All other leading Democrats took hits in this poll with the exception of South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg who went from 1 percent to 7 percent since March. For Democrats, this appears to signify that they want to win as 46 percent said that beating Trump is “extremely important.”

3. Trump tax cuts help Alabama beat pre-recession revenue for the first time

— Good economic news for the country continues to come in with a GDP growth rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019. But individual states are seeing positive milestones as well, with Alabama, South Carolina and Arizona seeing Q3 tax revenues last year were o.6 percent higher than its pre-recession high in 2008. The numbers are further proof that the Trump tax cuts work. Pew, a non-partisan, nationally respected group, gave credit to the Trump’s tax cuts for giving places like Alabama a boost. The report advised, “Revenue collections have been boosted in part by the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—which changed what many individuals and businesses owed to state tax collectors—and by favorable economic conditions, robust stock market returns in late 2017 through much of 2018, and state policy actions.”

2. Claims of voter suppression in Alabama not supported by the evidence

— It is popular in American politics to pretend that there are intentional bad actors in the United States working to keep brown and black people from voting. There is obviously no evidence that supports this, but this does not stop some from claiming elections were stolen using this technique in every election cycle. The lack of evidence is largely irrelevant because the lie is just accepted as fact. The facts, however, show the gap between white and black turnout in Alabama is actually less than half the gap in turnout nationally. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill was not afraid to point this out. “We’ve also broken every record in the history of the state for participation in elections in the last four major elections that we’ve had,” he said.

1. U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) wants to count illegal immigrants in the 2020 census

— On Monday, Jones tweeted, “This is just real simple folks: we have to count everybody – EVERYBODY. To do otherwise is a disservice to Alabama and America.” In his tweet, he included a link to an article about why the 2020 census is important. However, if illegal immigrants were counted in the census, it’s likely that Alabama would lose a congressional seat and Electoral College vote. This is exactly why Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Attorney General Steve Marshall are suing the federal government and saying that there needs to be a citizenship question on the census so illegal immigrants aren’t counted. Governor Kay Ivey said, “If we do not reach maximum participation, we will be at serious risk of losing a congressional seat…and, very importantly, federal funding for Alabama. Both of these are crucial for our state’s future.”

7 hours ago

Mobile Bay Bridge project awarded $125 million grant by Trump administration

The I-10 Mobile Bayway Bridge project has been awarded a $125 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The announcement was made Monday by Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) office, which said the amount signifies one of the largest competitive federal grants ever awarded to the state of Alabama.

Additionally, the city of Tuscaloosa was separately awarded a $6.87 million INFRA grant to help replace an overpass bridge located on University Boulevard and U.S. Highway 82.

“Both of these projects will help improve safety, alleviate traffic congestion and concerns with overcapacity, and promote increased economic development opportunities across the state,” Shelby said in a statement.


“Investing in essential infrastructure in Alabama and across the country promotes a more prosperous future for our nation,” he concluded. “I thank (U.S. DOT) Secretary Chao for her attention to these projects and look forward to continuing my work to ensure that our state is well represented in any effort to fund federal transportation priorities.”

The federal award to the I-10 Mobile Bayway Bridge project comes amid significant controversy over the Alabama Department of Transportation’s (ALDOT) plan to pay for the project, at least partially, through tolling. The total projected cost of the project is approximately $2 billion.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) has previously lamented that ALDOT was not more focused on securing federal money and avoiding tolling, even as Alabama federal officials like Byrne and Shelby worked to secure funding access.

ALDOT was previously turned down for a $250 million federal grant application for the project last year.

Byrne led Alabama’s entire House delegation in sending a bipartisan letter to Chao in February in support of funding the project with an INFRA grant.

After the news of the award broke on Monday, Byrne released a statement celebrating the news and reaffirming his opposition to ALDOT’s tolling proposal.

“This is outstanding news for the people of Southwest Alabama! Fighting for federal funding for this bridge has been one of my top priorities in Congress, and I am glad the Trump Administration has come through with this grant award,” Byrne said. “I am very appreciative of the help from our entire Alabama congressional delegation, especially Senator Richard Shelby.”

“Today is a positive step toward making this project a reality, but our work is not over,” he added. “The current tolling proposal for this project is unacceptable, and I will continue leading the fight against tolling and working to ensure this project helps – not hurts – the people of South Alabama.”

The tolling proposal has also become a statewide political piñata, with 2020 Republican U.S. Senate candidates such as Tommy Tuberville and Secretary of State John Merrill coming out swinging in addressing the topic recently.

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

Byrne: Border battle harms Alabama communities

The detrimental effects of the humanitarian and national security crisis on our border extend all the way to Alabama communities. That’s why I’ve made it a priority to address our immigration policies.

One of the most obvious ways our insecure border harms our communities is the drug trade. Our porous border is perhaps the most significant contributing factor to the ongoing opioid crisis — the worst drug epidemic in modern American history. In 2017, over 47,000 lives were claimed by opioids. That’s more than those from car accidents and firearms. These deaths have affected families across our great state.


The drug problem is made worse by the unprecedented migrant surge. James Carroll, director of the U.S. Office of Drug Control Policy, said just last week that drug seizures are down this year because so much attention is being diverted to humanitarian needs.

Because of that diversion, border patrol agents and resources are unable to be allocated towards their fundamental law enforcement functions. According to Carroll, more drugs are coming in than ever before.

One of the primary drivers of the migrant crisis is our asylum policy. Through a combination of loopholes worsened by a legal settlement made by the Clinton administration, migrants are encouraged to cross our border and give themselves up to law enforcement.

After arrest, migrants claiming asylum are eventually permitted entrance into the country while their claims are processed. This is permitted even when migrants do not cross at a legal checkpoint.

Although, by some estimates, only around a tenth of asylum claims are found by our courts to be legitimate, the vast majority never show up for their court date and remain free inside the United States.

A disproportionate number of these asylum claims are made by able-bodied young men. Only a few months ago, a Mobile teacher was killed in a car crash by an illegal immigrant minor who had falsely claimed asylum but never showed at his court date to avoid deportation.

The coyotes and cartels, of course, have every reason to facilitate migrants along their journey and orchestrate lawlessness at the border.

Last week, one of the biggest points of entry at the Southern border had to be shut down after a wave of nearly 50 undocumented immigrants rushed the border into Texas. The group attempted to tear down barricades and assaulted several border patrol officers who were forced to deploy tear gas and pepper balls.

Let’s call these people what they are – criminals. And while border agents were able to keep these criminals out of our communities, many more slip through the cracks while agents deal with illegal stunts like this and the humanitarian needs of asylee claimants.

Last year, a 13-year-old girl in Huntsville was beheaded after witnessing the stabbing of her grandmother by gang members in a horrific incident involving members of the Sinaloa Cartel. It is disheartening that gangs like MS-13 have infiltrated communities throughout our nation, but stories like this reinforce the sad truth that the problem is impacting Alabamians.

There are other significant problems that do not receive headlines. I’ve spoken with Alabama sheriffs who have shared horror stories about the strain illegal immigration places on their deputies. And I’ve talk to incredibly frustrated school superintendents who must divert resources away from educating local students to deal with their illegal immigrant population. Our hospitals are also placed under enormous burdens by illegal immigration. And governments are forced to pay for services for illegal immigrants that could have gone towards roads, bridges and other services for Americans.

This is not just a Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California issue. This is an Alabama issue. I will continue standing with President Trump and work to get an immigration system that works for the American people.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

9 hours ago

Boating deaths are soaring on Alabama’s lakes and rivers

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has already had its deadliest year in two decades for boaters — and the summer isn’t nearly over yet.

Boating accidents in the first 6 ½ months of 2019 have killed 25 people, AL.com reported.

Already, that makes this year the deadliest one since 1998, when 32 people died. The number of deaths so far this year is already higher than year-end totals for the past several years.

This July alone, 12 crashes resulted in six deaths.


“In my 24 years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Capt. Gary Buchanan, the commander of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol.

Investigators can’t definitively pinpoint the cause for this year’s drastic increase, Buchanan said.

“Some have happened at night, some during the day, some have involved one boat, some two boats and alcohol has been a factor in some,” Buchanan said. “It’s all over the spectrum.”

There has been a decrease in Marine Patrol presence on Alabama’s lakes and rivers. There are roughly 45 Marine Patrol current officers throughout Alabama. There are 21 vacancies — jobs that were all filled 10 to 15 years ago, Al.com reported.

Boater registrations have also increased in recent years.

“There’s an increase in boaters and there are fewer Marine Patrol troopers on the waterways,” Buchanan said. “There’s no doubt that an enforcement presence has an effect on behavior, just like when you top that hill and you see a trooper car in front of you.”

The year with the most boating-related fatalities was 1972, which had a year-end total of 55. The year with the fewest, according to ALEA statistics, was 2013, with 10.

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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10 hours ago

Alabama K9 officer dies after drug raid

“Jake,” a K9 officer with the Alabama Department of Corrections, has died following a raid Thursday on Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore County.

CBS 42 reported last week that Jake was recovering after having a medical emergency during a contraband raid at the prison. He reportedly came into contact with synthetic marijuana and became unresponsive. Medical personnel and his handler at the prison then heroically performed live-saving measures on the K9, who was expected to return to duty within a few weeks.

However, CBS 42′ Reshad Hudson reported on Monday that Jake died from complications following the initial incident.


WSFA is reporting that Jake died on Saturday at Auburn University Veterinary Clinic.

“I was saddened to hear that one of the Corrections K9s, Jake, lost his life over the weekend,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “This K9 died in service to public safety and in service to the state. Jake is an example of the goodness, the loyalty and service that our four-legged friends provide. We certainly lost a loyal companion.”

A criminal investigation into Jake’s death is reportedly underway. More testing of the apparent synthetic marijuana is pending, according to ADOC. Officials told WSFA that anyone found to be responsible in Jake’s death will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Jake had worked with his handler, Sgt. Quinton Jones, since the K9 joined ADOC in 2014.

“This is a difficult time for our ADOC family and especially for Sgt. Jones and those assigned to our K9 Bureau who worked with Jake on a daily basis,” ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn told WSFA. “I extend our deepest condolences for the loss of this noble K9 who honorably served the State of Alabama and for ultimately giving his life while protecting the public.”

Dunn added that Jake likely saved lives by detecting the substance during the raid.

“With Jake’s training and ability to find the narcotic, he saved other lives by giving his own in the line-of-duty. Jake’s heroism and ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten,” he emphasized.

Jake will be given a burial with full honors this week, according to WSFA.

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

11 hours ago

Byrne visiting U.S.-Mexico border on Monday

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) is visiting the United States’ southern border on Monday, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate’s office announced in a release.

Byrne reportedly arrived at the border Monday morning and will meet with Customs and Border Protection officials, tour a port of entry and visit an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility.

“As the national security and humanitarian crisis at our border escalates, it is important to see the situation firsthand and talk directly with border agents, law enforcement, and local officials about the challenges they face and what resources they need,” Byrne said in a statement.


He has been a consistent supporter of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

“The American people have demanded a lawful system of immigration that protects their economic and personal safety, and I will continue working closely with President Trump and his Administration to secure our border, support law enforcement, and keep the American people safe,” Byrne concluded.

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has opposed building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

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