The Wire

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


    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


    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


    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.

4 years ago

From Drop-Out to Board Rooms: Sanjay Singh’s Journey of Diligence and Excellence

Dr. Sanjay Singh arrived in the United States in 1985 as a college drop-out from India—a country that doesn’t give many second chances.

After some effort, Sanjay was admitted to the University of Texas at Austin, which at the time had the cheapest tuition of any major U.S. university, and his hope of success was revived. That cheap tuition soon disappeared, however, and Singh found himself out of school again, running low on hope and terribly homesick.

Thankfully, he didn’t give up. In 1986, Sanjay made his way Milledgeville, GA to reunite with his childhood friends, and in hopes of attending Georgia College. In the meantime, he was working at McDonald’s to keep himself afloat, but as he scraped pennies together, he was thrust into a robust community of international students that kept the flame of hope alive—and set him on a course he could’ve never imagined.

At a social gathering in Milledgeville, he met a professor named Tom Pritchett who kept asking Sanjay questions about his background, interests, and aptitudes. “One day, after two hours of conversation, he asked me if I could stop by his office the following day,” Singh said. “Needless to say, I showed up at his office at the appointed time, and he uttered something I never could’ve imagined.  ‘Sanjay,’ he said, ‘I want you to join our MBA program.’

“I said, ‘Professor, thank you for your offer, but I don’t think you understand; I’m a college drop out.’”

Completely undeterred, Pritchett said, “Sanjay, I only ask two things of you: that you never make a B in our program and that you take the GMATs before graduation so that you can apply for your Ph.D. program.”

“I was speechless,” Sanjay recalls. “But that conversation changed my life.”

“As grateful as I was, I was immediately struck by how different this was from anything I would’ve ever experienced in India, and it taught me an unforgettable lesson. Everything I’d heard about America was true,” Singh says. “Here, most everybody is willing to give you a chance, regardless of your religion, the color of your skin, or your socioeconomic success. Remember, I was a college dropout working at McDonald’s, from a foreign country and barely a penny to my name. But Professor Pritchett saw something in me, and he gave me a second chance—and that changed the course of my life. At a foundational level, that’s what makes America different—the gracious willingness of so many people to help others, expecting nothing in return.”

At Georgia College, President Dr. Speir had started an International Relations program. “He understood the power of bringing people from different ethnic backgrounds to exchange ideas. He saw how meaningful this could be so he went to the Board of Regents and asked for 20 partial scholarships to pay for out of state tuitions fees for International Student,” Singh explained.

“I became a candidate for this program and was interviewed extensively by local civic leaders. In another incredible turn of kindness and good fortune, they paid all of my out of state tuition, and on-campus part-time work allowed me to purchase books and pay my food and rent.”

Sanjay explained that he worked several jobs at the time, but kept his word to Dr. Pritchett to never make a B.

“In those days—from 1986 until 1990, I worked 40-60 hours a week, was a fulltime student, and never slept more than a few hours a night, but somehow, I made it through, all because of my second chance and a promise to a man who believed in me,” Singh said.

As he was pursuing his masters, Singh worked in the Georgia College computer lab in the mornings and taught himself a great deal about programming and information systems.

“As I thought back about that program almost 30 years ago, we are all international students who got a second chance in America. Every single one of us got good jobs because we were so deeply grateful for our scholarships. That created a work ethic in us that that is second to none. None of us wanted to short change the learning process, and that hard work paid off,” Singh told Yellowhammer.

“So that was my second big lesson, in addition to America is a place of second chances it taught me the value of developing a work ethic where I was never willing to quit until I’d done what I had to on a given day to pursue excellence.I soaked everything in, and that yearning to learn has never left. I’m forever a student, reading, writing, thinking, mastering my skill,” Singh added.

Sanjay also met his wife during those fortuitous days in Milledgeville, so a down-on-his-luck kid from India who’d arrived in small-town Georgia with no money and little hope, left with an MBA, a beautiful wife, and a bright future. And his story was only beginning.

­­­At age of 25, Sanjay decided it was time to get his Ph.D. “I’d really come to love information systems, so that’s what I studied in my doctorate program. The funny thing is, because I went into the MBA program without completing my undergrad, I had to double back and take a good many math and computer classes, which I did at the Georgia College,” he explained.

In the course of earning his MBA and doctorate, Singh made up his mind that if he were ever in a room, sitting across from anyone, he would be an expert in information systems. “I wanted to be a consummate professional in the business of technology and the technology of business,” Singh says, and that’s exactly what he did.

But the road wasn’t always easy.  “At UGA I was fish out of water,” Singh recalled, but the forever student said he learned two big things there from his professors.

“First, they spent time on the application of research, so they taught me that if I didn’t learn how to apply what I was learning, all of that research was just a waste. Second, they were both world class researchers, so they would use me to assist them with these research projects, and that paid my way through school. At Georgia, I learned the inextricable connection between business and research, and I also learned that if you’re creating value, people will come to you.”

When the Singh’s decided to move to Birmingham, people in Athens thought he’d lost his mind, but he came here because the MBA program at UAB’s Collat School of Business was an evening program that would allow him to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities by the day and teach by evening, and that’s what he wanted to do.

“I was a professor, teaching classes to business professionals twice my age and that opened up so many doors for me. It was the best decision of my life. People in the deep south have a reverent respect for knowledge and learning.”

This led Singh to consulting engagements with local companies, and his trajectory of success continued from there.

The co-founders of CTS Inc.— a Birmingham-based software engineering firm—asked if he’d like to become a partner. During Singh’s tenure, the employee-focused company grew to 350+ employees, and its impressive list of clients included Many Fortune 500 companies, including local firms like Regions Financial, Alabama Power, BlueCross and BlueShield, Protective, BBVA Compass, and UAB.

By 2018, CTS (short for Computer Technology Services), had become Alabama’s largest privately-held commercial software engineering services company.

Sanjay credits its success to a combination of hard work by his business partners, colleagues, and relationships that they built through involvement in organizations such as the Rotary Club of Birmingham, Birmingham Business Alliance, Society of Information Managers and the UAB Business School.

Reflecting on his success, Singh says, “Talk is cheap. We had to create a culture that was family-first and that directly contributed to our success. That meant we put the families of our employees first by showing them that we truly cared, and that separated us in the market. Our employees were highly motivated, striving for excellence because they knew we really cared about them beyond the workplace,” he said.

This year, CTS merged with CGI (NYSE: GIB), the 5th largest IT services company in the world with 75,000+ employees and $10-billion+ in revenues.

And Birmingham, Alabama is thankful this penniless kid from India came a bit further south. He’s created hundreds of jobs, enriched hundreds of lives, and it’s quite certain his next endeavor will be just as meaningful as the last.




4 years ago

How The Reformation Changed The Culture and Why It Still Matters Today

Photo by Mike REAL: “The door where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses!!”

While many will see this last day of October, 2017 as nothing more than another Halloween, this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is historic for anyone who places their hope in Christ.

The common belief is that Martin Luther nailed his thesis (95 Theses) on the door of Wittenberg Castle Church on October 31, 1517—500 years ago today. When he did so, this law student—turned monk became a lightning rod in his medieval culture because he could no longer tolerate the misguided status-quo. Determined to correct the wrongs of the high church to which he belonged, Luther exposed its cheapened teachings that not only misled its followers but lined the pockets and secured the power of its rulers.

Pope Leo X once described Luther as a “Wild boar loose in the vineyard of Christ and as a stiff-necked, notorious, damned heretic.” Imperfect Luther was, but one thing is certain, he had a bead on what true Christianity is and isn’t, and he possessed a dogged determination to steep his contemporaries in the fluency of the Gospel.

Central to his effort that became the Reformation are three big ideas:

One: The Bible is the sole authority in all matters of life and the Christian faith.

As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) says: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Not only does this constrain one from self-indulgence, it also empowers everyday people to better their world. This is important because, in today’s power-hungry, corrupt culture—just like the in which Luther lived—those who view the Bible as their authority are not intimidated by people in power. What the world sees as foolishness, Christians see as freedom. With the Bible as their authority, Christians are emboldened to engage the culture according to its truths. For they are certain that the powerbrokers to whom others clamor to curry favor have no bearing on the ultimate outcome of their lives. Therefore, they are free to fight for change, just as Luther did, without regard for the temporary blowback.

Two: Man’s greatest end is to glorify God.

Another big idea in Luther’s 95 Theses is that mankind is here to glorify God, not themselves. As I Peter 4:7 says, “…. in everything, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” There are many ways this truth affects the practice of Christianity today, but three big ones are our views of work, worship, and ourselves.

Concerning worship, before the Reformation, there were no sermons, only mass; and congregants hadn’t sung for centuries, they only recited liturgies. By reminding Christians that their chief aim is to glorify God, their view of worship changed from a mentality of recitals to one of responsiveness to God. This changes a person’s outlook on most everything.

As Luther wrote: “The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God….Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus, it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.”

With respect to work, the idea of glorifying God above all else helped Christians see their vocation as their calling. Contrasting his Biblical worldview to the model of all-powerful church leaders of his day, Luther reminded ordinary folks that if they went to work with the idea that “Today, I will serve the Lord,” their work mattered eternally. As he put it, “Every occupation has its own honor before God. Ordinary work is a divine vocation or calling. In our daily work, no matter how important or mundane we serve God by serving the neighbor and we also participate in God’s on-going providence for the human race.”

Regarding ourselves, the truth that our purpose is to glorify God percipitates fundamental life change. We live a culture full of self-promoters, and when self-promotion becomes one’s chief aim, that person leaves a string of broken relationships in his wake. Blind to how badly he repels even those who care about him, his obsession with his own image and achievement obscures what matters most. What’s more, he’s rarely able to participate in the most powerful of all human acts: forgiving others, not to mention forgiving himself. For how can a wrong or even a mistake be overlooked if it hurts his reputation? These are “Look here I am” kind of people instead of “Look, there you are” kind of people, and tragically, they often wind up lonely and depressed under the exhaustion of self-promotion. By choosing to glorify God instead of themselves, this curse is broken.

Three: Christians are saved by faith in God’s grace alone—they cannot earn their salvation.

In Luther’s Day, the Catholic church taught that good performance paved the way to heaven. Every honest person knows his failures are too great to atone for because honesty compels him to admit that he will only fail again. That’s why Luther was determined to expose this lie by pointing out the liberating truth of Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV): “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” As Luther stated: 

“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!’”

This tenant of the Reformation is vitally important because it reminds us that God does not view believers through the lens of their failures, but by the right-standing imparted to them by the work of Christ. As Milton Vincent wrote in his book, A Gospel Primer:

The gospel reminds me first that what I actually deserve from God is a full cup churning with the torments of His wrath (Rev. 14:10). This is the cup that would be mine to drink if I were given what I deserved each day. With this understanding in mind, I see that to be handed a completely empty cup from God would be cause enough for infinite gratitude. If there were merely the tiniest drop of blessing contained in that otherwise empty cup, I should be blown away by the unbelievable kindness of God toward me. That God, in fact, has given me a cup (Psalm 116:12) that is full of ‘every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3) and this without the slightest admixture of wrath, leaves me truly dumbfounded with inexpressible joy. As for my specific earthly circumstances of plenty or want, I can see them always as infinite improvements on the hell I deserve.

Measuring Luther’s influence is far too great a task for this brief forum, but suffice to say he made it clear that to believe the Gospel is to be saved, and that matters not only in eternity, but in our work, our worship, and our everyday lives here on earth.

As Jeff Vanderstelt said in his powerful book, Gospel Fluency, “Jesus didn’t call us to merely make a decision for him. He doesn’t need our vote of approval. He doesn’t want deciders. He wants disciples—people who are devoted to becoming more and more like him in everything, every day…The gospel tells us that the new creation includes a new you, a new heaven and earth, and a new King at the center of it all—Jesus Christ…The gospel is not just about what has happened. It’s also good news about what is happening right now and will happen in the future.”




4 years ago

Down Syndrome Man Offers Moving Testimony for the Sanctity of Life

In Iceland, the vast majority of babies with Down syndrome are killed in utero. Using the same reasoning as Nazi Germany, apparently, Iceland sees this as social progress, presuming that those with genetic differences are incapable of loving, inspiring, or creating immeasurable joy.

As those with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders have proven time and again, this is clearly not true.

Related: The Loss of a Son Birthed an Adoption and a Ministry

Related: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Moment in an Alabama High School Football Game

Related: Vestavia Hills Down Syndrome Player Welcomed by Dabo Swinney

Nevertheless, Iceland has apparently left it to society’s elite to decide who deserves to live or die, based on some subjective determination of human superiority. Such thinking led to the horrors of slavery and the holocaust, but humanists never learn from history, which they are bound and determined to repeat.

As reported in Breitbart News yesterday, Kari Stefansson is a geneticist and the founder a company that has studied Iceland’s population’s genomes stated, “My understanding is that we have basically eradicated, almost, Down syndrome from our society—that there is hardly ever a child with Down syndrome in Iceland anymore.”

In response, Patricia Heaton, of ABC’s The Middle cogently Tweeted: “Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.”

Frank Stephens, agrees, and he’s sickened by Iceland’s slective killing. Mr. Stephens, who has Down Syndrome, provided compelling testimony to a Congressional Committee on Capitol Hill last week, making a strong case for the sanctity of all human life. Realizing the obvious connection, Stephens told the committee that his life is “worth living.”

“Seriously, I don’t feel I should have to justify my existence. Is there really no place for us in the world?” Mr. Stephens said. “Surely happiness is worth something…Let’s be America, not Iceland or Denmark,” he added.

If anyone thinks this would never happen in America, Planned Parenthood and our country’s federal judges that are so sympathetic to their cause, are already doing their part to make sure it will.

When U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was Governor of Indiana, he signed a bill into law that that prohibited abortions based on the sex or race of the child or a prenatal diagnosis of “Down syndrome or any other disability.” The law also required that aborted babies bodies be disposed of in a dignified manner befitting human remains, instead of merely throwing them in the trash as abortion providers are known to do.

None of this sat well with America’s largest abortion mill, Planned Parenthood. Never hearing of an unborn child they didn’t want to kill in their insatiable quest to trade death for dollars, they teamed up with the ACLU to sue Indiana over this new law. A federal judge appointed by Barack Obama—U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt—promptly issued a permanent injunction against the law just last month. In other words, this judge says Indiana cannot stop a woman from killing her unborn child if she wants to do so because the child is female instead of male, or because the child’s skin is one color instead of another, or because the child has Down syndrome. This, says Judge Pratt, violates the Fourteenth Amendment.

In response to this ruling, President Trump said:

“Sadly, there remain too many people – both in the United States and throughout the world – that still see Down syndrome as an excuse to ignore or discard human life. This sentiment is and will always be tragically misguided. We must always be vigilant in defending and promoting the unique and special gifts of all citizens in need. We should not tolerate any discrimination against them, as all people have inherent dignity.”

Frank Stephens agrees.

“Whatever you learn today, please remember this,” Mr. Stephens passionately declared, “I am a man with Down syndrome, and my life is worth living.”

Watch Mr. Stephens moving testimony, which was Tweeted by PBS News Hour, here:

4 years ago

Alabama Resident Presented Congressional Medal of Honor by President Trump

Photo: Facebook-Zero Foxtrot

President Donald J. Trump presented the Congressional Medal of Honor to retired U.S. Army Captain Gary M. Rose today at a White House ceremony.

A resident of Huntsville, Captain Rose was cited for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” in his service as an airborne medic during Operation Tailwind in September 1970 and is credited with saving the lives of over 60 of his fellow soldiers.

“Through selfless acts of heroism, Captain Rose has embodied the highest ideals of our state and the United States of America,” said Alabama Senator Luther. Strange. “It was my utmost privilege to recommend Captain Rose to the President, and I am humbled to represent Alabama’s men and women serving the nation in uniform who strive to live up to his example.”

The Facebook page for “Zero Foxtrot” posted the following account of Rose’s extraordinary gallantry in Operation Tailwind.

On the days of Sept 11-14 1970, then-Sgt. Gary M. Rose was serving as a medic with MAC-V-SOG while conducting operations deep into Laos. Once on the ground, Rose and his company sized force moved into enemy territory, soon making contact with a large force of NVA; sparking off a 4 day battle.

During the attack on Day 1, one of the Montagnards was wounded, Rose ran towards his wounded man, shielding the soldier with his own body as he rendered lifesaving medical treatment. Rose then dragged the wounded back to the company with one hand while holding back and engaging the enemy with his weapon in the other hand. As the fire intensified, the team moved from position to position with the help of air support.

Rose received many severe wounds on Day 2 of the mission, but those did not slow his determination to save lives. While rescuing another wounded Soldier, an RPG landed nearby, spraying Rose with shrapnel in his back, leg, and severely crippling his foot. Using a stick as a crutch, as he would for the remainder of the mission, Rose continued to treat the wounded while ignoring his own painful wounds.

On Day 3, the besieged team called a Medivac, but choppers were unable to land.

On Day 4, over 500 NVA were moving on their position. They were ordered towards an LZ and began setting a perimeter. As helos began to extract the teams, Rose boarded the final helo while delivering accurate fire on the enemy as he loaded up. Shortly after lifted off, the helo was shot down at about 4,500 feet in the air. As they were crashing, Rose rushed to aid the door gunner who was shot in the neck, rendering lifesaving medical treatment that saved the Marine’s life before the helicopter hit the ground. Rose was thrown from the helicopter before the point of impact. Surviving the landing, Rose crawled back into the downed helicopter to pull his wounded and unconscious teammates from the wreckage, knowing it could explode at any moment. Rose continued to administer medical treatment to the wounded until another helicopter arrived on the scene to extract the men.

Despite the many wounded, only 3 men died during the 4 day battle deep in enemy territory. Rose is credited with treating 60-70 wounded personnel and saving many lives. On Monday afternoon, Oct 23rd, 2017, Pres. Trump will award the Medal of Honor to now-Capt. Rose for his actions on those days. #hero #moh

Thank you for your service, Captain Rose and thank you for bringing his heroism to the President, Senator Strange. We stand in salute of the well-deserved commendation the President bestowed on you today, Captain Rose.

4 years ago

Alabama TV Network Broadcasting The Father Effect This Weekend

John Finch lost his father to suicide at age 11.

As a young man, John did anything possible to avoid his pain. His craving for affirmation from a father who was gone led John down many unhealthy paths. In an attempt to find value as a man, he created a false persona that left him empty and in even more pain. His life was based on the pursuit of money to prove his success, and he became a social alcoholic as he strived to be the life of every party.

It wasn’t until John Finch faced his pain that he began to become truly fulfilled. On April 10th, 2009, he finally started the process of consciously forgiving his father and surrendering his anger, as he became aware of God’s forgiveness in his own life. It was only then that he began recognizing “what it truly means to be a man by God’s standard…he became a new man, husband, and father.”

John has now been married for 22 years and has three beautiful daughters. He’s deeply thankful for God’s grace that has allowed him to be a father and husband and to serve those he loves without the burden of the bitterness and anger that overshadowed his life for so many years.

Today, John has devoted his life to helping others address the anger and hurt in their own lives by sharing the raw details of his story, his failures, and the peace of his life today. John’s mission is to “educate, encourage and equip men to become the fathers they were created to be and to help men walk in a daily awareness of their significant and lifelong influence as fathers.”

To share his story, John made a short film a few years ago called The Father Effect, and an Alabama TV network has helped him spread the word. EWTN in Irondale is helping the John (who lives in the Dallas, Texas area) share his compelling story. EWTN aired The Father Effect when it premiered last December and again on Father’s Day, and they will air it again this weekend, in advance of the release of John’s new book by the same title.

You can watch part of the Father Effect short film below, and be sure to visit John’s website,, to learn more about his extraordinary story of true life change.

4 years ago

Will Alabama Execute Torrey Twane McNabb for Murdering A Montgomery Police Officer?

Torrey Twane McNabb
Torrey Twane McNabb

Torrey Twane McNabb shot and killed a police officer sitting in his patrol car. On September 24, 1997, Montgomery Police Officer Anderson Gordon was found dead, slumped over the steering wheel of his patrol car at the intersection of Rosa Parks and National Avenue in Montgomery. Officer Gordon had been shot five times. At trial, McNabb was convicted of two counts of capital murder for killing Officer Gordon who was responding to the scene of a crash McNabb caused while fleeing his bail bondsman. The jury voted 10-2 to recommend that McNabb be given the sentence of death, and the trial court accepted the jury’s recommendation.

McNabb was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 6:00 PM tomorrow evening as recompense for his crime. This Monday, Chief U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins of the Middle District of Alabama Northern Division issued a stay of that execution, based on the claim of McNabb’s attorneys who claimed that the “method of execution presents a substantial risk of serious harm.” The court’s ruling also pointed to the October 2nd stay of Jeffery Lynn Borden on Oct. 2 on similar grounds.

“Borden, in almost identical circumstances, received a stay of execution,” the court wrote. “Defendants did not appeal, admittedly in part because of the late litigation hour. The court, in equity and good conscience, cannot treat McNabb differently than Borden when the stakes are this high. There is no evidentiary justification for disparate treatment of McNabb.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s has appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn McNabb’s stay. In their appeal, the AG’s office wrote, “Alabama has already carried out four executions using this protocol. Three of those executed inmates were co-plaintiffs in this case, and their stay requests were denied by both the Supreme Court and this Court.”

McNabb’s attorney, John Palombi, pleaded his client’s position with the Court of Appeals, stating: “This court ordered that Mr. McNabb was entitled to further proceedings on the merits of his case challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s execution protocol.”

The next step is for both sides to await the ruling by the Court of Appeals.

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4 years ago

All He Wanted Was a Chance: The Empowering Influence of Coaches Like Alabama’s Gene Stallings

When Dabo Swinney was in Alabama for the Rane Foundation Charity Banquet last May, a small group of journalists gathered in a room to interview Mr. Rane and the Clemson coach. While Swinney was clear on his tremendous respect for Nick Saban and spoke about the good-natured jousting the two enjoy, it didn’t take long for someone to ask him about Gene Stallings, the man Swinney simply calls “Coach.”

“It’s great to be around Coach,” Swinney said talking about their time together at the Banquet…”And I always feel like I’m 20 again when I’m with him. It’s ‘Yes Sir and No Sir,’ ” Swinney quipped, as Jimmy Rane added with a chuckle, “We all say ‘Sir’ to Coach Stallings!”

When asked what his May trip to Alabama meant to him, Swinney continued:

“I try to always remember where I came from and I’m not any different now than I was years ago as a G.A. (graduate assistant) working for Coach back then. It’s just the light’s a little brighter now, but I don’t do it any different. I think the key to coaching is to love my players. I’m relationship driven and it’s hard to have a relationship with someone unless you know them and care about them. The whole philosophy of our team is to love, serve, and care for our players. If we do that, we will empower young men to go out in life and do the same thing. They’ll love others, serve their families, and their communities, and I think that’s been the key for our success at Clemson. If there’s a secret sauce, that’s it. Nobody’s perfect, but we truly try to love our guys. That’s the culture we’ve built at Clemson and I think it’s the key to most anything, just love your neighbor.”

Clearly, Dabo Swinney didn’t just decide to approach coaching that way out of the blue. Gene Stallings played no small part in imparting this vision to Swinney, not only with words but with deeds.

William Christopher Swinney showed up at Alabama with a huge hole in his heart from his father’s struggles of losing a business and (during those years) succumbing to the bottle. But Dabo Swinney possessed a passion that equaled his pain. What he lacked in physical prowess, he more than made up for with an indomitable spirit. Though no one had asked him to come, Gene Stallings embraced the walk-on from Pelham, Alabama and treated him like a son.

Just as Swinney strives to do with his own players today, Stallings loved Swinney, invested in him, cared about him beyond his performance on the field, and played a big part in empowering him to be the man he is today. As Swinney put it: “It’s simple; I’m not sitting right here right now if it weren’t for people like Coach caring about me.”

Following Clemson’s surprising loss to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome last Friday night, Swinney spoke to’s, David Hood about his decision to come to Tuscaloosa Saturday to take part in celebrating the Tide’s 1992 National Championship team, which he played on under Stallings. “The last thing I wanted to do is get on a plane Saturday morning and go anywhere, but I’m glad I did. It was a very special day. My senior year in 1992…I have such great relationships with so many of my teammates to this day, 25 years later.”

Continuing to reflect on his trip to Alabama Saturday, Swinney said:

“First of all, it was just great perspective for me. It was just what the doctor ordered. Just seeing my teammates and spending time with them. They did a great job of how they organized it…With the way God worked it out, we had a game on Friday night. For me to have a Saturday is a rare thing. It’s probably the last time we’ll be together with Coach (Stallings). Coach just had a heart attack last week. When he said he was going, I really didn’t have any excuse…They were so helpful. They took us straight from the airport over to the stadium. We had about an hour and a half with just the team in the big letterman room with nobody in there. It was just the team—us and Coach. It was really a special time. I saw guys I hadn’t seen since 1992. We’ve had a couple of reunions but not even close to the turnout. It was pretty much just about everybody. It was a special time. Everybody was just so complimentary of Clemson and what we’ve been able to do here.”

Turning his focus back to Coach Stallings, Swinney added:

“It was great just being able to be with Coach and have that special time. He was fussing at me. He was still being Coach and he said he didn’t sleep all night. He said he got up at 3 a.m. eating grapes and still mad about the game (Clemson’s loss Friday night). He was walking with a cane. It was tough to see him like that, but it meant that much to him to get there. I was really thankful that I was able to go and be a part of that. They did all of the stuff in the pregame and then once they cleared the field they announced the team, it was great to be a part of that moment.”

Dabo Swinney’s trip to Alabama on Saturday is a great reminder that regardless of the color of one’s skin or jersey; and no matter what games one may win or lose; the lifelong bonds that often come from sports can be lasting and powerful. This is all the more true when a coach decides to truly invest in a kid—especially in a kid nobody recruited—a kid that’s asking for nothing more than a chance.

Most folks would write that kid off, or at best just ignore him. But most folks aren’t Gene Stallings. Today, untold numbers of young men (and their families) benefit from the fact that Coach was wise enough to know that life is far bigger than football and that every person matters and deserves to be treated with love and respect. Because Coach knew that only God knows who those kids may one day become.

As Swinney told Yellowhammer last May, “Being home reminds me that I was a kid who didn’t have much of a chance that God gave a chance.” And there’s little doubt that God chose Gene Stallings to give Dabo Swinney that chance.

4 years ago

Governor Ivey Announces WiFi Network To State’s Public Safety Personnel

Yesterday, Governor Kay Ivey announced her decision to accept the FirstNet and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state’s public safety community that will bring advanced tools to help Alabama’s first responders save lives and protect communities.

“Keeping Alabama’s residents, visitors and first responders safe is of the highest concern,” Governor Ivey said. “From volunteer emergency responders in our rural communities to those on the front lines in more populated areas, our public safety community deserves access to the tools they need most. This collaboration with FirstNet and AT&T will allow us to provide our first responders increased capabilities to communicate as effectively and efficiently as possible, while also ensuring that our residents and businesses have the best possible services provided to them in times of emergency.”

Through a public-private partnership with FirstNet, AT&T will build, operate., and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for Alabama’s public safety community at no cost to the state.

The Governor’s press release said that Alabama selected the FirstNet and AT&T public-private partnership after evaluating a host of other bids, as the deemed this network delivered the best value solution with the least risk to the state.

“Reliable, effective communications systems and networks are most important when lives are on the line,” Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Hal Taylor said. “I am very pleased Alabama is opting in to be part of FirstNet. This network, and the new tools it will provide, will help our first responders do their jobs more safely and effectively, and it will help save lives all across the state.”

Below is a list of communications capabilities the system will deliver to Alabama’s firefighters, police, emergency medical services (EMS) and other public safety personnel communicate and share information:

    • Connect first responder subscribers to the critical information they need in a highly secure manner when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies and supporting large events like college football games, which attract more than 100,000 fans to home games at some of the larger universities in the state.

    • Provide priority access to data communications for public safety personnel in agencies and jurisdictions across the state during natural disasters, such as the 2011 Super Outbreak that produced a record number of tornadoes in the state.

    • Enhance and expand network coverage across Alabama’s diverse landscape, benefitting first responders and residents throughout the state’s rural areas, including mountainous and tribal lands.

    • Provide first responders with access to dedicated network assets that can be deployed for additional coverage and support when needed.

    • Drive infrastructure investments and create jobs across the state.

    • Usher in a new wave of dependable innovations for first responders. This will create an ever-evolving set of life-saving tools for public safety, including public safety apps, specialized devices, and Internet of Things technologies. It also carries the potential for future integration with NextGen 9-1-1 networks and Smart Cities’ infrastructure.

This network was designed with direct input from the state and its public safety community, including the Alabama First Responder Wireless Commission (AFRWC) who voted unanimously on the system in late September.

The AFRWC,  chaired by Secretary Hal Taylor of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, By working closely with the AFRWC, determined that the FirstNet and AT&T system will meet Alabama’s unique communications needs, which include:

    • Expanding rural coverage beyond what is currently available from commercial carriers.

    • Offering affordable data services to public safety across the state.

    • Delivering a network for public safety with continuing expansive geographical coverage and increasing redundancy and resiliency.

“Governor Ivey’s decision to join FirstNet comes after the state considered a number of options to bring public safety the best communications solution,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said. “FirstNet and AT&T are extremely pleased to have delivered the network plan that best meets Alabama’s unique needs. We look forward to connecting first responders across the State’s diverse landscape, providing them access to the only network purpose-built for public safety’s life-saving mission.”

The news release said, “first responder subscribers, including fire and rescue services, law enforcement, emergency medical services, emergency management and 9-1-1 personnel, will have dedicated access to the network when and where they need it – 24/7/365, like their mission.”

“We appreciate the seriousness and diligence Governor Ivey and her team brought to the discussion of Alabama’s participation in this nationwide public safety broadband network. It matches our own commitment to delivering this first-of-its-kind communications solution,” AT&T Alabama Assistant Vice President of Legislative and External Affairs Wayne Hutchens said. “AT&T is honored to bring the FirstNet Network to Alabama and connect its public safety community to the life-saving technologies they, and our citizens, deserve.”

4 years ago

Little’s Murder Conviction Upheld in Alabama

Alabama’s Attorney General, Steve Marshall, announced in a press release yesterday that the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the murder conviction of Dennis Allen Little.  Little, 39, of Columbiana, was convicted in Shelby County Circuit Court in August 2016 for the murder of Johnny Lee Patterson.

Mr. Little, 39, of Columbiana, Alabama was convicted in Shelby County Circuit Court in August 2016 for the murder of Johnny Lee Patterson.

At his trial, evidence was presented that he killed Patterson by stabbing him in the neck in 2014, and attempted to cover his body with old tires.  Little was found by police with Patterson’s blood on his clothes and Patterson’s bank card and a mobile phone in his possession.

Shelby County District Attorney Jill Lee’s office prosecuted Little, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Little’s defense counsel tried to have his conviction reversed on appeal.

The Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals Section handled the case during the appeals process, arguing for the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals to affirm the conviction. The Court did so in a decision issued Friday, October 6.

Attorney General Marshall commended Assistant Attorney General Kristi Wilkerson of the Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals Section for her successful work in this case.

4 years ago

Alabama Corrections Submits Response With New Plan to Federal Judge

Photo: Joe Allen / Alabama NewsCenter

In response to a federal judge’s order to fix Alabama’s prison system, the state has responded with a proposal to basically double the number of mental health workers in state prisons.

The response, filed by attorneys for the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), reads:

In this Plan, the State proposes a concise, measured process to address correctional and mental health staffing within ADOC facilities. This Plan is based upon two (2) fundamental objectives: (1) To define the requisite level of correctional and mental health staffing; and (2) To establish a plan for ADOC to achieve comprehensive staffing in its security and mental health operations.

However, the response says that Commissioner Dunn nor the ADOC can implement its plan without the legislature allocating the funds to do so. As its response to Judge Myron Thompson reads:

Neither Commissioner Dunn nor ADOC can undertake actions or carry out measures designed to address ADOC’s staffing needs without the requisite funding. In the event ADOC receives such funding, the on-going and  proposed actions set forth in this comprehensive, multifaceted Plan should allow ADOC to obtain comprehensive correctional staff within two (2) years of the Effective Date.
As Senator Cam Ward explained to Yellowhammer:
Now that the plan has been submitted, Judge Thompson will have to sign off on it. If he does so, it then falls to us [the legisature] to find a way to pay for it, which we must do to comply with his order. Of course we have seen this coming, so it is no surprise, but it makes it no less challenging to fund. In ballpark figures, it will take $40 million a year to implement this plan. The current ADOC budget is $400 million a year so that’s a ten percent increase every year. Compared to most state agencies, that’s a very large increase. If Judge Thompson does approve the proposed plan, in this next session we will have to create a supplemental appropriations bill to allocate this extra $40 million and then find a way to make that part of the budget each year thereafter.
The state will now wait to hear back from Judge Thompson on whether or not he accepts this proposal.
4 years ago

Cavanaugh Embraces Pruitt’s Return to the Law Under Trump’s EPA

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced plans today to withdraw the Obama-era “Clean Power Plan” designed to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants. At a speech in the heart of coal country in Hazard, Kentucky, Pruitt said he is signing a proposed rule to withdraw the Obama initiative.

“When you think about what that rule meant, that rule really was about picking winners and losers,” Pruitt said.

“The past administration was unapologetic; they were using every bit of power, every bit of authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we generate electricity in this country. And that’s wrong,” he stated.

Continuing his speech, Pruitt said:

“How do we achieve better outcomes by working with industry, not against industry? There are bad actors out there for sure, but it’s not the premise we start with that all industry does not want to work with the EPA to achieve good outcomes. We are getting back to the basics [of] doing our work consistent with the rule of law…It’s Congress that gives us our orders as to how we administer those statutes and gives us the parameters. The last administration just simply made it up.”

Alabama Public Service Commissioner Twinkle Cavanaugh agrees. As she told Yellowhammer,

“President Obama’s energy policy was a disaster from the start.  I applaud EPA Administrator Pruitt and President Trump for repealing the illegal, job-killing set of bureaucratic regulations known as Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Alabama has tens of thousands of jobs tied to the coal industry, and the Obama plan threatened to kill not only those jobs but also jobs in manufacturing, small business and farming which depend on affordable energy.

I am glad that common sense has prevailed here.  This is a victory for Alabama jobs and Alabama families.”

This move is consistent with the messages Pruitt stressed in an interview with Yellowhammer earlier this summer, in which he reinforced his commitment to the Back-to-Basics plan. In that interview he stated:

Achieving regulatory certainty on behalf of businesses simply means we’re going to act within the law. Over the past eight years, the EPA has been unpredictable, often going beyond its statutory limits. It has acted haphazardly with respect to its rulings, which paralyzes those we serve.


4 years ago

Ivey, Battle, Dawson, and Hightower Remain Atop AL Gubernatorial Fundraising Race

Again this month, incumbent Kay Ivey, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Alabama minister Scott Dawson, and state Senator Bill Hightower lead the fundraising charge in the Alabama governor’s race.

Ivey jumped in late but wasted no time raising large sums of cash. Thanks to a $25,000 boost from Regions Bank, she started September with a balance of  $1,000,2000. She spent a whopping $83,663 launching her campaign during the month, ending it with $1,157869 in cash on hand. Not counting a couple of major cash contributions (upwards of $50k), she raised $241,332 from everyday donors in September. Governor Ivey is riding the wave most incumbents enjoy while touting restored stability to the office following the forced resignation of her disgraced predecessor, Robert Bentley.

Not far behind Ivey is Tommy Battle. The Huntsville Mayor started September with $852,391 on hand, and he spent $35,975, finishing with a balance of $1,028,017. This makes him the only candidate besides Ivey to break the million-dollar barrier. Battle raised $211,506 from everyday donors and also enjoyed a major contribution boost of $25,000 from an individual donor. He’s popular among Huntsville-area business leaders and benefits from his economic development record in the Rocket City, which is filled with high-tech, high-wage jobs.

Finishing third in fundraising several months in a row is Birmingham minister Scott Dawson, who raised  $54,067 in September. Starting the month with a balance of $254,135, he spent about $9,400 getting his message out during the month and heads into October with a balance of $301,004. Dawson was bolstered by the endorsement of Mike Huckabee, as the former Arkansas governor drew comparisons between he and Dawson as ministers in the political arena, while announcing his support for his Alabama friend on the Rick & Bubba Show. Dawson also benefits from a grassroots network across Alabama—a state that’s proven its affinity for those outside the political establishment.

Close behind Dawson in cash raised in the governor’s race, but ahead of him in cash on hand, is Alabama state Senator Bill Hightower. The Senator started the month with a balance of $537,708. He spent just over $40,000 in September and finished the month with a principal campaign balance of $546,222. From everyday donors, Hightower raised $47,306. Popular among south Alabama business leaders, the affable Senator is working hard to show how his private sector business achievements translate into broadening the geographic scope of his campaign as a statewide political leader.

4 years ago

The Alabama Legislature: Looking for A Few Good Men and Women

Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Flickr user Joel יוֹאֵל)
Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Flickr user Joel יוֹאֵל)

With the Alabama legislature presently out of sessions, the lawmaking body for the Yellowhammer State has more vacancies than it’s had in some time, begging the question: is serving in Montgomery as attractive as it used to be?

While many will speculate about the answer to this question, out of the 105 seats in the Alabama House of Representatives, 19 are currently vacant, and of the 35 State Senate seats, nine are vacant.

As we recently reported, Senator Quinton Ross (District 26) is resigning because he was named President of Alabama State University, and Governor Ivey has set a special election for this seat on February 27, 2018, with a primary preceding December 12, 2017. John Knight has announced he will seek this seat.

Senator Bill Hightower (District 35) is running for Governor, and State Rep. Will Ainsworth (District 27) is running for Lt. Governor.  State Rep. David Sessions announced last week that he would seek Hightower’s seat. Meanwhile, Gerald Dial is vacating the District 13 seat, which is being sought by Alabama’s Director of Forensic Science, Mike Sparks on the Republican ticket.

Over in the House, former State Rep. Micky Hammon leaves a vacant seat in House District 4 following his guilty plea to felony campaign finance charges.

The tragic passing of Rep. Jim Patterson also leaves the seat in House District  21 vacant.

In total, some 20% of all state legislative seats open at present, which means that there will be as much turnover in the 2018 cycle as there was in 2010 when the Republican party swept the Alabama legislature.

By our best count, the open Alabama State House Districts are as follows: 3, 4, 9, 17, 18, 21, 27, 30, 47, 61, 77, 81, 88, 89, 91, 96, 99, 102, and 105. The open Senate districts are: 2, 7, 10, 13, 25, 26, 32, 34, and 35.

Therefore, if anyone who believes they have a positive contribution to make in the state legislature, now may be the best time in a long time to throw your hat in the ring.

4 years ago

Progress PAC Endorses Jay Mitchell for Alabama Supreme Court

Alabama Supreme Court candidate Jay Mitchell has received the endorsement of Progress PAC, the political action committee for the Business Council of Alabama.

As Perry Hand, chairman and chief executive officer of Volkert Inc. in Mobile, said on the PAC’s behalf:

“ProgressPAC is proud to endorse Jay Mitchell in next June’s Supreme Court primary. Jay is supremely qualified, knows the law, and will uphold the Constitution…[He] possesses the qualities that businesses desire in members of the state’s highest court, which include the ability to look at each case fairly and neutrally and strictly interpret the law,” said Hand, who is first vice president of the Business Council of Alabama.

In reply, Mitchell stated:

“I’m honored to receive the support of Alabama’s business community. I believe that they see my proven dedication to the rule of law and know that I will serve the people of Alabama with integrity and principle. Gaining this endorsement shows that our campaign is building momentum throughout the state, and our campaign looks forward to announcing other support in the future.”

Progress PAC’s press release stated, “A first-time candidate for public office, Mitchell has been active in the Alabama Republican Party and the conservative movement for over 20 years.”

As noted in his campaign announcement, Mitchell is a Shareholder with Maynard, Cooper & Gale in Birmingham. Jay received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and his B.A. from Birmingham-Southern College, where he was a forward on the school’s 1995 national championship basketball team. He and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Homewood with their four children and are long-time members of Church of the Highlands.

4 years ago

Alabama is Ground Zero for Anti-Establishment Politics—On the Right and the Left

In late September, Republicans made it clear that they were having no part of the establishment when Roy Moore’s base turned out in force after his opponent, Luther Strange, became inextricably bound to Mitch McConnell, who many widely perceived to be the ultimate Washington insider.

As we’ve previously reported, this was largely a populist movement, albeit a socially conservative one dominated by those who cling to traditional Republican platforms like the sanctity of life. Related: The Movement Roy Moore Rode To Victory

Last night, populist Democrats of the socially liberal variety made it clear that they likewise reject any establishment candidate, as Randall Woodfin demolished incumbent William Bell in the Birmingham mayor’s race.

As the Intercept describes Woodfin, he’s a “36-year-old former board of education president backed by the Bernie Sanders-backed campaign group Our Revolution…”

The Huffington Post also pointed to Woodfin’s anti-establishment credentials in a July 31 article, which stated, “Using the slogan ‘we deserve better’…Woodfin accused Bell of wasting money on unnecessary mayoral staff and pricey development projects that could be used to buttress school funding, finance more pressing infrastructure needs and start new social programs.”

That article also said “Woodfin sees himself as part of a new generation of liberal leaders sweeping to power in Southern cities. In May, 34-year-old progressive attorney and activist Chokwe Antar Lumumba pulled off a surprise win in the Democratic mayoral primary in Jackson, Mississippi, cruising to victory in the general election the following month.”

“In these urban areas of the Southeast ― this is where the revolution starts,” the article quoted Woodfin as saying, adding his comment that these southern cities are “the frontline resistance to Trump policies.”

However, the Intercept says:

Woodfin’s platform is by itself far from radical in post-2016 Democratic politics. He seeks to make community college free for students who graduate from Birmingham’s high schools. He wants to expand pre-K, invest in public transit and job training. Woodfin backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary, making the Our Revolution backing something of a wound-healing exercise.

He is also looking to boost the city’s police force; Birmingham has the seventh highest homicide rate of cities of over 100,000 people. He had his own personal connection to the city’s sky-high crime: his nephew was shot and killed during the course of the campaign. The boy’s father, Woodfin’s older brother, was killed in a shooting five years before that.

 One thing is clear, Alabama voters across the spectrum are fed up with establishment politics, and as the new mayor of Birmingham has once again proved, populists at both ends of the spectrum have made the Yellowhammer State ground zero in the zero-tolerance policy of political insiders.
4 years ago

State GOP Chairman: Planned Parenthood is “More Than Welcome” to Stump for Jones in Alabama

ALGOP Chairman Terry Lathan
ALGOP Chairman Terry Lathan

Yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden held a rally in Birmingham in support of Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones. The media attention surrounding that event, along with early polls, has given the Jones campaign and its supporters a glowing sense of optimism.

Republicans in the Yellowhammer State are equally eager to help Doug Jones get his message out, showing voters which organizations stand behind him and what he believes—especially state GOP Chairman Terry Lathan.

In a recent interview with Breitbart News, Lathan said she believes that voters will reject Jones because of those views and associations. In fact, she invited all such organizations to let Alabama know that they stand with Doug Jones.

“I would encourage outside groups to come to Alabama that support the Democrat nominee — Planned Parenthood,, who has already endorsed him, Hollywood elites and any Clinton available would be more than welcome to remind our voters who the Democrats are.”

The last time a Democrat won a statewide election in Alabama was in 2006. Since then, the state has bled red throughout every statewide election and shows no sign of switching loyalty anytime soon.

As Lathan added:

“What I do see is Alabama voters not tipping the balance of power toward the Democrats in the Senate to help [Elizabeth] Warren, [Chuck] Schumer, [Bernie] Sanders and the liberals. Since 2008, our nation has clearly moved away from their big government and socialist policies. The Democrats have lost 1,000 seats. America has spoken very clearly, and this Alabama senate race will mirror the Trump versus Clinton election in Alabama.

Donald Trump won Alabama by a vote of 62% to 34% last November, making it pretty clear that a large majority of Alabama voters reject the Democrat party’s platforms, especially over moral issues like abortion.

As noted in another recent Breitbart article, Doug Jones made his stand on abortion pretty clear to an MSNBC reporter. Here are his exact words, as reported by Breitbart:

Well, look, I am a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body. And I’m going to stand up for that and I’m going to make sure that that continues to happen.

I want to make sure that as we go forward, people have access to contraception, they have access to the abortion that they might need, if that’s what they choose to do. I think that that’s going to be an issue that we can work with and talk to people about from both sides of the aisle.

In fact, the Breitbart article even reported that Jones supports late-term abortions, leaving readers to conclude that the only child’s life he will defend is a child that has already been born. Here’s the excerpt from that article:

When Todd asked him if he would not support legislation that banned late-term abortions, Jones replied:

I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose. That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years. It’s a position I continue to have.

But when those people — I want to make sure that people understand that once a baby is born, I’m going to be there for that child. That’s where I become a right to lifer.

This is an interesting stance for a candidate in a strongly pro-life state because the New England Journal of Medicine reported over two years ago that infants have a strong chance of survival outside the womb after only 22 weeks of gestation (less than six months into the pregnancy).

At 34 weeks, the baby can see, blink its eyes, turn its head from side to side, feel pain, and tell the difference between day and night. This child has fingernails, toenails, and in many cases, a full head of hair. This baby’s brain has already formed trillions of connections, making it possible to learn in the womb, and it can unquestionably live outside the womb.

According to what Doug Jones told MSNBC, however, protecting the life of this child is an act of infringing on the woman’s right to choose. Therefore, if she decides this baby must die to suit her wishes, he says, “I’m going to stand up for that, and I’m going to make sure that that continues to happen.”

The U.S. House of Representatives doesn’t see it that way. Yesterday, the House passed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) expressed the view of most Republicans when she said, “We must care for these unborn children, not cruelly inflict pain…by treating them as objects.”

According to, the kind of late-term abortions Jones apparently supports are complicated, “Since the baby is removed in pieces, sharp pieces of broken fetal bones can puncture the woman’s uterus or cause a large tear (laceration)” and the most difficult part “is usually finding, grasping and crushing the baby’s head.”

Back in 1998, the New England Journal of Medicine described another form of abortion used when mothers pregnant with twins or triplets babies only want one of the babies.  They described this procedure (creatively labeled “selective reduction”) like this:

Using ultrasound to locate each fetus, the doctors would insert a needle into the chest cavity of the most accessible fetus and place the needle tip directly into the heart of the baby. Potassium chloride was then injected into the heart and the heart was viewed on the ultrasound screen until it stopped beating.

When voters understand that Doug Jones apparently supports a woman killing her unborn child no matter how late she decides to do so, and that he describes this as a health choice—despite the fact that medical science has provided incontrovertible evidence that such babies are living, learning, and feeling human beings—he will likely have a tall mountain to climb winning the majority of votes in Alabama.

4 years ago

The Loss of American Civility…And is Alabama Next?

There are few places left in America where one consistently encounters friendly faces, warm smiles, courteous neighbors, and hospitable strangers. Alabama is one of those places, but in a world that’s increasingly losing its civility, we must ask ourselves, what makes Alabama different and how long can it last?

As this first week of October has unfolded, we’ve been confronted with the heinous news of the Las Vegas massacre, the sad news of  Tom Petty’s passing, and the heartbreaking loss of one of Alabama’s finest sons, Rep. Jim Patterson.

Given the timing, I couldn’t help but juxtapose these three events and reflect on the implications.

Sunday night In Las Vegas, a psychopath murders helpless people who’d gathered for an evening of fun and entertainment, 45 minutes after they sang God Bless America, unified in appreciation of everything our nation once stood for, and the hope of what it can again become.

The next day, Tom Petty passes from this earth, and millions of Americans take to social media to remember his songs and the emotions they evoked. And on that same day, one of Alabama’s finest sons passes as well, leaving friends and family to grieve, but with a certain hope.

While crazy people like the Las Vegas murderer Stephen Paddock have always existed, events that outrageous do beg the question—how has America fallen so far? The answers to this question are complex, debatable, and multi-faceted, and I don’t pretend to know even most of them.

One factor that is beyond reasonable doubt, however, is that America has lost its sense of civility because America is increasingly losing its families. The connection between the two is that the family is where civility is fostered because it’s where broken human beings learn to overcome selfishness, forgive wrongs, and genuinely regard others as more important than themselves.

Yet, the thriving family that was once the epicenter of American life is slowly but steadily slipping away. A few statistics make this point.

Fewer people are marrying than ever before in America: Pew Research says the share of Americans who are married is at its lowest point since at least 1920. Half of Americans 18 and over were married in 2015, compared with 72% in 1960. In 1950, that number was about 78%. One factor driving this change is that Americans—particularly men—are staying single longer. According to Pew, “In 2012, 78% of 25-year-old men had never married compared with 67% of their female counterparts, and by 2016, the median age at first marriage had reached its highest point on record: 29.5 years for men and 27.4 years for women.”

More children are fatherless than ever before in America: According to the National Center for Fathering, more than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. The social maladies that flow from children growing up without a father are staggering.

Granted, people like Stephen Paddock are still statistical anomalies, notwithstanding the increase of such horrific incidents in recent years. For this reason, let’s throw him out of the discussion and consider the lives of Tom Petty (or at least those represented in his songs) and Jim Patterson.

I’m sure the slightest hint of anything negative about Tom Petty will draw the outrage of many, which I completely get. I really liked most of his music, and he was a great at what he did—making us turn up the radio and sing along. But let’s have the courage to examine a few facts for the sake of a cultural discussion.

As soon as I heard the news of Petty’s passing, the song that instantly came to mind is one of his greatest hits, Free Fallin’. So let’s recite its lyrics, which I suspect many (including me) know by heart:

She’s a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She’s a good girl, crazy ’bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too

It’s a long day, livin’ in Reseda
There’s a freeway, runnin’ through the yard
And I’m a bad boy, cause I don’t even miss her
I’m a bad boy for breakin’ her heart

And I’m free, free fallin’
Yeah I’m free, free fallin’

All the vampires, walkin’ through the valley
Move west down Ventura Blvd
And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows
And the good girls are home with broken hearts

According to, here’s what Free Fallin’ means:

The bottom falls out as one bad boy realizes that in pursuing the ideal of freedom, he sacrifices meaningful connection.

Reseda was a family-oriented suburb of LA when the song was written
Freeways in LA cut right through residential areas in some places
West down Venture leads out of the suburbs
Mulholland is a district of LA and a highway that leads west

Figurative Language:
Bad boys are vampires because they exploit women for sex, money, or experiences and then leave them hurt

Meaning of final verse:
The lines “I wanna free fall out into nothin’ / Gonna leave this world for awhile” express escapism. His lifestyle is idealized as the pursuit of freedom and superficial experience, which he realizes through his fling with the good girl lacks meaningful connection. This realization hurts him, and these lines reveal the true face of his lifestyle: an escapist’s addiction, an ephemeral place of loneliness and worthless experiences. But he lacks the courage to return to her (I’m gonna leave this world) and decides to continue his pursuit of freedom (fall out into nothing).

The final chorus is a bittersweet reaffirmation of his freedom, now that he realizes it isn’t the high ideal he had thought it was.

I am not saying that Free Fallin’ is a summation of Tom Petty’s life, not at all. What I am suggesting is that these lyrics provide a compelling snapshot of American culture. Its misguided notions that love is but an illusion and the best kind of connection anyone can hope for is one that’s fleeting—the kind that leaves a hole in a person’s heart—have shaped the last couple of generations, and the slope seems more slippery by the day.

I believe the evidence of just how deeply those notions have grasped American culture is reflected in the statistics above—fewer marriages, far more children left to figure it out on their own, and far less lasting love.

As a result, an American boy’s best play is to stand in the shadows, like a vampire, and break a good girl’s heart.

This tale of such foreboding hopelessness is quite stark when compared to the life of Jim Patterson, who left this earth the same day as Tom Petty. Facebook was replete with tributes to Jim that said the one thing he always did was gloat about his beloved wife, Susan, and their three children whom he adored.

In other words, Jim Patterson’s life was the converse of the anonymous American boy in Free Fallin’.  Jim was a man who devoted his life to lasting connection and thriving community. He was a man who spent his life protecting, pursuing, and providing for the hearts of those he loved, not breaking them.

He was also a great friend. As Rep. Donnie Chesteen told me today, “There is a void in my life that will probably never be filled. Jim truly was my best friend and brother, but I know he would not want us to be sad because he lived life to the fullest.”

Now for those who don’t know Donnie, he’s a man’s man—an ole football coach, a husband, dad, and a leader of men. In other words, Donnie Chesteen is the epitome of true masculinity. Yet, today, he tearfully mourns the loss of his buddy Jim Patterson because they both understood the value of a friend who sticks closer than a brother—and that kind of friend doesn’t come along every day.

And I can say with confidence that they are both that kind man because they realized a long time ago that they were not placed on this earth to merely serve themselves, to use other people, to accumulate things, or even to find happiness. They understood as boys the age of Tom Petty’s mythic character that the real joy in life comes in sacrificial friendships, volitional commitments, gracious forgiveness, and abiding love.

That is the fountain from which Alabama’s most redeeming qualities flow, and it’s a fountain that I hope will one day soon flow freely again across America. For that to happen, however, we must restore the value of families who raise sons like Donnie Chesteen and Jim Patterson. If we don’t, countless more lost souls will  stand in the shadows waiting to break a good girl’s heart, because no one ever told them a better life awaits.

The good news is, as Jim Patterson well knew, God offers us all—even the vampires in the shadows—a certain hope that makes men (in the words of Tim McGraw) both humble and kind, and that is a fountain that never runs dry.

4 years ago

Honoring A Life Well Lived—Tributes to Alabama Rep. Jim Patterson

Rep Donnie Chesteen (left) with his longtime close friend Rep. Jim Patterson (right) in 2011 at their House inauguration (Facebook)
Rep Donnie Chesteen (left) with his longtime dear friend, Rep. Jim Patterson (right) in 2011 at their House inauguration (Facebook)

Below is a compilation of excerpts from tributes written in the past 24 hours that honor the life of Representative Jim Patterson.

Clearly, Jim was more than a politician. He was a Christian man, a devoted husband, a loving father, and a loyal friend. He was a lover of people who understood the importance of serving “the least of these.” He was not defined by what he knew, or even what he ahieved, though he was a wise man who achieved a great deal. His life was defined by how he treated others.

In posting these excerpts from Facebook, we hope to honor the memory of a man who left a treasured legacy of a life well lived.


Rep. Donnie Chesteen:

Jim was a true joy to know, whether you personally knew him or knew of him. He lit up every room he entered with his smile and charisma. His positivity, genuineness, and heart of gold were contagious. Jim had a true servant’s heart. He loved The Lord with every fiber of his being and anyone who knew Jim witnessed how much he valued his faith and was a firm believer in placing it first, above all else. Jim’s walk as a man of faith, his kind heart, selflessness and compassion are just a few qualities which exemplify his humble character. He had a zest for life. The loss of Jim will impact many people, but knowing his strong faith brings me much peace. I have comfort in knowing when Jim entered into the gates of Heaven, he heard these words, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” I love and will miss you more than you could ever imagine my brother, Jim Patterson.

Rep. Barry Moore:

Incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Rep. Jim Patterson. Jim was one of a kind. He was a great American and a hard-working legislator. He was also my friend. He will be missed. If you have an autistic loved one, hug them tonight and tell them Jim fought for them until the end. He stood for what he believed in, regardless of the cost. Praying for Susan Patterson and Jim’s family.

Rep. Cam Ward:

I am absolutely heartbroken about the passing of Rep Jim Patterson. He was a champion of the autism community and a good public servant for his district. His dedication to his wonderful wife Susan Patterson, his family and to his friends was absolutely an inspiration to everyone who knew him. The world was a better place because of him. God be with this family!

Todd Panter:

When he got elected I believe what the Lord had been preparing him for all his life became a reality. He gave me hope in politicians again. There was so many things he did and people he helped that was behind the scenes.,,,that few knew about. He was a regular supporter of our ministry and has blessed us greatly. He was what the world would call a self-made man…though Jim knew that his success came from the Lord. He will be missed by many including Denise and I but he left behind in his family and others his love, wonderful memories and a set of values that will live on.

Denise Tate:

I have a million stories of Jim Patterson. They all make me laugh. He had such an infectious personality. He was larger than life. I can only say something that Brother Sammy Gilbreath once said. Either what we have believed is real or it is not. I believe that Jim is with our Heavenly Father at this moment. I know he has won the victory. He has run the race. I believe our Father said, well done my good and faithful servant.

Jim Perdue:

It was an honor to serve with Rep. Jim Patterson in public service. He was a champion of good causes. He stood tall for people who needed a champion.

Karen Millican:

I will never forget this man’s big personality, big love for his family, and big go-out-of-his-way-and-take-precious-time-for-somebody-he-doesn’t-know-because-he-truly-cares actions. He was a great man!!

Robin Rozar:

I remember when he first announced he was running for office he said he would work tirelessly to help North Alabama and never wavier in his convictions, his beliefs. He did exactly what he said he would do. He worked hard to lead by example in Montgomery, his community, and his church. Jim was a example for many of us to strive to be. I know you are rejoicing in heaven.

Nathan Curry:

I had the good fortune of sitting down with Rep. Jim Patterson recently at his home over coffee. I appreciated the invitation, and the depths of our conversation. Jim was frank and direct—things I both admire and appreciate. He may not have known how his words impacted me, but I’m using his advice to this day. Thank you Jim for your service to Alabama, and you will be missed.

I’m thankful for the impact you’ve had on our schools, our children and families. You knew how to light up a room, and you could talk! Thank you for your words of wisdom to me as a new school board member, as you had served in that role for many years.

Thank you Jim. Rest well.

Dexter Hern:

Some people come into your life and leave a lasting impact. Rep Jim Patterson was one of those people. It is obvious that these two angel boys immediately took to him; they won his heart, and obviously, he won theirs. He got some good hugs from those two (they are professional huggers), but even in that nice suit, he never flinched when getting down on their level to hug back! He fought tirelessly for these boys and many others during Leni’s Law and during Autism Insurance Reform. It is hard to believe that the same man who posted requesting our prayers last night is no longer here tonight. However, the impact and legacy his work left will bless many for years to come.

Laci Colvert:

Today has been a day with such tragedy and loss. A true hero was lost today in Alabama. House Representative Jim Patterson was suddenly taken from his earthly body today. He is a hero to Coop, myself, and every family in Alabama affected by autism. If it was not for his courage and persistence, insurance would still not cover Autism therapies. He was a great man, a humble man, and a godly man, whom I will forever be grateful. My prayers are with his family and all those that loved him. #hb284

Mary Vaugh Pettus:

Representative Jim Patterson will be missed. He was a dear friend, kind hearted, loved his family dearly and the Lord. He loved Susan’s good cooking and always bragged about his sweet wife. He was loved by so many. The Alabama ball games will not be the same without Jim. Prayers for our precious Susan and the family.

4 years ago

Huckabee Endorses Dawson on Rick & Bubba Show—Burgess: “They’re Walking the Same Path”

Mike Huckabee was on the Rick & Bubba Show this morning to talk about his new TV show that debuts on TBN this Saturday. The former Governor of Arkansas also spoke to the often-inaccurate assumption that many make about how a pastor’s skills transfer into public service. As part of that discussion, Huckabee joined the popular hosts Rick Burgess and Bill ‘Bubba’ Bussey in endorsing Scott Dawson for Governor of Alabama.

As Huckabee told Rick, Bubba, and their audience of well over a million listeners, “I think people who’ve worked in ministry are better qualified than anyone to go into public service when they’re called to do so. People often forget when you’ve worked in ministry that you have first-hand, life experience…with virtually every social pathology and challenge that exists. Whether it’s drug addiction, divorce, caring for elderly parents, people who’ve committed crimes, or those who have been victims of crimes, you know the best and the worst about people in every situation. Folks tend to say [pastors] don’t know what’s going on in the world, but I’d suggest just the opposite—they know a whole lot more than most people. A minister also has administrative talents, understanding, and life experience that’s very hard to duplicate,” and that equips them for an executive role like Governor, Huckabee said, including being a good steward of the resources entrusted to them.

With that common thread, Huckabee gave his wholehearted endorsement to Dawson, voicing his personal admiration for how the Alabama minister “brings the right heart to the job.”

“You guys have been through a pretty rough political period. People need healing. I took the job as governor of Arkansas under similar circumstances,” Huckabee explained. “People are bruised, this is an embarrassment,” and Scott Dawson is a guy who will bring a “healing role” to the state of Alabama. “I’m thrilled you guys are behind him,” Huckabee said to Rick and Bubba, and “I’m very honored to be behind him as well.”

Speaking to Yellowhammer about the importance of Huckabee’s endorsement of Dawson, Rick Burgess said:

Scott Dawson and Mike Huckabee are walking the same path. Mike was a minister that felt called to bring stability to a state, just like Scott Dawson. I admire men who have a sound Biblical worldview and are smart enough to see the many ways that applies to how one governs wisely, as has been the case with great leaders throughout American history. Mike and Scott share that Christian worldview and that wisdom, so I think this is a great endorsement for Scott, because Mike’s been there. I don’t think anyone should venture into the political arena unless they’re 100% certain this is what God is calling them to do. Just like Mike Huckabee, Scott Dawson felt that call and in response, he ‘put his yes on the table,’ so we’re all excited to see what God does with Scott’s willingness to serve.”

Burgess’ counterpart Bubba Bussey concurred, adding:

You know Mike Huckabee won the Alabama presidential primary back in 2008 and he’s been highly respected in this state since. That’s one reason it’s a huge honor that he endorsed Scott. As Rick said, they have a very similar background…Mike was a minister who became governor of Arkansas at a time their state needed to restore public trust, and hopefully, Scott Dawson will become governor of Alabama at a time our state needs the same.

Also, like Mike said on our show today, when you’re in the ministry you feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to wisely spend the money donated to your cause. That responsibility translates into how a governor will spend taxpayer dollars. Unlike many politicians who view tax revenue as money belonging to the state, Scott Dawson will always see it as money that belongs to the people, and the governor is just a steward of those resources. That’s a critical aspect of how he views the world as a minister and that’s a huge win for the people of Alabama because they’ll get a governor who will give them the most bang for the buck while holding to the highest ethical standard as he does so.

When Yellowhammer asked Dawson about Huckabee’s endorsement, he expressed his appreciation, stating:

Governor Huckabee’s endorsement this morning gives me great confidence because he has walked this path. His ministry experience coupled with his governing success in the state of Arkansas is comforting and energizing. It’s comforting because I know I’m following God’s will for my life, just as I know he did. It’s energizing because each day I will work as hard as humanly possible to effectively serve the people of Alabama as governor and to restore the dignity to the office that they deserve. The people of Alabama have had their fill of a government being ‘of the politicians, by the politicians, and for the politicians.’ They deserve a state government that is ‘of the people, by the people and for the people,’ and if they entrust me with this high calling, I will most certainly bring that to bear in Alabama.

4 years ago

Troy’s Epic Tweet After Collecting $985-Grand And A Victory in Death Valley

If this past Saturday taught the world of college football anything, it taught every Power Five football team in America that the old adage “they’re everybody’s homecoming game” should never be applied to the Troy Trojans.

LSU invited Troy to Death Valley Saturday, which is quite common when schools in Power Five conferences expect an automatic win on homecoming. However, as reigning National Champ Clemson learned one year ago, nothing can be taken for granted when playing the Troy Trojans.

Troy went to that Death Valley early in the 2016 season and came within a gnat’s hair of derailing Clemson’s perfect season before it ever left the runway. As Dabo Swinney said at the time, “I just want to congratulate Troy. I thought they played an outstanding game. They outplayed us in a lot of areas and never quit….We were very fortunate to win today.”

Fast forward one year and the Trojans headed west Saturday to play another team of Tigers in another Death Valley, only this time, they closed the deal. In so doing, they hurt the feelings of the LSU football program and everyone in Bayou Bengal Nation.

The victory is especially sweet considering the fact that Troy not only left Baton Rouge with a “W” but with $985,000 to boot.  All of this sweetness was best captured in Troy’s epic tweet that has already garnered 65,000 re-tweets and 176,000 likes.

As Troy’s Quarterback Brandon Silvers told reporters after the game, “This is a huge win for the program. I was in the stands for the game in 2008,” he said, referring to the hard-fought 31-40 loss to LSU nine years ago. “We dedicated this game to them tonight and the whole university. It feels great. I can’t really describe how it feels. But walking off that field, man, and seeing the fans in the stands who made the trip — to be able to send them home with a win is fantastic. They were there for us, and we got to be there for them tonight,” Silvers added.

Steve Knudsen, father of Trojan defensive back and special teams player, Kyler Knudsen, shared his perspective as a parent watching from the stands as the underdog Trojans beat LSU. “It was incredible! The big hit to start the game got the fans into it, and we never sat down! Our kids left it all on the field! It’s almost surreal that they pulled it off. We couldn’t ask for a better football experience for our son than the experience  Troy is providing!”

Mr. Knudsen’s sentiment is surely shared by every parent whose son was wearing that Trojan uniform Saturday. For two years in a row, Troy has proven that they can play with anybody, and it’s highly unlikely they will be scheduled as anyone’s homecoming opponent for a very long time to come.

More importantly, Troy Athletics Director Jeremy McClain, Head Coach Neal Brown, and everyone associated with the Trojans football team has built a program where young men can thrive as student-athletes, have an incredible Division 1 football experience, and always be proud that they chose Troy.

Hat’s off, Troy Trojans!!! The state of Alabama couldn’t be more proud of you. Keep Tweeting and keep slaying the giants!

4 years ago

Alabama Proud: Happy Birthday to the System That Protects Us From The Likes of Kim Jong-un

Tomorrow is a profound day in American history. It’s the 13th anniversary of the United States declaring an operationally-capable defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). That day marked the first time the U.S. had a system that truly protected its people from long-range ballistic missiles—the same kind North Korea would use should they attempt to deliver a nuclear warhead to our shores.

As President Reagan said in his 1983 strategic defense initiative speech,

“What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter an attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?”

Thirteen years ago, President Reagan’s vision became a reality. At his behest, the country had decided to design and deploy the first and only protection against long-range ballistic missiles. That monumental task was laid at the feet of the Boeing company in Huntsville, Alabama. This system—the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense program (GMD)—was designed, built, and developed to its initial operational capability by your friends and neighbors in Huntsville, Alabama.

The speed, technical challenge, and lofty vision of the GMD have been compared to putting a man on the moon in the 1960’s—another feat attributed to the great people of Alabama. Ever since, Boeing has been recognized by the United States Missile Defense Agency for its excellence in delivering high levels of quality at a reasonable price, and well ahead of schedule.

Needless to say, much has happened in our country since the U.S. achieved that very first defensive capability thirteen years ago. Many changes in the political environment drove corresponding modifications in policy and resources. At the same time, our adversaries like North Korea and Iran continued to grow their weapons capabilities.

After President Obama initially reduced the GMD’s capacity, North Korea proliferated significantly, and in 2013 then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered Boeing to increase the number of interceptor rounds by nearly 50%. The enemy was moving fast and this emergency called for all hands on deck. Boeing answered the bell with great speed, and soon that prodigious goal will be completed, with more rounds in the ground that are ready to fly to America’s defense.

Over the decades, Boeing Alabama has proven it’s up to the task of our nation’s defense time and time again. This truly is “rocket science” and it  demands exceptional brilliance, extraordinary diligence, and perpetual vigilance—all of which Boeing has produced year after year. This road has been paved with the life-saving technology and bold discoveries that will keep our amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties safe for years to come, far above our beloved fruited plains!

For this reason, let us all pause this weekend to give a huge thank-you to our friends at Boeing Alabama. They deserve our nation’s heartfelt appreciation and wholehearted support.

As we mark this occasion, however, let us all remember that this effort is far from over. Our Alabama neighbors will continue to persevere.  And despite many uninformed critics who claim the GMD doesn’t work, it has been successful in five out of the last six tests in its current technology state, and it is the only system to shoot down an ICBM.

For this reason, you, your children, and your children’s children will be safe and secure from the likes of Kim Jong-un. So as you head into the weekend, with football games, fall picnics, and family gatherings on your mind, remember that you can sleep safely because your friends and neighbors in north Alabama are hard at work 365 days-a-year doing thier part to defend our great nation!

4 years ago

Judge Sarah Stewart Announces Candidacy for Alabama Supreme Court

The Honorable Sarah H. Stewart, a Circuit Judge for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Mobile County since 2006, has announced her candidacy as a Republican for the Alabama Supreme Court.

Judge Stewart is running for the seat currently held by Justice Glenn Murdock, who is not seeking reelection to Alabama’s high court.

In an interview with Yellowhammer, Judge Stewart said,

I think the biggest thing I bring to the table is that I’ve been on the front line as a circuit judge for 12 years, hearing a wide range of criminal and civil cases that run the gamut from the simple to the complicated. In fact, our circuit disposes of more cases per judge than any other circuit in the state.

When asked to articulate why this experience distinguishes her, Judge Stewart said,

Hearing as many cases as I have, with virtually every imaginable circumstance, has only served to deepen my conviction that a judge must be, above all other things, impartial. We must never view a case through the lens of our personal opinions, but through the lens of the law. As a judge, it’s not my job to make law, it’s my job to interpret it…to say what it means and how it applies to each case. For this reason, rulings must be timely, fair, and always grounded in the rule of law. As a conservative judge, my mission is to apply the rule of law fairly and impartially. That is our highest duty.

As a Circuit Judge, Judge Stewart has disposed of over 1800 criminal and civil cases per year. She currently serves as the Judicial Nominating Committee Chairperson elected by her fellow circuit judges. Before becoming a trial judge, she practiced law for over 14 years with the law firms of Hand Arendall and Ezell Sharbrough LLC and as senior partner in Stewart & Hicks P.C. Judge Stewart graduated with a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Arkansas in 1986 and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1992.

Judge Stewart has been an active leader in the Alabama Circuit Judges Association. She has sat on the Board of Directors since 2009. She is now Vice-President, having served as Secretary-Treasurer in 2016-2017. Judge Stewart has served as the Alabama Circuit and District Judges Education Chair since 2011, implementing continuing education programs for newly appointed or elected circuit and district judges, organizing the Association’s semi-annual conferences, and coordinating topic specific seminars with the National Judicial College.

Judge Stewart teaches a variety of courses to judges throughout the state emphasizing “best practices” in such areas as contempt, judicial writing, judicial temperament, learning styles, and the use of mediation to control docket flow. She is a frequent speaker at legal education conferences on various topics for the bar.

Judge Stewart has been married for over twenty-eight years to Craig R. Stewart, and she and her husband have two daughters, one a senior in high school and one a senior in college.

4 years ago

The Movement Roy Moore Rode To Victory

Photo: YouTube video screenshot.
Photo: YouTube video screenshot.

As is now clear to most of America, Roy Moore won last night because a highly motivated, populist base showed its deep disdain for establishment politics.

As I wrote last week,  “It’s a movement fueled by hard-working, patriotic Americans who embraced an American dream that’s turned into a nightmare, and they’re fed up. They’re tired of being told what to do, what to say, what to believe, and how to act.”

Related: All Eyes on Alabama: A Tale of The Swamp

Donald Trump clearly gave voice to this movement a year ago, but the fascinating question of this election is what reenergized it in Alabama?

Was it more Luther Strange’s appointment by Robert Bentley, his association with Mitch McConnell, a combination of both, or is there an even deeper reason? Regarding the Bentley appointment, as State Rep. Paul Beckman told Yellowhammer six weeks ago:

Regarding the Bentley appointment, as State Rep. Paul Beckman told Yellowhammer six weeks ago:

Look, no one is saying this was illegal; it’s a matter of ethics. Luther’s office was in the middle of a criminal investigation of Bentley, so it just doesn’t look good for Bentley to turn around and appoint the man who’s investigating him. He took the appointment under questionable circumstances, and that took the decision out of the hands of the people. The undecided voters in this election represent a larger group than normal and I think that’s one reason why. You have to do what’s right and instead of waiting for it to play out, Luther created the stigma that now hangs over him.

Related: Exclusive: A Behind The Scenes Look At Luther Strange’s Senate Appointment

The other theory is that Strange’s loss was more attributed to the fact that the Senate Leadership Fund—a PAC associated with a beleaguered Mitch McConnell—intervened on Luther’s behalf and that association was his undoing. McConnell is the face of the establishment, and this new American movement would rather sink that ship with a torpedo than polish its brass as it slowly submerges. The sooner the swamp is drained, the better.

While Strange’s association with both Bentley and McConnell played a part in Roy Moore’s victory, an even deeper factor was in play. What Moore’s campaign so masterfully architected was an emotional connection to members of America’s new populist movement—many of whom feel oppressed, forgotten, and unfairly targeted by leaders of a country they’ve believed in and fought for their entire lives. In other words, Moore’s campaign not only tied Luther Strange to the establishment; they brilliantly reflected to their base how Roy and his wife were under attack from that same establishment.

In so doing, Moore created a way for these socially conservative, fiercely independent voters to see themselves in his story.

The association they made is that Roy was under attack from the same status-quo politicians that they’re under attack from every day. This made sense to them on a very personal, emotional level—a level that affects their wallets and their worries. In this way, Roy Moore’s story found deep, personal resonance among an already-devoted base.

For frosting on the cake, this candidate had already shown that he’s willing to lose his job if it means removing the Ten Commandments from the courthouse, and if he’s under attack,  you can better believe they will have his back. For this reason, it’s not a stretch to believe that these negative ads delivered Roy Moore’s victory on a silver platter. The hardworking, devoted people that comprise his voters despise being told what to do by elitists, and last night proved that’s exactly how they viewed this election.

While there’s no way to know what percentage of them turned out last month and again last night, the proof’s in the pudding, so it’s a safe bet that the number is extremely high. While the apathetic majority found better things to do, this unshakable base was going to the polls to vote for their champion, just as they will this fall.

The only question that now remains is, will Roy Moore’s campaign become a template for anti-establishment Republican candidates in the rest of the country or was it unique to Alabama? In other words, can Steve Bannon and the powerful Breitbart engine make Moore’s victory more about giving voice to everyday Americans that despise the establishment than about Robert Bentley and Alabama politics?

One thing is certain, Bannon and company are just getting started, and as of this morning, Roy Moore now has Donald Trump in his corner too. That’s a locomotive that’s not likely to be stopped, at least in Sweet Home Alabama.

4 years ago


In what’s been a contentious run-off race that that seems to have widened Alabama’s political divide, the voters finally get to decide which Republican will represent them in this fall’s U.S. Senate election—Luther Strange or Roy Moore.

The polls opened at 7:00 am today and will close at 7:00 pm and one of the biggest questions surrounding today is, for all of the bitter rhetoric, will Alabamians actually go vote? In the primary round six weeks ago, roughly eight out of ten Alabama voters sat it out. While turnout for off-year elections is historically low, common sense would suggest that with all of the national attention on this race, more voters will show up for this round, but we won’t know for sure until tonight.

Related: All Eyes on Alabama: A Tale of The Swamp

In the interim, both candidates are making their final push. Luther Strange voted around 7:00 am at The Exceptional Foundation in Homewood and is making stops at a handful of restaurants in the Birmingham area, while Roy Moore is doing his traditional horseback ride to the polls to the Gallant Fire Hall in the next few minutes.

However it turns out, this election will be remembered as one for the ages in Alabama.