The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    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 workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    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.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

6 hours ago

State Sen. Elliott: Ivey prison proposal funding scheme prevents new facilities from being built at existing locations

(Contributed/State Sen. Chris Elliott)

All three of the locations named in Gov. Kay Ivey’s prison proposal in Bibb, Elmore and Escambia Counties have raised some local residents’ level of concern as some have said they were blindsided by the announcement.

While there are existing facilities in Bibb, Elmore and Escambia Counties, none of the proposed new facilities, which would be privately owned and leased by the State of Alabama for prisons to be operated by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), are adjacent to existing ADOC infrastructure.

The reason according to State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) is the private entities named by the Ivey administration to build the new facilities, Alabama Prison Transformation Partners and CoreCivic, can legally build on state-owned land, which has presented challenges.

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“I suspect the initial answer as to why we’re not building on state property is the nature of the administration’s funding scheme, and that is the private companies are going to own this facility,” he explained during an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show.’ “That means you can’t build it on state land. Right out of the gate, even if the state has land on existing prison facilities or near existing prison facilities, the state can’t simply give that to a private entity and build on. That’s not allowed. The scheme that is set up now to lease these prisons, for the state to lease these prisons, precludes building on state land. That means you’ve got to go out and buy additional land, and finding a track of that size in a lot of these areas close by has really proven difficult, and again negates new infrastructure, not just roads — sewer, water, power — everything that it takes to essentially build a small town, you know, when we start talking about the size of these facilities, you’ve got to start over. And that’s all being driven by the administration’s choice to go down this particular delivery method of these leasebacks instead of owning them and doing them ourselves.”

Elliott’s colleague State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) has previously expressed skepticism whether there was much the legislature could do given the timing of Ivey’s efforts. Elliott acknowledged that difficulty but said Ivey proceeding would have consequences.

“I think Senator Ward is likely right,” Elliott said. “But that is probably because of the timing here. The Governor has indicated they’re going to sign these deals and break ground prior to the legislature coming back into session in February. Well, if that’s the case, then the horse is out of the gate, and I don’t know that you can undo that, even with consensus among legislators. Now, if the Governor slows up a little bit — even just a few months — I think there is an opportunity to compare and contrast the delivery methods being offered here with some state funding as opposed to this long-term leaseback, this 30-plus year leaseback. And we talk about the devil being in the details — we haven’t seen the details of this contract, what it really looks like. There could be significant pushback on that. The problem is the administration seems to not be willing to release the details of the contract until — ready for this — after it is signed. That’s going to be interesting to see what we’ve gotten ourselves into with the administration signing the contract the legislature is going to be on the hook for without ever seeing the details of it. And if all of that happens like that, the legislature is not going to have an opportunity. The Governor is going to have beaten us to it, if you will, and probably done so at a significant cost to the taxpayers.”

@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.

2 days ago

State Sen. Albritton: ‘Still questions’ on Ivey prison proposal locations, including Escambia County site

(Screenshot/APTV)

Two of the three locations named in Governor Kay Ivey’s recently announced prison proposal have received a degree of public pushback from local residents.

A location near Brierfield had been the subject of public scrutiny by Bibb County and nearby Shelby County residents. Elected officials in Elmore County have also expressed concern over a site near Tallassee.

The third site in Escambia County near Atmore had been seemingly free of controversy. However, according to State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore),whose district includes the proposed Escambia County location, that is not necessarily the case.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Albritton said there were some issues he and others were attempting to iron out with the Alabama Department of Corrections on the southern proposed site.

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“I spoke with Commissioner Dunn yesterday about this very issue, and there are still questions out there about all three of the sites selected, and we’re still trying to get some answers on some things,” he said. “But Jeff, we have got to have new prisons. There’s just no doubt that some construction has got to be done. We tried several times on the legislative side to put through a plan, and both times that we got it through the Senate and down to the House, the House killed it. The latest one, it had been through the House, it had been through the Senate. It had even been through the conference committee in the Senate and the House wouldn’t take it out of the basket. It just died. The governor — we challenged her, and she challenged us and said if I could depend on the legislature pass something, fine. But you haven’t. We’ve got to have a plan. At least the Governor has a plan. Whether I like it or don’t like it, it is a better plan than what we have right now.”

The Escambia County lawmaker said there had been complaints but said they had chosen not to take a public approach to their response.

“Of course, we’ve gotten complaints,” Albritton said. “We’ve got all unique circumstances. We have been pushing back. We haven’t been pushing back publicly. We have had discussions, and that was part of the discussion yesterday. We are trying to work out some of the details and finalize some of the matters and get some answers. But I did not see any particular gain in going public in this fight. We just need to try to work it out the best we could.”

@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.

2 days ago

State Sen. Barfoot on Ivey prison proposal: ‘Maybe I’m a little skeptical’ on financing, ‘In her legal right to proceed’

(Screenshot/Facebook)

Although it is not currently a front-and-center issue, Gov. Kay Ivey’s prison lease proposal is still looming, especially as there are ongoing discussions about the new prisons’ proposed locations that include Bibb, Elmore and Escambia Counties.

Another issue that is among the discussion has been the financing for the new facilities, which the Ivey administration maintains can be accomplished without an increase of expenditures by the state of Alabama.

State Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road), whose district will be impacted by the proposal, says he has concerns about the financing. However, he acknowledged Ivey would be acting within her authority to proceed with the proposal.

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“I’m just completing the second year of my first term,” he said. “In years past, the legislative body has tried to come up with a plan, has been unsuccessful. I can understand the Governor at the very least was wary or didn’t think that could happen. And I believe that she probably has the authority to go about it the way she is going about it. I do think that [the Alabama Department of Corrections] says the savings for these new prison builds will offset the projected $88 million-a-year for a 30-year lease. Maybe I’m a little skeptical. Call me what you wish, but I don’t know that that will happen. Let’s hope that it does. Let’s hope that it’s a net-zero effect to the general fund. But I have some concern about that.”

“You’re right about bonding because the rates are so, so low now over a 30-year period,” Barfoot continued. “And I’m not a construction expert. Listen, I’m a lawyer. But I have to believe that it would be a cost-savings to the state of Alabama if we bonded that amount out. Again, the Governor hasn’t taken that position. And I think she is, you know, in her legal right to proceed probably as she is.”

@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.

4 days ago

State Sen. Gudger: My bout with COVID-19 changed my mindset about the virus

(Screenshot/APTV)

Last week, State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) revealed to Alabama Daily News he had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month and had immediately quarantined himself after learning of his diagnosis during a meeting in the State House in Montgomery.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Gudger explained how he had dealt with coronavirus, mostly free of symptoms, except lingering fatigue.

However, he also said he had a different mindset about COVID-19 than he had beforehand, and saw potential hurdles for a special session of the legislature under the current circumstances.

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“I do, and it’s a great question to ask Jeff,” Gudger said when asked if it changed his view. “Beforehand, I’m a small businessman. I’m in good shape — I workout. I have not worried about getting that sick from COVID because from the numbers, again looking at the mathematics of it, it was less than one-hundredth of 1% that I would be passing away from it. And the people that did get it that I knew of were not getting sick. The first thing that happened to me was when Senator Randy Price when he got it and got put on a ventilator. It made me open my eyes a little bit more to that. During the time that I got it, my mother, when she was separated from me when I was off in Philadelphia doing some salvage work for my work, I came home, and she had it. She ended up getting double pneumonia and getting put in the hospital. She is 77 years old. It worried me. Now one of my good friends, their father, had been in good shape and on a ventilator in Birmingham.”

“It affects the people that it touches,” he continued. “And even though, a guy like myself — I feel like I’m in good shape — I was shut down for 12 days, and still feel a little fatigued. But there are people who need to be paying attention, need to be wearing masks, need to be calculated in where they go and who they’re in contact with if you have acute problems, especially with breathing and your lungs, this virus can affect you and can be deadly, period. And so, just like my mother — I am going to do everything I can to keep her in quarantine as long as I can until we know her oxygen level is up.”

“To answer your question: Did it change my mindset about this virus?” Gudger added. “Yes, it did. I was not as worried about it, to begin with. But I definitely want the people this virus can hit as a target audience, which is the elderly and anyone with acute problems with their lungs — they need to be careful.”

Later, Gudger acknowledged the need for a special session of the legislature and said he would defer to the administration at the State House to determine if legislative business could be conducted safely. He also said he was skeptical of any system that was not open to the public and did not permit full participation of the two legislative bodies could allow for the best vote possible.

@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.

5 days ago

AG Steve Marshall: Left using the pandemic ‘as a way of pushing an agenda,’ Legislature may need to look at absentee voting

(AG Steve Marshall/Twitter)

With early voting and other election processes underway around the country, including in Alabama, the left appears to be mobilized and attempting to gain an advantage from the rules in place.

Some of those rules have been implemented out of the pandemic’s fallout to prevent further spread of the virus.

Monday, during an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he had noticed that trend. He said it was “late in the game” regarding next month’s general election, but further action from organizations sympathetic to the left could not be ruled out.

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“I guess I’ve quit completely predicting what the left would do,” he said. “They’ve clearly used the events of this pandemic as a way of pushing an agenda that they’ve been trying to do for quite some time. But the reality is that I think the probate judges in both Mobile and Jefferson County were not prohibited from being able to open those courthouses Saturday — although that seems to be something to my awareness is a little bit unprecedented. I could see something being filed, but at this point in time, it is so late in the game, I really don’t know.”

Marshall suggested the Alabama Legislature may revisit the voting processes that took place in the future but maintained his role was to help protect the integrity of the election.

“I do think that clearly, we’ve significant numbers of individuals use the absentee ballots to cast a vote in a general election compared to years past,” Marshall continued. “I do think that this upcoming legislative session, as we kind of look at the pandemic and what has been the consequences of that, I would not be surprised if the legislative body looked a little bit about where we are on voting and how it is taking place. Again, from my perspective, make sure we’re doing everything we can to uphold the integrity of the election and not allow people to be able to use alternative means to be able to vote in ways that is inappropriate or unlawful.”

@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.

1 week ago

Trump touts Tommy Tuberville, Jerry Carl candidacies at Pensacola, Fla. rally

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Although he was 18 miles to the east of the Alabama-Florida state line, President Donald Trump on Friday made certain to give a shoutout to former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, the Republican candidates for next month’s Alabama’s U.S. Senate and first congressional district elections, respectively.

With just 10 days to go until most Americans head to the polls to vote, Trump was in Pensacola for a campaign stop in the far western part of Florida, which is a crucial swing state in next month’s presidential election.

Carl, along with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) spoke prior to Trump’s arrival. Tuberville did not attend the event.

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Given that Pensacola shares a media market with Mobile, Trump has made use of Pensacola’s location to support Alabama Republican candidates in the past. Before giving Tuberville a mention, he touted Alabama, where polling indicates Trump has a 20-point lead.

“How many people here are from Alabama?” Trump asked. “How many people here are from Florida? Alabama has been great. I’m up so much in Alabama. You have a great candidate, the coach. A coach, another great coach — he’s won three national championships, Urban Meyer. I was talking to him, we were talking about your coach/senate candidate, which hopefully will be soon. And Urban said not only is he a great guy, he’s a great coach. And he’s going to be a fantastic Senator. So that’s good. I’m glad I knew about this whole deal in terms of your location. Could you imagine if I didn’t call out Alabama for being a great state? I would be in big trouble. I’d be in big trouble. We’re way up in Alabama. Alabama has been good from day one.”

Later, he mentioned Carl, noting that Carl had his “total endorsement.”

“And candidate for Alabama’s first congressional seat, Jerry Carl — where’s Jerry?” Trump said. “You look good, Jerry, good. How’s it going Jerry? Good? Alright. You have my total endorsement, so go get ’em, go get ’em.”

@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.

1 week ago

Ainsworth stands by opposition to mandatory masks, vaccines — ‘Everybody needs personal responsibility,’ ‘Gov’t mandate is a dangerous precedent’

(Will Ainsworth/YouTube)

Late Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth’s office revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19, noting the diagnosis despite having followed CDC health and safety protocols.

Ainsworth had been a critic of the mask mandate and other restrictions implemented by Gov. Kay Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris done in the name of preventing the spread of coronavirus in the past.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Thursday, Ainsworth said he still felt the mandates were a “dangerous precedent” and suggested emphasizing personal responsibility.

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“It doesn’t at all,” he said. “I think everybody needs personal responsibility. I think the government mandate is a dangerous precedent. I stand by that. Here’s what I want you to understand, Jeff — I had a mask on in Sunday school and was the only person on the row I was sitting on. Maybe I got it somewhere else. Maybe I didn’t. But I guess my point is you can still do all these things, and I exercise caution. The virus — maybe it was on a doorknob. Who knows? But I still got it. So, I don’t think the mask is the cure-all that everybody necessarily thinks it is.”

“My thing is this: I think it is smart to wear a mask,” Ainsworth continued. “It’s going to be an extra layer of protection if you’ve got health issues. You need more than a mask. You probably don’t need to be out and about. You really need to be careful. But most people — they’ll be fine. They’ll get over it. We just need to utilize common sense and, you know, I think we’ll get through this. When a vaccine gets here, it’s going to help a lot.”

Ainsworth added that he was concerned about the possibility of mandatory vaccinations, as well.

“To me, Jeff, that’s just a policy issue,” he said. “I don’t think we need to be mandating masks.  I don’t think we need to be mandating vaccines. I don’t think that’s government’s role. I think that’s each individual’s role to decide what’s best for his or her family and that government should not be involved with that. That’s been my issue with this. Jeff Poor should decide whether or not he wants to wear a mask, or whether or not he should get a vaccine, not the government.”

@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.

1 week ago

State Sen. Ward: Alabama’s open records law ‘is a joke’

(Screenshot/YouTube)

For years, the public has struggled to navigate the stipulations and bureaucracies of Alabama’s Open Records Law, whether it be a concerned citizen with limited resources or media outlets with the ability to take on government officials who repeatedly shrug off records requests.

Section 36-12-40 of the Alabama Code states, “Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute.” However, there is no enforcement mechanism for compliance beyond judicial challenges.

For the past two years, State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) has been attempting to change that and vows to try again in the 2021 legislative session. During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Ward criticized Alabama’s current open records law, noting that it is rated last in the country.

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“We are rated last in the country in access to public records,” Ward said. “And I know it does put a burden on a lot of government agencies. And I want to make sure we do it in a way that is most efficient. But the fact that we’re last in having people to give access to the records their government holds. It is absurd. A lot of us ran out of time because the session ended with COVID-19. That being said, we need to bring that back up. I’ve brought it up two sessions in a row. This will be my third. Our open records law is a joke.”

Ward acknowledged the public’s attitude about government in general in 2020. The seeming unavailability of state records in a digital era that suggests documents should be more available did not help with the public’s perception, according to the Shelby County lawmaker.

“I don’t think there is confidence,” he said. “I don’t have confidence sometimes in it because the biggest opposition to reforming the records laws consisting says the same things over and over: ‘Well, it’s just too much work.’ Those records don’t belong to government agencies. They belong to the people.”

“Let’s face it, we’re at the height of cynicism of government right now,” Ward added. “And in this age of cynicism, the fact we’re going to say I’m not going to turn over any records — it only makes it worse. And it is the bureaucracy stopping people from seeing what is going on in their government. Internet technology — the way it is today, there is no reason we couldn’t have full transparency on those records that are legally allowed to be viewed by the public. Now there are certain privacy issues. There are certain confidentiality issues — would it be like a health care issue? Yes, there should be a block. But at the end of the day, if someone wants the minutes of a meeting or wants to know what happened to a session that’s not confidential, why shouldn’t they have access to it?”

@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.

2 weeks ago

JeffCo GOP chairman Paul DeMarco: COVID being used as an excuse for early voting; Jefferson County absentee balloting plagued with problems

(Paul Demarco/Facebook)

Last week, the Jefferson County Commission voted to take the unprecedented step of opening its courthouses on Saturday for in-person absentee voting, a decision of which was in part driven by concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Claims of voting improprieties have since surfaced. However, those claims have been dismissed by Secretary of State John Merrill, the state’s top election official, as unfounded.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Tuesday, Jefferson County Republican Party chairman Paul DeMarco decried the procedures recently put in place in Jefferson County. He argued the pandemic protocols for this election had been coopted to allow for early voting.

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“Let’s start off with the proposition of how we even got here, Jeff,” he said. “We don’t have early voting in Alabama. Other states do. We don’t. But we have this issue with absentee ballots, and you have to have a reason why. And the Secretary of State said because of COVID that you could say you are concerned about COVID if you want to use an absentee ballot. The reason why we have all of these absentee ballots is because of COVID. However, what we have seen is this is just being used as an excuse for people to early vote. People are coming in vans. They’re having parties. There is congregating in groups. If you didn’t get COVID before you came to absentee [vote] at one of these events, it seems like you’re more likely to have it when you leave.”

“We have this rule, and people are taking complete advantage,” DeMarco continued. “And anybody who doesn’t believe that is naive — to think that folks are coming to vote because they’re concerned about COVID. They’re completely using this as an excuse because you can’t think going to a place where there’s hundreds and hundreds of people and congregating and riding in a van together, as opposed to going to a smaller location, is not going to expose you to more of an opportunity of getting COVID as is going on right now. That, to me, is as frustrating as anything.”

DeMarco also walked through several other areas where absentee voting has been problematic, adding that could impact Election Day voting.

“What we’ve done in Jefferson County is we’ve turned them into precincts,” he said. “It was supposed to be, ‘Oh, come do your absentee ballots,’ but now we’ve turned it into precincts. Meanwhile, we’ve got some folks who’ve said they’ve mailed their absentee applications a month ago, and they haven’t gotten them back. The circuit clerk is three weeks behind. And some people haven’t even gotten [the absentee ballots]. And yet, we’re opening the courthouses on Saturdays to take even more folks. And they can’t keep up with what they’re doing with the other people, who had mailed them a month ago. And there’s no way to track what’s happening with these other folks who have filled out applications.”

“Another thing is on Election Day, you’re going to be putting poll workers in some places,” DeMarco added. “Well, there are going to be some places where a bunch of people have done absentee ballots — they don’t need the poll workers, while other places where folks say, ‘We don’t trust our absentee ballot will be in time. They’re going to have more people waiting in line. It has become a big mess. In addition to that, you have got people in these lines passing out in Jefferson County ballots marked, marked ballots, who are intermingling with the people in line. So that has become an issue. Candidly, it is a real concern to a lot of us who want to make sure the integrity of the process of every single vote is there, that everybody gets to vote, including those who are going to show up on Election Day and do not want to wait in long lines because of what’s going on now. You’ve got so many folks doing absentee ballots now. So, it’s a real concern all the way around, and I think there needs to be some of these issues addressed during the next legislative session.”

Lines were reported outside the Jefferson County Courthouse on Saturday by those waiting to cast their absentee ballots, and courthouses are slated to be opened this upcoming Saturday as well.

Similar circumstances were reported outside the Mobile County Government Annex, even with some turned away. Mobile County has enacted similar absentee voting procedures.

@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.

2 weeks ago

Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington: ADOL efficiencies have improved after initial impact of COVID-19 pandemic

(Screenshot/YouTube)

The coronavirus pandemic caught our entire society off guard in many different ways, particularly economically, given the abrupt nature of efforts by all levels of government to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

With government-imposed forced closures of many businesses came a spike in unemployment that resulted in those out of work seeking compensation. While the CARES Act passed by Congress earlier this year funded many of the unemployment programs available around the country, the number of claims overwhelmed systems in place, and government officials unprepared for those unforeseen circumstances.

State government in Alabama was no exception, especially for the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL), responsible for the disbursement of unemployment benefits. However, Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington said his agency is in a better place than it had been in the pandemic’s early stages.

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“No question about that,” he replied when asked if his agency’s readiness had improved since the early months of 2020 during an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show.” “The pandemic raised a lot of questions about efficiencies here at ADOL and state government, and even in the private sector. We’re all dealing with something we’ve never dealt with before. And that’s why we meet on a regular basis and look at our process to see how we can run programs a lot more efficiently. We certainly have to rely on the federal government because our agency is about 99% federally funded.”

“We provide training programs for people who need training to move into the workforce,” Washington added. “There are a lot of issues going on right now that are coming from a lot of different ways. Our job is to make sure that we have sound programs, and we educate those people on where the resources are.”

@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.

2 weeks ago

Merrill: Nothing ‘illegal, immoral or unethical’ about Choctaw County $6-per-vote-per-parishioner church donation

(Screenshot/APTV)

On Monday, Yellowhammer News reported an effort by the Alabama New South Coalition, which offered churches $6 per person for utilizing Alabama’s absentee ballot process and voting before October 29 in this year’s presidential election.

“Anybody that vote [sic] early before October 29th your church will get $6.00 per person,” an advertisement published in the October 14 edition of the Choctaw Sun stated. “We will verify if they have registered and checks will be dispersed after October 29th.”

During an interview with Mobile, AL’s FM Talk 106.5, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, the state’s chief election official, said that although this was not a “best practice,” it was not illegal. He also pointed to the offer not being specific to a church with a specific type of congregation.

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“There is no illegal activity associated with what’s been presented,” he said on Monday’s “The Jeff Poor Show.” “It was brought to my attention the day it first came out in the Choctaw Sun by the sheriff, Scott Lolley. He sent it to me, asking me what my thoughts were. We looked at it, had our legal counsel look at it, and realized there’s nothing that’s been presented there that’s illegal, immoral or unethical. It’s certainly not a best practice or something that should be encouraged. But the way the ad was presented, it didn’t say that individuals would be paid, which would be illegal.”

“It also did not advocate for a particular party or a particular position on an amendment. It just simply said you vote, then your church will get x number of dollars per member for your members that participated,” Merrill continued. “I thought that was interesting because it didn’t say ‘white churches’ or ‘black churches’ or ‘Korean churches’ or whatever. And so, it will be interesting to see what the response is because if there are some people who want to take advantage of that that may not be the intended audience, and the response is not what it should be, I think they’ll be some interesting activities that occur after that.”

Merrill acknowledged this behavior was not unprecedented. However, he said the advertising of such an effort was “flagrant” in the eyes of many.

“We believe that it has always gone on,” Merrill said. “There’s always been reports of it. And what we don’t know is how rampant it has been or how it’s been conducted. This was in some people’s minds very flagrant because they say that people have always been paid. Well, we are going to find out how this particular situation has been working. And then we’re going to make sure if it is working the way it has been presented in the paper — that everybody who wanted to be a part of it were able to be a part of it, regardless of race, creed, color or religious association.”

He likened this situation to tactics used on college campuses to encourage participation in student government elections.

“Obviously, it is not a best practice because it is associating some level of compensation with someone completing their civic duty and responsibility,” he added. “But it is also an incentive, which is not unlike what we’ve seen other people do at different times. I know in the past, there have campuses that have said, ‘Look, for everybody that voted in the student election today, come to this particular bar tonight — get a free beer.’ You just have to show on your activity card that you participated in the election — not that you voted for a particular candidate but that you participated. Those things are never fully endorsed by the administrative authorities. But as long as they’re not breaking the law, it is really just a matter of opinion about whether or not it needs to be done or not. But it as certainly as I said before — it’s not a best practice.”

@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.

2 weeks ago

State Sen. Stutts: ‘Check and balances’ needed on COVID-19, ‘Don’t know that we need the legislature making public health decisions directly’

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

It is a high likelihood when the Alabama legislature reconvenes in 2021, there will be efforts to limit the executive authority granted to the governor during health emergencies, as has been experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia), a practicing obstetrician in his district that includes the southern half of the Shoals region, commended State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris for his willingness to make tough decisions. However, he said it was time to evaluate those decisions.

Stutts told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” an oversight component regarding public policy’s impacts was something “reasonable” to consider in the future.

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“I understand the concerns, and I’ll say I don’t know that we need the legislature making public health decisions directly,” he said. “As I said, Dr. [Scott] Harris is well qualified. He and I have known each other for years. We were actually in residency together. I’ve known Scott for a good number of years. But, this was a 100-year pandemic. We have never had anything like this since the early 1900s. When all this started, there was no direction from other people in the department having experience dealing with it, whatever. So, the governor, Dr. Harris, had to make some decisions about what we were going to do. As I said earlier, we know more about it, and we’ve limited a lot of things that are now proven not to be important in the spread of the disease.”

“And we need to go back and visit those things,” Stutts continued. “Yeah, the masks are probably important. But taking salt and pepper shakers out of restaurants is not important. We’ve just done a lot of things like that — we’ve learned as we’ve went. As far as limiting the authority, I do think we need some checks and balances. But again, the state health officer is well qualified and has access to a lot of data that other people may not have. But again — that may sound like I’m riding the fence on the issue, but I do think medical professionals need to be making the medical decisions. But as far as public policy decisions and setting some parameters of what they can do without oversight, I think is probably reasonable.”

Stutts added that he acknowledges a need for “checks and balances,” especially as economic consequences result from the COVID-19 emergency orders.

@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.

2 weeks ago

AL-01 GOP nominee Jerry Carl: Democrats ‘mad’ at Doug Jones — Incumbent U.S. Senator faces backlash for involvement in internal party politics

(Screenshot/Jerry Carl for Congress), (Screenshot/MSNBC)

In 2018, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) played an outspoken role in attempting to oust the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party, which was headed up by then-party chairwoman Nancy Worley.

Earlier this year, the Democratic National Committee intervened. Through a series of legal challenges, Worley was removed, and State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) took her place at the helm. While many considered this a positive development for Alabama Democrats, some were not pleased with the changes.

Wednesday, during an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” in Mobile, Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, the Republican nominee for Alabama’s First Congressional District, spoke about his encounters with those Democrats, who he said in part blame Jones. He went on to say some of those Democrats may stay home on Election Day, or they could pull a lever for the Republicans on the ticket.

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“I tell you, and I’ve heard this from more than one Democrat — the Democratic Party is mad at Doug Jones,” he said. “Doug Jones got involved in state party business. He’s being blamed for splitting them up and suing one another. Both sides potentially lost, and they blame Doug Jones for it. I’ve certainly been taking advantage of that. I’ve spoken to several groups that are Democrat-based. I honestly think you’re going to see some very odd numbers come out of the state of Alabama when it comes to Democrats doing some swing votes because Doug Jones — Doug’s action with the state party. So, I’m excited to see how those numbers actually pay off. They may not show up at all, which is fine. But if they do vote, and they vote Republican — as the old saying goes, that’s two votes where I come from.”

“Tommy [Tuberville] and I spoke to 30 Democrat leaders in Mobile — one group,” Carl added. “And their response to us was … the only time they hear from the Democrat Party is election time, and they’re tired of it. They’re looking for someone who will step into their communities, understand what their needs are, and represent them, whether it is in state or federal. They’re getting much wiser in understanding their value of their vote. So again, I think we’re going to see a swing in Alabama. I hope we see it nationwide. I don’t know, but I can speak for Alabama. Thirty ministers that I spoke to one time all agree they were going back to their constituents and talk to them about voting November 3. Again, I’m excited to see how those numbers are. Those voters may translate into ‘no votes,’ which is what [Mobile Mayor Sam] Jones saw. His folks just didn’t get out to vote at all. And if they do come out and vote for myself, Tommy and the President — where I am from again, that’s two votes. It takes another vote just to make it even. We’ve got some surprises coming in this election. I really believe it.”

@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.

2 weeks ago

State Sen. Sessions: Agriculture losses from Hurricane Sally in Mobile, Baldwin Counties ‘are in the billions — not millions’

With some time having passed since Hurricane Sally made landfall, those impacted have a clearer idea of the monetary cost of the damages suffered to their properties.

Often overlooked are the impacts storms like Hurricane Sally have on Alabama’s agriculture, which took a massive hit from last month’s storm.

State Sen. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay), whose district includes the southern portion of Mobile County, estimates the total loss for farmers impacted in both Mobile and Baldwin Counties to be in the billions of dollars.

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“My district — actually, we fared a lot better than we thought we were, originally,” he said during an interview on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show.” “The pecans, all the trees took damage. You know, there was damage to the trees. It did not totally destroy our crop. We are going to be able to salvage some of our pecan crop, which is a good thing. The peanuts withstood it really well. The only issue we had with peanut production in our county was the delay in harvest. Peanuts are kind of a timing crop. When they’re mature, they need to be dug and harvested timely. We were late doing that. That kind of hurt production a little bit. The cotton crop is still out there. It has yet to be seen. It looked as though the impact of Sally had it looking really, really bad a few days after the storm. You know, we really thought it was a total loss. But it looks as though it is starting to stand back up. We’ll know when we harvest.”

“My dear friends in Baldwin County — they’re really in tough shape, especially on the coastal section of Baldwin County,” Sessions continued. “You get central, northern Baldwin County, the crop probably withstood it OK. But we did not have the torrential rain that they had. That was an added problem they had ahead of the win. They really, really took it on the chin. I would estimate the ag losses in Mobile and Baldwin County are on in the billions — not millions. I think you have that big of a loss in total revenue. The pecan crop over there is gone. Even all the peanuts that were already dug — basically, all that rain washed them away. Then, it made them difficult to harvest. The cotton crop, like I said, you get to the central, northern part of the county, the cotton crop may be fair. But the southern part, it’s a total loss.”

Sessions likened the toll on Baldwin County last month to that of Hurricane Frederic, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm in September 1979 at Dauphin Island and proceeded up into Mobile County, leaving a massive path of destruction behind. According to Sessions, the economic fallout will be felt by Baldwin County farmers for years to come.

“The pecan orchards over there are gone,” he added. “It will be years before they’re reestablished. You’re looking at a 15-year loss. Those 40-to-60-year-old trees that were basically getting into prime production are all on the ground. Not only did you lose the crop you had on the trees, you lost that crop for the lifetime of that tree, which is a long time. We have trees producing that are well over 100 years old. The potential loss is astronomical for them. My heart goes out to those guys in Baldwin County. What we had in 1979 with [Hurricane] Frederic, they had this year with [Hurricane] Sally. It is really, really a tough pill to swallow. It takes years. I remember after Frederic, we had to mortgage land that was mortgage-free, and it took us 20 years to recoup those losses — 20 years, that’s what you’re looking at.”

@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.

3 weeks ago

Rep. Aderholt: I think Trump ‘is going to win’ — Control of U.S. House will come down to ‘swing districts’

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt speaks from the House floor, Feb. 2018 (Aderholt/YouTube)

With 21 days to go, there are a lot of uncertainties that remain about the November 3 election, including the direction of down-ballot races across the country that will determine who controls the U.S. House of Representatives.

As it stands, Democrats hold a 35-seat majority over the Republican Party, which means for the GOP to regain control, they would have to flip 18 seats next month. According to U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), a lot of that will depend on President Donald Trump’s Election Day success.

Aderholt said during an interview on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Monday he believed Trump would win reelection. However, he said the House would come down to swing district wins, whereas the presidency was decided by state wins.

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“I think a lot of this is going to boil down to what happens with Trump on Election Day,” Aderholt said. “In the House, a lot of us are so dependent on what the president does — especially a lot of newer members who have not established themselves in their district. A lot of them are going to be voting for the president, either for him or against him, and I think that’s going to make a really big impact on what happens with the House. We’ve got to take over about 18 seats — 17-18, in that neighborhood.”

“[House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy has been working very diligently trying to make sure that we get that majority, and you know, he has done a great job in trying to really get our message out there,” he continued. “He has been traveling all across this country. … He’s in a different state about every day campaigning, trying to get the majority.”

“If the president does well in some of these swing districts — the swing district is where we’re really going to tell whether we take the majority back or not,” Aderholt added. “It’s possible. I think the president can have a great night. I think he is going to win — at least, I’m very optimistic that he is going to win. It is hard to know how he is going to do in every district. I think he is going to win the states for him to win overall. But I think he could sweep us into a majority. Again, it is going to depend on how well he does in these districts that are swing districts.”

@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.

3 weeks ago

State House Speaker McCutcheon touts FY 2020 education trust fund, general fund growth — ‘We have done some good work’

(Screenshot/APTV)

Earlier this month, the Alabama Legislative Services Agency reported both the Education Trust Fund (ETF) and the State General Fund (SGF) budgets ended the fiscal year on September 30 with positive growth.

While acknowledging an impact from the recession caused by COVID-19 to revenues, a memo obtained by Yellowhammer News from Legislative Services Agency fiscal division deputy director Kirk Fulford explained: “[T]he ETF revenues grew by 3.11% or $224.4 million over FY 2019 while the SGF revenues grew by 6.85% or $147.3 million over FY 2019.”

“Including the beginning balance, total available funds in the ETF for FY 2020 were $7.47 billion with total obligations of $7.16 billion,” Fulford wrote. “The excess revenues above expenditures were $314.4 million. Pursuant to the provisions of the ETF Rolling Reserve Act, the excess revenues will be distributed as follows: $71.6 million to the Budget Stabilization Fund and $242.8 million to the Advancement and Technology Fund. Including the beginning balance, total available funds in the SGF for FY 2020 were $2.66 billion with total obligations of $2.33 billion. The ending balance in the SGF before reversions was $330.3 million.”

In an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) touted the growth, which he said was a credit to the fiscal policies enacted by the legislature and warranted more media attention.

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“[W]e have done some good work,” he said. “You know, in politics, they say, ‘It’s not what you’ve done for me — it’s what you’ve done for me lately.’ And sometimes these good things that have been enacted in the legislature are forgotten. But when it comes to a situation like we’ve had with this COVID, for us to be able to sit down and say we’ve seen a growth, our budgets are sound — even for us to be able to come back in in May and even be able to move forward with the budgets and be able to pass something that we, according to the numbers, felt like was solid — I think it is something that needs to be talked about among the people. The rolling reserve, yes — it has been a huge factor in our education budget in being able to move us forward. The fact that we’ve got money in reserve that we can draw down on, and the way the growth is looking now — we’re going to be able to put that money back into that rolling reserve fund.”

“And then when you look at the general fund — the work that was done several years ago dealing with the internet sales and the tax on that, that was a big, big step forward for us and it has paid huge dividends in this COVID,” McCutcheon continued. “Another thing that people may forget about is when we started back in 2016, 2017 — we actually started putting money aside in the general fund. We had about $25 million, and we were being pulled in many different directions because we had a lot of people who were in need. State employees had not had a raise. We were struggling in several departments. But we actually saved $25 million right off of the top of that budget in the House and sent it to the Senate. It’s little things like that that have helped us through this pandemic that we’ve had to go through.”

@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.

3 weeks ago

AUM pollster David Hughes: 75% of Alabama voters approve of Ivey mask mandate

(Screenshot/APTV)

As it turns out, despite the outcry from various segments of society, voters in Alabama overwhelmingly support the mask mandate component of Gov. Kay Ivey’s so-called “Safer at Home” order, which has been in effect in some form since April.

In addition to showing strong leads for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville and President Donald Trump in Alabama against their respective opponents, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, as the November 3 election approaches, a survey conducted by Auburn University at Montgomery’s (AUM) Department of Political Science and Public Administration released last week showed support for masks by “roughly three-quarters of respondents.”

David Hughes, assistant professor of political science and director of the AUM poll, explained those findings during an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” on Friday.

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“We asked Alabamians if whether they approved or disapproved of the Governor’s mask mandate,” he explained. “And we see that roughly three-quarters of respondents approve of the Governor’s measures. So to the extent, there is grumbling, it is largely among a minority of voters. We also asked voters if whether they would continue to voluntarily continue to wear masks throughout the end of the year should the COVID-19 pandemic persist. Once again, we see large majorities of Alabamians support of the idea of voluntarily wearing their mask. Very small portions of Alabamians say that they won’t voluntarily wear masks.”

Hughes emphasized the difference between real life and social media.

“Twitter and Facebook aren’t real life,” he said. “Most people are really reasonable about this and understand that it is a public health measure and that masks are there to protect your loved ones.”

@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.

3 weeks ago

State Superintendent of Education Mackey encourages city, county superintendents ‘to end’ Confucius Classrooms

(Wikicommons)

As the threat from China has become more apparent, it has led to some in education policy to question why public schools and institutions of higher learning in Alabama are including Chinese state-sponsored Confucius Institutes as a part of the curriculum.

According to a report Friday, letters signed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos were sent to state-level education officials and warned the Confucius Institutes gave China a foothold on U.S. soil and poses a threat to free speech.

In a memo obtained by Yellowhammer News, State Superintendent Eric Mackey reacted by encouraging city and county public school superintendents to end their Confucius Classroom curriculums “as soon as practicable.”

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Text as follows:

“The Alabama State Department of Education (ALDSE) values the many partnerships that local school systems have established with various businesses, community-based cultural and arts organizations, and others who contribute to the overall educational experiences of our students. While the overwhelming majority of partnerships are positive in their impact, from time to time, local school systems have to examine their partnerships for content and appropriateness.

In light of new information that has recently surfaced and is clearly articulated in the attached correspondence from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, I believe it is incumbent upon some of our local schools to examine their Confucius Classrooms. While the ALDSE does not keep tabs on Confucius Classrooms, we know that a few such partnerships have existed in the past. It appears that most of them have since ended or are in the process of ending this school year. However, with no statewide database, I have decided to write to each of you to encourage you to re-examine any classroom collaboration. I fully realize that none of you, nor your Boards of Education, would support the repressive activities detailed in the letter. Nor would you allow such to be taught in your classrooms. Nevertheless, based on the information provided by the U.S. Departments of State and Education, I would encourage you to end any such Confucius Classroom experiences as soon as practicable, with a goal to end them at the conclusion of this semester.”

The letter went on to encourage superintendents to contact Sean J. Stevens at the Alabama Department of Education if there were any scheduling or technical issues.

Corresponding documents referenced by Mackey are embedded below.

State Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant), who has been at the forefront of efforts to ban Confucius Institutes in Alabama, applauded the move.

“I’m glad that Dr. Mackey has taken a step to protect our young people from the Chinese Communist Parties,” Hanes said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Indoctrination. This is certainly a step in the right direction. But there is work to be done when it comes to our Universities. There is no room for Communism in the State of Alabama nor the United States of America. I commend Dr. Mackey for this courageous move.”

@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.

3 weeks ago

State Rep. Allen: ‘These Confucius Institutes need to be removed from publicly funded colleges’

(Screenshot/APTV)

In July, State Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant) announced he intended to introduce a bill in the 2021 regular session that would ban Confucius Institutes from operating on publicly funded college campuses within the state.

Hanes has since picked up a key ally, in addition to U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), in this effort in State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy), whose district includes one of the two Confucius Institutes operating in the state at Troy University.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5 in Mobile on Thursday, Allen spoke about the Confucius Institutes. According to the Pike County lawmaker, those institutes offer a “softened” view of communism, and they needed to be removed from publicly funded campuses.

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“The Confucius Institute in Troy was established in 2007,” he said. “I think there’s about 170 Confucius Institutes currently in the United States. And of course, Jeff, I think you’ve probably seen Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo raised concerns about the Confucius Institutes in the Trump administration as well. And of course, Mo Brooks has been talking about it. Representative Tommy Hanes has got a bill he is going to put forth the coming regular session beginning in February 2021.”

“[T]hese Confucius Institutes need to be removed from publicly funded colleges,” Allen continued. “I think maybe the thing they are doing is giving a softened view of communism. We don’t really need that in my mind. I saw a recent study where the younger generation — 18-24, 18-30 year-olds — are really more open to socialism than we are, an older generation. You don’t really need a softened view or an institution to give a softened view of communism. Communism is oppressive and is evil. Instead, we need to really be focused on educating our kids about Alabama history, U.S. history, the Constitution, about capitalism — how capitalism is the best form [of economics] to take care of people and move the world forward. And I think that’s what we need to be focused on.”

In addition to the facility at Troy University, there is a Confucius Institute also at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville.

@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.

4 weeks ago

State Sen. Chambliss: Ivey prison proposal ‘bittersweet’ — ‘Will is there now’ for legislature to act

(Screenshot/APTV)

Governor Kay Ivey’s recently announced prison proposal has been mildly controversial given it has been deemed a go-it-alone approach by the executive branch without any official blessing from the legislature as a body.

With the legislature’s 2020 regular session cut short and the Ivey administration seemingly unwilling to call a special session anytime soon, any input the Alabama Legislature could offer will likely have to wait until the 2021 regular session.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) called the governor’s proposal “bittersweet,” given it allows Elmore County, which is within his Senate District 30, to remain part of the Alabama Department Corrections’ system. However, the new facility would be built in a different part of Elmore County than the existing facilities under the Ivey proposal.

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“It’s certainly bittersweet,” he said. “It’s sweet that Elmore County still has a mega-prison. Elmore County — we first made the commitment in the 1830s and have continuously operated prisons since then to keep the citizens of our state safe. But you know, it’s also a little bit of a challenge because we’re moving from one side of a county to the other side of the county. So there will be a challenge with new infrastructure that has to be built. And then there will be a challenge with the infrastructure that has been left because you know, that infrastructure obviously has a cost. And if the revenue associated with that cost goes away, then the rate-payers have to pick up that difference. Now, unfortunately, in this area, we’ve already had that happen one time with a major industry that had closed. And now we’re looking at a similar type of situation with the prison water and wastewater volume going away in west Elmore County. So, we’re still fighting. We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure we stay whole and are having a lot of discussions with the Governor’s office to try to make that happen.”

“[W]e have to keep in mind that the infrastructure that I am talking about 5% or 10% piece of the overall piece,” Chambliss continued. “So, me not having every detail of the overall puzzle — I just have to give them the benefit of the doubt, at least until all of that is finalized, that the overall picture is what is best for our state.”

Chambliss argued now that there is a concrete proposal that clears up uncertainties dealing with the new prison locations, there could be the will within the legislative branch to finance the proposal.

Past legislatures had been unwilling or reluctant to take on new prison construction given disagreements over the locations of facilities. However, he added that one benefit to the lease proposal could be savings on maintenance costs, which depends on the terms of the lease.

“I would say that the will is there now — and I say now because there were a lot of questions about where these prisons are going to be located,” he explained. “And when there is uncertainty, unknowns — people are apprehensive. You know, it’s like signing a billion-dollar blank check, and you don’t know what is going to happen. That was a big apprehension all along. Obviously, the [Department of Corrections] has gone through a lengthy process to determine the best locations in the state for these three prisons. They’ve done that with Elmore, Escambia and Bibb Counties. As far as I know, there’s not been any real major pushback on ‘those are terrible places.’ I think, by and large, most people think those are the best places. Now that those three are done, only big uncertainties are what prisons are going to close and how that’s going to affect other areas, just like what I’m talking about. I think there is some will to do it.”

“The next question is, will we get to that point in the next session, or will it already be done?” Chambliss continued. “The big thing is the maintenance. When you’re doing it the way the Governor is doing it now, the maintenance is rolled in — so when we have dips in the economy, that’s the first thing we generally take out of someone’s budget. That’s what got us into the situation that we’re in now with the dilapidated prisons. So, it’s not just a pure dollars-and-cents assessment. You have to look at that long-term maintenance as well and include it in the plan that’s moving forward now.”

@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.

4 weeks ago

U.S. Rep. Byrne: Hurricane Sally response ‘much better, much quicker, more effective’

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

Although the work is not complete in what could be a months-long process of recovery, the response is much improved from the last major storm to make landfall in Alabama, according to U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope).

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Monday, Byrne remarked on the efficiency of the response in terms of dollars from the federal government.

He compared Hurricane Sally to Hurricane Ivan, which made landfall just west of Gulf Shores.

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“As of Friday, the numbers were we’ve already had 43,000 people from Baldwin, Mobile and Escambia Counties request individual assistance,” he said. “And this early on, they’ve already put out $17.5 million to people, and this is early on. So, there will be a lot more money coming out from there. We’re getting a pretty good response from the National Flood Insurance Program, and believe it or, even SBA is beginning to put out money down here. So I’ve got to say from a federal point of view, FEMA has done everything I’ve asked to do, and the state’s asked to do, and they’ve been pretty timely.”

“There’s no doubt about it,” Byrne replied. “This is a much better, much quicker, more effective response than we had to Ivan, which is the last major storm we had to deal with. We had a lot of flooding from Katrina. But the wind and storm damage really was worse with Ivan. So, I’m pretty pleased with it. I was the state senator for Baldwin County when Ivan came across. And I think we’ve improved both the pre-storm and post-storm actions. Now, nothing is never perfect with a hurricane, after all. But I think they’ve done pretty well at all three levels at the federal and the local level, and I’m very pleased with it.”

@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.

4 weeks ago

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones: ‘I can have much more influence’ on protecting the Second Amendment than Tommy Tuberville

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

There is less than a month until Alabama voters head to the polls to vote for either former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, or incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) to represent the state for the next six years.

Among many things, Second Amendment issues are a significant issue for Alabama voters, and Jones insists that in some ways, he could do a better job as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate than Tuberville could as a U.S. Senator.

During an interview with FM Talk 106.5 “Midday Mobile” host Sean Sullivan, Jones argued that the notion he was anti-gun is a misconception and declared that he was a “Second Amendment protector.”

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“[I] think everybody has this misconception about me — I can’t say all Democrats, but about me — that I want to take away everybody’s guns, that I want to ban guns, that I am not a Second Amendment guy,” Jones said. “I’ve got a safe full of guns out there because my son and I are hunters. We like to just go shooting. I grew up with guns. I am a Second Amendment guy. The thing that sets me apart, a little bit, from some folks who have strict views on it, is that I do believe that we have to do something to allow law-abiding citizens to get their guns, keep their guns, get their guns safe in a way, an efficient way but yet keep the bad guys from getting guns. That includes taking the background check system we have now, and expanding it a little bit into gun shows and other things — nothing that restricts a law-abiding citizen from getting a gun when you do that. We need to close a couple of loopholes that are out there right now so that people who are stalking women, or one of those kinds of things — if they get convicted, then they don’t get a gun. They forfeit that right we have with the Second Amendment.”

“So, it’s just some common sense protection, but I am a Second Amendment protector,” he continued. “I don’t want anybody coming for my guns. I’m not going to let them come for my guns. And I want to make sure that the people who are law-abiding citizens out there can hunt, can shoot, they can pass down those guns from generation to generation. That’s what I am all about. And that is why it is so frustrating to watch the just absolute — the only way to put it is a lie for both my opponent, as well as others, to just absolutely lie about what I’m doing and to twist my words into something that it’s not.”

Jones went on to say that he, as a member of the Democratic caucus, would have much more sway within his caucus, and therefore do a better job on Second Amendment issues.

“If you look at that — you have some voices coming from the left, the far-left that do that,” Jones added. “But if you look carefully at most of the voices from the Democratic Party, you’re going to see a lot more voices like mine. And it is more important, Sean — it is more important to have a voice like mine that is in the Democratic Party that is in the United States Senate — because everybody knows where somebody like Tommy Tuberville will be on that. It’s more important — I can have much more influence to make sure we can protect the Second Amendment where I am than somebody who is just going to have a carte blanche like Tuberville does. That’s the other thing that people need to recognize and see. Don’t put the baggage on. Keep people in office that can vote the way and do things that you want them to — not just simply a fringe group on either party does. That’s the importance of my voice in the Democratic caucus.”

@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.

4 weeks ago

State Sen. Whatley: ‘If you don’t want to wear a mask, then you shouldn’t have to’

(Screenshot/APTV)

Earlier this week, Gov. Kay Ivey extended her “Safer at Home” order in the name of mitigating the spread of COVID-19, which includes a mandate that individuals under some circumstances wear a mask.

Not everyone agrees with Ivey’s use of authority under the tenets of an emergency order, even as the coronavirus is dominating headlines with President Donald Trump’s positive test announcement on Thursday.

While acknowledging masks work, State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) told Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 that he disagreed with Ivey’s decision and did not think people should be forced to wear a mask. Whatley said he would put the onus on businesses to mandate masks, if they deemed it necessary.

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“Let’s just start first by saying — obviously, masks work,” he said. “But they don’t just work against coronavirus. They work against flu. They work against colds. They probably work against the spreading of germs in general — just like washing your hands, not touching your face, and just being hygienic in general helps stop the spread of germs. Staying at home when you’re sick instead of going to class and saying, ‘Oh, I’m just so sick today, but I couldn’t miss another day.’ That’s the type thing — that if you do those things, common sense things, they’re going to prevent diseases and viruses, not just the coronavirus, from spreading. But on the mask order — the Governor has made a lot of great calls, and I appreciate what she’s done on prisons. I appreciate what she’s done on the gas tax … for our roads and bridges in Alabama. I think we’re getting over $70 million in my district alone on new projects just in the last year.”

“But on the mask deal — I agree with Lieutenant Governor [Will] Ainsworth,” Whatley continued. “I agree that they work, but I also agree that they should be a personal individual decision. Once you start making these mandates, you can make mandates for all kinds of different things to support public safety. But I think it’s a situation where that needs to be an individual right, an individual right and an individual freedom. And if you don’t want to wear a mask, then you shouldn’t have to. And businesses that are open — if they want you to wear a mask and you don’t want to wear one, then you don’t get to go in that business, and vice-versa. So, that’s my approach to it, and if people don’t want to be around people that don’t have masks on, then they don’t have to be around them. I believe it is a personal freedom of choice. But obviously, the masks do work — but if you want to go down that row, you know taking cars off the road would prevent automobile deaths, too.”

@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.

1 month ago

Elliott responds to Ivey’s Hurricane Sally ‘Monday morning QB’ remarks: ‘We have got to have an administration that doesn’t get their feelings hurt’

(Special to YHN)

The latest chapter in the back-and-forth saga between Gov. Kay Ivey and State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) played out on Wednesday when Ivey expressed her frustration during a press conference with those critical of the state’s Hurricane Sally response.

Without mentioning Elliott by name, she took exception to a “state senator” in her remarks about “Monday morning quarterbacks.”

“Monday morning quarterbacks have the easiest job in the world,” she said. “They don’t ever get their uniform dirty. They don’t ever get hurt or injure themselves because they never enter the game. But they’re the quickest to tell you what should have been done and what they would have done if they had been in the game.”

Ivey, apparently referring to Elliott, who had questioned two of the governor’s lieutenants for their tack in a conference call last week, responded to Ivey’s comments during an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5’s Sean Sullivan.

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Elliott acknowledged Ivey was likely referring to him.

“I think so, too,” he said. “And that’s OK. I don’t have a problem having this conversation at all. I just think it is so disappointing that this governor is reacting this way, even to the slightest situation that something wasn’t going right in the response. To characterize this as ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ — look, she got one thing right: It was Monday. When I was called to the Emergency Operations Center by local elected officials who were worried they are not getting the supplies they requested, asking for my help. That’s my job as their state senator  — is to represent them and make sure they get the resources they need from the state.”

“To suggest that my jersey is not dirty — look … I’ve been muddy for the last couple of weeks,” he continued. “We’ve got tree limbs down all over the place; houses flooded, including my personal property strewn all about. I’ve been running a chain saw, and heck, I had one conference call with the Governor’s office while I was standing in waist-deep floodwater.”

Elliott suggested it was Ivey who was not getting her jersey dirty, as she had flown in and out of the scene of the storm.

“In the Emergency Operations Center at the request of the local electeds — you know, on the ground with the lieutenant governor, who came down and met with folks with me that was scheduled way ahead of time to meet with farmers, to meet with business people, to meet with individuals on their property where they had actually been impacted — as opposed to jetting into Gulf Shores on the state jet and having a sterile photo-op with a few other folks down there, and choppering over to Dauphin Island before you jet back to Montgomery,” he said. “She may have thought this game was over on Friday, but it is not. We still didn’t have the resources that had been requested on Monday. And Sean, it’s not over now. We’re still recovering, and we will for a while. We ought to be able to have a reasonable conversation with this administration says, ‘Hey Governor, Mr. Emergency Management Coordinator — this is not going well in this particular area. Here’s what’s going well, here’s what is not going well.’ But instead, we get this kind of response: ‘You didn’t come meet with me when I was here for a little while.'”

Elliott told Sullivan he had a prearranged visit with Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, which coincided with Ivey’s visit, and was unable to attend the entirety of Ivey’s trip. However, Elliott said he did “appreciate” Ivey’s attention.

“I appreciate her being down here,” the state senator said. “I do. But this attitude that this emergency is somehow or another over as soon as she leaves and that any type of conversation after that is some kind of post-game analysis when we’re still on the field, we’re still in the mud. We’re still working on it — it’s hardly Monday morning quarterbacking. And to tell my local mayors, commissioners, and other legislators, you know, that they don’t want to hear any griping from them and that any type of criticism is somehow or another inappropriate — that’s really something when you’ve got folks that are suffering and trying to dig out from underneath this.”

He went on to say there was still work to be done and that he found the Ivey administration’s response to be “pretty audacious.”

“We have got to have an administration that doesn’t get their feelings hurt whenever somebody says, ‘Hey, this part isn’t going as well as it should be,'” he said. “And we’ve got to have an administration that understands this emergency. This recovery is not over yet.”

“[I] don’t think any of this was malicious at all,” Elliott added. “I do think the response to the questions, the plea for help, and the heavy-handed coming down on local elected officials that were simply asking for the help that you promised is really pretty audacious.”

Later in the segment, Elliott speculated the sharp disagreements between he and Ivey go back to the beginning of his opposition to the I-10 Mobile Bay bridge toll proposal, which lost favor with his constituents and was ultimately canceled.

@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.