The Wire

  • Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election


    With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

    North Alabama has spoken.
    When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

    Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

  • On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born


    Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

    Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

    Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

3 years ago

Artur Davis files restraining order against Alabama Democratic Party

Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis
Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis

MONTGOMERY, ALa. — Artur Davis made headlines over the weekend when he filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the Alabama Democratic Party, the State Democratic Executive Committee’s (SDEC) Executive Board, and SDEC Chairwoman Nancy Worley for not allowing him to register as a Democratic candidate in Montgomery.

Davis was a Democratic member of Congress, serving Alabama’s 7th District for 8 years. In 2010 he lost his bid for Governor, and moved to Virginia where he switched to the Republican Party, even giving a well-received speech at the GOP convention in 2012. Last year he returned to his hometown of Montgomery in an unsuccessful attempt to run for mayor.

Soon after his failed mayoral campaign, Davis announced he would stay in Montgomery, switch back to the Democratic party, and make a run for County Commission.

“[My] supporters have strongly urged me to return to the Democratic Party, and they have reminded me that the topics I campaigned on — a living wage for Montgomery’s working poor, an aggressive effort to revitalize neglected communities — don’t exactly line up with the Alabama Republican Party’s priorities,” Davis wrote in an email floating his candidacy for the Commission.

Davis contends he is being unfairly singled out by the party, while others who have switched briefly have been welcomed back.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Davis was informed he could not register with the ADP on October 16th. In addition to filing suit against the party, he also filed his candidacy and paid fees with Montgomery County Executive Committee Chairwoman Dr. Tyna Davis, who then sent everything to the state party.

After not hearing back from the party, Davis filed the restraining order and injunction, alleging that his missing the chance to run for the County Commission would cause “immediate and irreparable injury” for which there is “no adequate remedy at law.”

“In light of the Party’s apparent failure or refusal to accept my qualifying papers and fee, I am being denied the opportunity to preserve my underlying legal challenge to the Party’s failure to reinstate me to the Democratic Party,” Davis said in the affidavit accompanying the filing.

The party’s deadline to file is Friday, November 6th.

3 years ago

Bentley hints at Medicaid expansion, pledges to keep govt. out of doctor-patient relationship

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In a speech to a group in Montgomery, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) teased attendees with a proposal he says will reform healthcare in rural Alabama, including the government healthcare program for low-income citizens Medicaid.

“There are some programs that I will be announcing by my State of the State that are going to be exciting for rural Alabama and that all of y’all are going to really like,” Bentley told the Montgomery Lions Club last week, according to a report by

During the majority of his first term, Governor Bentley maintained he would not embrace the Medicaid expansion portion of ObamaCare, but has softened significantly in recent months.

Medicaid expansion would require the state to accept into the program Alabamians making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or $32,253 a year for a family of 4. The federal government would pay for the newly-incurred costs for the first 3 years, phasing down to 90 percent of costs by 2020.

Medicaid currently comprises 37 percent of the state’s ailing General Fund budget, the largest portion. According to the Alabama Policy Institute, the state’s Medicaid expenditures increased by 53% between 2001 and 2013, and as the state’s senior population increases, costs are expected to grow even further.

The Governor has continued to say he will not be signing on to the Obama administration’s plan, he has strongly hinted that he is working on a compromise with Obama’s Dept. of Health and Human Services for a public-private option similar to that of Arkansas.

In the past, Bentley has used the occasion of the annual State of the State address, given on the first day of that year’s legislative session, to announce his priorities for the upcoming year.

In 2014, his fourth address since being inaugurated in 2011, the governor firmly rejected expanding what he termed as the “broken” and “flawed” Medicaid program.

The federal government has said they will give us money to expand. But how can we believe the federal government will keep its word? The anything but Affordable Care Act has done nothing to gain our trust.

First, they told us we could keep our doctor – that turned out not to be true. Next, they told us we could keep our policy – that’s not true. Then they told us our premiums would not go up – nothing could be further from the truth. Now they are telling us we’ll get free money to expand Medicaid.

Ladies and Gentlemen, nothing is free. The money the federal government is spending with wild abandon is not federal dollars – those are your dollars, your hard-earned tax dollars. There is no difference between federal money and your money.

Our great nation is 17.2 trillion dollars in debt and it increases by 2-billion dollars every single day.

That is why I cannot expand Medicaid in Alabama. We will not bring hundreds of thousands into a system that is broken and buckling.

But after being reelected to a second term, Gov. Bentley began hinting at a “compromise,” establishing a task force including many  pro-expansion advocates.

In this year’s State of the State, Bentley struck a starkly different tone, saying instead that he would not allow the “flaws” of ObamaCare to keep the state from expanding taxpayer-funded healthcare for the “poorest and most vulnerable.” He also said that some hospitals are “dependent on Medicaid to survive,” further signaling that an expansion of the program may be imminent.

In his address to the Lions Club last week, Bentley said he’s made it a point not to call the Affordable Care Act “ObamaCare,” because his historical opposition to it has nothing to do with its author.

“It’s not about a person, it’s about a philosophy,” Bentley explained. “And I was opposed to the government telling me how to practice medicine when I was a doctor. I’m opposed to Blue Cross telling me how to practice medicine. Or anybody else. I’m opposed to anybody getting between me and the patient.”

The compromise Bentley is alluding to would most likely come in the form of using the Medicaid reforms Alabama passed in 2013, which allow Regional Care Organizations (RCOs) to contract with Medicaid in a system where health care providers will be given a set dollar amount to treat each patient in their care.

The Bentley administration is reportedly now in negotiations with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell to obtain a waiver allowing the state to embrace the expansion, but in the form of providing higher enrollment and funding to the RCOs.

“We’ve got to first make sure Medicaid works in Alabama, and we’ve got to make sure it works right, and we’re doing that,” said Bentley.

“Then when we go on down the road, then we will look at other options. And we’re going to do that.”

3 years ago

ObamaCare premiums in Alabama set to rise again in 2016

ObamaCare Sticker ShockBIRMINGHAM, Ala. — ObamaCare premiums are set to rise again in Alabama. In 2016 the average premium price will increase by 12.6 percent, even after a 8.4 percent increase in 2015.

Plans procured through the health insurance marketplaces set up by ObamaCare are only available to those who do not receive insurance through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare.

The rates, based on the lowest level “Silver Plan” will increase from $264 a month to $288 a month for a 30-year-old nonsmoker making $30,000 a year.

Tax credits to offset these higher premiums are available to those making between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level FPL—between $11,670-$46,680 for an individual and between $23,850-$95,400 for a family of 4 in 2015.

The average subsidy would bring the costs down to $206 a month.

But for those either above or below the thresholds, for example a dual-income household with two children where both parents are employed with start-ups or small businesses that aren’t required to offer health insurance, those subsidies are not available.

In 2010 when ObamaCare passed using reconciliation without a single Republican vote, the supposed goal of the law was to expand coverage in order to lower premiums. Supporters likened the healthcare market to a game where more people needed to get off the bench and onto the field. They argued that to lower rates for all people, everyone needed to be forced into insurance against their will to participate in a market they will have to use eventually.

The forced participation manifested as the individual mandate which requires citizens to buy insurance coverage or pay an Individual Shared Responsibility Payment (ISRP). The ISRP was infamously upheld as constitutional in the 2012 case of NFIB v. Sebelius in which Chief Justice Roberts construed the ‘penalty’ to be a ‘tax’.

Proponents said that by increasing the overall pool, insurance companies could spread out the risk and lower prices. But five years later, there is little evidence of these aspirational goals coming into fruition.

According to Dr. John Hill with the Alabama Policy Institute, there are several reasons premiums haven’t become more affordable, as detailed in a report published by Yellowhammer in the aftermath of the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case this July.

One of the reasons Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has filed plans with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Alabama Department of Insurance to raise premiums an average of 28% for individual plans and 13.8% for small businesses in 2016 is because the number of doctor and hospital visits made by members last year–and the attendant costs for medicine and medical procedures–was much larger and more expensive than expected. Providers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield also have to continue paying ACA fees and taxes in 2016, at a cost of about $125 million per year. Because the ACA bans insurers from charging individuals on the basis of their health risks, everyone who currently pays into the system has to pay more to cover the elderly and the sick.

Dr. Hill also argues that the increasing premiums will make jobs that offer health insurance an even scarcer commodity.

As premium prices rise, full-time job openings with health benefits will become increasingly scarce. According to data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, as businesses hire fewer full-time employees and reduce the hours of hourly employees to avoid the expenses of providing health care, the pace of job creation in Alabama will slow by between 155 million and 207 million fewer job hours from 2017-2022. That’s almost $2 billion worth of paid work hours that Alabamians will lose because of the ACA.

Obama’s namesake health insurance law has already proven to be an albatross around the neck of Democratic presidential frontrunner, who, while saying she would fundamentally uphold the program, has said she would make significant changes to it.

Republican presidential candidates, however, almost universally agree the law would be “repealed and replaced” should they be elected to the nation’s highest office.

3 years ago

Burgess to release memoir on God’s faithfulness exactly eight years after tragic loss of son

Sherri Burgess, author of "Bronner: A Journey to Understand"

(Video Above: Sherri and Rick Burgess share the release date of Mrs. Burgess’s upcoming memoire Bronner)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Sherri Burgess, wife of nationally-syndicated talk radio host Rick Burgess, announced Friday the release date of her memoir detailing God’s faithfulness to their family in the wake of their two-year-old son tragically drowning in the family’s pool. The book will be titled Bronner, the name of their son, and will be released on January 19th, 2016—on the 8th anniversary of his passing.

“Bronner is the name of my youngest son,” said Mrs. Burgess in a video announcing the book’s release. “He went to heaven on January 19th, 2008. I always say he went to heaven, because that’s how I see it. He fulfilled his purpose on the Earth, and when it was time God brought him to Himself. Psalms 139 tells us that God writes the number of our days before we’re ever even born.”

“God has a plan and a purpose for each of us. I believe that this book, named for Bronner, was and is God’s plan for me. I knew very early on that I was to write this book, and it was hard. But I felt compelled by the Lord to put in writing all that he was showing me, which was a lot.”

“God doesn’t do these things to hurt us, but to teach us and to draw us closer to Himself,” she continued. “He wants us to trust that there are greater things in store for us than we can even imagine. Romans 8:18 says that ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’ Losing a child is rough, so we know that’s got to be good stuff for this not to matter. We have a lot go look forward to; we have eternity. The message of this book is to live for the forever that we have coming with God.”

Calling his wife an “extraordinary” woman with an incredible gift for writing, Rick Burgess said the loss of his son and the time they’ve spent grieving and growing afterward has only made them stronger.

“It hasn’t made us the least bit weaker, it’s only made us stronger.” said Mr. Burgess. “We love God more now than we did before this, frankly. I think of Job when he said ‘Even though he slay me, I still trust only in him.”

New Hope Publishers, a Birmingham-based company focusing on Christian publications, will serve as the book’s publisher.

“It was never intended to be a book on grief, it’s a book about God who loves us, even when it doesn’t seem like it does,” explained Mrs. Burgess. “I’m so thankful for New Hope Publishers, right here in Birmingham, who believes in this message, and hopes it will bring a greater understanding to the purpose behind the pain we all suffer.”

The book has already garnered rave reviews from influential authors who were offered a sneak peak at the manuscript earlier this year.

“No one escapes life unscathed. Everyone faces tragedy. Rick and Sherri did,” said New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado. “They did so with faith. We are wise to learn from their example. Their story inspires us to face our challenges by facing God first.”

“‘Thank You, Lord, for trusting me with something so great that I would be asked to give up what You gave up—a son.’ These are the powerful words of Sherri Burgess in Bronner,” added Larry Alex Taunton, author of The Grace Effect. “To a Christian culture saturated with the notion that material and physical well-being are at the center of God’s will for our lives, such words are jarring. It just so happens that they also find resonance in Scripture.”

3 years ago

Alabama Republican leaders celebrate RNC canceling future NBC debates

CNBC debate moderators react to Ted Cruz accusing them of liberal bias.
CNBC debate moderators react to Ted Cruz accusing them of liberal bias.
CNBC debate moderators react to Ted Cruz accusing them of liberal bias.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Republican National Committee announced Friday afternoon it was canceling its partnership with NBC for an upcoming GOP Presidential debate after partner network CNBC’s Wednesday debate revealed what many are calling “atrocious” liberal bias.

The questions, which ranged from “what’s your greatest weakness,” to “what should we do about fantasy football,” to “is Donald Trump running a cartoon character campaign,” raised the hackles of every candidate.

Conservative Senator Ted Cruz (TX) earned a large round of applause when he declared, “The questions asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.”

The outcry from candidates and voters alike prompted the Republican party to act.

“The RNC’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future,” wrote RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns.”

Mr. Priebus went on to list the criteria for the debate to which CNBC had agreed and fallen through.

CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.” That was not the case. Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case. Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed.

Alabama GOP Chairman Terry Lathan was outspoken throughout the debate and in the days after on Twitter.

Lathan told Yellowhammer Friday that the entire situation was “atrocious.”

“NBC has nobody to blame but themselves,” said Lathan. “I think it is delightful that the RNC has decided to take matters into our own hands and push back after the atrocious behavior that CNBC put on display at the last Republican presidential event. The money that we just took out of their mouths should be a message to them and others that we’re not going to sit back and take this sort of behavior from the media. If they don’t like it then they need to respect this process as well the voters’ time.”

Lathan said it was not only she and her fellow colleagues in Republican leadership who were “outraged” by the debate. ”

“We all saw what we saw and heard what we heard. This was not a debate, it was an attack,” she explained. “It’s one reason CNBC’s ratings are so low. Maybe if they’d like higher ratings, which puts more money in their pockets, they will learn to behave themselves. They just could not help it; those people are so liberal they cannot stand it.”

Alabama’s Republican Committeeman Paul Reynolds echoed Chairman Lathan’s sentiments, telling Yellowhammer that the “RNC feels betrayed” by the network.

“It absolutely put common, proper trust in people that had no intention of following through with what they had agreed to verbally… Even though it is good that the RNC is canceling its relationship with NBC I think the overall effect of the night is a very good thing and I was extremely proud to be a Republican by the way the candidates—not one of them, but all of them—stepped to each others’ defense. It was really rewarding.”

Below is the text of the entire letter from RNC Chairman Priebus to NBC Chairman Andrew Lack:

Mr. Andrew Lack
Chairman, NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, New York 10112

Dear Mr. Lack,

I write to inform you that pending further discussion between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our presidential campaigns, we are suspending the partnership with NBC News for the Republican primary debate at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016. The RNC’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future. We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns.

The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance.

CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.” That was not the case. Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case. Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed.

While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates. What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas.

I have tremendous respect for the First Amendment and freedom of the press. However, I also expect the media to host a substantive debate on consequential issues important to Americans. CNBC did not.

While we are suspending our partnership with NBC News and its properties, we still fully intend to have a debate on that day, and will ensure that National Review remains part of it.

I will be working with our candidates to discuss how to move forward and will be in touch.


Reince Priebus
Chairman, Republican National Committee

3 years ago

This weekend’s comprehensive college football TV schedule

For a printable version, click here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all weekend.

(Note: All times are Central)

October 31st football schedule

3 years ago

How safe are Alabama hospitals? New study reveals mixed grades

St. Vincent's St. Claire Hospital
St. Vincent’s St. Claire Hospital

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A study of hospital safety across the country by the non-profit Leapfrog Group revealed a mixed report for Alabama’s hospitals.

Alabama came in 35th among the states, with only 16.7 percent of the Yellowhammer State’s hospitals earning an A.

The non-profit grades hospitals yearly based on 28 factors, all currently in use by national measurement and reporting programs, revealing how well hospitals prevent accidents, injuries, infections, and errors. Leapfrog uses information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and hospital surveys to develop the scores.

Those Alabama hospitals earning As are:

Baptist Medical Center East in Montgomery
Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham
DeKalb Regional Medical Center in Fort Payne
Medical Center Enterprise in Enterprise
Providence Hospital in Mobile
Russellville Hospital in Russellville
Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper

Only two hospitals, Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden, and Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan received Fs.

In response to a query by, Southeast Alabama Medical Center addressed their low grade saying, “This year, Southeast Alabama Medical Center was one of only eight hospitals in the state that chose to participate fully in the Leapfrog survey… The decision to participate was intentional so we could learn from the Leapfrog survey process. Completing the voluntary section of the survey adversely impacted the overall score, but provided us valuable insight that will help our quality program in the future.”

Spokeswoman Claudia Hall said the hospital has already implemented several practices to improve safety: Staff members now meet daily to discuss safety issues, the hospital has added care coordinators, and has conducted training programs on hospital-acquired infections.

View the rest of the hospital grades on The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Score website.

3 years ago

6 Alabama-themed pumpkin carving templates to make with your family this Halloween weekend

Pumpkin carving is one of the most beloved fall traditions in many families. As the leaves begin to change and the red and orange mums begin to bloom on southern front porches, jack-o-lanterns also start popping up.

In recent years, folks have gone beyond the simple snaggle-toothed characters to elaborate creations just as at home in a museum as a stoop.

To help families celebrate the occasion, we put together 6 Alabama-themed templates you can use for free to carve pumpkins with your family this weekend!

Click HERE to download all 6.

Want to make your carved pumpkin last longer? Website recommends these five steps:

Mix up a preservative solution for your carved pumpkin consisting of 2 teaspoons of household bleach per gallon of water.

Fill a sink, bucket, or tub with enough of the bleach solution to totally immerse the carved jack o lantern. Place the jack o lantern in the bleach mixture right after you have finished carving it. Soak the carved pumpkin for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove the pumpkin from the liquid and allow it to air dry. Spray the pumpkin inside and outside with a commercial pumpkin preservative or use your own mixture, consisting of 1 teaspoon of bleach in water. Spray the pumpkin once daily, to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

Smear petroleum jelly on all of the cut surfaces of the pumpkin. This will prevent the pumpkin from drying out and getting that puckered, shriveled look.

Protect the jack o lantern from sun or rain, since one will dry the pumpkin out, while the other will promote the growth of mold. If possible, refrigerate your jack o lantern when it’s not in use.

Elephant pumpkin carving template

Tiger pumpkin carving template

Vulcan pumpkin carving template

Yellowhammer pumpkin carving template

I love Alabama pumpkin carving template

Flag pumpkin carving template

3 years ago

‘Woodlawn’ director defends high school coach punished for praying with his team

FAITH UNDER FIRE! Washington State high school football coach Joe Kennedy has been put on paid administrative leave after being criticized for praying at games. Joe’s lawyers are now threatening legal action. Do you support his lawsuit?

Posted by Fox & Friends on Thursday, October 29, 2015

(Video Above: Fox News covers the punishing of coach Joe Kennedy for praying after football games)

Woodlawn” director and Alabama native Andrew Erwin voiced his support for an assistant high school football coach in Washington state who was placed on administrative leave for refusing to stop holding voluntary prayers with players and students on the field after games.

Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy was told by the school system to stop the prayers. Kennedy, who has prayed on the field after every game since taking the job in 2008, was assured by freedom of religion organization the Liberty Institute, that he was within his rights to pray, as long as he wasn’t forcing anyone else to join him.

“While the district appreciates Kennedy’s many positive contributions to the BHS football program … Kennedy’s conduct poses a genuine risk that the district will be liable for violating the federal and state constitutional rights of students or others,” Bremerton school officials wrote in a letter published online.

Kennedy, a former Marine, has received a tidal wave of support from every corner of the nation, including from “Woodlawn” director and Alabamian Andrew Erwin, who voiced his support for the coach on Facebook.


“Woodlawn’s” plot revolves around the recruitment of Tony Nathan, one of the first African-American University of Alabama. The entire story shows how a spiritual revival that starts within the team — despite the turbulent times around them — spreads throughout the school and into the community.

Kennedy was first ordered to stop the prayers in September when the school said 8-year-long tradition could be perceived as district endorsement of religion in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

The coach continued to pray in defiance of the school system, bowing his head again at the 50 yard line after the homecoming game October 16.

“I’ve got my eyes closed and I feel all these people around me. I’m like, God, I hope those aren’t kids,” Kennedy told Seattle-based reporters “I’m sitting there and I’m going, ‘God, thank you for this opportunity.’ And … if this is the last time I step on the field with these guys…”

Liberty Institute lawyer Hiram Sasser, who is representing Coach Kennedy, wrote that though the First Amenment forbids religious activity sponsored by the government, it “protects religious activity that is initiated by individuals acting privately, as is the case with Coach Kennedy.”

“No reasonable observer could conclude that a football coach who waits until the game is over and the players have left the field and then walks to midfield to say a short, private, personal prayer is speaking on behalf of the state,” Sasser continued.

In an interview earlier this month with the Bremerton Patriot newspaper Kennedy said he wouldn’t stop fighting for his right to pray.

“Whatever happens happens, you know,” he said. “But I’m going to be bold in my faith and I’m going to fight the good fight, and I want to set that example for every one of the kids if you believe in something.”

3 years ago

Shelby: No conservative should vote for Boehner-Obama budget deal negotiated in ‘dark corridors’

(Video above: Cliff Sims interviews Sen. Richard Shelby on Yellowhammer Radio)

In a wide-ranging interview on Yellowhammer Radio Thursday with Cliff Sims, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) unloaded on the process by which Republican leaders negotiated the latest budget deal with President Obama.

“I think it’s a bad deal,” Shelby said bluntly. “It was negotiated at the last minute in the dark corridors somewhere and it’s being rushed through Congress because the Speaker is leaving. The budget agreement would increase the current Budget Control Act spending caps by at least $80 billion. That money will be borrowed. As part of the deal we’re also running the debt ceiling up another one-and-a-half trillion dollars by March of 2017. Add that to the debt. It’s unsustainable… No conservative Republican should vote for that. Period. It’s just a bad, bad deal… We need more conservative Republican senators.”

Shelby went on to call President Obama one of the “most liberal presidents in the history of the country,” and said the deals outgoing House Speaker John Boehner has negotiated with him are “bad for our future generations.”

Below are some other notable topics discussed in the interview.

Responding to his 99 percent score on the latest Heritage Foundation Conservative Scorecard:

Some people buy into the Beltway culture. I haven’t done that. I realize that I’m an Alabamian — fifth generation. And I’m up here at the sufferance of the people. And I’ve been one to go home. Very few U.S. Senators go home like I do and hold a public meeting in every county of the state every year — nearly 2,000 meetings. It keeps me on the ground. It keeps me listening to people.

Teeing off on the ever-expanding power of the EPA:

We have a lot of workers (in the coal industry). This is their job and they’re taking it away from them. This is the power of regulation through the EPA. The president has violated (the people’s) trust, and probably violated the constitution, and we need to fight it… Obama would like for us to just get all our energy from the sun. That might be ideal, but I don’t see that happening. In the mean time, we can create jobs with coal. We can learn — and we have — to burn coal much cleaner. That’s what we ought to be working on. We’ve cut out enough jobs in America. We need every job we can get.

Criticizing overburdensome regulations killing community banks:

Access to capital for small business owners is very important to growth. Small business owners create about 80 percent of the new jobs. If you cut off the capital, or curtail access to capital, we’re not going to grow the economy. I’ve been trying to give some bank relief. Free markets depend on banking. The ordinary person should have access to that, but if we over-regulate the banking system, consumers pay for that. It’s going to be part of the bill. It will be factored in in the interest rate we pay… I have some legislation to get some relief off of Dodd-Frank.

On the Federal Reserve:

Everything is a big secret. That’s one of the things I’m going to talk about at the Federal Reserve next week. The Fed is too secretive. They’re not accountable to anybody. But I don’t believe, because they’re a creature of Congress, that they should be independent with no accountability. I want them to be independent to a certain extent, as long as they’re accountable for what they do. We need more oversight. I don’t want (Congress) to run the Federal Reserve. But Congress should have a strong oversight of what they do and why they do it. It affects every man, woman and child in this country.

On last night’s CNBC Republican presidential debate:

The moderators were overbearing and biased against the Republican brand. I thought most of (the candidates) did pretty well. Rubio had some good shots. Even Christie had a good one about them being so rude… Cruz had a good night… It’s early, but it’s getting there. I think we’ll know who the nominee is by the middle of March. I want somebody who’s conservative, that’s solid, who can win. The 2016 race is a tipping point for the country. If we win the presidency and we stay in control of the Senate and the House, we can get some things done. If we don’t… This country is going to go farther and farther to the left. Let’s fight hard to keep that from happening.

Update: The Senate approved the legislation 64-35 at 3 a.m. Friday morning.

Yellowhammer Radio with Cliff Sims airs 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily on Superstation 101 WYDE, online and on the TuneIn app.

3 years ago

Adele’s newest hit turns into ex-text gold for one Auburn student

"Hello" video screenshot
"Hello" video screenshot
“Hello” video screenshot

British mega-pop star Adele’s newest hit “Hello” may have more than 130 million views, but that doesn’t mean absolutely everyone would recognize it at first glance; just ask Matt, whose ex-girlfriend’s Adele-themed texts threw him for a loop.

Mary Caldarella, an Auburn University student, decided to share the song’s lyrics with her ex-boyfriend via text message.

The results, which Mary shared on Twitter, were absolutely hysterical.

C/O Mary Calderella on Twitter
C/O Mary Caldarella on Twitter

These folks aren’t the only ones having fun with Adele’s new song. Lots of users of the quick video-sharing app Vine are also splicing together their own versions.

(H/T Mashable)

3 years ago

Inept government bureaucracy leads to Alabama teacher of the year resigning


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Earlier this year 20-year teaching veteran and education author Ann Marie Corgill was named Alabama Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015. This week she resigned from a Birmingham City school after the system decided she wasn’t qualified to teach her grade.

After teaching at Cherokee Bend Elementary School—part of the highly-coveted Mountain Brook City school system— for three years, Corgill made the decision to make the move to instructing 5th graders at Oliver Elementary School within the Birmingham City Schools system.

Her decision to leave the classroom had nothing to do with student discipline problems or a shortage of funds. Instead, it was because of frustration with a school system that once lauded her abilities deciding her certification precluded her from continuing in the classroom.

After beginning the year in a 2nd grade classroom, which definitely does fall within her formal certification, Corgill was moved by the school to teach 5th grade. Then she was informed by Birmingham and Alabama Department of Education officials that she was not qualified to teach students in that grade.

Corgill holds Class A and B certifications from the state to teach primary school through third grade students, but she also obtained National Board Certification to teach children ages 7-12—an age which includes most 5th graders.

“After 21 years of teaching in grades 1-6, I have no answers as to why this is a problem now, so instead of paying more fees, taking more tests and proving once again that I am qualified to teach, I am resigning,” wrote Corgill in her resignation letter.

Corgill reportedly didn’t receive a paycheck from the system until just last week, going more than two months in the classroom without being remunerated.

As a feeder school to Woodlawn High School and part of the Woodlawn Innovation Network, Oliver Elementary has adopted characteristics common in many charter schools, including the ability to hire non-traditionally certified teachers.

It is in spite of this flexibility that Corgill was driven to resign.

“Please know that I wanted to give my all and share my expertise with Birmingham City Schools,” she wrote. “In order to attract and retain the best teachers, we must feel trusted, valued and treated as professionals. It is my hope that my experience can inform new decisions, policies and procedures to make Birmingham City Schools a place everyone wants to work and learn.”

3 years ago

Stumped on what costume to wear this Halloween? Here are some of Alabama’s most popular

Flickr user Wellsdb
Flickr user Wellsdb
Flickr user Wellsdb

Halloween is this weekend, a holiday that has morphed in recent years from a time to take the kiddos trick-or-treating into a candy and partying occasion for all ages.

Most gatherings this weekend require a costume, whether an ironic pun-based one or your favorite superhero. But what are the most popular?

Website Frightgeist worked with Google to see which costume ideas were the most searched in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

With the resurgence of superhero movies in the last several years it comes as no surprise that in most parts of the state costumes of Batman, villain Harley Quinn, and other superheroes topped the list.

Here are the most popular costume searches in some of Alabama’s largest cities:


Birmingham Halloween costumes


Huntsville Halloween Costumes


Mobile Halloween Costumes


Montgomery Halloween Costumes

3 years ago

Alabama genetics company forgoes thousands in profit to help women understand their breast cancer risk

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.
Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.
Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Kailos Genetics, a  genetic testing company partnering with the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, whose campus has been in Huntsville since 2008, announced this year they would forgo thousands in profits to provide discounted testing to many Alabama women for a genetic mutation that may cause hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer.

The test will be given at a steep discount of $99 to women over the age of 19 in Madison, Marshall, Jackson, and Limestone Counties. If you happen to be 30 years old between Oct. 29, 2015, and Oct. 28, 2016 in Madison County, you can receive the test free of charge.

Those outside the area can still be tested for $225, a discount from the full price of $299.

The “Knowledge is Power” campaign will kick off Thursday with an event at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center where the first of the free kits will be given out.

Those squeamish of blood and needles should have no worry, the DNA needed for the test is easily procured with a simple mouth swab.

According to the Kailos Genetics website, the Kailos hereditary cancer screening test can “tell you if you carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations that are strong risk signs for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. It also looks for changes in 21 additional genes to provide information about risks related to breast, ovarian, colon and endometrial (uterine) cancers.”

While the company makes clear that a positive test is not a guarantee you will develop cancer, and a negative test doesn’t mean you’re safe from other forms of cancer, knowledge can help those receiving the service take certain precautions.

“Your genes never change, so the earlier you can take the test and understand your own DNA, the more impact and control you can have over your own health,” says Kailos Genetics’s website.

Genetic counselors will work with all participants who test positive to investigate their options, whether they elect to play the odds or undertake preventative treatments.



3 years ago

A sneak peak at the incredible technology that will soon be harnessed in Alabama’s new GE facilities

GE Aviation's LEAP engine equipped with the CMC "Shrouds" whose materials will be made in Huntsville.

(Video Above: A glimpse at what the Ceramic Matrix Composite materials produced in Huntsville will be making)

Huntsville, Ala. — The building of two state-of-the-art aviation parts manufacturing facilities was announced in Alabama Tuesday, an investment of $200 million by one of the largest companies in the world, General Electric (GE). The facilities will employ approximately 300 Alabamians in the work of mass-producing silicon carbide materials for ultra-lightweight components of new jet engines.

That’s a mouthful, and while Alabama is quickly becoming known as one of the best places in the world to locate if you need a top-notch team of engineers, the rest of us could probably benefit from an explanation.

According to the Commerce Department, one of the Alabama plants will be the first large-scale facility in the United States to produce silicon carbide (SiC) ceramic fiber; the only other factory of its kind in the world is in Japan. The adjacent GE factory will use the SiC ceramic fiber to produce a “unidirectional tape” necessary to fabricate advanced ceramic matrix composite components, or CMCs, for jet engines and land-based gas turbines.

The lightweight CMCs, whose construction is depicted in the video above, save aircraft hundreds of pounds in weight, while also making the engines more durable and fuel efficient. Scientists at GE have worked for more than 20 years to develop CMCs for commercial use.

Once the ceramic tapes are manufactured in Alabama’s new plants they will travel to a facility in North Carolina where they are be made into CMC “shrouds” with direct high-pressure air flow through the next-generation engines.

The Alabama Department of Commerce says the recruitment of GE to the Yellowhammer State for this project began 18 months ago under code name “Project Badge.”

“With Alabama’s aviation and aerospace sector adding new capabilities, it has been one of our goals to more fully penetrate all levels of the industry supply chain,” said secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce Greg Canfield. “GE Aviation’s plan to mass produce the raw material for ceramic jet engine components in Huntsville positions Alabama for a more significant role in that supply chain at a time when the Southeastern aerospace corridor is growing rapidly.”

Alabama officials say the state’s existing workforce, low infrastructure costs, and ability to partner with universities made the Limestone County location ideal.

“GE is an innovation company. Huntsville is an innovation city,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “This announcement by GE is the latest chapter in that history of innovation. The products that will be manufactured here represent the future of aerospace. We are proud that Huntsville will help GE change the way we travel through the skies.”

3 years ago

Liberal judge blocks Alabama from canceling Planned Parenthood contract

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson

MONTGOMERY, Ala. –  U.S. District Judge Judge Myron Thompson granted a preliminary injunction to Planned Parenthood this morning to block the state from canceling a contract with the abortion provider.

Governor Robert Bentley terminated the state’s contract with the Planned Parenthood Southeast affiliate, which operates in Birmingham and Mobile, after a series videos revealed other clinics were altering abortions to sell baby parts for a profit.

The Planned Parenthood Southeast network previously received around $4,000 annually from the state in the form of family planning grants that were federally matched.

The majority of Planned Parenthood’s funding comes through Medicaid reimbursements, which can’t be touched by the state.

In his letter to the organization, Bentley didn’t outline a precise reason for canceling the contract, instead pointing to its “at-will” status. Judge Thompson ruled this reasoning “falls well outside the range of grounds germane to the purposes of the Medicaid Act.”

“To conclude otherwise would not only strip the Medicaid Act’s free-choice-of-provider provision of all meaning, but also would contravene clear congressional intent to give Medicaid beneficiaries the right to receive covered services from any qualified and willing provider,” wrote Thompson.

Though the Planned Parenthood Southeast clinics reportedly do not participate in the “fetal tissue donation” program, Governor Bentley said when he canceled the contract that he doesn’t want the state to be affiliated in any way with an organization which sanctions the practice.

“The deplorable practices at Planned Parenthood have been exposed to Americans, and I have decided to stop any association with the organization in Alabama,” Bentley said at the time. “As a doctor and Alabama’s Governor, the issue of human life, from conception to birth and beyond, is extremely important to me. I respect human life, and I do not want Alabama to be associated with an organization that does not.”

This isn’t the first time Judge Thompson has given Planned Parenthood exactly what they want in court.

In August 2014 Thompson struck down vital parts of the 2013 Women’s Health and Safety Act.

In Thompson’s lengthy opinion, he wrote that “The evidence compellingly demonstrates that the requirement would have the striking result of closing three of Alabama’s five abortion clinics, clinics which perform only early abortions, long before viability.”

The potential for closing the abortion clinics was important to Thompson as he made his decision because he said that abortion rights cannot be exercised without a provider, similar to how Second Amendment rights cannot be exercised without a place to buy weapons and ammunition.

Governor Bentley reacted to the ruling with disappointment.

“For the last two months, Alabama has denied payment to Planned Parenthood Southeast. The good news is that as a result of the strong opposition by Alabama and a few other states to the practice of accepting reimbursement for harvesting fetal organs, the national Planned Parenthood organization has changed course and will no longer continue this deplorable practice,” said Bentley in a press release Wednesday afternoon. “I am disappointed, and vehemently disagree with the Court’s ruling today. We are reviewing the opinion and will determine the next legal steps within the appeal period.”


3 years ago

Roby pulls in major endorsements from 36 mayors in Alabama’s 2nd congressional district

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2)
Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In the race for political office, endorsements can make or break a campaign. People tend to trust the opinions of those they know, and as the cliche goes, all politics is local. As the race for Alabama’s 2nd congressional district seat heats up between incumbent Martha Roby and Tea Party challenger Becky Gerritson local endorsements may make a significant difference in March’s primary.

This week Congresswoman Roby pulled in endorsements from 36 mayors, hailing from each corner of the district.

The mayors imparted their endorsement in a joint letter sent to Roby this week.

“We appreciate your deep commitment to our local communities,” the mayors wrote.

“Since your first election to Congress, you have demonstrated a willingness to effectively engage with federal agencies on our behalf to promote our local interests and advance our constituents’ best interests. Your steadfast advocacy for the critical military installations in our area, and of our many constituents who serve in uniform at home and abroad, promotes our district’s proud role in the nation’s defense. Additionally, we value federal, state, and local partnerships, and we appreciate your support of infrastructure improvement and economic development efforts across Central and Southeast Alabama.”

The 36 mayors represent each of the 15 counties in the 2nd district:

– Jim Giganti, Mayor of Abbeville (Henry County)
– Earl Johnson, Mayor of Andalusia (Covington County)
– Chris Caldwell, Mayor of Babbie, (Covington County)
– Bernie Sullivan, Mayor of Brantley (Crenshaw County)
– Jimmy Ramage, Mayor of Brundidge (Pike County)
– Jimmy Garner, Mayor of Carolina (Covington County)
– Rebecca Beasley, Mayor of Clayton (Barbour County)
– David Grice, Mayor of Clio (Barbour County)
– Mike Schmitz, Mayor of Dothan (Houston County)
– Mickey Murdock, Mayor of Elba (Coffee County)
– Jack Tibbs, Mayor of Eufaula (Barbour County)
– Margaret White, Mayor of Elmore (Elmore County)
– Robert Williamson, Mayor of Florala (Covington County)
– Philip Carter, Mayor of Geneva (Geneva County)
– Jerome Antone, Mayor of Georgiana (Butler County)
– Dan Jackson, Mayor of Glenwood (Crenshaw County)
– Dexter McClendon, Mayor of Greenville (Butler County)
– Jeff Sorrells, Mayor of Hartford (Geneva County)
– Ray Marler, Mayor of Headland (Henry County)
– Judy Baker, Mayor of Heath (Covington County)
– Eugene Birge, Mayor of Lockhart, (Covington County)
– Jimmy Grant, Mayor of Louisville, (Barbour County)
– Joe Sport, Mayor of Luverne (Crenshaw County)
– John Bartholomew, Mayor of Opp (Covington County)
– Billy Blackwell, Mayor of Ozark (Dale County)
– Lester Odom, Mayor of McKenzie (Butler and Conecuh Counties)
– Mildred Whittington, Mayor of Midway (Bullock County)
– Todd Strange, Mayor of Montgomery (Montgomery County)
– Bill Gillespie, Mayor of Prattville (Autauga and Elmore Counties)
– Terri Carter, Mayor of Repton (Conecuh County)
– Willie Hendrix, Mayor of Red Level (Barbour County)
– Patricia Gunter, Mayor of River Falls (Covington County)
– Chris Thomasson, Mayor of Sanford (Covington County)
– Rob Hinson, Mayor of Slocomb (Geneva County)
– Bobby Payne, Mayor of Tallassee (Elmore County)
– Jason Reeves, Mayor of Troy (Pike County)

Roby thanked the mayors in a statement Tuesday.

I’m grateful for such an inspiring show of support from across the district,” she said. “I’ve always believed my first job is to listen to those I represent and work on their behalf in Congress. I’m proud to partner with mayors and local leaders throughout the district in helping to promote their communities.

“It’s important for our local communities to know they have a listening ear and an active voice fighting for them in Congress. I’m honored as ever to be their representative.”

Challenger Becky Gerritson earned an endorsement of her own this week from former district 2 congressional candidate Rick Barber, who lost to Roby in the 2010 primary.

Earlier this month he Alabama Tea Party and Conservative Coalition (ATPCC) banded together to endorse Gerritson, a Tea Party president herself, simultaneously disavowing another Tea Party group which endorsed Roby.

The primary will take place March 1st, 2016. There is currently no Democratic challenger for the seat.

3 years ago

GE to build massive $200 million aviation manufacturing facilities, bringing 300 jobs to Huntsville

Governor Bentley announces GE's $200 million investment in the Yellowhammer State.
Governor Bentley announces GE's $200 million investment in the Yellowhammer State.
Governor Bentley announces GE’s $200 million investment in the Yellowhammer State.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Alabama officials announced Tuesday a significant investment in the Yellowhammer State by mega-corporation General Electric (GE) in building two state-of-the-art aviation manufacturing facilities in North Alabama.

The two factories will mass-produce silicon carbide (SiC) materials used to manufacture ceramic matrix composite components (CMCs) for jet engines and land-based gas turbines. The $200 million facilities are expected to employ 300 people once their construction is complete.

“We are honored that GE Aviation has chosen Huntsville for an advanced technology manufacturing operation to produce silicon carbide materials for commercial and military engines,” said Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in a press release following the announcement. “Today’s announcement is important because Alabama is expanding our partnership with a global aviation leader. We have prioritized advanced manufacturing in aerospace and aviation, and I appreciate the investment by GE Aviation in this new Huntsville operation.”

The silicon carbide ceramic fiber plant will be the first of its kind in the United States, and will be a key component in GE’s supply chain to make large amounts of CMCs. The only other two SiC plants in the world are located in Japan and France.

The adjacent GE factory will use the fiber to produce the “unidirectional CMC tape” necessary to fabricate CMC components.

Governor Bentley tweeted out the main reason he believes GE chose Alabama for this project.

According to Decatur Daily reporter Mary Sell, the state incentivized GE with a job-creation credit of $3.5M and an Investment credit of $12.4M each to be paid over 10 years.

Construction is expected to begin in mid-2016, with completion projected for the first half of 2018. GE hourly workers will begin being hired in late 2016.

This is GE’s second investment in Alabama. In 2010 the company built a partnership in Auburn to create a $100 million, 300,000-square-foot factory Alabama GE employees build jet engine components.

3 years ago

29 of Alabama’s state-run liquor stores lose taxpayer money, and most of them will remain open


MONTGOMERY, Ala. — As a result of the General Fund budget cuts passed this year by the Alabama Legislature, the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) announced it would close 15 state-run liquor stores.

Of those closing 10 were profitable in 2014, while 24 other ABC store locations remaining open across the state were in the red.

Some of the liquor stores losing taxpayer money every year are only a few hundred dollars in the red, while others are tens of thousands of dollars away from being profitable.

ABC Board director Mac Gipson told the Montgomery Advertiser that it’s difficult for the state to close the rural stores that aren’t making money. “They’re losing more money,” said Gipson, “but (closings) make the customer constituents have to drive further to get a bottle.”

All told, the 29 unprofitable stores—which are a mix of rural and urban locations—lost $830,213.98 in FY 2014 according to state data obtained by Yellowhammer.

ABC Profitability


The ABC retail system as a whole turns a profit. Between a 30 percent markup and some of the nation’s largest excise taxes, the ABC contributed $15.9 million in 2014 on sales of over $400 million to the annual budget in FY2014.

Troy University economist Dr. Daniel Smith, however, says the state would profit even more if they got out of the retail business all together.

“Not only would shedding rental costs for more than 170 ABC stores and personnel costs for more than 600 state employees save the state money, the revenue generated by liquor stores could readily be generated from taxes collected by private liquor stores,” wrote Smith in a recent op-ed for Yellowhammer.

“If Alabama’s government is genuine about cutting operating costs, leaving liquor sales to the private sector — often, small, locally owned shops — is a great place to start,” said Smith. “Not only would this move get government out of the business of hawking liquor in low-income areas — a business it shouldn’t be doing in the first place — it would save the state millions in operating costs including rents, wages, and pension contributions.”

Dr. Smith, among others, have contrasted the state’s decision to keep open non-profitable ABC stores with the decision to close for 29 days a month Drivers’ License locations.

“In the face of ongoing budget concerns, the state of Alabama released a list of 31 driver’s license offices it plans to close in an effort to cut government spending,” Smith wrote. “Of those 31 cities losing a driver’s license office, 21 of them — 68% — currently have an ABC liquor store, operated by the state. How is it that our elected officials decided that their role in selling liquor is more important than making sure people have access to a driver’s license?”

The stores will remain open through the Holiday season, which is historically when sales are highest. The 15 stores are slated to be closed January 1st.

3 years ago

Mobile mayor Stimpson to Navy Secretary: Let’s get a ship named after Alabama’s Port City

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson

MOBILE, Ala. — Over the last several years Mobile, Alabama, has become one of the premiere shipbuilding cities in the world once more. To reflect that growth and the accomplishments of the city, Mayor Sandy Stimpson wants a new Mobile-built ship to be named after his hometown.

Stimpson recently sent a letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus making just such a request.

“As you know, Austal and those Mobilians that work here are producing incredible warships that not only meet the needs of our Navy today, but warships that can adapt to meet the evolving needs of the future,” wrote Stimpson. “You have seen firsthand the quality of workmanship that goes into each LCS and JHSV built here.

“Knowing that LCS’s are named for ‘regionally-important U.S. cities and communities,’ the purpose of my note is to ask for your consideration in naming a future LCS or Fast Frigate the USS Mobile to honor our city and its workers.”

If the Navy decides to grant Stimpson’s request it would be the branch’s 5th ship of the name. The previous USS Mobile, a Charleston class amphibious cargo ship, or “L-Ship” saw action in the Vietnam and Gulf wars. She was decommissioned in 1994. The USS Mobile prior to that was awarded 11 Battle Stars in WWII for her efforts in the Pacific theater.

“2015 has been a magnificent year for Mobile,” Stimpson continued. “The Port of Mobile is ranked 12th in the nation in terms of tonnage handled and ‘Destination Mobile’ is becoming an increasingly global brand. This is a city on the rise recognized not only as a home to Austal, but Airbus will start delivering the A320 commercial aircraft next year. By the end of 2017, Airbus is expected to produce 4 aircraft a month.

“Mr. Secretary, I think it is right to say that a little piece of Mobile goes into each of the Independence class LCS ships made here at Austal. I as that you consider naming the 5th USS Mobile as a tribute to those putting their heart and soul into every ship they build. What better way to recognize the superior craft and workmanship Mobilians put into each one of these ships.”

Austal’s large shipyard, which employs more than 4,000 Alabamians, currently builds Littoral Combat Ships (LCS)  and Joint High-Speed Vessels for the Navy.

It is entirely up to the Navy to name its warships, and Secretary Mabus has recently signaled a return to the tradition of naming them after cities, presidents, and military heroes after being criticized for naming them after Democrats and civil rights leaders during the first part of his tenure in the Obama administration.

3 years ago

Alabama, coalition of states sue Obama’s EPA to stop assault on coal

Flickr user Peter Nijenhuis
Flickr user Peter Nijenhuis
Flickr user Peter Nijenhuis

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama joined a lawsuit Friday to challenge President Obama’s Clean Power Plan which opponents say would drive up energy costs while causing the loss of energy jobs across the country.

Alabama is one of 24 states listed on the filing.

“Today, Alabama joins nearly half of all U.S. states in challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to force millions of Americans to pay higher electric bills in order to satisfy the political agenda of the Obama Administration’s war on coal,” said Attorney General Strange in a press release Friday.

“The EPA under the guise of a so-called Clean Power strategy is actually attempting a radical transformation in the way electricity is generated in this country, forcing many to suffer higher heating and cooling costs and thousands more to lose their jobs all because it pleases the Obama Administration’s political supporters. Arbitrary downsizing of cost-effective coal-generated electricity in many states, including Alabama, could cost over $25 billion nationally per year with consumers left to foot the bill.”

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rules will tighten restrictions on coal-fired power plants by limiting the number of new plants allowed to be built and further cut the allowed carbon emissions from existing plants.

The new regulations are also being opposed by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Friday that he and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to file resolutions of disapproval next week in an effort to stop the EPA’s implementation of the new rules.

The CRA resolutions will assert that the Obama administration and its EPA have usurped the powers given to them by Congress, and the states’ lawsuit makes the case that the EPA lacks the power under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to force states to fundamentally restructure their electric grids by requiring them to use less coal-fired energy and build wind and solar facilities.

Alabama is joined in filing the lawsuit by Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

3 years ago

Benghazi hero to deliver keynote at upcoming Alabama event

Kris “Tanto” Paronto, survivor of the attacks on Benghazi.
Kris “Tanto” Paronto, survivor of the attacks on Benghazi.
Kris “Tanto” Paronto, survivor of the attacks on Benghazi.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Kris “Tanto” Paronto, a surviving member of the CIA Annex Security team that responded to the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, will headline the Lincoln-Reagan Dinner hosted by the Montgomery County Republican Executive Committee on Thursday, November 5.

A former Army Ranger from the 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment and private security contractor, Paronto helped save over 20 lives fighting off terrorists from the CIA Annex for over 13 hours as part of the CIA Annex Security Team.

Paronto’s story of that fateful night, along with those of his surviving team members, are shared in Mitchell Zuckoff’s upcoming book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, which is expected to be released in January 2016.

“Kris Paronto sets the record straight on what happened in Benghazi,” said Committee Chairman Pat Wilson. “We’re honored to have him as our speaker at this first-ever Lincoln-Reagan Dinner.”

Paronto has been deployed through the U.S. Army and National Guard across the globe, including missions in South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa before becoming a security contractor in 2003, working on many security missions.

The announcement of Paronto’s Alabama visit comes as the Benghazi attack is once again in headlines after former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared before the House Select Committee to investigate the attacks Thursday.

Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby questioned Clinton twice during the marathon hearing, asking her about a set of emails claiming the then-Secretary of State was unaware of what was really happening in Libya prior to the terror attack.

Later in the day Roby asked Clinton whether or not she was alone all night on September 11, 2012, to which Clinton responded with laughter.

Tickets and sponsorships for Kris Paronto’s visit are available on the Montgomery County Republican Executive Committee website.

3 years ago

Roby incredulous at Clinton’s laughing response to Benghazi question: ‘I don’t find that funny at all’

Hillary laughs at a question from Congresswoman Martha Roby during a Benghazi hearing (Video screenshot)

WASHINGTON — During the marathon Select Committee testimony and questioning of Hillary Clinton Thursday a particularly tense moment of questioning from Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby was interrupted by a bout of laughter from the presidential candidate.

“Were (at home) you alone?” Roby asked Clinton.
“I was alone,” Clinton responded.
“The whole night?” Roby followed up.
“Well, yes, the whole night,” Clinton said, laughing.

Roby didn’t find the situation amusing.

“I don’t know why that’s funny,” Roby continued. “Did you have any in-person briefings? I don’t find it funny at all.”
Clinton continued to chuckle, calling it a “note of levity at 7:15” after the long day of testimony.

“The reason I say it’s not funny is because it went well into the night when our folks on the ground were still in danger, so I don’t think it’s funny to ask if you’re alone the whole night,” Roby shot back.

The interchange wasn’t the only tense moment between Roby and Clinton during the hearing.

During the first round of questioning Roby presented emails from Clinton’s staff at the State Department that she says don’t match up with what Clinton testified.

“Also the secretary asked last week if we still have a presence in Benghazi,” read the email Roby presented. “I think she would be upset to hear ‘yes, we do.’ But because we don’t have enough security, they are on lockdown.”

Clinton said among the reasons Americans were in Libya was to slow the proliferation of weapons, but the State Department faced Libyans who said they “did not really feel that they could welcome a peacekeeping mission.”

Roby interrupted saying, “If I may, I hear what you’re saying but this email says something very, very different.”

“I can’t speak to that,” Clinton shot back. “I can just tell you what I was doing and I was doing a lot.”

“Sure, but this was your staff and it has to make me wonder if they had this conversation with you, why they would make it up,” Roby said.

The first round of questioning alternated between Republicans questioning Clinton and Democrats defending her, attempting to turn the hearing into an indictment of GOP intentions.

3 years ago

Alabama House Speaker race heats up with allegations of ‘bullying,’ inappropriate legislation

State Rep. Phil Williams (Left) was removed from his committee chairmanship by Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (right)

(Video above: State Rep. Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) discusses his bid for Speaker on Yellowhammer Radio)

State Rep. Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) is seeking to oust Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) from the top post in the legislature. On Thursday’s edition of Yellowhammer Radio with Cliff Sims, Williams laid out his reasoning for challenging a man who is arguably the state’s most powerful politician, and a member of his own party.

Williams said his initial realization that it may be time for a leadership change came during a recent special legislative session that was supposed to be entirely devoted to passing a budget. Williams said Hubbard had assured members that the 23 corruption charges he is currently facing would not impact his duties as Speaker. However, Williams believes some of the bills Hubbard tried to advance during the session were specifically created to assist his legal defense.

“I and other members watched two bills go through during the special session that had nothing to do with the budget, but it was about giving the Speaker of the House the ability to do things that could be questionable,” he explained. “One was to have the ability to have an unlimited (legal) defense fund… So a member could raise money for their legal defense with no limit.

“The other was the Star Chamber Bill, which has been designed to allow the members and the leadership to get information from agency heads. Sounds okay, but if you take this as a big puzzle and the pieces line up, that one caused me the most concern because it could have been abused.”

Williams said the Star Chamber Bill could have resulted in legislators having inappropriate leverage over state prosecutors.

“The Speaker of the House, regardless of who it was, would be able to bring in a prosecutorial team and zero out their budget,” he said. “Or at least have power over their budget that we currently don’t have. So those things taken with the fact that our leadership’s solution to everything seems to be ‘let’s raise (taxes),’ I decided it’s time for new leadership.”

According to the Associated Press, Hubbard’s legal defense strategy includes the assertion that “Alabama’s ethics law is unconstitutionally vague, did not apply to him as Republican party chairman and that he had a free speech right to lobby for his clients.”

Williams said Thursday that he took exception to this, because Speaker Hubbard led the charge put the more stringent ethics laws in place to begin with.

“(Ethics reforms is) how we beat up on Democrats to get in office,” he said. “And now to have the same person challenging the law’s constitutionality, which is designed to allow him to sidestep these indictments — that is just not going to stand. The people of Alabama did not send us down there to do something in 2010 and then throw it out as soon as one of us felt like, ‘Hey, I’ve got to get rid of this because the very laws I championed have become a stumbling block to me.'”

Williams also expressed frustration that Hubbard had taken what he described as a “top-down approach” to House operations and sometimes “bullied” rank and file members who did not support his agenda.

“There’s a danger the longer you stay in elected office, the more you become a babysitter of the status quo, even if it’s the status quo you helped shape,” said Williams. “(Speaker Hubbard) was such a dynamic leader and such a visionary… Now he does not challenge the governor. He’s preoccupied with other things in his life… Now it’s led to us talking about tax increases and basically bullying members, like me, who didn’t support those tax measures.”

In one particularly explosive moment, Williams said Hubbard threatened to seek retribution against him for not supporting a particular tax increase bill.

“In the session when one of the tax bills came to my committee, I killed it,” he recalled. “The Speaker came into the room, and in a very loud voice basically threatened ‘anything that I held valuable,’ quote, unquote. That was the beginning of the tone that led throughout the first and second special session, with the Speaker becoming more and more animated as to how far he’d go. In many ways Governor Bentley is unrecognizable from the 2010 through 2014 years, and in some ways the Speaker is becoming very much a changed leader as well.”

Yellowhammer asked Hubbard’s office if the Speaker disagreed with Williams’ characterization of events, but a spokesperson for the Speaker declined to comment for this story.

Williams concluded Thursday’s interview by saying his approach to governing would be very different, particularly in that he would dramatically reduce the power of the Speaker’s office.

“We need new leadership, and if we just change the name on the corner office on the 5th floor, I say we’re going to be right back in this situation again, and again and again. What I offer is a more bottom-up approach to empower the members. Let them be able to serve their people back home, so all of Alabama can feel like they’re a part of the legislative process.”

The full audio of Williams interview on Yellowhammer Radio can be heard in the YouTube video above.