The Wire

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

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

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

    Excerpt:

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

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

4 weeks ago

State governors must lead by example and should be held accountable

(Pixabay, Governor's Office/Hal Yeager, YHN)

Amid concerns of a second wave of the coronavirus, California has closed some of its beaches. The Dow dropped. Apple temporarily closed some of its U.S. retail stores again. As states reopen, many are wondering whether some states will institute a second shutdown.

A second shutdown would be harsh news for the ordinary working Americans who are disproportionately impacted by the economic shutdown. But we must allow state governors to decide what is best for their states.

Giving state and local leaders the leeway to make decisions regarding their own residents’ livelihoods and safety was the right call for Trump to make at the start of this pandemic. It is vital that federal agencies don’t take a “one state fits all” approach to our economic recovery. Our governors and lawgivers need to practice accountability to their local constituents and do what’s best for the communities they directly serve. Anything other than that is a mistake that will undermine our common battle against COVID-19 and our common fight to restart the American economy.

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We have inspiring examples from across the nation of state governors taking a responsible and considered approach to the coronavirus. South Dakota, for example, never shut down; governor Kristi Noem chose instead to protect her residents’ civil liberties. In Wyoming, which has fewer than 600 positive COVID-19 cases, and Alaska, which has just 399, Governors Gordon and Dunleavy wisely decided that shuttering businesses would be an unnecessary violation of their citizens’ rights. And in Alabama, where there has been a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, Governor Ivey has worked hard both to keep her state informed about COVID-19 and to keep economically damaging restrictions on her local communities at a minimum. As her state continues to battle COVID-19, she has insisted on tailoring her state’s response to her community’s real economic needs. Considering that one in five U.S. workers has filed for unemployment since mid-March, these governors are doing what’s right to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus on ordinary Americans while still paying heed to the reality of COVID-19.

For many who were skeptical of a state-by-state approach, Georgia’s partial reopening was a test case. Businesses in Georgia had the choice to reopen or not; some towns hit hardest opted not to reopen early on, while other businesses, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, found they could work without in-person meetings.

Governors should be given the freedom, trust and respect to make the right decision for their residents. But this approach only works if governors truly seek what is best for their citizens, and don’t just willy-nilly impose strict lockdowns that they themselves don’t even think are worth obeying. Neither is the coronavirus an excuse for governors to score political points or enforce personal political causes. Governor Whitmer’s unnecessary ban on gun sales and Governor Northam’s extreme restriction on religious gatherings were irresponsible and excessive.

Lockdowns are not without risks. Unemployment is linked with long-term health risks like cancer, mental illness and even suicide. Many unemployed families can’t pay their medical bills or provide proper nutrition for their children. According to The Washington Post, “more than 40 percent of job losses could become permanent.” Governors who use the extreme measures of lockdowns in irresponsible ways are needlessly hurting Americans.

The U.S. government was right to take steps to quell the public health crisis and is right in continuing to provide support for states, small businesses, hospitals and individuals. But now, it is time for all of America’s governors to follow the examples set by Governors Ivey, Noem, and Gordon and Dunleavy and use right judgment, caution and care as they consider the particular needs of their states.

Many of the leaders who reopened their states before the majority did so faced media backlash, and they shouldn’t have. Forging ahead with smart, informed plans to reopen was an act of courage. By implementing plans that gradually allow businesses to return to normal operation, governors prioritized the long-term health of their states’ residents and did their best to protect them from coronavirus.

Everyone – the general public and lawmakers alike – should be allowed to do their part to stem the spread of the virus while also taking care of their communities and their families economically.

Public health must be protected, but so, too, should Americans’ Constitutional rights and their economic livelihood. Keeping people safe, guarding our rights and getting the economy running again are not mutually exclusive. As our country makes decisions regarding a second wave, governors need to lead with accountability and personal responsibility.

Timothy Head is the executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

4 months ago

Why Governor Ivey is the champion Alabama’s prisons desperately need right now

(Hal Yeager/Governor's Office)

Alabama’s prisons are a dangerous place to be. Alabama’s prison population sits at over 160% of its designed capacity, with a homicide rate nearly nine times the national average. In 2019, there were 14 homicides in state prisons. This does not include the number of suicides or drug overdoses, which are also high in the state’s prisons.

But thanks to Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama’s correctional system is undergoing a vital transformation. This is especially important as prisons across the U.S. continue to pose a high coronavirus risk. There have been no diagnosed cases of coronavirus in Alabama’s prisons yet, but the governor’s COVID-19 task force has been at work with the Alabama Department of Corrections on a proactive plan to stop the spread of the virus in prisons.

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Furthermore, in January of this year, Governor Ivey convened a Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy, which is an example that other states struggling with prison violence and high crime rates should draw from. The Group is bringing an informed, thoughtful and research-based approach to modernizing Alabama’s justice system to create safer and more thriving communities than the way our country has approached incarceration in the past.

I commend the governor for the steps she is taking for Alabama’s future – both before and during the coronavirus pandemic. In February, Governor Ivey endorsed several justice reform initiatives that will increase safety in the state’s prisons and support rehabilitation efforts. The measures include a revision to the oath of office taken by correctional officers that emphasizes rehabilitation; increased funding for prison education and mental health services; a requirement for prisoners to undergo mandatory supervision before their release to reduce recidivism; and eligibility for revised sentences for nonviolent crimes.

Measures like these do not make our communities less safe; in fact, they do the opposite. With justice reform measures being taken in both the federal and state systems at unprecedented levels, violent crime has decreased 5% over the past three years. According to criminology experts, incarceration actually has a marginal impact on crime, especially violent crime; in some cases, research has shown that incarceration can actually increase crime. This has been referred to as “the prison paradox.”

What does decrease crime? Education. Substance abuse services. Mental health services. Employment assistance. All of these have been proven to lower recidivism and crime. Since 2007, more than 30 states have passed reforms that address these issues and prioritize prison beds for serious offenders. Indeed, if smart and measured approaches recommended by the Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy are adopted by the legislature, Alabama can see its crime rates drop, its overall prison population drop, and its state prison budget drop.

Justice reform is one of the rare issues that is receiving bipartisan support – not just in Alabama but across the country. America’s high incarceration rate – the highest in the world – takes a massive human toll on families, individuals and communities. But increasingly, leaders like President Trump on the federal level and Governor Ivey on the state level are proving that you can be both “tough on crime” and “smart on crime” at the same time.

Moreover, the goals of justice reform measures are consistent with faith-based values. These values balance personal responsibility with forgiveness, compassion and mercy. This is an issue that can’t wait for attention. It’s also an issue that will allow us to pull together at a time when we face an unprecedented “invisible enemy” in the coronavirus, when we are divided by political partisanship and are facing an uncertain economic future. In this time of anxiety for vulnerable family, friends and loved ones, Governor Ivey is taking the necessary steps to bring change to Alabama’s justice system. I support Attorney General Barr’s recent order to the federal Bureau of Prisons to grant home confinement to many sick and elderly inmates during the coronavirus, and hope similar steps are taken in state and local prisons across the country. And I urge Alabamans not to forget about the incarcerated as they consider the future of their communities and their country.

Timothy Head is the executive director for the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a national grassroots movement of over 2 million conservatives and people of faith in support of time-honored values, stronger families, and individual freedom.