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’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.
"Frontier Airlines will begin direct flights from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on April 11, the airline announced today. Frontier Airlines will start by offering direct service to Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia from Birmingham. Introductory prices will start at $39."
"At 87, Clint Eastwood is not only trying new things, he’s trying daring new things, and his new film 15:17 to Paris represents one of the most audacious gambits of his career. To dramatize the tale of three Americans who tackled and subdued a heavily armed Islamist terrorist on a train out of Amsterdam in 2015, Eastwood cast the young men, none of whom had professional acting experience, as themselves. It’s a decision with little precedent in the entire history of motion pictures."
State Sen. Elliott: ‘We don’t need a 215-foot tall bridge…[The port director] doesn’t need it for port operations’
(Contributed-State Sen. Chris Elliott/ALDOT)
The controversy surrounding the Alabama Department of Transportation’s proposed $2.1 billion I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge that will require a toll of $6 each way may have hit another boiling point on Friday.
He contends those features have more than doubled the estimated cost of the structure over the past few years. Elliott told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “Mobile Mornings” host Sean Sullivan on Friday the height of the bridge, which under the current plan is 215 feet, is unnecessary and should be reconsidered.
“I think it all goes back to the cost of the project,” Elliott said. “The cost of the project drives the need for tolling. The cost of the project drives the need for a very long timeframe on the tolling. So that’s where in my mind we need to start – is we need to go back to some of the design input that were made early on in this process and take a step back and look and say, ‘Do we need this bridge to be this tall?’ for instance.”
Elliott recounted the Mobile and Baldwin County delegation’s meeting with Ivey at last week’s Business Council of Alabama Governmental Affairs Conference in Point Clear and said she had “read from a sheet of paper” that made the case for the current ALDOT proposal. He went on to reject the necessity of the height of the bridge.
“And that’s one thing I want to focus on,” he continued. “We met with Governor Ivey last week in Point Clear. She had the Mobile and Baldwin County delegations in. And she read from a sheet of paper and proclaimed that we needed a 215-foot bridge for post-Panamax vessels to go under.”
“Now Sean, you know the Port of Mobile as well as I do,” Elliott added. “You’ve fished up there. I’ve fished up there. But you know how it works. You know what the upper harbor looks like and how that is different from the lower harbor and how they serve different kinds of ships. But my problem is, and you can ask Jimmy Lyons at the State Port Authority, and he’ll tell you – we don’t need a 215-foot tall bridge. We don’t need it! Why in the world is that a design parameter? Why do we have several hundred million dollars in cost on this project we don’t need? Why in the world is ALDOT proceeding with that?”
The Baldwin County Republican state senator was asked by Sullivan to reiterate his contention Alabama Port Authority director Jimmy Lyons saw the 215-foot height as unnecessary and said that height was based on a survey of the cruise ship industry of the tallest ships.
“We don’t,” Elliott confirmed. “He doesn’t need it for port operations. The 215-feet came out of the cruise ship industry and the poll that was done 10-15 years ago where they asked, ‘Cruise ship industry, how tall is the tallest ship that you have? Now listen, I have all the respect in the world for the City of Mobile and their cruise ship industry. But I think it is fair to categorize that as probably a tenuous grip on that industry. Why the governor’s administration is doing right now is designing a bridge for the Queen Mary 2 to sail under. And that’s just nuts. We’ve got a problem keeping just the smallest ship Carnival has here. And we’re designing for the Cunard Line to steam up Mobile Bay. That’s crazy. It really is.
“I think that’s we may have some success changing the governor’s mind is pointing out some but very digestible facts like that that says, ‘Time to take a step back. Time to look at reality, and oh, by the way, time to figure out what we can actually afford,’” he added.
Later in the appearance, Elliott urged Ivey to convene a meeting toll authority scheduled for October 7 in Southwest Alabama instead of Montgomery given the location of the bridge. Ivey as late as Friday afternoon has rejected such overtures.
He was also asked about the composition of the toll authority board, which includes two at-large appointments made by the governor. Ivey has filled those two positions with her chief of staff Jo Bonner and her deputy chief of staff Liz Filmore. Elliott predicted forthcoming legislation that would change that.
“You’re probably going to see legislation this year that changes that,” Elliott said. “There are certain things the legislature can do and certain things the legislature can’t do. But what you are going to see out of the Mobile and Baldwin County delegations is probably a dozen pieces of legislation that tries to address some of the failings that we’re seeing right now. Governor Ivey has two appointments that are at-large appointments. She can pick anybody in the state. And instead of picking anybody in the state, she picked her chief of staff and her deputy chief of staff. And I do not think that was the intent of the legislation.”
With some 16 months remaining in her term, Roby pledged to continue to make veterans’ issues a priority.
“My name isn’t on the ballot in 2020, but I still have a few fights left in me,” she said. “The VA remains at the top of my list. Throughout my time in Congress and especially over the last five years, we have made strides in the central Alabama veterans’ health care, veterans’ health services to turnaround a deeply broken system. But we still have a lot of work to do, and I fully intend to continue to fight. It is too important to quit. And until I take my last vote in Congress, you can rest assured and the people I represent can rest assured this is going to remain a top priority.”
She explained that access to health care for veterans continues to be an issue with which her congressional office is confronted and noted that when it reaches her office, that constituent is likely “at the end of their rope” in handling whatever that issue may be.
“Not only do our veterans need access, they need the best health care we can give them,” Roby added. “We continue to face issues in our VA system with being able to hire enough physicians and the amount of casework that we do through our office, which we are there to do. That is what we do – we help veterans get care. But the amount of casework is still far too high to say that we have succeeded at this point because when a veteran calls our office, they’re at the end of their rope in terms of being able to get through the system on their own. So they’re calling our office to work on their behalf.”
“And of course, our caseload is still way too high for us to say that we’re there,” she continued. “There are things that need to be addressed. Personnel is a big part of it. And just overall, the veterans’ experience – are they being treated with respect when they walk through the door or do they feel as if they are getting the best quality care the VA can give them. And so, again our nation’s veterans deserve so much more than they’re getting right now when it comes to getting health care through the VA. And so, like I said I’m going to continue to pound my fist on their behalf to make sure that we make the right changes to make sure they get the best quality care we can give them.”
Losers in three-way competition for 55-year Mobile Bay Bridge contract get bidding expenses reimbursed says State Rep. Stringer
(Fox 10 WALA/YouTube)
As if the proposed $2.1 billion Interstate 10 Mobile Bay Bridge needed another distinction from other projects, it turns out the remaining three competing groups bidding for the project will have their bidding expenses reimbursed.
During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “Midday Mobile” on Tuesday, State Rep. Shane Stringer (R-Citronelle) told host Sean Sullivan that win or lose, the companies involved in the bid would not walk away empty-handed.
Stringer, a freshman lawmaker, said he was opposed to the plan.
“You’re looking at doing a toll bridge on the heels of a gas tax,” Stringer said. “They haven’t even started collecting the gas tax, and we’re already talking about doing a toll. We need to think some of this out and how we do some of these projects. I’m definitely against the toll. I think we’ve got to look at other options before we go and do the toll and put a burden on our citizens.”
Stringer and other Mobile and Baldwin County lawmakers had a meeting with Gov. Kay Ivey recently while she was in Baldwin County for the Business Council of Alabama’s Governmental Affairs Conference. The Mobile County lawmaker said it seemed as if the governor and others in her administration had their minds made up about the project.
“I get that feeling, too,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a done deal. Is it close? Probably so. I think the people’s voices are starting to be heard. I’m the representative for North Mobile County and West Mobile, and the toll bridge is not going to affect us as much as it will others. And our citizens are in an uproar over it.”
Later in the segment, Sullivan asked Stringer about the reimbursement issue, to which Stringer confirmed and said the deal was one that many construction company owners would like to have.
“I have a lot of friends that are construction owners that would love to get reimbursed for the projects they don’t get on job sites,” Stringer said.
Byrne: Anti-gun push an attempt to blame ‘breakdown of American society’ on people not responsible for it
Last week, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), a candidate for U.S. Senate, hosted a town hall meeting at Hoover Tactical, a gun dealer located in Hoover.
During that event, Byrne fielded a question from AL(dot)com reporter Abbey Crain, who suggested there was something untoward in holding an event at a gun dealer’s facility in the wake of the El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio shootings.
On Wednesday, Byrne responded to that critique during an interview on Huntsville radio’s WVNN and asked how it might look if he had scrapped his plans for the town hall event at that venue.
“You don’t find people making these shootings going to places like Hoover Tactical,” Byrne said. “Plus, what sort of message would it send that I scheduled a town hall there and then because of the shooting, I’m going to say, ‘No, no Hoover Tactical – there’s something wrong with you and other gun dealers like you? I’m not going to support you or being anywhere near you.’ I met the people that run that business. They seem like really good people.”
“Everything I hear about them – they run a very good, very professional shop,” he continued. “It looked like high-quality stuff to me. It was never much of a question on our end. We were going to go forward with it at that venue. And as you saw, it was excellent town hall. We got great questions, got into some substantive and meaty issues. We just had one reporter there that wanted to go off on that one issue and I don’t think it had much of an impact on the other people in the room that day.”
The Baldwin County Republican addressed the push to change gun laws and regulations, which he said but the blame on people that were not responsible for the actual problem.
“We’ve got a problem with the breakdown of American society and we’re trying to blame the effects of that breakdown on people that aren’t responsible for it,” he added. “But it is not unusual with the far left. They do that. And so, the question is are the rest of us going to succumb to that. And I just made up my mind that I’m not going to. I know where I stand on that issue. I’m not going to change my mind on it. And I’m not going to allow other people to try to villainize or try to taint the good people like the folks that own that business. I’m going to continue to stand with them because they’re doing nothing wrong and they have a right to be doing what they’re doing.”
Roy Moore rails against sodomy, transgender in military during DeKalb County appearance — Says Klinger from ‘M*A*S*H’ would get a promotion
Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s position on most things on LGBTQ issues have been well documented over the years. His stand against same-sex marriage led to his eventual suspension and removal from his Supreme Court post in 2016.
Moore, now a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) up in 2020, still maintains those same positions.
During a question-and-answer session at an appearance at the Dekalb County Republican Breakfast Club meeting on Saturday in Fort Payne, Moore was asked about his views on civil unions as a substitute for same-sex marriage.
Moore told the audience he would have been opposed to civil unions. The Etowah County Republican said he did not oppose what people did in the privacy of their home but said he did not think the government should recognize anything that deals with the act of sodomy.
“Civil unions – I would have been against civil unions,” Moore said. “I think people want to live together, fine, if two people want to live together and do what they want to do in private. I don’t think we should recognize it if it deals with sodomy. Sodomy used to be against our laws. I can’t support sodomy. I can’t support it. If a Christian supports sodomy, I wonder what the reason would be.”
Moore also took on the issue of transgender rights for military personnel, which he referenced fictional character Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger played by actor Jamie Farr on the long-running show “M*A*S*H,” who plotted to earn a Section 8 psychiatric discharge from the U.S. Army with his efforts of dressing like a woman. Moore surmised Klinger would have gotten a promotion in the modern U.S. military.
“You know, the LGBTQ-VRSTUV, I don’t know what it is – LGBTQ, when they first came out, I said, ‘Transgender? Never. That’s dumb,’” Moore said. “We’d never have that. Do you know what transgender is? That’s not Biblical. If that’s Biblical – God created man and woman. And when men want to be women? I was watching ‘M*A*S*H’ the other day – talking about Korea, Vietnam. I was watching ‘M*A*S*H,’ talking about what’s his name – Klinger. He wanted to get out of the Army because they didn’t accept transgender. Now, I guess he would get a promotion.”
Moore explained he did not want him or his family to be “smeared” any further and tied the “LGBT” to that the threat of being “smeared.”
“I’m simply trying to tell you, America is changing,” Moore said. “We’re older. I’m older. I got one life. Do you think I want to get smeared again? Do you think I want to go through this? Do you think I want to put her through this? After 34 years, we’ve been married. I’ve ran eight campaigns – for governor twice, chief justice twice, circuit judge, district attorney. I’ve run quite a few races, mostly in judicial fields. Do you think we want to get smeared?”
“LGBT have an agenda,” he continued. “They won’t even put my name on a billboard now on church because they would get attacked. Who speaks against LGBT? Tell me the last politician you heard to talk about transgender rights. Even the Supreme Court hasn’t recognized transgender rights.”
The former chief justice went on to call on members of the audience to ask elected officials for their stances on LGBT rights, which he insisted were not right from God but created by man.
“It’s being forced on you in the military, in other things,” he said. “Of course, Trump has opposed that. But they will attack anybody who supports me. Just like you said, they will attack you especially if you go out an put your name on a billboard. That’s OK, that’s just what they do.”
“Ask your next politician that comes before you, where do you stand on LGBT rights,” he said. “You know LGBT rights aren’t given to us by God. They’re created by man. I could go into the judicial philosophy on that, but I won’t. Ask them. I haven’t heard anybody talk against it. In fact, I’ve heard quite a few that I would have thought better of talk for it. I don’t see a right in our Constitution for a man to be a woman. If it was there, why wouldn’t it come up earlier? I don’t see a right.”
State Sen. Butler: North Alabama’s I-565 widening could be completed by June 2020
Although the growth of North Alabama’s Limestone and Madison Counties is one of the state’s many economic success stories, it has not come without growing pains for the region.
Rush hour back-ups plague Interstate 565, an existing thoroughfare that connects Huntsville to Interstate 65 and nearby Decatur in Morgan County. That could soon change according to State Sen. Tom Butler (R-Madison).
Gov. Kay Ivey made the announcement earlier this year that the I-565 widening project would be part of the first phase of infrastructure upgrades of the Rebuild Alabama Act. During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Butler said the project could be completed as early as next summer.
“[W]hat I did – I called the contractor – the contractor that is working on the Greenbrier overpass and the improvements there,” Butler said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “Nothing can be done on [Interstate] 565 until that is finished. He said that would finish in October and that the bid would go out for the widening of 565 sometime in December and would be awarded. He told me then it was about a six-month project. So I’m thinking in June, July – we’ll have six lanes there.”
Butler, who is now in the middle of serving a second tenure in the Alabama Senate, attributed the region’s traffic woes for inspiring his latest run for the Alabama Senate.
While the I-565 project is sure to provide relief to commuters, Butler told WVNN the area would still be “playing catch-up” with regards to all the other components needed for the area’s economic development.
“We’re going to be playing catch-up all the way around,” he replied. “Mazda Toyota – 4,000 jobs there. But when you add in their suppliers, when you add in the FBI’s components coming in here and ATF and NASA influx for the new challenges there, we’ve got thousands and thousands of jobs. It means thousands and thousands of houses, and thousands and thousands of people, which means schools, roads and all the other infrastructure. We’ve got to be working.”
“We don’t have a gun problem,” he said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “We have a spiritual deficit problem. And what I mean by that is people have turned away from those basic moral principles and foundational values on which our republic was established. They put us in a position to where we have too many things that are tearing us apart in that regard and leading us to these individuals taking those kinds of actions that are destroying our society.”
“Now, I’m not for increasing restrictions on firearms,” he continued. “But I do think the laws we have on the books currently need to be enforced. They were placed there to protect us, and we need to make sure they’re being adhered to at all levels.”
The Tuscaloosa County Republican insisted any measures to restrict firearms would penalize “good people” seeking to possess a firearm and was not likely to prevent those with bad intentions from obtaining one.
“Some of those laws that are already on the books are just not being paid attention to and certainly not being enforced,” Merrill said. “And if we do enforce the background check laws that we already have on the books and we do enforce some of these … red-flag laws that are currently on the books, it will enable us to determine who are able to be checked out further before they are able to purchase firearms. But I would say this – criminals are always going to have guns, and the bad guys are always going to be able to gain access to firearms. And whenever you start placing restrictions on good people who want to have possession of a firearm of their choice because the Second Amendment guarantees it, whenever we start putting restrictions on those people, then only the people that have poor or ill or bad intentions will be the ones with the firearms and we cannot standby and let that happen.”
Fmr State Rep. Barry Moore hopes second time is a charm in 2020 U.S. congressional run
In 2018, it was not meant to be for now-former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), who ran to unseat U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery).
At the time, many looked at Roby as vulnerable given her decision to call on then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to step aside after old “Access Hollywood” outtake audio revealed the now-president was making inappropriate remarks about women before the taping of an interview with then-host Billy Bush.
That turned out not to be the case at all. Despite being forced into a runoff in a crowded primary field, Roby prevailed by defeating her predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright, who had won the seat previously as a Democrat.
Among those in the primary was Moore, who missed the runoff by roughly 8,300 votes out of more than 94,000 votes cast.
In a wide-ranging interview with Yellowhammer News, the former two-term state representative that is now operating a waste disposal, excavation and demolition company spoke about his decision to make another run for the seat.
“We ran, and I think we made a great showing considering the money that was spent last time between Martha [Roby] and Bobby Bright,” Moore said. “I think they spent about $2.4 million. We ended up with 20% of the vote and spent just under $200,000. It was my first time in. It was the first time we ever tried, but we laid a lot of groundwork, made a lot of friends across the district – conservative people who like Trump, number one. Number two, feel like the country is headed in the wrong direction. [Trump] maybe could get some help. He feels like a man on an island fighting this progressive movement.”
According to the Coffee County Republican, he was sought out after Roby’s announcement.
“When she stepped down, my phone started ringing,” he added. “I was hearing from people who supported me, who asked me to run last time. It was encouraging. I thought, ‘You know what? We’re going to step in, and if the people choose to send us, we’ll go serve. That’s kind of how I looked at.”
One aspect of his service in the legislature Moore touted was his commitment to veterans’ issues, which he said was important given the presence of Maxwell Air Force Base and Fort Rucker in the second congressional district.
“I think the thing we need to do is reach out to the people who may not know us or what we’re about,” Moore said. “We served in the legislature in Alabama for eight years. I chaired Military and Veterans’ Affairs [committee]. I went to Maxwell-Gunter a lot and met a lot of the veterans groups and military active-duty families. Those bases knew me and knew of me. Fort Rucker was near my home district. So, there’s some areas we need to reach.”
“But I think if we reach them with our message and the fact we were on the Trump train, and we always had a very conservative voting record,” he continued. “And I had an opportunity when I was in the legislature — they asked us to choose. I was sitting on Military and Veterans Affairs Committee as chairman. I was sitting on Rules, and Rules is a powerful committee. But they asked us to pick one or the other, and I chose my veterans over the power and the money and the prestige of the system. And so, I always went and served the people I told them I would serve and do the job that I thought I needed to do.”
“With that said, we need to get our message out in some of those areas,” Moore added. “But having served as I have, I think our name ID does pretty well. I think it is possible to be in government and not be a part of the system. That’s why I term-limited myself the first time. I served two terms. I told them in ’14 I was going to serve one more term and that was going to be it. I served my two terms there and honestly, I thought I was about out of politics until the Trump team asked me to get in in ’16 to try and help him, and that’s why I ended up running against Ms. Roby the last time around. When she stepped down, I think he still needs a great deal of help to get some things done. We need some tip-of-the-spear kind of people up there – not to just fight for the agenda, but in some way say to him and his family that they restore some sort of sense of American pride in this country and recognize the greatness of this nation – not necessarily that it is perfect, but capitalism is absolutely the best system man has found in history and to allow them the opportunity. And the U.S. is the best of all of them because you have an opportunity to excel because of where you came from.”
Moore, who also holds a degree in animal science from Auburn University, said he recognized the importance of agriculture to Alabama’s second congressional district.
“I’ve grown up around farms and been on farms all my life — as a matter of fact, my cousin still farms this land we have our office on now,” he said. “Agriculture is a huge economic player for us. More importantly, the government needs to protect the food supply, and that is why some of these programs are designed the way they are — designed so these men can take these risks, put these seeds in the ground and look to produce so we can feed and clothe this nation.”
Republicans in Alabama’s second congressional district will have the opportunity to go to the polls on March 3, 2020, and vote their preference on who will represent the GOP on the ballot in the November 3, 2020 general election.
Tuberville touts ‘outsider’ bona fides during Vestavia appearance — Says political system ‘made for people on the inside’
VESTAVIA HILLS — On Saturday, Republicans in Birmingham’s “Over the Mountain” communities got their first look at former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville away from the gridiron and on the stage as a politician.
While speaking to the August meeting of the Mid Alabama Republican Club at the Library in the Forest, Tuberville, a 2020 GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, made an effort to highlight his being an outsider to politics.
He explained to the group assembled what led him to seek the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who happens to reside in nearby Mountain Brook.
“I want to make a difference,” he said. “I want to be a part of it. I am not a career politician. I am not the establishment. When I go to Washington, D.C. to vote for you, I’m not voting for a corporation. I want to tell you something – I’ve been shocked. I’m going to write a book about this. Outsiders can’t get in. It is made for people on the inside and for people that take money from the lobbyist and the establishment.”
“I started with a cell phone and myself in my house when I announced,” Tuberville continued. “I’m looking around – now what do I do because these guys I’m running against – most of them – all they do is take one job, and one comes open, ‘Man, I believe I’ll do this one.’ Go get a dang job. Go out there and see what’s happening in this country. People are hurting, folks. People are hurting.”
One area where Tuberville attempted to distinguish himself from his competition was in underscoring not having a prior career in politics. He touted the system in place in Alabama’s state legislature, which allows for lawmakers to have full-time jobs in addition to their roles as lawmakers.
“Now, I have been all over this state,” Tuberville explained. “I met with city, county commissioners, mayors – not all. I’ll get to all of them. We’ve got a great state. We got a lot of great things going on in this state. I am proud of our state representatives and some decisions that they’ve made to try to make this state better. Sometimes they make some we don’t agree with. That usually happens. But you know what? They’re not career people. They go, and they do things for a while. Then they come home. Then they go back to work.”
Tuberville said he supported term limits but suggested it was unlikely the so-called “establishment” would allow them to become a reality.
“Our Founding Fathers did not put term limits in the Constitution,” he continued. “You know why? They never dreamed anybody would want to do this for a living. They never dreamed it. They never dreamed it would be a career. You know why? Because you can make a heck of a lot more money out there in public life if you’ll go to work and get your hands dirty, and try to work with other people and make the country better, other than going and sitting behind a desk and supposedly making law for us. Think about that. They didn’t want us to go up there forever, and that’s the reason we don’t have term limits. I’m for them. Can we ever get them? I hope, but that’s yet to be seen. It gets fought by the establishment.”
Also, during his speech, Tuberville derided the system for requiring fundraising to cover expenses to go on offense or play defense against opposing candidates instead of promoting an agenda.
“This is all about career politicians,” Tuberville said. “So to get in, you’ve got to raise money. OK, that’s what I’ve been doing, and we’ve done a pretty good job taking money from the people of Alabama – people that I’m going to vote for, not from Washington, D.C. because when I go up there, I ain’t voting for them. I’m voting for you.”
“It is the craziest system I have ever seen,” he continued. “I thought we raised money because we’ve got to raise some money. OK, we’ll raise money, go out and ask people and see if they’re for us. I thought you raised money to put your agenda out there. Oh, no. That ain’t what you do. You defend yourself, or you attack the other guy. What a crazy business.”
“We’ve got a great country, and it is strong, but it’s getting weaker by the day,” Tuberville added. “But it is not caused by the people in this country. It is caused by our dang politicians. Thank goodness Donald Trump went up there and he’s up there swinging. He is swinging from the hip. He doesn’t care what they think. And they’re trying to run the clock out on him. Y’all know that.”
Tuberville: ‘We’ve lost a lot of God in this country’ — ‘Country was built on God, family and education’
DECATUR — On Thursday, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville took to the shores of the Tennessee River to promote his campaign for the United States Senate in 2020.
At a small gathering, Tuberville laid out his team’s vision for the campaign before fielding questions from attendees. The questions ranged from residency status (and being asked to offer a photo ID to prove he was resident of Alabama) to broader topics about the youth vote and the culture.
One of the themes Tuberville touched on, and has spoken about throughout the early stages of his senatorial bid, was society’s reliance on government.
He pointed to the education system as the root cause of the dependency on government.
“I’ve seen it in college,” he said. “They’re teaching them to depend on the government. This country was not built on depending on the government.”
“That’s kind of the direction we’re heading,” he added. “Just look at the educational system and the health care system. As I said, this country was built on God, family and education, and all three of them have absolutely been downgraded by people in the educational system. And it’s not just in college. It’s in some of the high schools.”
In a follow-up interview with Yellowhammer News, the football coach-turned-politician lamented the loss of God in America.
“We’ve lost a lot of God in this country,” he said to Yellowhammer News. “In all my speeches, I talk about this. It’s all about God, family and education and so many times we forget about why we’re here and who can really help us. We all talk about it, but the power of prayer is huge. I think that if we just go back in that direction and think about it more, and understand that ‘In God We Trust,’ our motto, is something that we’ve got to lean on. And if we don’t lean on that and try to lean on all our human nature effects on how to solve a problem, it is going to be tough.”
Tuberville said even those elected as decisionmakers still need to rely upon prayer to guide them.
“You know we’ve a got a lot of good people that try to make good decisions,” Tuberville said. “President Trump is making decisions, but we’ve got to pray about it and pray that the decision works, and is it the right decision? Right now, we’re so divided in this country about what direction to take on a lot of issues. Again, we just got to start leaning on prayer more to get us out of this direction that sometimes is not working.”
He also cited the Bible, which he said offered “a gameplan” and argued for the need to “get back” to Christianity.
“Everybody has got their opinion, but we have got a lot of things that we can go by, and we’ve got a gameplan, which is called the Bible and if we make all these laws – we’ve already got laws, and they’re all in the Bible. It’s hard for people to put the human effect aside and go more with the religious effect. And this country was built on faith, on Christianity and we’ve got to get back to that. And we’ve got to push it. We’ve got to talk about it. And we’ve got to pray about it.”
Mooney: Tuberville comments on veterans an ‘insult,’ gave Dems ‘a gift’ to hurt Trump
Even though the controversy surrounding the comments from former Auburn former head football coach Tommy Tuberville about President Donald Trump’s handling of veterans issues has died down, it is still fresh in the mind of one of his U.S. Senate opponents, State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).
Mooney addressed the comments during an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday.
He said Tuberville stabbed Trump “in the back about veterans” and warned his remarks gave Democrats a gift to hurt Trump.
“It’s just like what we’ve had going on this last week,” Mooney said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “President Trump is under attack on all fronts, and you know here in our state we have Tommy Tuberville stab him in the back about veterans. If Tommy were to simply say, ‘I made a mistake,’ apologize and move on – well, that’d be great. But that’s not happening. And what’s happening is we’re giving to the Democrats a gift to them to hurt our president. It’s an insult to our president.”
“I mean, do we have a problem with the VA just like the debt?” he continued. “Yes, of course. But it existed before President Trump got here and before all of this hard work that he has put into it.”
Mooney listed some of the accomplishments of the Trump administration regarding veteran health care.
“In the first two-and-a-half years, the president placed more emphasis on veterans’ mental health than any other president in U.S. history,” Mooney said. “He passed the MISSION Act, which is ending the horrible waiting list at the VA and helping our veterans get timely care. He’s secured more than $73 billion in additional funding. He’s removed, fired, suspended and demoted more than 4,000 employees for their poor performance. He’s created a 24/7 VA White House hotline that provides huge support for veteran questions and issues surrounding the Veterans Administration. He’s helped more than 50,000 veterans find housing and access to support services.”
The Shelby County Republican went on to reiterate there was more work to do and that he had inherited many of those problems from the previous administration.
Zeigler: ALDOT’s John Cooper sounds like the old George Wallace inaugural speech, except substitute ‘tolls’ — ‘Tolls now, tolls tomorrow, tolls forever’
(Auditor Jim Zeigler/Twitter)
Tuesday on Birmingham radio’s Talk 99.5, State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who is one of the leaders of the effort challenging the proposed I-10 Mobile Bayway toll, spoke out critically of Alabama Department of Transportation director John Cooper.
Zeigler blamed Cooper for the tolling proposal and said such type toll proposals were the vision of Cooper for the future in Alabama.
He was asked by “Matt & Aunie Show” co-host Andrea Lindenberg what the possible motivations could be for the tolling proposal given the negative politics surrounding it. Zeigler initially called it “insanity” before invoking former Alabama Democratic Gov. George Wallace.
“If there were some tie, some of the players in Alabama who were subcontractors for this outfit — if we could find that out, we would have already brought it out,” he said. “We’re looking for that. But it looks like John Cooper, the ALDOT director, just firmly believes that we need tolls now, and tolls in the future and tolls forever. It almost sounds like the old George Wallace inaugural speech, except substitute ‘tolls’ — Tolls now, tolls tomorrow, tolls forever.”
Co-host Matt Murphy asked about the possibility of tolling for U.S. Highway 280 and I-20/59, which for at least the U.S. Highway 280, Zeigler had warned of possible tolling in the future.
“Tolls are the new taxes of the future in the minds of the ALDOT planners,” he said. “And they have said things that they’re going to be looking at toll plans. This one in Mobile is just the first one. They’re eventually going to come with a project to fix congestion on Highway 280, particularly rush-hour congestion. They will at least look at a toll.”
He also suggested it could come for North Alabama, as well.
“In Huntsville, with [Interstate] 565 and [U.S. Highway] 72 that will have to be servicing 4,000 extra jobs just west of Huntsville for the Toyota Mazda,” he continued. “They’re going to be coming with a project there, and they will at least look at a toll.”
Byrne disagrees with Tuberville’s Trump-VA criticism: ‘Has done a lot to help veterans’ — ‘Very grateful’ for his leadership
HOOVER — Over the past few days, the contest for the 2020 Republican senatorial nomination in Alabama has weathered a mild controversy.
On Saturday during a speech to the Shoals Republican Club, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a U.S. Senate candidate, had some criticism of President Donald Trump for a seeming lack of progress regarding improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and veterans’ health care.
The comments led to one of Tuberville’s opponents, State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), calling out Tuberville.
During a town hall campaign event held at Hoover Tactical, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) on Wednesday was asked to offer his thoughts on his opponent’s critique of the Trump and the VA.
“No, I don’t,” Byrne replied when asked if he agreed with Tuberville. “So, President Trump inherited a terrible problem from President Obama and our VA system. And you know, a lot of veterans were supportive of President Trump. So I think President Trump made it a priority. But in order to fix it, we had to fix some of the laws because you can only go so far when the law is limiting you. In the first two years of the Trump administration, the Congress and Trump worked together. We passed four different laws, one of which was this law that allowed to fire basically bad people that were part of the swamp at the VA. But there were several others that allowed the Trump appointees to run the VA to actually increase the veterans’ access to their benefits and particularly their health care.”
“I’ve been focused on that,” he continued. “We had a problem in Montgomery, as you know. We had a problem in my district in Southwest Alabama. We just opened in April a VA outpatient clinic in West Mobile County that the VA had authorized over 10 years and had the money and would not build it. But when President Trump came into office, we got that thing unstuck, and now it is not only built, it is open.”
The Baldwin County Republican applauded Trump’s progress on the VA and said he expected more improvement through the end of the Trump presidency.
“So, I would say that President Trump has done a lot to help veterans,” Byrne added. “The veterans I interact [with] all over the state tell me that. We’re not in the promised land yet. This is a big problem. It’s going to take us a while to fix. But I am very grateful to President Trump for his leadership on this issue. I’m proud of the fact that I been able to vote with him and do other things to help him get that done like the outpatient clinic in Mobile. I think we’re going to have other opportunities over the next five years in his next term and the rest of this term in office to continue to fix the VA system.”
Arnold Mooney in Moulton: Voices opposition to Trump budget deal; Touts abortion ban, rural development
MOULTON — On Tuesday, Lawrence County Republicans got their first glimpse at State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), who is seeking Alabama’s U.S. Senatorial GOP nomination in 2020.
Despite engaging in a back-and-forth on social media with Republican rival former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville over comments Tuberville made days earlier up the road in Muscle Shoals about President Donald Trump and veterans’ health care, there was no mention of Tuberville or any of his other opponents in his speech to the meeting of the Lawrence County Republican Party at Mel’s Steakhouse.
The Shelby County Republican applauded much of what Trump had done, especially regarding immigration and China. However, his one disagreement was with the two-year budget deal signed into law by the president last week.
“It’s extremely important that we deal with that debt situation,” Mooney said. “A few weeks ago, there was a vote in Washington, and I’ll tell you straight up, just as I told somebody today – yeah, our military was involved in that. But you know what, we’re going to pass, and we’re going to take care of the military and defense needs in our country, but we needed to vote ‘no’ on that bill because it was adding to our debt — $2 trillion over about 10 years. We’ll come back and support the military. We’ll get that done. But we got to deal with the debt. We can’t do what we need to do if we don’t do that.”
Mooney also touted the work of his body, the Alabama House of Representatives and the passage of the abortion ban earlier in the year. He cited his colleague Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur), the House sponsor of the bill, and said a commitment to life was a priority for him.
“You know, before all of this stuff about business, before all of this stuff about economy, defense – all those things – we’ve got to consider who we are as far as life,” he said. “This bill protects life from conception up to natural death, and that’s what I’m committed to.”
He also pledged to give attention to economic development for Lawrence County and other rural counties in Alabama.
“You people in Lawrence County – you know, I just came from Huntsville,” Mooney said. “They’ve got a great economic engine up there. They’ve got the Marshall Space Flight Center. They’ve got Redstone Arsenal. They’ve got all kinds of things. A lot of you guys have got to get in your car every day, travel out of your county and go to work somewhere. You’re spending a tremendous amount of time commuting and doing things. We’ve got to see economic development – maybe not at the level in that county, but we’ve got to pay attention to all of our counties. I’ll work with your county commissioners, your representatives, your senators in Washington to try to do things to bring about change in your county. I’m one of those people who believes it is easy to say, ‘Oh, you can win an election in Alabama by winning 20 counties.’ You know what? That may be true but every county in this state regardless of whether it is a county full of Republicans or a county that’s got a batch of Democrats in it – very important. People are important. And I believe sincerely that as Alabamians and Americans, we’ve got to look to each other and we’ve got to serve each other. That’s my goal, and that’s my purpose.”
Birmingham Mayor Woodfin on marijuana: ‘I’m always trying to strike a balance of not necessarily legalization but decriminalization’
In an interview with “Alabama’s Morning News” host JT Nysewander on Birmingham radio’s 105.5 WERC on Tuesday, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin spoke about the outbreak of gun violence around the country that not only included recent incidents in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio but in America’s inner-cities as well.
Woodfin fielded questions from callers during his appearance, one of which was about marijuana and legalization.
The Birmingham mayor said he did not think marijuana was playing a role in gun violence. However, on the question of legalization, he indicated his support for decriminalization but not legalization because of the potential impact it may have on employment.
“In my position as mayor, I have to distinguish between legalization and decriminalization,” Woodfin said. “I don’t think everything should be criminalized based on marijuana usage because I think that hurts a lot of young people’s opportunity and some older people who are transitioning back into society to have opportunities around work. But I also have to be pragmatic and understand my number one priority is to get people employed. In the private sector and the public sector, whether you want to be a MAX bus driver or be a school bus driver, whether you want to work for public works in the city of Birmingham — we don’t hire people who test positive because in a public space. In my position, I’m always trying to strike a balance of not necessarily legalization but decriminalization.”
Tuberville dings Trump for veterans’ health care problems, addresses ‘carpetbagger’ label, tax dodging allegations in Shoals appearances
FLORENCE — Make no mistake about it: Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville does not hold back when something is on his mind, and Saturday morning he backed up that reputation that has followed him from his coaching career and into politics.
During an appearance before a meeting of the Shoals Republican Club, Tuberville, a candidate in the 2020 U.S. Senate election in Alabama, delivered a wide-ranging stem-winder reiterating his alignment with President Donald Trump on many issues. However, Tuberville argued there were areas where even Trump needed to be better.
The Muscle Shoals appearance was the first of a series in the area that also included stops at the Cornerstone Church of Christ in Florence with former University of Alabama standout cornerback Antonio Langham to raise money for children in Haiti and another at the Shoals Chamber of Commerce in Florence, where he fielded questions during a town hall-style event.
Near the entrance of the venue for the morning Shoals Republican Club event, someone posted a printed-out photo of Tuberville that was adjoined by the dictionary definition of the word “carpetbagger,” a label given to Tuberville by some of his opponents.
Although he did not acknowledge the posting, he did address the “carpetbagger” label and seemed to embrace it by calling himself a “carpetbagger of this country.”
“Yes, I’m not an everyday resident of Alabama,” Tuberville said. “That’s going to be brought up. I’ve been here most of the last 20 years. I’ve had property. So, you’ll see that on TV – ‘He’s a carpetbagger.’ Yeah, I’m a carpetbagger of this country. I love this country. I love this state. I’m a carpetbagger. I pay a lot of taxes. I brag about that because I’m fortunate I’ve made a little money in my lifetime. I can do this and not take any money.”
As far as his critique of the current commander-in-chief, Tuberville focused on military veterans’ health care, primarily the problems plaguing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, Tuberville added a caveat to his remarks by noting he did not think Trump was getting much help.
“I’m pissed off at Donald Trump that our vets can’t get health care,” he said. “And if I ever get to see him, I’m going to tell him that. You said you were going to fix it and it ain’t fixed. And that’s who we ought to be taking care of — these young men and women. I’ve had them come up to me and cry. ‘Coach, we can’t get health care. Nobody will take care of us.’ 22 vets every day – every day are committing suicide. We can’t take care of them. We won’t take care of them. We’re paying for illegals to come over here – everything they’re getting: cell phones, health care, everything they want. That’s Donald Trump’s fault. That’s his fault. He’s got to get it done. That’s one of the most important things I think we need to do because we send young men and women over to fight for us, put their life on the line and we don’t take care of them? What are we doing? What are we doing?”
“I’m a Donald Trump guy, but there are things that he hasn’t done yet that we got to get done,” he continued. “And I think he’s had to fight every battle by himself. He can’t get to all of them because nobody is helping him. Nobody is standing up for him.”
Tuberville argued Republicans on Capitol Hill could do more and vowed to be more outspoken as a U.S. Senator. He also took aim at Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who is a vocal critic of Trump.
“Sooner or later, we’re going to start sending people up there that will call the kettle black, OK?” Tuberville said. “You’re looking at one. You hear me right now – this is how I feel. I’m even going to be worse than this when I go to Washington, D.C. I’m going to be worse than this, on the Republican side as well as the Democrat side. Somebody has got to tell those Republican, ‘Hey, get a backbone or go home.’”
“Mitt Romney? You’ve got to be kidding me,” he continued. “You’ve got to be kidding me. What country are you for? What are you for? Do you stand for anything? Do you stand for anything? You know, it’s really mind-boggling.”
Immediately after speaking to the Muscle Shoals group, Tuberville departed for the Cornerstone Church of Christ fundraiser. However, Yellowhammer News was able to catch up with Tuberville after his Shoals Chamber of Commerce town hall in Florence to ask follow-up questions about his earlier remarks.
On veterans’ issues:
YH: You are pretty passionate about veterans, and you made a comment about Trump maybe not being as satisfactory in dealing with veterans’ issues. What led you to say that, and what could he do better?
TUBERVILLE: His agenda, he has pretty much tried to follow up on everything, and there’s a couple of things other than that. That’s one of them, and that’s one of the things I’m hearing across the state. They say, “Coach, we love the president, but we’ve got to have something done with the VA.” People are passionate about that. They’re not getting any help, and I don’t know where it’s going to come from.
But the thing with President Trump — he’s got his buckets full, and I can understand that. My point is he is not getting a lot of help from people that also understand the situation. They’re not standing up and speaking out. You know, he could get a lot more help from Congress. Obviously, he is not going to get a lot of help from the Democrats. But I think the Republicans can stand up and push that agenda for him and help him.
That was one of his huge stances when he was running, and I’m starting to hear from people saying, “We’re waiting for it. We’re waiting for help.” And he’s addressed a lot of the situation. He’s having to work his way through bureaucracy.
On the “carpetbagger” label:
YH: The “carpetbagger” question — you came out and said you were a carpetbagger. I don’t know if you were being literal or facetious, but talk about what you were trying to get at there.
TUBERVILLE: They don’t have a lot to come at me with because I don’t have a record of voting. All that I’m going to have a record of is where I’ve lived, where I’ve worked. Fortunately for me, when I left Auburn, I went to other places and worked. That’s what you got to do. You’ve got to get a job. But you know, I’ve had several houses, a farm in Auburn. I knew I was moving back. I chose to move back. I think that’s huge when you choose the place you want to live. And I chose Auburn. I chose Auburn to educate both my kids, most of it 1-12, then obviously college.
I’m just saying, that’s what they’re going to call me. Obviously, I am not. I am a guy that has taken jobs.
I don’t really know what the word means. I’ve just read what they’ve said, and the main thing is that I’ve lived here a majority for the last 20 years and I chose to come back — most of my friends are here. And I hope my two boys move back, so I don’t have to chase them all over the country.
YH: Do you have any idea or suspicions where that charge is coming from, or what the source of it is?
TUBERVILLE: They just know I was bouncing around for the last seven or eight years of coaching at different places. And there’s no doubt about that. I’m on record for living in Ohio and Texas and then moving back here.
Of course, I had to live in Florida when I worked for ESPN just to live next to an airport because I flew all the time. And when I gave that up, I moved back and started looking at retirement then started looking at this position when we had a Democrat elected.
YH: Some of your critics have said you lived in Florida to avoid income tax because Florida doesn’t have an income tax and Alabama does. Is there any truth to that?
TUBERVILLE: No, I don’t need the money. I don’t even know what the difference in tax is, to be honest with you. No, there’s no validity to that at all.
YH: The airport question — the Atlanta airport is what, an hour and a half from Auburn, not too far.
TUBERVILLE: This was about ten minutes, and you fly all the time. Saved a lot of time and effort. I mean, that’s a little bit different than going through that airport. I’ve done that many, many times.
On the effort to back Trump from Romney and other Republican lawmakers:
TUBERVILLE: [Trump] is trying to handle all these situations, and he’s getting zero help from the Democrats. And he’s getting a good percentage of help from the Republicans. But he could probably get more.
You know, that’s the reason I came out and said something about Mitt Romney. There are some good things he’s done. President Trump comes out and supports him. I voted for Mitt Romney when he ran for president.
To me, sometimes these guys could hold back on criticism and not say anything instead of coming out and saying something, especially about the racism deal. He’s our president. We got to back him, and if he’s not going to get backing from Republicans, he’s dang sure not going to get it from other people.
YH: Dealing with your potential future colleagues in the United States Senate, how do you view Mitch McConnell as a leader and perhaps working with Senator [Richard] Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator — do you foresee any problems given your pledge to be your own guy, and in the Senate and especially the Republican caucus, they kind of expect you to go along to get along? How do you feel about that culture there?
TUBERVILLE: You’ve got to work with all of them. The Republicans are going to have 53 or 54 senators. You’ve got to work with all of them, and I think that’s the strong point in selling myself, getting people to trust me.
I’m going to vote for the people of Alabama. I’m not going to vote for a party. I’m going to vote for what’s going to help the people here. I think we’ve gotten away from that some. I think we’ve got to vote the voice of the people, your constituents. If you do that, I think everything else will work together.
I’m not against any of those people up there. I’m a strong Trump guy. I think he needs somebody else. He’s got a lot of people, but somebody that he knows he can count on, to be a voice for him.
Now, am I going to vote for him every time? I’m not going to say that, no.
Dismukes announces AL-2 congressional bid — Says someone needed ‘to battle these socialists, communists and the big-government politicians’
On Thursday, State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) announced his candidacy for Alabama’s second congressional district, a seat which is currently occupied by Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who announced she would not seek reelection in 2020.
Dismukes is a native Alabamian and became a two-time All-American pitcher at Faulkner University.
On Thursday’s broadcast of Montgomery NewsTalk 93.1’s “News & Views,” Dismukes gave a wide-ranging interview with host Baron Coleman and explained why he was seeking the position.
“I’m really excited to officially announce I will be running for congressional district two,” Dismukes said. “I’m just excited and looking to get to work and further serving the people in a larger capacity. I’ll go to Washington and do the exact same thing I did in the State House, and that is stand for the people that I serve, stand for the people through and through. And then, I’ll have the opportunity to stand with the president of the United States, Donald Trump.”
“One thing I can say is I believe I really connect with the make-up of the district — the conservative social and fiscal values, and that I can stand with them and fight for them,” he added. “And in Washington right now, we really need someone who is willing to stand up and battle these socialists, communists and the big-government politicians, in some cases even in our own party — people that want to go along with the left and do whatever they want to do rather than listen to the whole of the people, listen to their district and go and represent them. That’s a promise I made from before and I’m making now — is that I will go and I will be a voice for the people.”
Siegelman: ‘State of the Democratic Party itself is pathetic’ — Joe Reed, Nancy Worley ‘succeeded in wrecking anything that might resemble an actual political party’
Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (Photo: Mike Disharoon)
It would appear that the Alabama Democratic Party has a lot of vocal critics, from the national level down to the local level. And now you can add former Gov. Don Siegelman to that list.
During an appearance on Birmingham radio’s Talk 99.5 on Tuesday, Siegelman, Alabama’s last Democrat governor, called his party “pathetic” and blamed current party chairwoman Nancy Worley and Alabama Democratic Conference chairman Joe Reed for its current state.
“The state of the Democratic Party itself is pathetic,” Siegelman said on “The Matt & Aunie Show.” “Joe Reed and Nancy Worley have succeeded in wrecking anything that might resemble an actual political party.”
Siegelman proposed Democrats adopt a similar plan to what Republicans in Alabama once adopted when they were dominated by the Democrats, which is to start from scratch and elect members with precinct caucuses and conventions at the county and state levels and do away with Reed’s appointment role.
“I think the Democratic Party needs to adopt a process that was used by the state Republican Party back in the ‘70s, and that is to have a precinct caucus, county convention, state convention to elect members of the county committee, state committee – have a real Democratic process and get rid of Joe Reed’s appointment process, which distorts the Democratic elected members of the committee. Anyway, that’s what I would recommend. I would recommend going to a precinct caucus, county convention. You can imagine in this year when you have this many Democrats running for president … with all of those people sending their workers to precinct caucuses to get delegates elected. There would be just a mass of energetic young people. It doesn’t matter who you elect to the county committee, or who you elect to the state committee. It’s going to be better than who the Democrats have today. So, that’s what I would recommend – to go back and learn something from the Republicans back in the ‘70s – have a precinct caucus, county convention, state convention to set things in motion.”
Brooks on Roby retirement: ‘A little bit surprised, a little bit disappointed’ — Means GOP resources will have to be diverted to an open seat
Nearly everyone was caught off guard by U.S. Rep. Martha Roby’s (R-Montgomery) announcement last week she would not be seeking reelection in the 2020 election to the seat she had held since the 2010 midterm elections.
Among those was her Alabama Republican House colleague, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville).
Brooks warned Roby’s departure, as well as U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne’s (R-Fairhope) departure to seek the U.S. Senate seat held by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook), means resources that could have been used elsewhere by Republicans will have to be used to protect those two seats.
“I’m a little bit surprised, a little bit disappointed,” Brooks said. “It means we’re going to have to divert some of our Republican resources to an open seat when we need them to defend our incumbent congressmen on the one hand, or on the other hand beating the Democrats and some of the seats they now control so that hopefully we can recapture the House of Representatives. Anytime you have someone retire and there’s an open seat, that increases your risk of loss. It also increases the amount of money that you have to dedicate keeping that seat, knowing full well that the Democrats are likely to spend enough money in both the Mobile Bay one and the Montgomery area one so that it is not a give-me for us and we have to divert resources.”
Rep. Aderholt: ‘The Democrat Party has been imploding really before our eyes over the last couple of months’
(Jeff Poor/Yellowhammer News)
CULLMAN — On Saturday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) offered a briefing of the happenings in Washington, D.C., specifically the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, to a meeting of the Alabama Republican Party’s 4th Congressional District members.
On the heels of former Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees and the rise of “The Squad,” a foursome of so-called progressive freshman Democrats led by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Haleyville lawmaker summed it up as “surreal.”
“Of course, you know Congress is in session this past week because of all that’s went on in Washington,” Aderholt said to the group assembled at The Top of the Town restaurant on the third floor of Cullman Savings Bank Building. “And we had, of course, a crazy week. But this whole year has been crazy. It has actually been surreal.”
“Between the Mueller investigations and hearings, between AOC and ‘The Squad,’ between the start of the presidential campaign and all the other unusual things that’s happening in Washington, D.C. with the Democrats now controlling the House, it has really just been a surreal type of year and just bizarre of what goes on in Washington these days,” Aderholt continued. “It’s been fascinating to watch the Democrat Party and how the Democrat Party has been imploding really before our eyes over the last couple of months.
“Of course, we’re approaching the presidential race. You see all the infighting between the presidential candidates, what they’re doing, and just seeing how far to the left they’re going. And I’m reminded every day that when something goes on in the Democrat Party, it’s just helping Donald Trump be reelected. This has been a fascinating year, to say the least. To be up there with what’s going on, these new members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and with [Rashida] Tlaib and [Ilhan] Omar – just how hard to the left they are presenting this country, and the Democrat Party has to accept them. So it’s just fascinating to sit back and watch.”
Aderholt was accompanied by Conservative Party British Member of Parliament Martin Vickers of Cleethorpes, who was in Alabama participating in a legislative exchange program.
Doug Jones: $125 million INFRA grant for Mobile Bay Bridge ‘a first step’; ‘A $90-a-month toll is just not feasible’
For many of the critics of the proposed $2.1 billion new Mobile Bay Bridge for Interstate 10, the federal component of the funding has been underwhelming, even as the feds have pledged a $125 million through an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) called that grant a “first step” and said he was working to secure more funding for the project.
“I’m hoping that the grant will come through,” Jones said to Yellowhammer News. “I know that we in the past have tried to support whatever grants Mobile and the area have tried to reach. There is some things are there now – that, of course, is welcomed news that they can get. But I think it is a first step.”
The junior senator acknowledged there were problems with the proposed tolling from the Alabama Department of Transportation, but suggested that if the project were to be designated as an evacuation route it could make additional federal money available.
“I agree that a $90-a-month toll is just not feasible,” Jones explained. “That’s just out of the question for those folks who are going to do that, and we got to look at other ways. I want to go back to the thing we got in our SAFE Act, which will help infrastructure and create additional pots of money if we can get that passed. It’s called the BE SAFE Act, and while it is designed specifically for evacuation routes, clearly that I-10 can be an evacuation route.”
“We just got to be thinking of the right ways we can get more federal dollars into that project and reduce the cost because I’ve said all along not every state can handle public-private partnerships the way others can,” he added. “And I have consistently said if there’s going to be any toll, it’s got to be something people can live with and not be an extraordinary tax. We have tried to write letters for the grants. I have been very supportive of the DOT grant that Mobile has tried to do. So hopefully, it’s going to work out. We just keep coming, trying to find ways – every way we can to try to help them.”
Tuberville on new Mobile Bay Bridge dilemma: ‘It’s all bureaucratic stuff — People are tired of it’
Screenshot/WRBL, Fox 10 WALA/YouTube)
The issue of tolling for the new Mobile Bay Bridge continues to be a dominant political topic in the state of Alabama, and it is not going unnoticed in this early going of Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate contest.
Even though the decision-making is up to state officials, U.S. Senate candidates are sounding off on the bridge, especially as local officials are hoping that more federal dollars will be available for the project.
During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Thursday, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate, lamented the lack of progress on the new thoroughfare, deeming it the product of “typical career politicians.”
“It’s like a swarm of bees down here,” Tuberville said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “It’s nothing but a tax, as you well know — $2.1 billion and basically what they’re doing is they’re getting private investors. It’s another toll bridge owned by private investors. And of course, they never pull the tolls off once they get going. They say they’re going to pay for it and not do it. But, yeah there’s not many people for it down there.”
“But they need a bridge,” he continued. “This place is growing just like it is in Huntsville. They got a lot of things going. They just got problems with, you know, the bridge coming over the bay, and they’ve kicked the can down the road, typical career politicians. Now they’ve got to do it. They just don’t have enough money. Now they’re going to have to borrow it and put a toll on it. So, we’ll see what happens.”
Tuberville expressed his concern about the federal mandate requiring the existing Bayway portion of I-10 to be raised at an exorbitant cost.
“They want to knock down the bridge that they have already got there that they say it’s not up to code to hook into a bridge,” Tuberville said. “That’s like $600 or $700 million to tear something that’s perfectly good down. And just because it doesn’t fit the code of going into a new bridge – it’s all bureaucratic stuff. People are tired of it. You don’t tear something down that’s perfectly good just because it says it’s not up to code. So, I’m sure they’re going to have a round-and-round with this thing down here. Again, it’s mostly state-funded. There’s some federal money coming in, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be private money coming in to build this thing, and they’ll be making a lot of money off of it for a long time.”
Kentucky House of Representatives passes resolution urging its AG to join Alabama’s U.S. Census lawsuit
(United States Census Bureau/Facebook, YHN)
On Monday, the Kentucky State House of Representatives passed a resolution urging its state attorney general Andy Beshear to join Alabama in its lawsuit against the Commerce Department and Census Bureau opposing the inclusion of illegal immigrants in the final census count.
The suit was referenced by U.S. Attorney General William Barr earlier this month as the Trump administration announced it was backing off a pledge to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, despite the U.S. Supreme Court not ruling in the Trump administration’s favor earlier in the year.
The resolution, HR 15, was passed by voice vote and welcomed by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.
“Alabama’s lawsuit challenging the Census’s inclusion of illegal immigrants in the calculation for congressional apportionment and electoral college votes is a fight to protect the right of American citizens to federal representation,” Marshall said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “I commend the Kentucky House of Representatives for recognizing that the issue is a long-term threat to the political voice of many U.S. states. The integrity of our system of federal representation and our electoral college is at stake, and I am hopeful that others will follow Kentucky’s example to raise awareness of our efforts to preserve the right of U.S. citizens to proper federal representation.”
Doug Jones on Medicaid expansion: ‘We invest all the time into bringing businesses into Alabama — We don’t invest like that in health care’
(Sen. Doug Jones/Facebook)
Thursday during a conference call with reporters, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) was asked to address Medicaid expansion and its potential future as health care policy in Alabama.
Jones touted his SAME Act, an acronym for States Achieving Medicaid Expansion, which has not yet become law. However, it would give states that expanded the entitlement program now three years of reimbursement as to ease the burden on state government coffers. The senator from Jefferson County expressed his optimism Medicaid expansion would come to fruition and said it had unseen benefits.
“The estimates are some 300,000 people in Alabama that would be eligible for Medicaid expansion, that would get good health care,” Jones said. “And when you get that kind of good health care, when you get that opportunity, it gives them better health outcomes, which saves money for the state in the long run. It saves employers in the long run. It is just a win-win situation.”
When asked about the imposition that expansion would put on state finances, Jones noted his efforts in Congress but also argued that if the state was willing to invest in economic development, why not health care through Medicaid expansion?
“First of all, the SAME Act would give them three years of 100% reimbursement,” he explained. “Then it would go to 95%. Then it would go to 90%. And my response to that is we invest all the time into bringing businesses into Alabama. We give tax breaks. We give tax incentives. We lose money in order to get money constantly. We’ve done it with every automobile manufacturer. We do it with businesses all the time at both the state and the local level. We don’t invest like that in health care, and we need to make investments in the health of our people in Alabama because, in the long run, those investments pay off. Expansion is not just a health care plan and a cost. And that’s where I think people are looking at it. They look at a dollar out, and they don’t look at the investment, the economic plan that will come with it, as well that includes better health outcomes for all employers, for schools – you name it. The benefits of Medicaid expansion for a poor state like Alabama would be enormous.”
Jones also pointed to states that have expanded Medicaid and had their death rates decline and lobbied policymakers to consider the long-term.
“I just can’t stress enough – it’s just beyond me that people only look at this at what it might cost in the short run and not the benefit to the people of Alabama,” he added. “We need to be playing long ball on this and not just going from one budget to the next. We need to be looking at as a bigger thing.”