2 months ago

Bradley Byrne: ALDOT officials declined federal funding for Mobile Bayway – They were set on tolls

One of the big mysteries regarding the new Mobile Bayway is how the Alabama Department of Transportation determine a toll and not federal money would be the best means of financing the badly needed thoroughfare’s construction.

Reportedly, at one time the federal component was as high as 50% of the bridge’s cost. Now it is much lower, perhaps less than 10% of the cost. That has a lot of local residents asking why a toll instead of federal money.

During an appearance on Mobile’s FM Talk 106.5 on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), elaborated on his earlier statements regarding his efforts to secure federal funding, which were met by state officials voicing their support for a toll bridge option.

“In a meeting we had a couple of years ago now in Montgomery with the state Department of Transportation officials, and that’s who makes all these decisions – not the feds – they said, ‘Look, we’ve decided we’re going to go this tolling route, and we don’t need the federal money,” Byrne said to “Midday Mobile” host Sean Sullivan. “We’re going to do it without the federal money.’ I thought, ‘Gee, I’ve been working really hard on getting this federal grant for y’all.’ And they said, ‘Yeah, that’s nice and all, but we’re going to meet the financial needs we have here by doing this toll.’ And that’s how we got into this discussion about how they could at buy down the amount that Alabamians would pay on the toll by using this GOMESA money. And they just haven’t been very receptive to that, to be honest with you.”

Byrne said there was still an outstanding an INFRA [Infrastructure for Rebuilding America] Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which he said the award would be based upon the quality of the application the federal government received from the state of Alabama.

“Frankly, I was surprised,” Byrne said. “But you know, you have to realize that I’m a federal official, not a state official. I can’t tell them what to do. Certainly, you know we’ve been driving the bus and trying to get all of these federal approvals out of the way, which we should have in three weeks and get it set-up for them, and also put them in touch with the right people at the federal Department of Transportation for how this is going to be financed because there is a way to do that through the U.S. Department of Transportation. I think they are actively pursuing that. But at the end of the day, you got to have money to pay that financing back, and they were clearly on this ‘we’re going to use tolls’ path, and didn’t seem that interested in trying to get this federal money, although they have made the application.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

27 mins ago

16 female inmates baptized in Blount County, turn to Jesus Christ — ‘I was crying like a baby’

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office continues to offer voluntary baptisms to inmates as a way for them to help turn their lives around, this time with a group of female inmates baptized for the first time under their program.

Yellowhammer News in June reported on 24 male inmates being baptized at the Blount County Jail through a partnership with Redeemed Ministries, which is run by a former convict who found faith and turned away from a life of crime.

Sheriff Mark Moon at that time explained the thought process behind the program, “This is who I was before I met Jesus Christ, and now, I’m dead and I’m buried. My old self is gone, and I’m resurrected new. And I’m somebody totally different in Jesus.”

Now, Moon has confirmed to Yellowhammer News that 16 female inmates chose to be baptized at the county jail on Monday through this same program.

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This latest round of baptisms was first reported by WBRC.

No public funds are given to Redeemed Ministries for the program, which is completely voluntary for inmates to participate in.

Speaking to Yellowhammer News on Thursday, Moon said ultimately he wants this to help end the “revolving door” of the same people cyclically coming in and out of the county jail.

“If we can help them change their motives by changing their heart, getting their life right, getting their families back together — if we can get families back together then we can really make a difference in communities,” the sheriff outlined. “And with the epidemic that’s going on in our country with opioid abuse, drug abuse, I believe that if you change people’s hearts, you change their motivations, you change their desires, then you can start seeing them get their families back together — and they can become positive contributors to society instead of just continually being in and out of jail.”

“I truly want people to make a difference and to make good choices,” he stressed. “I don’t want people in my jail.”

Also a pastor, Moon explained that helping inmates and others in need certainly has biblical roots.

“Jesus even said, ‘Because you fed me when I was hungry, because you clothed me when I was naked, because you visited with me when I was in sick in the hospital or in prison, then you’re blessed.’ If we can reach out to the ones that… our world sees as unlovable and unreachable, if we can reach them and change them — man, what a difference we can make,” he said.

Moon advised that he was was not able to attend the baptisms of the male inmates in June, since he was preaching in a revival that day. However, he got to witness Monday’s baptisms and was overwhelmed with what he experienced.

“It was so powerful… It was so powerful, the Holy Spirit was just really thick and I was crying like a baby, I’m not going to lie,” Moon told Yellowhammer News. “It was fantastic. I’m so thankful for what God’s doing.”

He added that there will be some people skeptical that all of the inmates are getting baptized for the “right” reasons. However, Moon emphasized that just one inmate truly accepting Jesus Christ and turning their life around makes it well worth it.

“We’ve got to get them the Word, we’ve got to get them the Gospel,” Moon concluded. “If they make true conversions, true changes … it’s a success in the eye of the Lord, and that’s what we want to do. We want to please God with what we do, not man.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Byrne on ‘disgusting’ NYT scandal: ‘Anti-Semitism is growing and being adopted by the radical left’

It was reported on Thursday that a New York Times political editor has a history of anti-Semitic comments on social media, with Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) reacting by saying this could explain the newspaper’s defense of Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

Breitbart detailed that Tom Wright-Piersanti, a senior staff editor at the NYT who oversees the paper’s political coverage, “has made a series of antisemitic and racist tweets over the year.”

Examples of these social media posts in question are included in Breitbart’s report, including one in which the NYT editor wrote, “I was going to say ‘Crappy Jew Year,’ but one of my resolutions is to be less anti-Semitic. So…. HAPPY Jew Year. You Jews.”

Byrne, a Republican running in Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, first reacted to the revelation in a tweet of his own on Thursday.

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“More anti-Semitism, NYT?” Byrne lamented.

He outlined that this came a day after the NYT “falsely labeled” President Donald Trump as “an anti-Semite.”

“Today, it’s revealed that one of their editors has a long history of anti-Semitic tweets,” Byrne continued. “Maybe this explains why they’re always defending Omar & Tlaib?”

“DISGUSTING,” the congressman concluded.

In a further statement to Yellowhammer News, Byrne added, “This kind of biased reporting is disgusting and the American people deserve better.”

“It’s clear that anti-Semitism is growing and being adopted by the radical left,” he concluded. “As a nation and as a people, we should always stand up against anti-Semitism.”

This latest episode involving the NYT comes just days after the executive editor of the newspaper was caught stating that they intend to target Trump on racial issues leading up to the 2020 election.

Read Breitbart’s full report for more on the charges of anti-Semitism against the NYT.

Byrne on Thursday also published a Facebook post saying “The Squad,” comprised of Omar, Tlaib and Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), are “allies” with groups committing terrorist attacks on Israel, including Hamas.

RELATED: Jones: Israel shouldn’t have barred Omar, Tlaib; Trump’s Tuesday comments ‘imbecilic’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Ainsworth: ‘Shouldn’t be the job’ of citizens, others to come up with Mobile Bay Bridge alternatives — We have a well-funded ALDOT, John Cooper

Wednesday during an appearance on Birmingham radio Talk 99.5, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth challenged the claim of the purpose of October’s meeting of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge, and Tunnel Authority as a forum for those to offer alternatives to the proposed $2.1 billion I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge project and toll structure to finance the project.

According to Ainsworth, that responsibility should fall on the Alabama Department of Transportation and its director John Cooper.

The lieutenant governor also called attention to the binary offering from Cooper on the project.

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“I want to say this because this is an important point: It really shouldn’t be the job of citizens and other people to have to come up with a plan. We’ve got an organization that is well funded in this state called ALDOT and a gentleman named John Cooper that is running it that really should come to this meeting with a series of other alternatives. And you’re going to see us come out and push on that pretty hard. They’re the experts.”

“He has taken a position, just like he’s done in the past on some things that ‘hey, it’s this way or nothing,” Ainsworth continued. “And from talking to other experts across the country, that’s not the case. But really, they should be – ALDOT and John Cooper – should be saying ‘these are all the different options we can do,’ if we want to do it in phases over a 40-, 50-, 60-year period. ‘These are some things we can do.’ But you don’t hear that from them. It’s basically, my understanding – I was not able to attend one of the meetings down there – my understanding was it was basically this or nothing. That’s not leadership. That’s not solving problems.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

3 hours ago

7 Things: Alabama House speaker remains neutral on toll roads, Jones dodges a bullet, Tuberville drubbing his opponents and more …

7. No more student debt for disabled veterans 

  • On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that will forgive permanently disabled veterans’ student debt. Disabled veterans will also be exempt from paying federal income tax on the student loans.
  • The current system does allow eligible veterans to enroll in a debt forgiveness program, called the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, but veterans must have a VA service-connected disability rating of 100%, and due to the complicated nature of the process, only around 20% of eligible veterans are actually enrolled in the current system.

6. More jobs for Alabama

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  • On Wednesday, Governor Kay Ivey announced that Vuteq, a Japan-based auto manufacturing facility, will be opening a new facility that will serve the new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. plant currently being constructed in Huntsville.
  • The first Vuteq location in Alabama will provide 200 jobs; construction on the facility is expected to begin in October and be completed by September 2020.

5. Birthright citizenship could be on the way out

  • Speaking outside the White House, President Donald Trump said that he’s “very seriously” looking at ending at the “ridiculous” birthright citizenship policy. He could use an executive order to end the policy.
  • Trump said that because people can just walk into the United States, have a child and that child becomes an American citizen, it encourages illegal immigration. The only issue with Trump’s statement is that the 14th Amendment designates citizenship to people born or naturalized in the United States.

4. Dems now say Trump is anti-Semitic

  • President Donald Trump said that Jewish Americans show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” for supporting Democrats, and now Democrats in Congress have called Trump’s statement an “anti-Semitic attack,” which means the president, who wants to be supported by all Jews, is somehow anti-Semitic for attacking liberals who want to cut off financial aid to Israel that keeps them safe.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was quick to speak out in a tweet where he said, “To my fellow American Jews…when he uses a trope that’s been used against the Jewish people for centuries with dire consequences he is encouraging – wittingly or unwittingly – anti-Semites throughout the country and world. Enough.”

3. Tuberville is crushing it

  • Recent polling data released by Moore Information Group and the Tuberville for Senate campaign took responses from 400 likely Republican Alabama voters, which shows former football coach Tommy Tuberville taking a strong lead in the 2020 U.S. Senate primary.
  • Tuberville leads with 33%, U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) came out at 17%, former Chief Justice Roy Moore polled at 15%, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill was at 13% and State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) trailed behind at 1%.

2. Doug Jones can sleep easy — he’s not racist

  • State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) has confirmed that he’s not going to run against Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in the 2020 Democratic U.S. Senate primary.
  • Rogers initially said that he would only run if he could raise $500,000, and after months of consideration, he never raised the sufficient funds, but Rogers also weighed in on the controversy between Jones and the Democratic National Committee against the Alabama Democratic Party and the Alabama Democratic Conference, saying that he doesn’t think Jones is a racist. Rogers said he “wouldn’t dare call him a racist.”

1. House Speaker McCutcheon neutral on Mobile Bay Bridge and Skyway project tolls

  • As the battle over tolls in Alabama rages on, one member of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge, and Tunnel Authority says he is attempting to keep an open-mind ahead of the Authority’s meeting on October 7.
  • Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) issued a statement acknowledging the need to alleviate congestion on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, but made it clear that he needed more information, stating, “The devil lies in the details of determining how we can most effectively address the issue.”

6 hours ago

Watch: ALDOT Director John Cooper, State Rep. Matt Simpson clash over I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge project

Wednesday at an informational meeting for members of the Mobile County legislative delegation, things got a little heated between Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper and State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne).

According to Mobile’s FOX 10 WALA’s Tyler Fingert, Cooper had previously planned not to speak at the meeting. That would have been keeping in line with what appears to be Cooper’s low-profile as the I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge brouhaha has transpired.

However, he broke that silence and spoke for a little more than 20 minutes about the hurdles he and his agency had faced in getting the project in line with what he said were requirements of the Federal Highway Administration and the issues with the Mobile County and Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) potentially removing the project on their long-term Transportation Improvement Plans (TIP).

At the tail end of his remarks, Cooper and Simpson engaged in a back-and-forth about the Mobile delegation’s role in opposing the project and a potential vote on it by both the Mobile and Baldwin County delegation with Cooper warning Simpson about the responsibility he was taking.

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Cooper accused Simpson of opposing the project without asking questions first, referring to a letter the Mobile County delegation had sent to Gov. Kay Ivey. However, Simpson, who is a member of both the Mobile and Baldwin delegations, refuted Cooper’s claim by pointing to a meeting attended by Baldwin County legislators that was held in Spanish Fort earlier in the summer.

For that meeting, in particular, the Baldwin County delegation had prepared a list of questions for Cooper, which Cooper later acknowledged having addressed.

Exchange as follows:

COOPER: I want to run on. I’ve got a phone call I’ve got to leave for. But I didn’t intend to speak today. But I want you to leave, with these folks trying to be nice and deal with the professional things that they do without I having said to you – you need to understand if I don’t satisfy the Federal Highway Administration there will be nothing.

I need you to understand bluntly that I have not spent begging and cajoling to approve a document and paying these people to do the same just because I like doing it. It’s what was required to get to this point – to give you the option to object to funding the road. That option can only come to you if I can get to you the information you need to know what option you’re voting on.

And I can’t get it in the position you’ve put me in.

SIMPSON: I haven’t seen anything where we get a vote.

COOPER: I beg your pardon?

SIMPSON: The first time you’ve …

COOPER: Sir, you’ve never asked for a vote on anything, but —

SIMPSON: I’m asking for a vote –

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And I’m telling you, I’ll recommend to the governor she let you vote on it.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I will. I’ll recommend to the governor that she let the two delegations vote on it and I’ll further recommend we don’t do it if there’s not a majority in each delegation.

SIMPSON: That sounds wonderful. That is a huge step today.

COOPER: I’m fine.

SIMPSON: Until this point, following the process of going through what we have done, we have no control. Under the law, currently you don’t have to ask us to ask for a vote. It goes to the toll authority.

COOPER: Sir, I’m trying to listen to you patiently.

SIMPSON: OK.

COOPER: All you’ve done that I’m aware of is condemn the project before you ever asked a single question about it.

SIMPSON: Where have you seen I’ve condemned the project?

COOPER: You signed a resolution opposing the project.

SIMPSON: We signed the resolution asking for a better answer.

COOPER: No, you signed the resolution opposing the project.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You didn’t ask a single question. None of –

SIMPSON: When didn’t I ask questions?

COOPER: None of you asked a single question before you did that.

SIMPSON: Sir, have you talked … just because we didn’t have a question you, we didn’t ask questions?

COOPER: All I know is you didn’t ask me anything.

SIMPSON: OK, the Baldwin delegation sent up a letter with about 22 questions — we sent up to you. You came down to Spanish Fort and answered these questions because you wanted to have them in writing, correct?

COPPER: Correct.

SIMPSON: So please don’t say we didn’t ask questions.

COOPER: The Mobile delegation as a delegation asked no questions.

SIMPSON: I’m in both, so don’t say I didn’t ask questions.

COOPER: Sir, I’m proud you are and I don’t wish to argue with you. But I’ll make that recommendation to the governor. But you as a body need to understand you can have that control. With that control comes great responsibility.

SIMPSON: Absolutely.

COOPER: And we’ll present alternatives to you but you need to help us get in a position we can do that.

SIMPSON: There is nothing in the law, and I’m sorry – I go back to the law. We can take your word all day long that you’re going to give us the opportunity to vote on it. But there is nothing in the law that requires this.

COOPER: Sir, I told you that I would recommend to the governor that she put that in writing.

SIMPSON: That means nothing.

COOPER: Well, then I’m going to have real difficulty pleasing you if my word means nothing and if the governor puts it in writing that means nothing. I don’t know what else I can do.

SIMPSON: This is the first time you have approached us. This is the very first time that has been discussed. So please don’t put it back to I haven’t asked question, because I have asked questions —

COOPER: We don’t need to go over whether you did or didn’t. I apologize for saying that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Is that a path forward?

SIMPSON: We’re trying to find a middle ground.

COOPER: I’m saying, is that a path forward, if the governor would do that? And I don’t know if she will.

SIMPSON: If the governor would allow us to vote, absolutely.

COOPER: I’ll recommend that to her.

SIMPSON: You can put that recommendation on a piece of paper and she can say no.

COOPER: If she does that, will you ask the MPO to put it back in the TIP?

SIMPSON: If you get it in writing first.

COOPER: I said if she does that —

SIMPSON: If you put it in writing that says I will put it to the delegation and let them answer the question, then I will recommend that.

COOPER: — will you ask the MPO to put it back in the TIP?

SIMPSON: If you get it in writing that says —

COOPER: I’ll make that recommendation.

SIMPSON: I think that’s it.

COOPER: You’ve caught it. I hope you’re ready to skin it.

Following the event, Simpson explained to FOX 10 why he saw his questioning of Cooper necessary.

“The purpose of this meeting was to ask questions, and I’m not going to apologize for asking tough questions,” Simpson said. “The project went from $850 million to $2.1 billion, and I think it’s fair to just ask questions, ‘how?’”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.