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3 months ago

Franklin county administrator sentenced for stealing $750,000

An accountant has been sentenced to 20 years for stealing more than $750,000 from the government in northern Alabama.

Al.com reports that former Franklin County administrator Crista Madden was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to two counts of use of office for personal gain. Court records show the 49-year-old Madden created false purchase orders and made payments into her personal accounts.

Court records show Madden deposited $753,889 in bank accounts for nearly 10 years.

Authorities say she would make a copy for county records, then remove the tape and make the checks out to herself.

Madden became the Chilton County Administrator after leaving Franklin County last year.

She resigned from the Chilton job in March when she was arrested.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

Rep. Gary Palmer warns Brett Kavanaugh brouhaha threatens America’s ‘experiment in self-government’ — ‘I think this is going to have consequences for the Democrats’

On Friday’s broadcast of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) expressed his skepticism over the sincerity of Senate Democrats regarding the sexual misconduct allegations aimed at U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Palmer warned that weaponizing a “scandal” in these situations may impact the country’s ability to self-govern.

“It looks to me like since the Democrats had this information as early as July, or maybe earlier than that, and they didn’t bring it forward — this was intended to derail the confirmation, not to do justice for an individual who claims to have been harmed,” he said. “And the thing that really concerns me about all of this, regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on, is how this impacts our ability to continue this experiment in self-government because when you weaponize scandal as a political weapon  — it’s very destructive to the process, not just the individuals involved, but the entire process.”

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He added that ultimately, this could backfire on Democrats.

“I think this is going to have consequences for the Democrats,” Palmer added. “At some point, you can cry wolf too many times. And again, I think this is dangerous for people that have been harmed. It will get to the point where it’s just another claim. And at the same time, you’ve got Keith Ellison, who I serve with in the House, who has a claim against him by a woman who is being totally dismissed by the left, even though there’s more evidence there. There’s text messages, documentation from her doctor — you see where this is heading? I’m very concerned for our country and what we’re doing to ourselves. I think it has dire consequences down the road.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 hours ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Tax reform 2.0 gains momentum

Less than a year ago, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to simplify our complicated tax code and lower rates for all Americans. Thanks to tax reform and other pro-growth policies, our economy is booming. You don’t just have to take my word for it – here are some numbers from the month of August:

–U.S. employers added more than 200,000 jobs as wages increased at the fastest year-on-year pace since June of 2009.

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–Unemployment claims reached a 49-year low. The last time jobless claims fell to this point, it was December of 1969.

–Small business optimism hit a new record high.

–The number of individuals employed part-time who would prefer full-time work but could not find it has fallen to the lowest level since before the 2008-2009 recession.

–U.S. manufacturing grew at the fastest pace since May of 2004.

These numbers all serve as proof that the American people are better off now than they were just two years ago. I am eager to see this strong momentum continue, and I am glad to report that we aren’t slowing down our efforts to foster economic growth right here in the United States. Recently, the House Ways and Means Committee passed Tax Reform 2.0, a series of bills that would modify and build upon the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The first bill in the series, H.R. 6760, the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018, would put in place several changes to the individual income tax rate. Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provisions are set to expire at the end of 2025, perhaps the most important changes H.R. 6760 would implement are making the tax rate changes and the Child Tax Credit permanent.

According to a Tax Foundation study, making these individual income tax changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent would increase long-term Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2.2 percent and create 1.5 million new full-time equivalent jobs.

The second bill in the series, H.R. 6757, the Family Savings Act of 2018, includes a number of important reforms to retirement accounts. For example, individuals would be able to contribute up to $2,500 into a savings account annually, and any withdrawals would be tax free.

The third bill in the series, H.R. 6756, the American Innovation Act of 2018, would allow businesses to deduct their start-up costs. Businesses could either deduct the lesser of their start-up expenses, or for firms with more than $120,000 in expenses, deduct a flat amount of $20,000.

Our tax reform overhaul provides much needed relief to American families, creates jobs here in the United States, grows our economy, and allows hardworking taxpayers to keep more of their own money in their pocket. We now have a unique opportunity to continue delivering on our promise to give the American people more of the results they deserve.

Committee passage of Tax Reform 2.0 is just the first step in the legislative process to make parts of our tax overhaul permanent. I will continue to listen to the people I represent in Alabama’s Second District and work alongside my colleagues in Congress to improve this package of legislation as we move towards advancing these pro-growth policies to the House floor for a vote.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

4 hours ago

What you need to know about Alabama proposed constitutional amendments 3 & 4

On November 6, Alabamians will vote on four proposed statewide constitutional amendments. Although the first two amendments will likely receive the most attention (API’s analyses can be found on our website), amendments three and four deserve notice as well. They are, in fact, changes to the longest known constitution in the world.

We’ll start with Proposed Amendment Three, which addresses the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees.

Currently, the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System – which governs UAB and UAH in addition to the Tuscaloosa campus – is composed of three members from the seventh congressional district (which includes Tuscaloosa), two members from each of the other six congressional districts, the governor and the state superintendent of education.

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If approved, this amendment would require that the Board continue to be made up of members of congressional districts as drawn on January 1, 2018. This means that, in the case that Alabama gains or, more likely, loses a congressional seat in 2020, the makeup of the board of trustees would not be affected nor thrown into disarray.

Additional stipulations include the removal of the state superintendent of education from automatic membership on the board and of the requirement that board members retire after their 70th birthday.

It is worth mentioning that the bill allowing this University of Alabama-specific amendment passed unanimously in both the State House and Senate.

Amendment Four, in contrast, will have a significantly wider impact if approved.

This amendment addresses something Alabamians have been hearing about for a while now–special elections. It is important to note on the front end, however, that it does not address special elections for the U.S. Congress like that of 2017. Instead, it impacts vacancies in the state legislature.

If accepted, legislative vacancies that occur on or after October 1 of the third year of a quadrennium (in other words, seats that become open only months before the final session of the legislature’s four-year term) would remain vacant until the next general election.

Currently, the governor is required to schedule a special election when state legislative vacancies occur. These elections cost the state money, create voter fatigue, and according to Senator Glover, the amendment’s sponsor, are “just bad government.”

In an interview with API, Senator Glover described one case where, thanks to a late special election, a legislator was sworn in on the last day of session. Cases like these, where relatively powerless legislators are added to the state payroll, will not occur if the amendment is approved.

The main purpose, according to Glover, is to “save some money and confusion.” He estimates that, if this language had been on the books earlier, the state would’ve saved “just under a million dollars” in 2018 alone. For example, this amendment would prohibit what will, come November, be four separate elections for Alabama’s 26 Senate seat in less than a year.

Additionally, the amendment received unanimous support when it passed the Senate and overwhelming support in the House earlier this year.

Although these two amendments are not as polarizing as amendments one and two, both are attempts to make the state better, and they should not be ignored.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.

6 hours ago

Alabama SoS John Merrill: ACLU of Alabama lawsuit for Twitter blocking ‘a publicity stunt’

In an interview that aired on Friday’s episode of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill elaborated on his response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of blocked Twitter users by ACLU of Alabama, which he initially called a “political hack job.”

Merrill told “Capitol Journal” host Don Dailey given that the suit has not been delivered to him or his office, it was a “publicity stunt.”

“Frankly, I still haven’t seen the lawsuit, which tells me that this is a publicity stunt,” he said. “There’s no lawsuit that’s been delivered to the office of the Secretary of State, and that’s been presented to me personally. I first learned of this from the media.”

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Merrill explained the distinction between his personal Twitter account and the one that was established by his office.

“I use my Twitter account because it’s my personal account,” he added. “Now we have an office account ‘@alasecofstate’ … no one has ever been blocked from that. People can follow that at will if they choose to. My personal account, ‘@JohnHMerrill’ not only covers the things I do as your secretary of state but also all the personal things that I do.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

7 hours ago

Surrogate chooses life: Alabama woman saves unborn child

In Matthew 22, we are painted a vivid picture of Jesus being cornered by the Pharisees and the Herodians.

Maybe you remember He was asked if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. This was a well-crafted plan on the part of the Pharisees, not only in asking the question but also in bringing along the Herodians, a group who possessed a fierce loyalty to Rome and its god Caesar.

If He says “no, it isn’t right,” He risks being arrested (at least) and thrown into jail for what amounts to treason. If He says “yes, it is right,” He would basically be admitting Caesar’s “deity” and undermining all of Jewish teaching. He would then be reprimanded by Jewish authorities.

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It was a no-win situation as far as the Pharisees were concerned. I’m sure they were licking their chops in anticipation of Jesus’ impending downfall.

And so, we have Jesus posed with the question of if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. It is a question I so desperately wish he would have answered differently. If he had, I could be both holy and rebellious come every April.

Of course, He answered it with wisdom and grace, first asking for a coin and to be told whose inscription is on it. He is told it is an image of Caesar. He then replies with the famous line, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” I wonder if someone in that moment thought about asking, “What exactly is God’s?”

Jesus would have then answered, “Whose image is on you?”

What does it mean that we have been created in the Imago Dei – the image of God?

A recent story here in our very own state has driven this point home to me.

Haven Kincaid is a delightful, 26-year-old wife and mother of two (mother of one, prior to this story). She has a passionate heart for troubled youth whom she works with on a daily basis. Her family history is incredible, worthy of a whole separate article, honestly.

Suffice it to say, they are all an extremely close-knit group.

Drawing from the compassion in her heart and the history of her mother having had much difficulty in bearing children, she felt led to become a surrogate mother. One year ago, she came into contact with a foreign couple who could not bear children.

Haven’s heart broke for them, so she agreed to become a surrogate mother for their first child. After the initial testing and implantation, she was pregnant by December of 2017.

Haven and her husband, James, stayed in contact regularly with the couple. Conversations were rooted in anticipation.

“What will you name the baby if it’s a boy or a girl?”

“How will you decorate the nursery?”

“Who’ll get up to feed in the middle of the night?”

The positive energy of this international agreement was palpable between the two families. What’s more, the couple had only two viable embryos to use; excitement was abound when the first took with such ease.

There were no complications, and the donor couple was footing the bill for the whole process. Literally all they needed was a willing heart and a “hospitable” womb; they would take care of the rest.

What they received in Haven ended up being much more than they asked for and definitely more than they expected.  Little did they know, and by the grace of God, Haven is a woman of incredible character and impeccable moral fortitude.

There are times in life when you are presented with a shock. Maybe you come home to find your dog has eaten the meat that was left to thaw (this has never happened at the Hodges home).  Just as there are light-hearted surprises, however, you’ll agree there are just as many instances of horrific revelation. The death of loved one; a terminal diagnosis; a sudden car accident; all are evidence we live in a broken world.

This broken world, though, is under the sovereign rule of God, in whose image we are created. The one true and loving God chooses to use these instances of shock and awe to draw us closer to Him.

When the baby was at 10 weeks’ gestation, Haven and the donor couple decided to have her (Haven) undergo genetic testing (a non-invasive prenatal test called Panorama, taken as a sample from the mother’s blood) in order to get an early glimpse of the baby’s gender and to screen for any genetic abnormalities.

“When I found out the results,” Haven remembers. “I immediately knew the couple would not be accepting of this. Something told me they would push back.”

Haven’s blood sample yielded results strongly indicative of a baby girl with Trisomy 21 – Down Syndrome.

Haven admits she had a heightened level of anxiety due to this. However, it was not the diagnosis unsettling her nerves; she knew in her heart the donor couple would see this as something gone wrong.

Her mind quickly turned to the surrogacy contract signed in the beginning which had an abortion clause. She and James, believing abortion is wrong, were assured this clause was rarely (if ever) enacted; this was basically just a formality of a standard contract reaffirming whose “property” the developing baby was.

In other words, it’s up to the donating couple what is and isn’t done while their baby is in utero. They signed the surrogacy contract with the advice that “the abortion clause is just a formality; it never happens.”

Months later, she learned not only do these things indeed happen, but also her initial fears of the donor couple were spot on. The donor couple suddenly ceased all communication with Haven and James, save for one request: abort the pregnancy and retry for a “normal” baby.

Like I said, sometimes in life you are presented with a shock.

Haven was dismayed, appalled, heartbroken.

Retry for a normal baby…what does that even mean?!” she thought.

Were they suggesting that a baby with Down Syndrome is something less than human?

Were they affirming their belief that this chromosomal abnormality would yield a child unfit and unworthy of life?

Haven’s mind raced with thoughts of what trouble was ahead. There was never a doubt in her mind as to what she should do. She knew when she made her choice to do what was right, though, all hell would break loose.

She felt maybe–just maybe–if she gave the couple some time to cool off and adjust to the news they would change their minds. To buy some time, she offered the compromise of waiting a few more weeks for an official amniocentesis to be performed.

After all, tests are just tests, they can be wrong. Who knows? Maybe this test was wrong and the amniocentesis would show no evidence of a genetic abnormality.

The donor couple agreed. At about sixteen weeks, Haven underwent an official amniocentesis.

It strongly confirmed the results of the initial Panorama testing.

At that moment, Haven and James knew the world would be blessed with a precious and perfect baby girl with Down Syndrome. They knew what they had to do; they knew the life of a precious image-bearer of God was hanging in the balance.

Through the support of her physician and her lawyer, Haven communicated to the donor couple she would indeed not be having an abortion. In fact, not only was she going to deliver the baby but she and James also decided to adopt the child into their own family.

“No, please don’t do that,” said the donor couple. “We couldn’t bear to know that our child was out there somewhere in the world suffering.”

Suffering? Haven was astounded at their outright foolish line of reasoning; Down Syndrome hardly amounts to what is considered “suffering.”  At this point, the cards were on the table: the donors would rather kill the child than allow it to be born with Down Syndrome.

Clearly, their worldview allows them to play the role of God in their own lives, and that’s exactly what they were doing. They were deciding who is worthy and unworthy of life.

In other words, they were acting as judge, jury, and executioner.

Word came back to Haven the couple would be hiring a legal team to fight this breach of contract. They were planning on coming to Alabama to fight Haven’s decision. At this point, Haven’s baby girl was at approximately sixteen weeks gestation.

Fear set in at the Kincaid household.  Would they force her to get an abortion? At this point, she knew Alabama’s law held that abortion is legal up until 20 weeks; she had four weeks to stall the legal process as much as possible.

If she carried to full term, would she have to sign over parental rights to parents who truly wanted the baby to be dead? The questions piled higher and higher. Then, a glimmer of light appeared.

It is no secret that Alabama’s laws are a bit antiquated in some ways. In this instance, however, it played to Haven’s good fortune. Under Alabama law, any child born to a woman and her husband is legally that couple’s child.

At last, a moment of hope in an otherwise dark situation, as this overruled the conditions of the international surrogacy contract.

Through a complicated process of arbitration, middle ground was achieved without the donor couple setting foot inside the U.S.

Haven and James would indeed adopt the child and a no-contact agreement would be signed. There would be no communication between the two parties for any reason whatsoever.

However, the donor couple would pull all funding, past and present, for the pregnancy and delivery. At this point, Haven and James were responsible for all medical expenses starting with the beginning of the pregnancy. This would include the implantation, ultrasounds, blood testing, physician expenses, etc.

Haven and James reasoned this was a small price (literally thousands of dollars) to pay considering the victory that was just accomplished. Obviously, the life of this amazing child was, and continues to be, worth much more than that to the Kincaid family. Obviously, the life of this amazing child was worth nothing other than death to the donor couple.

And so, with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, it is my distinct honor and pleasure to announce that Scottsboro is home to a precious image-bearer of God – Nadia Lucille Jean Kincaid. She has a small congenital heart defect common for Trisomy 21, but she is otherwise a normal, healthy baby girl.

As you read this, have you ever wondered what makes your life valuable?

God has revealed to us from the beginning of time we are made in His image. That is where our inherent value rests. That is why even the most ardent atheist will be saddened at the loss of a loved one; that is why we all watched in horror when the Twin Towers fell seventeen years ago.

When human life is lost, regardless of age, we mourn the loss of an innately valuable person who bears the image of God. Humankind, above all other earthly life, has intrinsic value and worth. This cannot be given to, or taken away from, us by the government or by the fleeting desires of popular culture; this inalienable truth is literally woven into our very being.

Nadia’s story is evidence that all human life is valuable, whether at nine weeks or ninety-nine years it is worth fighting for. Babies are not mistakes; babies are blessings. Nadia is an incredible blessing, and so is Haven.

We are blessed to have them as a part of our community.

If you’d like to donate to Haven and James in order to help with their medical costs, please visit www.gofundme.com and search for “Surrogate Chooses Life.”

Born and raised in Scottsboro, Dr. Andrew Hodges is a local internist who enjoys reading, writing and running. When not at the office or on a run, you can find him on the water with his wife, Sarah, and two boys, Carter and Miles.

(Courtesy of JC Sentinel)