7 years ago

ABSURD: Federal bureaucrats shut down Alabama business

Empty Trucks

Brad Gaddy owns a trucking company in the little town of Double Springs, Alabama that hauls wood chips, lumber, logs, and other freight for a number of customers in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.  In fact, with 17 trucks and 30 employees, Gaddy Logistics, Inc. is one of the larger employers in Double Springs, accounting for 4-5% of the total jobs in this small town. Imagine Gaddy’s surprise one Monday morning two weeks ago when he learned that the Federal Government had effectively closed his business.

Gaddy had received an early-morning call from a customer in Tennessee who “asked how I intended to deliver his freight.  I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about,” Gaddy recalled.  “I said ‘Just like always – hook-up to the trailer and have it there this afternoon.’” The customer then told Gaddy he had received notice that all Gaddy Logistics trucks had been placed “Out-of Service” (may not operate) by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

A quick visit to the FMCSA website confirmed what Gaddy’s customer had told him.

Understandably confused, Gaddy called the FMCSA office in Atlanta. Officials there told Gaddy that he had ignored a letter from them requiring him to file a “Plan of Corrective Action” to address two roadside truck inspections, each of which had found one defective tire.  Both vehicles had been placed temporarily out-of-service until the tires were replaced.  Because the company was cited two times within a 90-day period, the federal agency required a written plan of “improved maintenance practices” if he was continue to operate.

The problem was, Gaddy never received that letter and the deadline for filing the report had come and gone.  FMCSA officials from Atlanta later faxed a copy of the letter, which had apparently been sent to the physical address of the business, rather than the post office box.  When Gaddy objected that he had not received the notice, he was told “that’s not our problem” by FMCSA officials.

Gaddy then contacted the Alabama Loggers Council at the Alabama Forestry Association and asked for assistance.  AFA contacted Congressman Robert Aderholt and Senator Jeff Sessions on his behalf.  Staffers at both offices were shocked to learn that a federal agency could, even temporarily, shut down a private company with no more notice than a first class letter.

Congressman Aderholt’s office helped Gaddy submit his “Plan of Corrective Action,” which was approved the following day.  However, FMCSA informed Gaddy that his trucks would remain out-of-service for the full 30-day period because, “that’s our policy.”

Chris Isaacson, Executive Vice-President, Alabama Forestry Association
Chris Isaacson, Executive Vice-President, Alabama Forestry Association

Congressman Aderholt’s office continued to appeal the case with both the Atlanta and the Washington D.C. offices of FMCSA, arguing that such important correspondence should be sent by Certified or Registered mail at a minimum.  The case was ultimately appealed to the FMCSA Office of the Secretary (Anne S. Farrow), and later to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (Anthony Foxx).  Both refused to overturn the ruling and reinstate the company, in spite of the approved plan and the admission that the letter “might not have been received.”

Ironically, Gaddy received a Certified Letter on October 30, 2013 stating that his “Plan of Corrective Action” had been approved.  FMCSA obviously has the “cart before the horse” in sending a certified letter to acknowledge approval of a corrective action, but using regular mail to tell a company that if they do not take the corrective action they would be closed down!

Gaddy’s case is now effectively dead.  His insurance carrier has cancelled his policy due to the ruling, and he further faces two more weeks of trying to keep his business afloat and his employees paid with no way to produce income.  It seems unconscionable that a group of un-elected federal bureaucrats would operate with such careless disregard for a legitimate company, 30 employees and the small town economy they help support, even to the point of ignoring the counsel of the elected representatives who oversee their agency.

Federal agencies should ensure that businesses they regulate operate safely, for the good of the company and the public. But no agency operating under a banner of “that’s our policy” should shut down a legitimate business that has complied with a requested action, without ensuring that proper notice was sent AND RECEIVED about a potential shutdown order.

Looked at another way, is this still a country where “we the people” are served by a government funded with our taxes, to help us run businesses and employ people?

This case makes me doubt that proposition.


Chris Isaacson is the Executive Vice-President of the Alabama Forestry Association, which represents members of Alabama’s forest products industry.

10 hours ago

Former Etowah Co. sheriff sues ALdotcom, law enforcement officers over damaging story

Former Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin is suing for defamation the individuals involved in a 2018 news story in which a woman accused him of illegal activities, including statutory rape.

The defendants listed in the suit include current Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Horton, Oneonta Police Chief Charles Clifton, the parent company of Alabama Media Group’s AL.com and reporter Connor Sheets.

Horton was Rainbow City’s police chief at the time the story was published. He later beat Entrekin in a Republican primary to become the county sheriff.

The news story at the center of the lawsuit was published in 2018 under the headline “Police investigating allegations Alabama’s ‘Beach House Sheriff’ had sex with underage girls.”

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Entrekin was given the moniker ‘Beach House Sheriff’ because of a widely shared report from earlier in 2018 that detailed how he used an old Alabama law to keep for himself hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for feeding the county’s prisoners; the beach house had a similar price tag to the amount of money he kept.

Entrekin’s lawyers argue in the suit that the publication of the article alleging rape was “reckless and malicious” and in their mind more due to a collective animus from the defendants than proper journalistic and policing practices.

The claims at the center of the 2018 article are made by a woman named Mary Elizabeth Cross, who alleged that Entrekin committed statutory rape by having sexual relations with her at drug-fueled parties in 1992 when he was 29 and she was 15. Cross was age 41 in 2018 when she came forward with the allegations.

Entrekin told AL.com at the time, “I’ve never had sex with any 15-year-old girl or had drugs around or anything. I have never done drugs in my life. That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard of. Never, ever has anything like that happened before.”

Cross brought the accusations to Horton in 2018, who was police chief of Rainbow City at the time. Horton was also then running against Entrekin in a campaign to be Etowah County Sheriff, so he referred the case to Oneonta Police Chief Charles Clifton.

Entrekin’s lawyers argue in the suit that Oneonta Chief Clifton has been “harboring a personal grudge against” against Entrekin “since the 1990s” that stemmed from “past professional interactions.”

The AL.com report says Clifton is the individual who contacted reporter Connor Sheets about the allegation, and two reporters and law enforcement officers interviewed her together during a long drive.

The lawyers for the former sheriff make similar claims that both Sheets and Horton participated in the article out of personal dislike for Entrekin.

Horton’s dislike, they argue, stems from what was in 2018 his ongoing campaign against Entrekin for the county sheriff position.

Sheets, they allege, harbors “a demonstrated dislike for Alabama sheriffs generally, and Mr. Entrekin in particular.”

In addition to Sheets, the suit names Advance Local Media, which publishes AL.com, along with the cities of Oneonta and Rainbow City, which employed Clifton and Horton respectively at the time of the article’s publishing.

The AL.com report cited a friend of Cross’, who the reporter allowed to remain anonymous, as corroborating the existence of the parties where young girls were with older men around the time of the alleged criminal behavior.

Entrekin’s complaint says that he did not purchase the lakeside property until 1995, three years after the incidents are reported to have happened. Additionally, a boat structure cited in the allegation against Entrekin was not built until 2009, his lawsuit contends as evidence in his favor.

The attorney for Entrekin filed the lawsuit in Etowah County Circuit Court. It can be accessed here.

The defendants in the suit did not return calls for comment left by the Gadsden Times, the paper closest to the relevant officials.

Entrekin’s lawyers said in a statement that their client “seeks to correct the record and repair some of the damage these defendants have done to his reputation and employment possibilities.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

10 hours ago

Officials say Alabamians cannot be required to wear a mask in order to vote

Secretary of State John Merrill on Friday released guidance from his office and Attorney General Steve Marshall saying face masks cannot be a requirement in order to vote in Alabama’s July 14 primary runoff election.

A release from Merrill’s office outlined that the secretary of state has received numerous inquiries from county and city officials questioning the legal authority to require or not require voters to wear masks. Various localities in the state have enacted general mask ordinances recently.

In public response to those inquiries, Merrill confirmed that state law does not place limits on an individual’s right to vote, citing Article III, Section 177(a) of the Constitution of Alabama, which reinforces the inherent right of eligible citizens to vote.

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Additionally, Merrill’s office advised that a notice from the attorney general’s office dated June 30 declared, “Though the Attorney General strongly recommends that voters and poll workers follow CDC guidelines when in public places and behave in a manner that is respectful of poll workers and fellow voters, it is clear that state law does not allow for an individual’s qualification to vote to be contingent upon the wearing of a mask or face covering, respecting social distancing, using gloves, or having a temperature in a normal range.”

Merrill stressed the bottomline.

“While it can be ‘strongly recommended’ that an individual wear a mask, it cannot be required,” he stated. “In our state, we will continue to see that the right for every eligible Alabamian to vote is protected.”

You can view CDC guidance for voters and election polling places here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

How to save the 2020 college football season

The sports media and the political media world are gathering to undo college football.

Why? I can’t even begin to understand it.

But with the Ivy League ending their fall sports and the Big 10 ending non-conference games, with other conferences to follow, it is becoming increasingly clear that the game we all love will be killed by the end of the month, if not sooner.

The ending of non-conference games makes absolutely no sense.

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Look at the University of Florida and their schedule: They have a game with the University of Kentucky at home and an away game at Florida State. Which game do you think will get played (if there is a season)?

Kentucky, because it is in the same conference.

But Lexington and Gainesville are 708 miles away, while Gainesville and Tallahassee are around 150 miles away from each other.

So logistically, having Kentucky come to Florida is a bigger “hassle” but that game might get played.

If you can rationalize this using science, medicine, politics, logic, common sense or wild guesses, let me know.

This ridiculous decision all but dooms a season because it is indefensible and silly.

So, how do we fix this?

Throw out the conferences for a season and replace them with 50 state divisions and reset the schedule completely.

If the distance is an issue, and that’s the best reason I can come up with to end non-conference games, this eliminates that.

This will force every state to play all games in their home state, with no exceptions. These are trying times after all.

Here is a potential Alabama schedule:

9/5 – Alabama A&M  at Alabama
9/12 – Faulkner at Alabama
9/19 – Alabama at Samford
9/26 – Alabama at Troy
10/3 – UAB Blazers at Alabama
10/10 – Birmingham-Southern Panthers at Alabama
10/17  – Alabama at West Alabama
10/24 – Alabama at Alabama State
11/7 – Jacksonville State at Alabama
11/14 – North Alabama at Alabama
11/21 – Alabama at South Alabama
11/28 – Auburn at Alabama

This will be good for these schools to play the powerhouse. Maybe fans eventually get to see these games in person; the schools could even get some of that sweet TV revenue.

The rankings can be done, the same with the coaches’ and media polls.

When this schedule is done, have your conference championships and College Football Playoff as normal.

Is this the perfect system? No.

This is going to require innovation and new ideas. If you want an actual college football season, this is the best bet.

Any conference that thinks it is going to continue on, as usual, is crazy. The sports media is set for self-destruction with their thirst to insert politics into America’s avenues for escape. Killing the college football season is their goal.

They will chip away at them until they relent.

Economies will be further destroyed, jobs will be lost (in their industry as well), and lives will be changed forever.

When college football is officially canceled, we will all know things have changed for good.

It will happen.

11 hours ago

Five Guys workers who refused to serve cops have been fired, suspended

The Five Guys employees who reportedly refused to serve members of the Daphne Police Department have been fired and suspended, according to a statement from the company.

Yellowhammer News detailed earlier this week a report first made by WKRG that three Daphne police officers were refused service at a Five Guys location.

The national headquarters of the restaurant released a statement saying, “The actions the Daphne, AL franchise have taken include termination and suspension of the employees involved. The store has temporarily closed for further education and customer service training with a representative from the Daphne Police Department and will reopen at 4PM today, July 10th.”

“The actions and sentiments of a few employees in Daphne, AL do not represent Five Guys or the local franchisee,” added the company on Twitter.

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The incident caused uproar on social media from citizens angry that members of a police department were being refused service based on the uniform they wore.

“The Daphne Police Department appreciates the outpouring of support from our community and from supporters of Law Enforcement across the country. We also want to thank Five Guys on a corporate and local level. We have been working through this situation and there has been total cooperation. The Daphne Police Department does not think that the actions of a few employees represents Five Guys as a whole,” the Daphne police told FOX10 on Thursday, while the investigation was still underway.

The department also dispelled rumors that the officers were not wearing masks, saying, “All three officers were wearing masks the entire time they were inside of the establishment. The events that occurred while the officers were in the restaurant were unfortunate.”

Five Guys added on Friday that the chain was committed to “fair, respectful, and equal treatment for all customers.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

12 hours ago

U.S. Attorney Jay Town resigns to join private sector

U.S. Attorney Jay Town announced Friday that he is resigning his post with the Department of Justice and will take a job with a defense contractor in Huntsville later this year.

Town, 46, has been serving as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama since he was nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by Congress in 2017.

“It was an honor to be a part of this Administration with an unrivaled class of United States Attorneys from around the nation. I will forever remain thankful to those who supported my nomination and my tenure as the U.S. Attorney,” Town said in a statement.

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Before his appointment, Town served in the U.S. Marine Corps and as a judge advocate. He has also worked in the Madison County District Attorney’s Office.

“I offer my gratitude to Jay Town for his three years of service as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Jay’s leadership in his District has been immense,” said U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.

“His contributions to the Department of Justice have been extensive,” continued Barr, before adding, “I appreciate his service to our nation and to the Justice Department, and I wish him the very best.”

Town said of his new role, “I have accepted an incredible opportunity to work for a privately held defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company located in Huntsville operating in both the government and commercial sectors. My role, which will begin later this year, will be significant but also has the virtue of allowing me to remain much closer to home. There will be an announcement by the company in a few weeks further explaining my position.”

As head federal prosecutor in the Northern District, Town oversaw the federal prosecutions for crimes committed in Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, Oxford and many other cities.

“My service as the U.S. Attorney has been the highest honor of my legal career. I am saddened to depart, but it is undeniable that I leave behind an incredibly competent and talented team that will always fight for justice here in the great state of Alabama,” Town commented on Wednesday.

“The Attorney General of the United States will announce my replacement in the coming days or weeks,” he concluded.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95