6 years ago

Alabama lawmaker demands Confederate flag be removed from state trooper uniforms

State Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery)
State Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Longtime State Representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) is joining the NAACP in demanding the Confederate flag be removed from the uniforms of Alabama State Troopers, and asking Governor Robert Bentley to issue an executive order making it happen.

The Confederate battle flag is included in the Alabama coat of arms alongside the four nations that have controlled the state’s territory throughout history: Great Britain, France, Spain and the United States. The coat of arms is worn by each state trooper as a uniform patch.

“As you know, the confederate flag represents slavery and oppression toward black people,” Holmes wrote to Bentley, adding that he hoped Alabama had moved passed that “ugly part of Alabama history.”

A Bentley Administration spokesperson said the governor has no plans to alter the troopers’ uniform.

Governor Bentley earlier this year ordered the removal of Confederate flags from the grounds of the Alabama Capitol in the wake of nine people being killed in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

“This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward,” Bentley said at the time. “I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down.”

He has reiterated recently that he believes his decision was the correct one.

Many Alabamians took issue with the removal of the flags though, expressing concerns that history was being whitewashed in the name of political correctness.

“Today, the Governor removed a flag from the Capitol grounds that stood proudly above a Veteran’s monument,” said State Senator Clay Scofield (R-Arab). “A monument to men, and yes, women also, who fought, bled, and died in battle. The monument doesn’t represent hate. It definitely doesn’t represent a sick, twisted coward that goes into a church full of love and kills good, innocent people. It represents our history and that can’t be changed. It represents veterans and they should be honored.”

As for Representative Holmes, he has been a lightning rod for controversy over the years.

According to the Associated Press, “Holmes was one of 14 African-American legislators arrested for trespassing in 1988 when they tried to scale a fence and take down a Confederate flag that, at that time, flew atop the Alabama Capitol dome. The flag was later removed from the dome in the 1990s.”

In 2014, he called US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom” and criticized his interracial marriage while speaking at the mic on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives.

“I think Justice Thomas on the United States Supreme Court is an Uncle Tom,” he later told Fox News. “A black man allowed himself to be used to carry the message of a white man, which is against the interests of black people in America. In my opinion that’s an Unlce Tom. In my opinion, Clarence Thomas is a very prolific Uncle Tom.”

Earlier that same year he took to floor of the State House to declare that 99 percent of his white colleagues would demand their grandchildren be aborted if they found out the child was mixed-race.

“Ninety-nine percent of the all of the white people in here are going to raise their hand that they are against abortion,” Holmes said. “On the other hand, 99 percent of the whites who are sitting in here now, if their daughter got pregnant by a black man, they are going to make their daughter have an abortion.”

A month later Holmes said men should be allowed to marry mules.

“Now, I’m for interracial marriage,” Holmes said after a long diatribe claiming most white Alabamians are not. “I’m for same-sex marriage. I’m the one that introduced the bill to have same-sex marriage. I don’t care who marry who. If a man meet a little mule and he wanna get married to the little mule, as long as he and the little mule get along all right, that’s fine with me. It doesn’t bother me any kind of way.”

13 mins ago

Summer attendance booming at Alabama Power Preserves

The summer months are the perfect time of year to get out and appreciate the beauty of Alabama’s lakes and rivers. With 65 public-use spaces across 12 reservoirs, Alabama Power’s Preserves offer the chance for everyone to enjoy a day in the great outdoors.

The Preserves are protected lands around Alabama Power lakes created to enhance natural resources and allow the public to enjoy the rich, ecological diversity of the state. Sites have a variety of amenities, including boat launches, picnic tables, grilling areas, fishing piers, weigh stations, hiking trails and swimming areas.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Flat Rock Park on Lake Harris, which features hiking, fishing, swimming and picnicking areas, had more than 4,000 visitors. D.A.R.E. Power Park on Lake Martin, which has similar amenities, was visited by more than 1,500 people.

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Explore The Preserves by Alabama Power along Alabama lakes from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“Attendance numbers at our parks have been higher this year than we’ve seen in the past, especially over the holidays,” said Sheila Smith, Alabama Power land supervisor. “Visitors are telling us that they’re looking for outdoor activities closer to home and day trips they can enjoy with the entire family, so we are extremely pleased to provide these facilities for our communities. We’re even seeing visitors traveling to our parks from other states and areas over 100 miles away.”

To learn more or find a Preserve near you, visit apcpreserves.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 hours ago

Dr. Daniel Sutter: Shower freedom goes down the drain

The 1992 Energy Policy Act authorized imposition of energy and water efficiency standards on household and commercial products. Consumers have not been thrilled with the new products. As Jeffrey Tucker puts it, “Anything in your home that involves water has been made pathetic, thanks to government controls.”

President Trump repealed regulations on showers, but the Biden administration proposes to reinstate them.

Dozens of products now use significantly less water and energy. For example, showers cannot use more than 2.5 gallons per minute and toilets are limited to 1.6 gallons per flush. While described as efficient, efficiency here is used in an engineering and not economic sense.

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For engineers, efficiency involves using the least water or energy to accomplish a task. Department of Energy (DOE) engineers define showering, flushing waste or cleaning dishes, determine the minimum amount of water or energy needed for this, and only allow products meeting this standard to be sold.

Economists define efficiency in terms of consumer preferences. Consumer sovereignty is the basis on which we judge the economy’s performance. With the economic freedom and competition, manufacturers must cater to consumers. We get the showers and toilets we like.

The Energy Policy Act shifted control over product design from consumers to the DOE. All products have numerous dimensions of performance. Consumers choose products based on their personal tastes. Quality is also balanced against the cost because higher quality costs more; we do not always buy the best product on the market. DOE standards prioritize one dimension – energy or water use – over others.

Not surprisingly then, many consumers view the “efficient” products as worse. President Trump picked up on this during his 2016 campaign: “You have sinks where the water doesn’t come out. … You have showers where I can’t wash my hair properly, it’s a disaster!”

The government of a free country serves the citizens. The restriction of consumer choice can only be justified if it makes consumers better off in some way. Saving water is a bogus rationale.

For starters, households account for only a small fraction of water use. Furthermore, water-saving products do not always use less water: people end up repeatedly flushing low-flush toilets. But most significantly, water does not disappear when it runs down the drain. Property-treated wastewater can be safely discharged into a river or lake and remains part of the natural cycle.

“Saving water” amounts to reducing the demand on water and sewer systems. Delivering clean water to households requires the use of resources, and the cost is higher when water must be shipped great distances like in western states. Government supplies most water to Americans: cities operate water and sewer systems with the Federal government building large scale water delivery projects and funding most wastewater treatment plants.

Cities, however, generally supply water to households at an artificially low price. And Uncle Sam does not charge users the full cost of water delivered from large projects. Consequently, increased water use strains municipal water and sewer systems.

Elected officials are terrible at building, maintaining, and upgrading infrastructure. Replacing water mains is not an exciting way to spend tax dollars. Efficient household appliances provide a back-door way to avoid investing in water and sewer infrastructure.

Alternatively, suppose cities charged for water based on the full cost and used the proceeds exclusively for maintaining and expanding capacity. Americans wanting a surround shower delivering walls of water would pay a sizable bill every month, but the payments would cover the cost of providing extra water. Americans could enjoy shower freedom.

Although President Trump often spoke about regulations on consumer products, the shower rule was only repealed last December. Deregulation in 2017 would have given Americans time to upgrade their bathrooms, rendering the reimposition less relevant.

Reimposition of the shower rule is not official yet. Like with all proposed regulations, the DOE must accept public comments on the rule. I try to avoid prognostication, but I suspect that public comments will have little impact on the final decision.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

2 hours ago

USA College of Nursing receives $1.9 million grant to boost nursing diversity

Increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce is a key focus of the University of South Alabama College of Nursing, which recently received a $1.9 million federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to support the advancement of diversity in the nursing field.

The grant will fund a new initiative known as the EMPOWER project, which will serve two purposes. First, it will advance USA’s goal of educating a more diverse nursing workforce. Second, it will reduce health disparities in underserved communities.

EMPOWER will concentrate on recruiting, retaining and graduating bachelor of science in nursing students of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. This is the first time USA’s College of Nursing has received the HRSA workforce diversity grant, which focuses on educating and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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The College of Nursing EMPOWER Project Director, Dr. Shanda Scott, assistant professor and director of diversity, equity and inclusion, and Co-Project Director Dr. Christina Thompson, assistant professor of maternal child care, partnered to apply for the HRSA grant. Additional College of Nursing faculty members supporting this grant initiative are Dr. Nerkissa Dixon, assistant professor of adult health nursing, Dr. Loretta Jones, assistant professor of adult health nursing, and Dr. Dedra Reed, assistant professor of community mental health nursing.

“We are very excited to receive this significant funding to start the EMPOWER project,” Scott noted. “We plan to recruit, retain and graduate undergraduate nursing students from underrepresented backgrounds that will one day serve rural and underserved populations. We are striving to increase the number of minority students entering the nursing workforce. Understanding the needs of diverse student populations is critical for student retention through graduation.”

Research shows that to advance health equity, there’s a need to improve diversity in the nursing profession, Scott said.

“We understand that a more diverse healthcare workforce can reduce health disparities,” Scott explained. “Research has shown that by strengthening the skills and diversity of the nursing workforce, patients receive better healthcare.”

USA is one of 32 institutions of higher education nationally to be funded through this HRSA four-year award.

“I am proud of USA’s College of Nursing faculty who are leading this project to increase opportunities in nursing education for students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities,” said Dr. Heather Hall, dean of the College of Nursing. “The program will be developed to include recruitment, retention, and graduation goals that will provide a pathway for students of backgrounds underrepresented in nursing. It is vital for the nursing profession to include a more diverse nursing workforce to strengthen the understanding and awareness of the needs for individual patients.”

Under the EMPOWER project, 10 traditional BSN students will be in the first cohort. The grant funding will aid a total of 100 students over the four-year period. All grant recipients will receive a scholarship for tuition, books and fees, and a monthly stipend for personal expenses like food and gas.

“The scholarship will be paid annually, and students will receive additional funds each month from the stipend with a goal to alleviate some of their financial burden,” Scott said. “Our students must drive to attend their mandatory 8-12-hour clinical rotations located at various hospitals. Through the stipend, we are addressing these basic needs.”

It was determined by the EMPOWER project team that, in order to be successful, the initiative needs to include mentoring, peer tutoring, career, faculty and professional mentorship for each of the students in the cohort.

“As students navigate through the nursing program, they will participate in a clinical immersion experience at the USA Simulation Lab and through the community health partner, Franklin Primary Health,” Scott said. “We would like students to engage in learning experiences to enhance their knowledge regarding the care of culturally diverse and underserved patients. The students will also participate in academic success workshops to include test taking, resilience and mindfulness sessions”

The funding allows the South’s College of Nursing to receive holistic review training and a faculty mentorship plan to help with the recruiting and retention of minority faculty members.

“Increasing diversity of both students and faculty in the USA College of Nursing will prepare graduates to meet the important workforce needs,” Scott said. “The initiative’s goals align with the mission of the University’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.”

For more information about EMPOWER, send an email to shaston@southalabama.edu.

3 hours ago

Is the American alligator population in Tuscaloosa increasing?

In May, an alligator was struck by a train on Kauloosa Avenue in Tuscaloosa, and in June another gator was hit by a car on the same road.

In the past few years, there have been several reported gator sightings at Lake Tuscaloosa and at Van de Graaff Park.

Should alligators now be expected as a common part of the Tuscaloosa wildlife experience? And are their numbers growing?

Scott Jones, a University of Alabama New College LifeTrack instructor who specializes in herpetology, zoology and conservation biology, said Tuscaloosa has always been firmly within the natural territory range for the American alligator.

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He said Tuscaloosa is not generally considered well-known for alligators because their populations aren’t as dense in T-Town as they are in Florida and south Alabama.

“The American alligator’s range goes all the way up to North Carolina,” Jones said. “So seeing them here isn’t that unusual. In fact, seeing them here is a success story.”

In the 1970s, the American alligator was put on the endangered species list because they were hunted to near extinction. But in the past 50 years, their population in Alabama has grown to the point where hundreds of annual complaints about them are reported. In 2006, alligator hunting season in Alabama was reinstated by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Do increased sightings of alligators in Tuscaloosa mean their numbers are on the rise in the city?

Jones said not necessarily.

“They’re more active in the summer because it’s breeding season, so that’s one of the main reasons someone may spot one,” he said. “In addition, there’s been a lot of major rain events here. Heavy rain and flooding will wash them out of their typical habitats and into areas where they’re swimming on the street, like with the sightings on Kauloosa Avenue.

“I can’t say for sure that their population is experiencing a boom in growth here, but I can say that their population here is stable and slowly increasing, and that American alligator population in the South, in general, is growing.”

What should be done if a person encounters an alligator?

Jones said people need to be aware of their surroundings at all times when outdoors, particularly near bodies of water. Alligators like to sunbathe well away from populated areas, but if someone is out fishing early in the morning or late at night, their chances of seeing one will increase.

“They look a good bit like logs,” he said. “If you see a log all of a sudden emerge from the water, that might be a good sign that it’s actually an alligator. If you’re out at night and you see a pink eye shine on the water, it’s a good sign that it could be an alligator.”

Jones said they’re not generally a threat to people, especially on land. They primarily attack when on land if they’re harassed, so the best thing people can do if they see one is to leave it alone.

“They tend to be shy, so just give them space. Obviously, if you’re driving and one is in the way there’s nothing you can do if it crosses your path, but that’s rare. They’re generally content to stay in the water or around the water.”

However, alligators pose a threat to pets, Jones said.

“If you’re in an area where they’re known to be, don’t let your pet spend time by the water’s edge.”

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

Orr: Birmingham-Southern $500 fee on unvaccinated could be a ‘constructive denial’ — ‘I’ve been in touch with those in law enforcement’

On Thursday, reports surfaced that Birmingham-Southern College students were told that if they were not vaccinated, they could be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

Some argued the $500 requirement was in defiance of a so-called vaccine passport ban passed by the Alabama Legislature and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this year, which prohibits the requirement of proof of vaccination as a condition of attendance at both private and public colleges, according to guidance issued by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall earlier this week.

State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), the architect of Alabama’s vaccine passport ban, called the Birmingham-Southern fee a “constructive barrier,” which if so could be in violation of the new law. He explained his position during an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Friday and added that he had notified “those in law enforcement.”

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“I think the $500 limit gets into a zone where you can say that is a constructive barrier against those who may be unvaccinated,” he explained. “By throwing up such a barrier, you would have to say they are constructively denying students admission because what if you don’t have $500? The bill doesn’t prohibit any type of restrictions based on if you make one group wear masks and the vaccinated no masks, things like that. The bill says you cannot refuse services or education services, in this case, and even private school — it does apply explicitly to private schools, as well, like Birmingham-Southern. So this is something that does apply to the school. And again, the argument can certainly be made that charging the $500 is a constructive denial.”

“I’ve been in touch with those in law enforcement,” Orr added. “They’re aware of it.  This is not the end of the story here. I think this will continue to play out.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.