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3 months ago

Ethics Commission director says bill weakens ethics law

The director of the state Ethics Commission said a bill before Alabama lawmakers could open up a potentially wide loophole in state ethics law by carving out an exemption for people doing economic development work.

“I think it’s a bad bill that weakens the ethics law considerably,” Alabama Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton said.

The House of Representatives last Tuesday approved a bill to exempt economic developers from the definition of lobbyist under the state ethics law. Supporters argued it is needed to help Alabama compete with other states for projects and factories by keeping developers’ activity confidential, but critics said it opens up an exemption in the ethics law that governs interactions with government officials.

The bill says that an economic development professional — defined as a person who does full-time economic development work or works part-time and is “precertified” by the Ethics Commission — shall not be considered a lobbyist.

“It exempts people from the definition of lobbying when I think most people would agree that what they are doing is in fact lobbying,” Albritton said. “You are also declaring that the other portions of the ethics act related to a lobbyist’s transaction with public officials no longer apply to them. That’s where the problem lies in my view.”

He said another danger is that “economic development is “often used as kind of catch all designation for activity that people want to conduct with executive branch agencies, or executive offices or the legislature itself.”

“At the end of the day, there’s a good bit of activity that could be argued is economic development,” Albritton said.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield, who oversees the state’s industry recruitment efforts, said his department and professional economic developers asked for the legislation because of confusion that began arising in 2015 on whether developers should register as lobbyists.

“If we don’t clarify this under the law, professional site consultants are going to draw a big red line around Alabama,” Canfield said.

“That red line is going to say avoid bringing projects to the state of Alabama because there are too many states that will, for one, protect the confidentiality of your project and two, not require you go through training and registration on a regular basis. It will be easier to conduct professional economic development activities in these other states,” Canfield said.

Rep. Ken Johnson, the bill’s sponsor, said the state should not put a “hurdle” on professional site developers by requiring them to register as lobbyists.

Johnson said the five-member Alabama Ethics Commission previously tabled an advisory opinion on the matter so lawmakers could attempt to address the issue.

Johnson said he believes lawmakers have prevented it from becoming a wide loophole by specifying that the exemption couldn’t be claimed by legislators, other public officials and people who are otherwise lobbyists.

The Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he opposed the bill at first but was pleased with changes to the bill, before its House passage, that he said creates a “narrowly-drawn exemption for full-time economic development professionals.”

Albritton said a better way, in his view, would be to keep the developers under the state ethics law, but allow the reports on their activity to remain confidential for a period of time so deals in the making are not publicly disclosed.

The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said he wanted to speak with both Marshall’s office and the state ethics commission. “I’m not going to move anything unless the attorney general and the ethics commission are on board with it,” Marsh said.

(Image: Tom Albritton/Facebook)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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13 mins ago

Alabama inmate recaptured, had escaped hospital through ceiling

Alabama authorities say an inmate who escaped from a hospital has been recaptured.

News outlets report 39-year-old Courtnee Austin was caught after escaping Saturday night. Birmingham police Sgt. Bryan Shelton tells AL.com Austin was bit by a tracking dog inside a crack house and taken into custody Sunday afternoon.

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Jefferson County Chief sheriff’s Deputy Randy Christian says Austin claimed he swallowed a razor blade and was hospitalized June 11.

A hospital staff member had asked that Austin’s restraints be removed so he could shower. A deputy outside the shower heard a bump and saw Austin climbing through the ceiling.

Austin navigated his way out, carjacked someone and fled.

He was arrested May 24 and charged with several offenses including rape and attempted murder. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Alexander Shunnarah’s “Shark Of The Week” – Brian Hornsby

Brian Hornsby was this week’s “Shark of The Week” powered by Alexander Shunnarah Law Firm. Brian went into length about how his start with the law firm began. He describes his first days at the Alexander Shunnarah Personal Attorneys, and how Alex helped him out before he got through his first week. Graduating from The University of Alabama, Brian was able to meet his wife and have a son.  Brian shares what it means to be a “Shark” that helps people in need!

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1 hour ago

Alabama park system allowing limited shark fishing

A pilot program will allow limited shark fishing on two dates this month at Gulf State Park.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said the events will take place at the park’s saltwater fishing pier on June 19 and June 26.

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Registration is required and fishing is limited to 10 anglers.

Parks Director Greg Lein said the trial program is being implemented after feedback from people who fish at the pier. Lein said many anglers have expressed concern that they can’t catch other species because of the abundance of sharks around the pier.

The park system said anglers interested in shark fishing on the two dates can apply in person at the pier, by phone to the park pier management during regular business hours, or online.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Where do you turn when your church strays from your faith?


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CHURCH STRAYS FROM YOUR FAITH?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I’d like to do a lightning round with you today. I’ve got three different stories. The first story is out of The National Catholic Reporter. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine is withdrawing from the main council of churches in a bid to distance itself from LGBT advocacy and other stances that the church says could compromise its public moral witness.

DR. REEDER: As you know, I do some talks on the Civil War and one of the fellows that I talk about finished out his life there — born in Brewer, Maine. He taught Natural and Revealed Religion at Boden College in Brunswick, Maine and then became the famous Union general called “The Hero of Little Roundtop” in the Battle of Gettysburg, Joshua Chamberlain.

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As he finishes his life out in Portland, Maine with a political appointed position, he was struggling with where to go to church. The very church that had known the great blessings of God and the great awakening in New England, The Congregational Church, had begun to go into liberalism but, more pronounced, Unitarianism with its abandonment of historic Trinitarian Christianity.

Chamberlain was not able to go to where all of the elite went to church in the first parish, so he went to the second congregational church in Portland, Maine and that church remained faithful, continued to be faithful and has eventually left the Congregational denomination completely after it completely left a historic confession as a denomination and it is now a part of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Now, the council of churches there in that area has decided to go the route of adopting, embracing and normalizing what God has identified as sin and, rightly so, the Roman Catholic Church says, “We will not go down that path.”

Well, now I turn to my compatriots within the evangelical church whereby we claim to uphold the Gospel of grace and stand in the legacy of the reformers who were willing to die for faithfulness to the Word of God, will you die not only for faithfulness to those doctrines surrounding the Gospel of redemption, but will you also be faithful to the Lord God who is not only our Redeemer but is our Creator and uphold the sanctity of marriage and sexuality?

PROFESSOR WANTS KINDERGARTEN CURRICULUM TO TEACH THE DANGERS OF TOXIC MASCULINITY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Let me take you to Story 2 out of Lifeset and Campus Reform. Kathleen Elliott, an assistant professor in the Education Foundation Department of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, wants to add an item to the current kindergarten curriculum. Along with recess and learning the ABCs, she wants little kids to fight “toxic masculinity.”

In a recently published article in On the Horizon called “Challenging Toxic Masculinity in Schools and Society,” Elliott argues that toxic masculinity supports and is supported by gender patterns of power that perpetuate broad inequities and schools have an important role to play in challenging these inequities.

DR. REEDER: For those of our audience that think the public school system is neutral concerning world and life view, you can see very quickly that it is not. Kindergarten and first grade, sometimes in contradiction to what their home and church is teaching, are being taught the tenets of the sexual revolutions, including autonomy in terms of gender — that I can be whatever gender I identify — and this matter of toxic masculinity.

When you look closer at the story, you find out that what the author is saying is not the perversion of masculinity is the issue, but masculinity, in general. Any notion of masculinity that is something distinctively different between men and women — both in who they are, how they are composed and how they are to function in life in a well-ordered society — that there is an absolute rebellion against that and that masculinity is toxic.

What is absent is any notion of toxic femininity. There will be nothing in the curriculum that says, “We must avoid toxic femininity,” because femininity as now being described, is incapable of being toxic in its behavior in the current culture. However, masculinity is incapable of not being vulnerable to the charge of toxicity.

From a Christian world and life view, we would teach masculinity, but you teach it Biblically. What are the two premier tenets of Biblical masculinity? First, men are called to be strong and courageous in embracing their responsibilities in life.

Secondly, they are to be sensitive and compassionate to embrace their relationships in life. That’s where the whole concept of the gentleman comes in. A man is using his God-given strengths and calling to be a protector and provider, generally, in life and, specifically, within his family and within responsibilities in relationships and not to use his power to intimidate.

Do we need to deal with toxic sin in the name of masculinity? Absolutely. Is masculinity toxic? Absolutely not. We are in desperate need of a reclamation of that Biblical phrase that’s repeated five times. We need to understand what it means when the Bible says, “Act like a man.” And, when the Bible says, “Act like a man,” you know, first, there’s something about manhood, and there’s something about living life as a man and there’s something about living life as a woman.

And what is it that brings masculinity and femininity into line? First, defining it Biblically and, second, the power of the Gospel.

FAMILY PENS “REVENGE OBITUARY”

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me take you to our third and final story, a rather unusual story out of Fox News. A seemingly normal obituary takes a dark turn. The obituary was for an 80-year-old woman, Kathleen Dehmlow. It first appeared in The Redwood Gazette. The obituary opens up by giving some history of the woman and how she was the mother of two children but how she later ended up having an affair and leaving her children. The last lines of the obituary: “She passed away on May 31st, 2018 in Springfield and now will face judgement. She will not be missed by her children, Gina and Jay, and they understand that this world is a better place without her.”

DR. REEDER: Every time you’re in a situation of a funeral, somebody’s going to say, particularly if they’re a believer, “Praise the Lord he or she is in a better place.” In this obituary, they said, “The world’s a better place without them here,” so an obituary became not a memorial to remember the positive things of their life.

Here, the family doesn’t seem to need comfort in grieving — they’re just venting — but there is a hidden lesson in this I don’t want our listeners to miss. The reality is we’re going to give an account for every word and deed we’ve done. The Bible says our lives will either justify our claim to saving faith in Christ or they will reveal that we didn’t have a saving faith in Christ. And all of humanity must appear before the judgement seat to give an account.

While we can debate the lack of decorum and civility as to the use of an obituary and the death of someone to “get even” with them for all of their lifestyle violations and all of the hurts that you had received from them, but there’s another reality in the fact that there is we will all appear and, all that we have done, we will stand accountable for before a God that is holy.

That also brings me to good news that God Who is holy has so loved sinners like us and sinners like this woman, that He has given His Son to die for our sins on the cross. And, when you come to Christ, you can be forgiven of all of your trespasses.

I love it in Colossians when it says, “He has canceled out the certificate of debt we owe to the holiness of God by bringing the judgement of our sins upon Christ on the cross.” And then it says, “Thus, we are forgiven of all of our sins.”

I have a question: what will they say about you? Will there be a desire to get even or will there be a desire to tell people, “My dad, my mom, my husband, my wife, was certainly not perfect — they were a sinner saved by grace — but, let me tell you, they were not only saved, but they were changed and through them, I experienced the power of God’s grace upon them, in them and through them.” That’s the obituary we want.

COMING UP TOMORROW: AMERICANS HAVE NEWS FATIGUE?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Tuesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you to a Pew Research report that almost 7 in 10 Americans have news fatigue.

DR. REEDER: What is that statistic telling us about news and the American people?

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

WATCH: Birmingham CEO Mike Herron talks Non-Fiction Coffee and loving God, people through great coffee

In this episode of Executive Lion’s Living Life On Purpose, Matt Wilson and Andrew Wells sit down with Mike Herron, CEO of Non-Fiction Coffee.

Mike is the Owner of Non-Fiction Coffee, a company that is focused on loving God and loving people while brewing great java at the same time.

The company is designed to support farmers live better lives as they get paid more to sell their coffee beans, therefore bettering their way of life in Honduras. Mike is a serial entrepreneur who loves God and he has had much business success throughout his career in the medical and pharmaceutical industry.

Mike shares his faith, struggles he has faced, and how he has overcome these things and grown in his walk with the Lord.

WATCH:

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3 Takeaways:

— All the material success in the world won’t buy you happiness. Only a relationship with Jesus can fill the whole in your heart.

— When we walk in our purpose, life becomes so much more fulfilling.

— No matter how long it takes us to figure out the first two points, God is always waiting and He will patiently until we decide to follow him. He is so good and He will never force us to submit to His ways. He will continue to show Himself to us, we just have to pay attention.