The Wire

  • Honoring Korean War Veterans

    From an Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs news release:

    The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking Korean
    War veterans for the Korean Ambassador of Peace medal. The Korean government
    would like to show their respect and gratitude for the devotion and sacrifice of the U.S. troops during the Korean War by presenting the medals to veterans.

    Sometimes called “The Forgotten War,” in part because its memory is often
    overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War, it began after some 75,000 North Korean soldiers poured into South Korea on June 25, 1950. By the time the war ended in July 1953, an estimated 5 million soldiers and civilians had died, including more than 700 from Alabama.

    South Korea’s government began offering the medals in 1975 to veterans who visited
    the country through its “Revisit Program,” which was meant to show gratitude for the
    vets’ service, as well as see how the country has prospered since the armistice was
    signed.

    In Alabama, there are 21,991 Korean War veterans, according to the U.S. Department
    of Veterans Affairs. But the state does not have a list of their names and addresses, so
    has to rely on word of mouth and local media to alert veterans to the honor.

    Veterans should call 334-242-5084 to receive an application for the medal. A medal
    presentation ceremony will be held at a later date.

  • AG Steve Marshall, CVS Health Announce Safe Drug Disposal Program in Alabama

    Excerpt from an Alabama Attorney General news release:

    Attorney General Steve Marshall joined with CVS Health Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer Thomas Moriarty, Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale, Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer and Homewood Police Chief Tim Ross today to announce a safe medication disposal program in Alabama.

    CVS Health has provided in-store drug disposal units at five of its stores in Alabama and also has equipped 36 law enforcement agencies with on-site disposal units to provide a regularly available means for people to properly discard unused medications.
    “It is extremely dangerous to keep unused prescription drugs on hand when they are no longer needed,” said Attorney General Marshall. “Many of these are controlled substances, and opioids, in particular, can bring tragic results. We have had tremendous success with Drug Take-Back days in Alabama and these permanent collection sites provided by CVS Health are a valuable asset because now there is a way for people to safely dispose of drugs year-round.”

    Alabama ranks first in the nation for the number of painkiller prescriptions per capita, and Attorney General Marshall has made fighting opioid abuse a cornerstone of his administration. He serves as co-chair of the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council which issued a comprehensive action plan last December. In February of this year he filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for the harm caused by its reckless marketing and sales of opioids.

    “CVS Health is dedicated to addressing and preventing opioid abuse in the communities we serve in Alabama and across the country,” said Moriarty. “Expanding our safe medication disposal program to CVS Pharmacy locations in Alabama is one of the many initiatives we support to fulfill that commitment and our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”

    Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer said, “I would like to thank CVS Health for choosing Homewood to officially launch their safe drug disposal program in Alabama. Keeping unused prescription drugs off the streets and out of the hands of those who might be harmed by them requires a team effort. Pharmacies, law enforcement and every citizen has a key role to play. I appreciate CVS Health for taking steps to reduce the likelihood of accidental poisoning and drug abuse in our community by making it easy to dispose of unused and expired medicines while shopping at our local CVS Pharmacy.”

  • Rep. Byrne Calls for Rural Hospital Relief

    Excerpt from a Congressman Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) recently partnered with a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in urging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to fix the Medicare Area Wage Index, which severely hurts Alabama’s hospitals.

    Alabama has the lowest Medicare reimbursement rate in the country. Based in large part on the Wage Index, seventy-five percent of Alabama’s hospitals are operating at a loss with an average median operating margin of negative 6.5 percent. The problem is worse in rural Alabama, where hospitals have a median operating margin of negative 12.2 percent. Unless changes are made to the Wage Index formula, the problem will continue to get worse and additional Alabama hospital closure is likely.

    Congressman Byrne said: “We are facing a medical crisis in rural America. For too long, the Medicare Area Wage Index has been gamed by hospitals in very affluent parts of the country at the expense of rural America. Congress granted CMS wide authority to administer the Wage Index, and it is time the system be reformed in order to ensure continued access to hospital care for those in rural Alabama and rural areas throughout the United States.”

2 years ago

Sims: I’ll donate $1k to the first Alabama HS whose football team runs through this banner

Yellowhammer News CEO Cliff Sims offers $1,000 to the first Alabama high school to run through this banner.
Yellowhammer News CEO Cliff Sims offers $1,000 to the first Alabama high school to run through this banner.
Yellowhammer News CEO Cliff Sims offers $1,000 to the first Alabama high school to run through this banner.

Yellowhammer News CEO Cliff Sims on Tuesday offered to donate $1,000 to the first Alabama high school to allow their football team to run through a pre-game, breakaway banner that says, “Hillary would delete this banner if she could!”

The offer was in response to the uproar over Briarwood Christian School’s Trump-related breakaway banner this past weekend.

Prior to their game against Fairfield High School, Briarwood’s team ran through a banner that said, “Make America Great Again. Trump the Tigers!”

The banner elicited outrage from some fans at the game, as well as local media.

“It’s ridiculous. To me, it’s an insult because I don’t like Trump and Trump doesn’t like my people either,” Fairfield student Nicole Cabrera told WBRC.

Another attendee added on Facebook that “this should not be going down this close to me,” apparently referring to the banner’s mention of Trump.

“Briarwood Christian Schools Superintendent Barrett Mosbecker did not say who authorized the sign or why it was used during a game against an opponent with a predominantly African American student body,” one al.com reporter wrote, insinuating that the banner may have been meant as an attack on African-Americans.

Briarwood quickly issued an apology for the banner and asked for forgiveness from anyone who may have been offended.

“Briarwood Christian School desires to publicly apologize for any understandable offense caused by the sign used during a recent football game,” the school told al.com in an email. “The message of the sign did not represent the school’s deep commitment to biblical principles and values, nor did it reflect our commitment to honoring and respecting our guests. Our existing policies were not followed effectively and appropriate measures will be taken to correct this. Above all we desire to seek forgiveness of any who were offended.”

On Tuesday’s episode of Yellowhammer Radio, Cliff Sims addressed what he described as “faux outrage.”

“This whole thing makes me inclined to offer suggestions for future banners,” Sims laughed, sparking a series of suggestions from co-host Scott Beason, producer “Encyclopedia Jeff” and callers.

Encyclopedia Jeff suggested, “Let’s go Bucs! We ain’t in no ways tired,” recalling Mrs. Clinton’s 2007 visit to Alabama, during which she was mocked for reciting a hymn with a thick accent, saying, “I don’t feel no ways tired.”

Beason suggested, “I don’t recall who we’re playing, but I hope we win,” referencing the 40 times Mrs. Clinton told the FBI she couldn’t remember something. “Plead the 5th on 1st down,” Jeff added.

“What if a school starts calling their fans the Bleacher Bits,” he continued, alluding to BleachBit, the tool a Clinton staffer used to wipe her email server clean.

A caller concluded the brainstorming session by suggesting a banner reading, “At this point, what difference does it make,” referencing Mrs. Clinton’s response to intense congressional questioning about the 2012 attack in Benghazi.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that people are up in arms about this,” Sims said about the Briarwood Christian banner. “You would have thought that they assaulted the other team before the game, that they were hitting them in the knees with baseball bats as they walked out of the locker room.”

In conclusion, Sims said he was willing to incentivize schools to not back down to the “PC Police.”

“I will donate $1,000 to the first high school — whoever’s in charge of the banner, if it’s the cheerleading squad, the band program, whoever it is — if you’re high school creates a banner that says, ‘Hillary would delete this banner if she could,’ and the football team runs through it, I will donate $1,000 to your cause.”

Sims said the first school to send photographic evidence of the banner and the football team running through it will receive the donation.

Additionally, the Yellowhammer team created a template that high schools can use to design their banner.

The template shows an email marked “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN,” the classifications the Inspector General assessed the emails on Mrs. Clinton’s private server to contain. The template can be viewed below and downloaded here.

hillary-would-delete-this-banner

1
2 years ago

Here are the revealing outfits causing an uproar at Bama football games

slider

Upset that some students attending the Alabama-USC game showed up “looking like they belonged in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show,” Alabama mom and UA grad Rebecca Walden posted a blog on the Huffington Post suggesting they “stop baring almost all in the name of game day fashion.” She went on to add that “families attend these games. Little eyes are watching you.”

The post struck a nerve, prompting the Huffington Post to delete the article and compelling current University of Alabama student to pen an angry response titled “Dear Rebecca Walden And Every Woman Who Is Still ‘Slut-Shaming.’”

“Slut-shaming is real, we see it every day and this blog post is one of the countless examples roaming the cyber world today,” she wrote. “We, as young women, have grown up in a world where we have been taught our shoulders distract boys from learning. We’ve been threatened to get sent home from school if our knees show. Little by little, comment to comment, it adds up… The more we bash on one another for dressing too revealing, the more we are perpetuating the rape culture so many have been victims of… Her tasteless and bashful opinion isn’t going to make girls want to dress ‘classier’ and ‘cover up’ more. It’s going to make that one girl who finally grew the courage to flaunt her body in a new dress she had been too intimidated to wear before regret ever going to the game in the first place.”

The issue has been a hot topic on the Internet throughout the week, and the focus of debate on Yellowhammer Radio on Wednesday, with people coming down on both sides.

But some individuals have expressed general confusion over the uproar, having never even seen the outfits that have become the subject of so much discussion.

A Yellowhammer reader took it upon themselves to search the University of Alabama geotag on Instagram and sent dozens of links to public posts that included game day-related captions. Although the images were posted publicly, Yellowhammer has blurred the faces of the individuals in the photos, along with any organizational logos.

Check out the images below so you can decide for yourself whether Mrs. Walden has a point, or if she’s getting bent out of shape over nothing.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

1
2 years ago

The 50 most famous parental sayings hilariously packed into 60 seconds (Video)

Best-selling author and Alabama native Andy Andrews, who the New York Times hailed as “one of the most influential people in America,” is also one of the country’s most compelling speakers.

Mr. Andrews lived a relatively normal life until the age of 19, when both his parents died — his mother from cancer, his father in an automobile accident. After a series of poor choices made during this tragic period in his life, the young man found himself literally homeless, sleeping occasionally under a pier on the Alabama Gulf Coast or in someone’s garage.

At the end of his rope, Andrews asked himself a question: Is life just a lottery ticket, or are there choices one can make to direct his future?

In an effort to find the answer, Andrews read more than 200 biographies of great men and women. How did they become the people they were? Were they born that way, or were there decisions made at critical junctures in their lives that led to their success? The young Andrews finally determined that there were seven characteristics each successful person he studied had in common. The “Seven Decisions,” as he calls them, were the engines used to carry Andrews’ life in a different direction. And more than 20 years later, those same Seven Decisions became the outline for The Traveler’s Gift, a New York Times bestseller that catapulted Andrews into the spotlight as one of the country’s most influential authorities on leadership and decision making.

Mr. Andrews is now an internationally known speaker and novelist whose combined works have sold millions of copies worldwide. He has been received at the White House and has spoken at the request of four different U.S. presidents. He’s coached the CEOs of billion dollar corporations, top-tier college football coaches and the Special Operations Commander for NATO.

On top of that, he has become a highly sought after expert on parenting, which he frequently discusses on his “In the Loop” podcast.

Andrews has said he believes parenting influences culture more than anything else.

“I really believe parenting is the fulcrum our society tilts upon,” he said in a recent interview. “Really successful parenting is helping kids understand how to change something for their own reasons, and it will make total sense to them… When it comes down to what my dad said to me, ‘Because I said so. Because I’m your father.’ Well, that didn’t have anything in it for me. And when you say to a kid, ‘As long as you’re in my house…’ Well, subconsciously, or right up front, the kid thinks, ‘Well, I’m not always going to be in your house.’ So we’ve got to help people think better, because ultimately the thing that designs culture is our thinking.”

In the hilarious video above, Andrews recites the 50 most famous parental sayings, based off of his personal experience with his father, and as a father himself.

1
2 years ago

‘Slut shaming’ debate rages on after Alabama mom criticizes revealing gameday attire

sorority-girls

Upset that some students attending the Alabama-USC game showed up “looking like they belonged in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show,” Alabama mom and UA grad Rebecca Walden posted a blog on the Huffington Post suggesting they “stop baring almost all in the name of game day fashion.” She went on to add that “families attend these games. Little eyes are watching you.”

The post struck a nerve, prompting the Huffington Post to delete the article and compelling current University of Alabama student Alejandra Tenorio to pen an angry response titled “Dear Rebecca Walden And Every Woman Who Is Still ‘Slut-Shaming.’”

“Slut-shaming is real, we see it every day and this blog post is one of the countless examples roaming the cyber world today,” she wrote. “We, as young women, have grown up in a world where we have been taught our shoulders distract boys from learning. We’ve been threatened to get sent home from school if our knees show. Little by little, comment to comment, it adds up… The more we bash on one another for dressing too revealing, the more we are perpetuating the rape culture so many have been victims of… Her tasteless and bashful opinion isn’t going to make girls want to dress ‘classier’ and ‘cover up’ more. It’s going to make that one girl who finally grew the courage to flaunt her body in a new dress she had been too intimidated to wear before regret ever going to the game in the first place.”

On Wednesday’s episode of Yellowhammer Radio, host Cliff Sims began by “psychoanalyzing” the outrage against Mrs. Walden, saying the angry responses are indicative of how people respond when they know there is some truth in the criticism they are receiving.

“Every now and then somebody will send Yellowhammer an email being critical of something I wrote or said on the radio, or when I didn’t conduct myself in a way that I should have,” he said. “If my initial reaction is to be mad, sometimes that makes me realize, ‘Oh shoot, they’re probably right.'”

Sims said the accusation that Mrs. Walden was engaging in “slut shaming” is ironic, because it’s usually the Left “shaming” their political opponents into submission to advance their agenda, only this time the tables are turned and feminists are the targets.

“They do it by shaming people,” Sims explained. “‘You believe marriage is between a man and a woman? Oh, well you’re a bigot.’ You get shamed for that. They shame you culturally and call you names in hopes that you won’t do that anymore, that you won’t say anything publicly anymore. But in this case I just have a hard time believing shaming them is somehow a bad thing — that when people are acting or dressing (this way) they shouldn’t be shamed for it.”

Sims also addressed Ms. Tenorio’s claim that calling their attire distasteful is “perpetuating the rape culture,” saying it’s another tactic liberals use to end debate.

“Statistics say an alarming number of women at some point in their lives deal with sexual assault, so this is a serious, serious topic,” he said. “But people who take the position this young girl is taking create this false argument that either you’re for girls dressing however they want, or if not then you’re for the rapists. My position is… you can be against both. If a girl walks down the street naked, that’s not a license for a man to do anything to her. And if they do, they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law — throw them under the jail. But that’s also not a pass for a girl to walk down the straight naked. They’re both wrong.”

On a lighter note, Sims said it has been his experience that the girls who come to the games dressed promiscuously are usually the same ones who constantly complain that there are “no good guys left in the world.” “‘Every guy I meet is a scumbag. Every guy I date is a scumbag, ends up being a lowlife.'” He went on to compare the issue to a business having problems with their advertising strategy.

“If you’re selling boats, I would imagine it’d probably be a good idea to get a billboard at Lake Martin or Smith Lake,” he said. “You’re going to tell your target audience what you’re offering. But if you’re in your store one day, and for some reason a bunch of people come in thinking your store is selling cheerleading outfits, you’ve probably got a problem with your advertising. So the question for these girls who go to football games dressed like they’re Victoria’s Secret runway models… who are the same ones complaining ‘every guy I meet is a scumbag’… is what are you advertising?… Either it’s false advertising and you’re attracting the wrong customers, or it’s accurate advertising and you just don’t like the results.”

In conclusion, Sims said “I’m not going to tell you how to dress, but I will tell you the criteria you should consider when you are deciding how you’re going to dress.”

“What is the purpose of our lives?” He asked. “If you’re a Christian, the purpose of your life is really quite simple — it’s to know God and to make God known, to glorify God in everything you do. In your work, in your play, in your private life, in your public life, in everything you do, it comes down to, ‘Does this action glorify God?’ If the answer to that question is ‘no’, then even if it’s culturally acceptable, the simple response is ‘I’m just not going to do that if it doesn’t glorify God.’ So if you believe showing up to a college football game dressed like you’re going to a Victoria’s Secret runway show glorifies your God in heaven, then I guess do it. But I have a hard time believing somebody out there can make the case that it does.”

To subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio podcast on iTunes, click here.

1
2 years ago

Fed mandates drive Alabama plant’s move from coal to gas, after 50 years of reliable service

Alabama Power's Plant Greene County has completed its two-year transition from coal to natural gas. (Anna Catherine Roberson/Alabama NewsCenter)
Alabama Power's Plant Greene County has completed its two-year transition from coal to natural gas. (Anna Catherine Roberson/Alabama NewsCenter)
Alabama Power’s Plant Greene County has completed its two-year transition from coal to natural gas. (Anna Catherine Roberson/Alabama NewsCenter)

By Anna Catherine Roberson

It has been two years of transition for Alabama Power’s Plant Greene County, which reached a historic milestone this month.

Last year the plant celebrated 50 years of serving west Alabama and Alabama Power customers. In January, the plant received its last shipment of coal and burned coal for the last time in March as it moved toward ending the use of its historic fuel source.

This summer, the two-year transition is complete, and Greene County is now operating on natural gas.

The process included significant design, engineering and construction challenges, with specific deadlines, as the plant focused on its goal of complying with federal environmental regulations.

“Environmental mandates were part of the constraints and challenges we faced with this project,” said Riley Wells, plant manager. “But I am proud of the dedication and hard work people put in.”

Jennifer Cassity, compliance manager at the plant, credits that hard work with the successful conversion.

During the project, a large portion of the plant was taken out of service for five months, with up to 500 contract employees working on-site. That compares to a typical scheduled outage that lasts 30 days with fewer than 100 contractors at the plant.

“We pulled this project off with an accelerated time frame, on time, on budget, and safely,” said Cassity. “Typically, when you accelerate a project like this, one of those is going to suffer. It is a true testament to the people that work here.”

greene-county-gas-8

greene-county-gas-7

greene-county-gas-6

greene-county-gas-5

greene-county-gas-3

greene-county-gas-2

The two-year process to convert from coal to gas represents a $45 million reinvestment in the plant, and in the west Alabama community that relies on the Greene County facility for energy and as an economic driver, Wells said.

With the conversion complete, the plant is seeing changes in how it operates. Historically, coal-fired plants tend to run continuously for months, but as a natural gas plant, Greene County will run on a different schedule, depending on need. The plant’s maintenance schedule will also change with natural gas instead of coal.

In order to ensure a smooth transition for operators, Wells said the plant purchased a high-fidelity simulator.

“It mirrors and models the real unit,” Wells explained. “This was important because it gave the operators an opportunity to learn to run the new unit before the gas units were available. It was definitely one of the keys to our success.”

The plant has seen its workforce reduced over the past two years as it moved to an all-gas operation, with the number of employees dropping from 126 in August 2014 to 92 today. The long-term target for staffing is about 65. The reduction of employees was accomplished through attrition and transfers, with no layoffs.

The loss of positions will have some impact on the community, Wells said, but the company is committed to supporting west Alabama and being a part of the community for years to come.

“Greene County is in a good place right now,” Wells said. “Going to natural gas for our steam units, instead of focusing on coal-related environmental regulations, ensures a longer lifespan for the plant and a continued commitment to the west Alabama community.”

1
2 years ago

Navy SEAL in Alabama goes off when asked about Hillary, Kaepernick: They’re ‘worthless’ (Audio)

Retired Navy SEAL Jeremiah Patrick is not one to mince words, and he did not hold back during a recent interview on Yellowhammer Radio.

Patrick served on SEAL Team Three, alongside guys like Medal of Honor recipient Mike Monsoor, “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, and “The Last Punisher” author Kevin Lacz. Perhaps most notably, Patrick and his compatriots were called on to take the fight to Iraqi insurgents in the Battle of Ramadi, one of the toughest of the Iraq War.

Patrick now runs Never Settle Consulting, which does “training and consulting in combative’s, shooting, tactics, long-range shooting, and unique team-building events to improve companies’ leadership and sales teams,” and is an MMA fighter. But this past week he was in-studio with Yellowhammer Radio host Cliff Sims to discuss a wide range of topics, from his role in the upcoming Transformers movie, to his take on current events and politics.

Sims asked him for his take on the 2016 presidential race.

“I just wonder what happened; what’s changed with our country?” Patrick began. “I mean, Hillary? Come on. I’ve got to watch what I say so I don’t end up ‘committing suicide,’ but you know she’s worthless. I mean there’s reasons why there are t-shirts out that say ‘Hillary Clinton killed my friends.’ There’s a reason for that, you just don’t make that up.”

Patrick said Mrs. Clinton’s role in the U.S. government’s botched response to the Benghazi terrorist attack still impacts him emotionally.

“It hits hard. There’s no reason for that to happen to these guys,” he said. “I’m not a big political guy. I don’t try to dive into the middle, because I don’t see the big picture on a lot of things, and I understand that. I know my role. I know my level of intelligence on things. But I’ve talked to guys that are very in-depth and know a lot about it and helped with the movie (13 Hours). Ty [Woods] and Glen [Doherty] were good dudes, and the ambassador (Chris Stevens) was as well. There’s no reason for that to have happened to those guys. But seeing what Michael Bay and the rest of the guys did with the movie to help bring some stuff to light was cool. You can read between the lines in that movie and know exactly what’s going on.”

Sims also asked Patrick for his take on the growing trend of professional athletes refusing to stand for the National Anthem. San Francisco 49ers quarterback started the protests, saying he would no longer stand at attention for a flag he believes represents oppression.

“Well, you know he’s had a really rough life,” Patrick said sarcastically. “Come on, bro. Get out of here. That subject kind of tears at me. Because you know what? Freedom of speech. Does he have the right to do that? Absolutely. But should he? No. If this country is good enough to live in, then it should be good enough to respect the flag, respect our National Anthem, and it should be good enough to fight for. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But go travel across the world, look at these other countries and see what it’s like.

“You’re making millions of dollars and now you’re going to all of a sudden take a stand because people are being oppressed?” Patrick continued. “What have you done to help that? I don’t know, I don’t care about the guy. I think he’s worthless as a person now because of that… I’ve escorted bodies of my buddies home with that flag draped over their casket and then you’re going to disrespect it? I don’t understand people like that. What’s even more disrespectful is, what does that say to his parents that raised him and adopted him? He was adopted. They really oppressed him, right? You have a horrible life becoming an NFL quarterback. Must suck.”

To hear Yellowhammer’s complete interview with Patrick, check out the video above. To subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio podcast on iTunes, click here.

1
2 years ago

Alabama is home to one of the ‘most beautiful schools in America,’ and it’s stunning

indiansprings-school-1

Indian Springs School in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, has been named one of the “12 most beautiful schools in America,” and it won’t take long to see why.

Over the weekend the school was named one of the winners of the American Institute of Architects’ Education Facility Design Awards. According to Business Insider, “The awards are for new and recently renovated North American schools that facilitate learning and demonstrate excellence in architectural design.”

The stunning new Indian Springs facilities were designed by San Antonio, Texas-based Lake Flato Architecture, a firm that specializes in making their buildings seem like they’re a natural part of their surrounding landscape.

“First and foremost, architecture should be rooted in its particular place, responding in a meaningful way to the natural or built environment,” the company says on its website. They achieve this by “using local materials and partnering with the best local craftsmen” and by building “in partnership with the land.”

That approach has made them one of the nation’s most sought after architectural firms for academic institutions seeking to create inspiring learning environments for their students, including Georgia Tech, ASU Polytechnic, Rice University, DePauw University, the University of Texas, St. John’s College, and more.

Indian Springs School can now be added to that list as well. Check out the school’s incredible design in the images below.

indiansprings-school-7

indiansprings-school-4

indiansprings-school-8

indiansprings-school-6

indiansprings-school-5

indiansprings-school-3

indiansprings-school-2

indiansprings-school-9

1
2 years ago

Sims: There are three types of left-lane drivers and they’re all awful (Yellowhammer Radio)

Left-lane drivers are clogging up Alabama's roadways, breaking the law.
Left-lane drivers are clogging up Alabama's roadways, breaking the law.
Left-lane drivers are clogging up Alabama’s roadways, breaking the law.

During Friday’s edition of Yellowhammer Radio, host Cliff Sims went on seven-minute rant, excoriating “left-lane drivers” for clogging up Alabama’s roadways.

Research shows that driving slow in the left lane, rather than only using it while passing, creates a dangerous hazard for nearby drivers.

“If you drive in the left lane, statics show that you are drastically increasing the statistical chance that you or someone that is around you on the road will get in a car wreck,” said Sims. “I have to bring this back up because deaths on Alabama roadways are spiking. Four hundred and twenty-three (423) people have died in Alabama car wrecks over the last twelve months. That’s almost exactly a hundred more than died in the previous twelve months. It’s getting worse. Traffic fatalities nationally are up 7.2 percent year over year.”

Sims said he believes there are three main types of left-lane drivers.

The first category includes “clueless” drivers who “probably don’t have any business driving in the first place.”

“Then there are the self-righteous people who think to themselves, ‘Well I’m already driving the speed limit… I’m going to show them.’ And there’s a line of cars tailgating behind them.

“The self-righteous left-lane drivers may be my least favorite,” Sims continued, “but the third category is rivaling them. The third type of left-lane driver thinks to themselves, ‘I am such a good driver that it’s no big deal for me to fire off a couple of text messages while I’m driving. I’m so good at looking up and down that I’m not actually impeding the flow of traffic. It’s really no big deal.’ We see you at night because the glow of your screen is illuminating your face!”

Alabama state troopers recently warned drivers that using the lane for anything other than passing is illegal.

“If they need to pass a slower moving motorist, then that’s when they can use that left hand lane to pass that motorist and safely get back over into the right lane,” State Trooper Cpl. Jess Thornton told WBRC.

Alabama is one of 29 states with a law stating that any car moving slower than the “normal speed of traffic” must move over to the right lane.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently ranked Alabamians among the worst drivers in the country. But if drivers would simply stay out of the left lane when they’re not passing, that could quickly change, and everyone would be much safer on the road.

In concluding his rant, Sims half-jokingly said “the sin of pride” is at the core of the left-lane driving epidemic.

“You’re either too prideful and think you can drive when you don’t have any business on the road. Or you’re too prideful and think you’re going to ‘show these folks behind me.’ Or you’re too prideful and think you’re a good enough driver to text and drive and it’s no big deal.”

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio podcast on iTunes.

1
2 years ago

Fascinating population maps show the racial makeup of Alabama communities

Using data from the 2010 census, Dustin Cable of the University of Virginia has created the definitive map of racial distribution in America.

Let’s start with the United States and work our way down to the local level.

[Click images to enlarge]

United States

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
United States

America’s black belt

The faint band of green running through America’s southeast shows the region where plantation agriculture once thrived. Generations later, a concentration of America’s black population still exists in the region.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
AmericasBlackBelt

Birmingham

Whites in Birmingham have historically lived “over the mountain” to the south of the city.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
Birmingham

Montgomery

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
Montgomery

Mobile

50% of Mobile’s almost 200,000 residents are black, 44% are white. Many of the area’s white residents now live on the other side of Mobile Bay.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
Mobile

Huntsville

Chickasaw Indians traditionally claim to have settled the Huntsville area around 1300. Today only 0.5% of the city’s population is Native American and their presence is no longer readily visible on the race map. Huntsville’s hispanic population, though, is easily seen clustered together on the city’s south side.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
Huntsville

Tuscaloosa

Red patches on Tuscaloosa’s map show the city’s growing Asian community, which includes many residents who came into the country to attend the University of Alabama.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
Tuscaloosa

Auburn

Auburn’s only densely populated areas are right around the Auburn University campus. The majority of the town’s black residents live in Auburn’s northwest quadrant.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
Auburn

Other notable cities

New York City

New York City is known as the nation’s melting pot. But while people from every nation, tribe and tongue come to the Big Apple to make it their home, they tend to segregate themselves in concentrated areas with other people of similar race once they get there.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
New York City

Detroit

Detroit is one of the United States’ most racially segregated cities. 8 Mile Road, seen clearly in the center of the map below, serves as one of the country’s most starkly defined racial divides.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
Detroit

Los Angeles

As you might expect, LA has a massive Hispanic population, making up almost 58% of the city’s population. Only 10% of the city’s population is black, while just under 30% is non-hispanic white.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
LosAngeles

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.’s demographic makeup is very similar to that of Mobile, Alabama. The majority of white residents of the D.C. metro area now live in the surrounding suburbs.

White: blue dots; Black: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
Washington DC

Want to see more? Check out the interactive map.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
2 years ago

Sims unloads after study shows men are getting weaker: ‘We’re not raising men anymore!’

Yellowhammer News Founder & CEO Cliff Sims (Photo: WAKA Screenshot)


(Video above: Cliff Sims on Yellowhammer Radio discussing a new study showing men are getting weaker)

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE YELLOWHAMMER RADIO PODCAST ON ITUNES

A new scientific study showing that millennial men “have significantly weaker hands and arms than men the same age did 30 years ago” prompted a near meltdown on Yellowhammer Radio on Wednesday, as host and Yellowhammer News CEO Cliff Sims unloaded on what he described as America’s new “post-masculine reality.”

Sims began by citing a column in National Review that laid out the general findings of the study:

[The study shows] that the grip strength of a sample of college men had declined significantly between 1985 and 2016. Indeed, the grip strength of the sample of college men had declined so much — from 117 pounds of force to 98 — that it now matched that of older Millennial women. In other words, the average college male had no more hand strength than a 30-year-old mom…

(T)hese findings are consistent with other studies showing kids are less fit today. For example, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than it did 30 years ago. Simply put, we’re getting soft — and no cohort is getting softer faster than college men.

“This is the new masculine, or perhaps we should say post-masculine, reality,” said Sims. “This stuff matters… You can tell a lot by the way a man shakes a hand… I can’t help but think that this study is finally a mathematical explanation for what we’ve known for about two dozen years — men are not allowed to be men anymore in this country.”

Sims recalled his formative years, which he said reinforced “traditional gender roles,” and noted how such teachings are now frowned upon by society.

“That’s oppressive nowadays,” he quipped. “You’re oppressing little boys now if you don’t give them the ability to explore and find out, ‘You know what, maybe little Johnny is actually little Jane at heart.’

“I don’t claim to be a great handyman,” he continued. “I’m not Mr. Fix It around the house… But doggonit, I remember being in elementary school and going outside in 100 degree heat and cutting the dang grass with a push mower. And I took pride in it… You see this scar? About a dozen stitches. Bike accident. You see these teeth? Half of them aren’t real. You know why? Because I hit a metal chain across the rode while riding my bicycle going as fast as I could downhill and knocked out all of my teeth. And the first question I asked my dad when I stood back up was, ‘Am I still able to play baseball?’ I’m just saying that there was a time when men were men. I’m talking about my childhood, my formative years. But those were shaped by a man — my father.

“Ronald Reagan was president, and I’ve been to the Reagan Ranch. And you want to know what Ronald Reagan did in his spare time? He built with his bare hands every dang fence on that property. The famous picture of Ronald Reagan signing the biggest tax cut in American history — if you look in the background, there’s wooden fencing and a porch. He built that porch with his bare hands… and the table that the tax cut is being signed on. There was a time in this country when men were men, and they were the leaders of our country.

“And now we’re at a point to where we can’t even have a conversation about men using the bathroom in the women’s bathroom, because, well, who’s to say that they’re men? And you know what? For once I might agree with them.”

RELATED: University of South Alabama allows men in women’s bathrooms starting today

President Ronald Reagan signs the largest tax cut bill in U.S. history at his ranch in California, with the porch and fencing that he built in the background.
President Ronald Reagan signs the largest tax cut bill in U.S. history at his ranch in California, with the porch and fencing that he built in the background.

Sims concluded that the grip strength study is a symptom of larger issues — the softening of society, particularly men, and the breaking down of the family and traditional gender roles.

“This scares me for our country,” he said. “There was a time when America would kick your butt. Go ask the Japanese what happened if you punched America in the mouth… I’m thinking about a new generation of little Johnnies growing up and they’re not men, and somebody punches the United States in the mouth, who’s going to go do it? Their entire formative experience revolves around playing video games.

“If it doesn’t stop, it’s going to be a problem for all of us, because there aren’t any men left to lead us, much less go fight for us.”

To hear the full segment, listen on the YouTube video above. To subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio podcast on iTunes, click here.

1
2 years ago

Here’s how Alabama compares to countries all over the world

At 52,420 square miles, Alabama is the 30th largest state in the nation — about middle of the pack. Interestingly, if Alabama were a country, it would be the 95th largest in the world — also about middle of the pack.

To illustrate this fact, the folks over at selfstorage.com set out to answer the (clever and site-appropriate) question, “If Alabama were a storage unit, what countries would fit inside?”

“Of course, using maps to illustrate size is a tricky matter, since most 2D map projections distort size in favor of shape,” they explained. “This includes the Mercator Projection used by Google Maps. Fortunately, we found thetruesize.com, a tool which runs on top of Google Maps and accounts for these distortions, allowing for accurate size comparisons.”

Head over to selfstorage.com to “find the best storage unit at the best price.” In the mean time, check out which countries could fit inside Alabama… If it was a storage unit.

al-storage-unit-1

al-storage-unit-2

al-storage-unit-3

al-storage-unit-4

al-storage-unit-5

al-storage-unit-6

al-storage-unit-7

al-storage-unit-8

1
2 years ago

This Alabama architect’s Instagram account will make HGTV lovers drool

Christopher-Architecture-&-Interiors

HGTV shows like “Fixer Upper,” “House Hunters,” and “Property Brothers” have become favorites in recent years, but Alabamians may not realize that there are talented folks right here in the Yellowhammer State who are doing work that would even impress Chip and Joanna.

One such company is Christopher Architecture and Interiors, led by Chris Reebals.

Here’s how the Birmingham-based company describes themselves on their website:

Every designed space has a story. With each of our projects, we seek a collaboration with the client to tell that story. Working with a palette of materials and colors appropriate to each space, we seek to balance the pragmatics of budget and lifestyle with a proportioned and elegant design.

You don’t have to just take their word for it, though. Their Instagram account, which shows a steady stream of their work, is attracting a lot of attention around the state.

Check out some of their best posts below.

Really love a dramatic stair. Photo by @jallsopp #stairs #residentialarchitect

A photo posted by @christopherai on

The jet ski view. #smithlake Photo by @lukerphotography

A photo posted by @christopherai on

Screen porch up in the trees at #smithlake #modernhouse #residentialarchitecture

A photo posted by @christopherai on

Today felt like a good day to be at the lake. #smithlake #architecture

A photo posted by @christopherai on

View through dining room. #smithlake #architecture #lakehouse #modern #storefront

A photo posted by @christopherai on

1
2 years ago

Walmart Alabama veteran hires top 3,900 in ‘Welcome Home’ program

matlock-walmart

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – As Memorial Day approaches, retail giant Walmart said it has hired more than 3,900 veterans in Alabama as part of a company initiative called the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment.

Across the nation, Walmart has hired nearly 131,000 veterans under the program, which was announced on Memorial Day 2013. In Alabama, the total number of vets hired is 3,908.

John Mark Hunter, a discharged U.S. Marine who served two seven-month tours in Afghanistan as a tank commander, is one of them. The 25-year-old Hayden native began working as an overnight stocker at the Walmart Supercenter in Gardendale in March.

“I heard about Walmart being veterans-friendly, and when I sent out applications, Walmart was the first to get back to me,” Hunter said. “I really enjoy working here. The people are very friendly, and I’ve made a lot of friends.”

Bruce Matlock, 30, spent eight years in the Marines and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, before joining Walmart’s location in Sumiton.
Bruce Matlock, 30, spent eight years in the Marines and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, before joining Walmart’s location in Sumiton.

HIRING 250,000 VETS

When introduced in 2013, the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment guaranteed a job to any eligible, honorably discharged veterans within 12 months of active duty, with an initial goal of hiring 100,000 vets. That goal has since been expanded to 250,000 vets by 2020.

“As a veteran, I know how critical it is for our men and women in uniform to have a strong support structure when transitioning back to civilian life,” said Retired Brigadier General Gary Profit, senior director of military programs for Walmart.

“A job is an important part of that transition, and at Walmart, we’re proud to use our strengths as one of the nation’s largest employers to be a part of that bridge back home by providing meaningful opportunities to 3,900 veterans, and counting, in Alabama to use their unique talent and skills,” he added.

As he begins a new chapter in his life, Hunter is grateful for skills he learned in the Marines.

“My military experience has helped me with managing my tasks and making sure I get everything done the right way and in a timely manner,” he said.

Arkansas-based Walmart operates 141 stores in Alabama, with nearly 38,500 workers, earning an average wage of $13.49 an hour.

1
2 years ago

Ready for red snapper? Alabama looks to bigger catch from longer season, expanded waters

Fishermen on Alabama's Gulf Coast will have more time to fish for red snapper this year and vastly expanded waters to do it in. (Robert DeWitt/Alabama NewsCenter)
Fishermen on Alabama's Gulf Coast will have more time to fish for red snapper this year and vastly expanded waters to do it in. (Robert DeWitt/Alabama NewsCenter)
Fishermen on Alabama’s Gulf Coast will have more time to fish for red snapper this year and vastly expanded waters to do it in. (Robert DeWitt/Alabama NewsCenter)

A longer state red snapper season and expanded state waters where anglers can fish are expected to provide a boost to the coastal tourist economy this summer.

“It should be good for our bottom line,” said Mike Giannini, one of the owners of J&M Tackle on Canal Road in Orange Beach. “It’ll increase fuel sales, ice sales, bait sales, tackle sales, just about everything.”

Longer season, expanded waters expected to boost Alabama red snapper fishing from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Red snapper season will be open in Alabama waters from Friday, May 27, through July 31, giving anglers two full months to fish. Last year, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama attached an amendment to the General Fund budget that extends state waters for Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to nine miles from the coast for the purposes of managing reef fish, including snapper.

The move aligned the state waters of those three states with the state waters for Florida and Texas. Before this year, the federal government recognized Alabama’s authority only over waters extending three miles from the coast.

The expanded territory is important to anglers.

“It makes a big difference when it comes to the amount of structure available to fishermen to fish,” said Chris Blankenship, director of Alabama’s Division of Marine Resources.

Snapper are good to eat and relatively easy for anglers to locate. That has made them what Herb Malone, president and CEO of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, calls Alabama’s “flagship fish.”

“Anybody with a boat who knows how to use a GPS can find snapper,” Malone said.

Alabama’s artificial reef system

Snapper are reef fish. They live around structure whether natural, like rocks or coral, or manmade, like sunken ships or concrete rubble. Alabama has few natural reefs off its tiny coast and had few if any snapper before about 35 years ago.

Beginning in the late 1970s, the state and private individuals sank ships, tanks and armored vehicles, concrete pyramids and rubble off the coast. It now has the largest artificial reef system in the country, and upward of 35 percent of the total snapper catch in the Gulf of Mexico comes off the Alabama coast.

A catch of red snapper and cobia from Alabama’s Gulf Coast. The state’s artificial reef system makes fishing for red snapper relatively easy. (Robert DeWitt/Alabama NewsCenter)
A catch of red snapper and cobia from Alabama’s Gulf Coast. The state’s artificial reef system makes fishing for red snapper relatively easy. (Robert DeWitt/Alabama NewsCenter)

The longer season and expanded state waters “is going to be huge for us,” said Mark Russo, manager of Sam’s, a store on Canal Road in Orange Beach that caters to fishermen. “Now that we’ve got the longer season, we need to put more structure in the nine miles controlled by the state.”

Reeling in revenue

Recreational saltwater fishing is an integral part of tourism and has a considerable impact on Alabama’s economy ­– almost $930 million, according to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Marine Resources Division.

“It really sustains our economy,” said Hunter Greene, captain of a private fishing boat. “We’re a service-based economy. We serve the tourists. Without snapper season, people aren’t making any money.”

The state announced its longer season on the same day that NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency empowered with regulating red snapper, announced that recreational fishermen would be allowed only nine days beginning June 1 to fish for red snapper in the federally controlled waters beyond the nine-mile state boundary. Charter boats are allowed to fish from June 1 through July 17. The daily limit is two snapper per person.

The federal restrictions are based on a reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act that gives the federal government authority over red snapper in federal waters. The brief federal seasons of recent years are a radical shift from a little more than a decade ago, when anglers were allowed to fish May through October and keep four snapper per person, per day.

A shorter federal snapper season

Bobby Kelly, captain of the charter boat Miss Brianna, questions whether the changes to the state season will really help fishermen.

“I feel that the state water expanded season is like daylight saving time,” Kelly said. “Does it create more daylight? No, it just pushes it around. It’s the same way with access to these fish.”

The charter boat Miss Brianna takes fishermen on expeditions off Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Captain Bobby Kelly says a longer state season for red snapper fishing has meant a shorter season in federal waters farther from shore. (Robert DeWitt/Alabama NewsCenter)
The charter boat Miss Brianna takes fishermen on expeditions off Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Captain Bobby Kelly says a longer state season for red snapper fishing has meant a shorter season in federal waters farther from shore. (Robert DeWitt/Alabama NewsCenter)

Kelly believes the shortened federal season is a reaction to longer state seasons. If the state season were shorter, federal authorities might be inclined to allow more days of fishing in federal waters.

Part of the problem is that there is no system in place to count all of the fish recreational anglers catch. Kelly thinks a tag system would be the best way to do that. Anglers would be issued a limited number of tags and every fish kept by anglers must have a tag attached to it. If state or federal enforcement officers caught a fisherman in possession of a snapper without a tag attached to it, the fisherman would be issued a citation and would be subject to a fine.

“The best thing for the private recreational angler is a management system that brings in accountability for the recreational angler,” Kelly said.

Others say federal authorities enacted restrictive seasons before the state expanded its territory and lengthened its season.

“A nine-day red snapper season is a disgrace for Alabama’s fishermen,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, who represents Alabama’s Gulf Coast in Congress. “This type of ‘derby-style’ season poses serious challenges and puts the safety of our fishermen at risk. There are plenty of red snapper in the Gulf, but the federal government continues to do a terrible job of counting the number of fish, as well as the number caught each year.”

Safer fishing

Giannini noted that safety will be one of the primary benefits of Alabama’s longer season and expanded waters.

“Last year people fished under less than ideal conditions,” Giannini said. “This will allow them not to fish on days when they really shouldn’t be out there putting their boat and their lives at risk.”

Malone points out that the federal nine-day season encompasses only one weekend. That means the average working fisherman must either take vacation or face a de facto two-day season.

Having a state season that gives people a real opportunity to catch more snapper will definitely stimulate tourism, Malone said. It will help far more than bait and tackle stores, too. Recreational anglers keep boats at the coast or tow them from inland. They stay in hotels and condominiums, eat in restaurants and bring family members with them who shop and visit other tourist attractions.

“There’s a big difference in the amount of structure between three miles and nine miles,” Malone said. “That six miles is a huge difference. When you have the product we have, the red snapper, people will come.”

1
2 years ago

The story of how one Alabama sailor rescued USS Indianapolis survivors

Horace Taylor, of Etowah County, was a gunner’s mate and gun captain on the USS Register. (Contributed)
Horace Taylor, of Etowah County, was a gunner’s mate and gun captain on the USS Register. (Contributed)
Horace Taylor, of Etowah County, was a gunner’s mate and gun captain on the USS Register. (Contributed)

Alabamians are taking pride in the state’s role in the new World War II movie, “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage,” starring Nicolas Cage, filmed on the USS Alabama in Mobile Bay and in the Gulf at Orange Beach. The movie is in theaters Memorial Day weekend.

[Related story here]

But there’s a much more personal angle for one Alabama Power employee.

The grandfather of Todd Perkins, a communications specialist in Public Relations, rescued sailors from the Indianapolis, which is a major focus of the movie. The ship was sunk by two Japanese torpedoes after delivering components of the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima in 1945.

The Indianapolis was on a secret mission, which is why the rescue of crew members took four days. Many were killed by sharks.

Todd Perkins remembers his grandfather Horace Taylor sharing his war stories, which involved Taylor rescuing sailors. (Contributed)
Todd Perkins remembers his grandfather Horace Taylor sharing his war stories, which involved Taylor rescuing sailors. (Contributed)

Horace Taylor, of Etowah County, Perkins’ grandfather, was a gunner’s mate and gun captain on the USS Register, which rescued 12 of the 317 survivors from the original crew of 1,196.

“He talked about picking up their crew members,” Perkins said. “He said he would reach down and grab a guy in the water to pull him in and the bottom half of him would be gone, eaten by a shark. He always seemed to wince when he talked about it. He said it was the worst part of the war for him, which is saying something since he survived a kamikaze attack.”

He doesn’t recall his grandfather having emotional issues because of the gruesome rescue.

“You could tell it was not pleasant for him, but at the same time, I don’t think it haunted him,” Perkins said. “Just like the rest of his life, I think he was proud to be there to help those in need.”

Taylor earlier served on the USS Memphis, the flagship escorting President Franklin Roosevelt to the Casablanca Conference in Morocco in 1943. There, Roosevelt met with United Kingdom Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill to plan the next phase of Allied strategy for the war in Europe.

Horace Taylor, center, surrounded by fellow sailors. (Contributed)
Horace Taylor, center, surrounded by fellow sailors. (Contributed)

Perkins, a Tuscaloosa native, relished hearing his grandfather’s war stories.

“I don’t know exactly how old I was, but he told me about it several times as a child and a teenager,” Perkins said.

Perkins found video on the internet of the USS Register rescuing Indianapolis sailors, and an earlier kamikaze attack his grandfather survived on the Register, but it was years after his grandfather’s death in 2005.

“It made the stories so much more real. In one frame you can actually see him behind his gun. All it did was reaffirm how proud I am of him.”

Perkin’s familiarity with the rescue led him to notice inaccuracies in the recently released promotional trailer for the film.

“The USS Alabama was a battleship. The Indianapolis was a heavy cruiser. There is a scene with the Alabama’s 16-inch guns and multiple 5-inch guns in the background. The Indy only had 8-inch guns and much fewer 5-inch guns,” Perkins said.

Nonetheless, he anticipates watching the movie.

“I have seen others in the past, including ‘Mission of the Shark, with Stacy Keach, which was pretty good,” Perkins said. “With today’s special effects, I expect this movie to seem much more realistic. The fact it was filmed in Alabama, on the USS Alabama, makes it even more exciting.”

1
2 years ago

Auburn economist: State and local governments should stay out of the Internet business

alabama-broadband

By T. Randolph Beard

In his recent “state of the state” address, Governor Robert Bentley pledged to reduce regulatory burdens on private broadband service providers (“BSPs”) as part of an “ambitious plan to provide rural and under-served communities access to broadband.” As an economist who studies telecommunications policy, I commend the Governor’s efforts. Easing regulatory approvals, speeding access to rights-of-way, using government as an anchor tenant to private providers, and reducing taxes on investment and services are reasonable ways the state can improve the economics of broadband’s buildout. While the Internet is a less effective development tool than many seem to think, broadband service deployment is an important goal, for many reasons.

Notwithstanding the Governor’s efforts to promote private sector deployment, there is a growing chorus (encouraged by the Obama Administration) calling for the public sector to enter into the broadband market by creating new government-owned BSPs that would compete directly with private firms. While there is no evidence the Governor is contemplating such an approach, I would urge all involved to view such plans with both skepticism and extreme caution.

History has shown that the government’s direct provision of broadband networks often becomes a burden to those it was meant to serve. Like it or not, government-owned networks require subsidies paid for by taxpayers (or, when operated as part of a municipal electric system, captive ratepayers). These government networks have a very poor track record of success; many are eventually sold to private sector providers for pennies on the dollar.

Randy Beard_headshot

Consider, for example, the municipal network in Bristol, Virginia. Since 2014, the broadband network run by the Bristol Virginia Utilities Authority (BVU) has been mired in financial scandal and corruption, despite having received over $7,000 per subscriber in government subsidies. (The private sector often builds networks for less than a quarter of that amount.) It was recently announced that the network would be sold to a private company at a loss of tens of millions of dollars.

And, unfortunately, there are plenty of additional examples. In Groton, Connecticut, electricity customers are saddled with almost $40 million in debt after the city sold its municipal broadband network for $550,000. At least Groton fared better than Provo, Utah, which dumped its multi-million-dollar city network to Google for … $1.

Advocates for government-owned broadband services often claim that municipal networks will offer consumers better prices or faster speeds at lower prices than private providers. Although this sounds good, the reality is far less persuasive. First, it is a rare consumer who would benefit from extremely-high download speeds some public systems offer. For example, June Owens, marketing manager for Opelika Power Services, told Watchdog.org the utility has about 3,000 customers that subscribe to some combination of its Internet, cable and phone services, but “we don’t have that many, of course” that subscribe to the $500 per month residential pricing or $2,700 per month business pricing for 1 Gigabit per second data service.

Rather, typical consumer content such as streaming services or online games do not benefit from speeds past those usually available already. Second, research suggests that municipal systems often charge more when one looks at the typical “triple play” package of telephone service, video, and internet access. While some municipal systems do offer lower prices for some types of services, these are often specialty items of limited interest to the ordinary subscriber.

Such price comparisons, though, are generally wildly misleading: public broadband networks are parts of government, and are often subsidized in both obvious and subtle ways. The “price” of a public broadband service must include the economic costs of these subsidies for useful comparisons to be made. Too often, these sorts of subsidies are ignored by public network advocates, although they are not ignored by private network operators looking to invest. Few private firms want to invest in markets where they compete with subsidized government firms.

I urge Governor Bentley to resist any proposal for Alabama or its cities to get into the broadband business. The private sector already is providing these services and will continue to do so, and will do more if the government becomes a partner rather than a competitor. That’s the best course for consumers, taxpayers and our state.


T. Randolph Beard is a Professor of Economics at Auburn University where he teaches courses in Microeconomics, Industrial Organization, and Public Policy. His research has appeared in numerous academic journals and he has authored of three books.

1
2 years ago

Alabama native Harper Lee passes away at 89

"To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee
“To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee

Harper Lee, one of Alabama’s finest, has passed away this morning at 89.

Born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama, Lee was known around the world as the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’

An incredibly private individual, Lee gave very few interviews during her life, but she always loved Alabama. In a rare interview in 1964, Lee highlighted her education in the state: “I was born in a little town called Monroeville, Alabama, on April 28, 1926. I went to school in the local grammar school, went to high school there, and then went to the University of Alabama. That’s about it, as far as education goes.” She was also close friends with fellow author Truman Capote.

She moved to New York in 1949 to begin her writing career. ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ was published by J.B. Lippincott & Co. on July 11, 1960 and was an instant success. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, a film version of the novel was released in 1962, and a theatrical adaptation is still performed in Monroeville every year.

Just last year, Lee surprised the world when she published a second novel, ‘Go Set A Watchman.’ The book, based on a lost manuscript originally completed in 1957, was another instant success. The New York Times called ‘Watchman’ “perhaps the most important novel on race to come out of the white South in decades.”

Lee spent much of her life in her hometown of Monroeville. She suffered a stroke in 2007 and remained in the state to help take care of her ailing sister Alice.

Lee’s writing had an undeniable impact on the literary world as well as the hearts and minds of anyone who read ‘Mockingbird.’

The world will do well to remember the words of wisdom Harper Lee gave us. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

1
3 years ago

Comprehensive TV guide to every college football bowl game

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

(Note: All times are Central)

yh_122115

1