1 year ago

Gen. Ed Crowell wants to bring military, leadership experience to Montgomery mayor’s office

MONTGOMERY — The August 2019 mayoral race in Alabama’s capital city is heating up and already features a highly competitive lineup of candidates.

Perhaps most well known among the motley field are former Congressman Artur Davis, Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed and WCOV’s David Woods. Reed is the son of Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) head and liberal political powerbroker Joe Reed.

However, it is two political outsiders that are taking the race by storm thus far: Brigadier General Ed Crowell (Ret.) and local attorney JC Love.

Yellowhammer News recently sat down with Crowell at his downtown campaign office, right off the historic Court Square Fountain, and discussed his decorated background, leadership style and motivation for entering the race and policy goals.

‘On the shoulders of giants’

Quiet but commanding, Crowell’s nickname could very well be “The Genteel General.” As he dove into the interview, his background in military logistics was not easy to miss. For each topic that came up, I could see the wheels turn in Crowell’s mind as he thoughtfully considered his response. Genuine yet measured, everything he said fit together neatly.

“We have the old saying in the military: ‘we stand on the shoulders of giants,'” Crowell said. “Well, the backbone of our services is the enlisted force … but there always has to be a leader. And when you’re thrusted into a leadership role, you don’t become a leader just because you’re thrusted into that role. You’ve got to earn your keeps. You’ve got to demonstrate your mettle.”

“And you do that by, first of all, being a good listener,” he explained.

This was a theme throughout the interview — his emphasis on listening as a leader. Whether it was heeding the advice of enlisted sergeants in the Air Force, subject matter experts in the private sector or other community leaders involved with the countless board and organizations Crowell has served, he stressed the importance of operating from a place of knowledge – and how to get there.

This skillet, and mentality, earned Crowell the reputation as being a fixer in the Air Force. He would go into dysfunctional units, listen to the service members, assess the situation and meticulously and personally work solutions.

This kind of experience served him well in his parallel career trajectory in the corporate world. Crowell served both as an active and reserve duty officer at various intervals, which allowed him to build quite the legacy at Blount International and then VT Miltope, where he eventually became president and CEO before retiring.

Whether at one of these distinguished Alabama companies, in a civic or charitable organization or in the military, Crowell has always led by example. One of his core tenets of leadership is that you never ask of someone what you yourself would not be willing to do. It was that frontline mentality that sometimes got him derided by fellow officers in the Air Force, as Crowell would do chores normally reserved for enlisted men and women. However, the same attribute also garnered the respect of the people he was meant to lead, with Crowell noting that troops would walk through fire for him because they knew he would first walk through himself.

“We’re a team, and we’re going to work this as a team,” he added.

Giving back

For someone who has always been on the civil service side of public life, dipping his toes into politics is not necessarily a natural thing. However, when members of the community started approaching Crowell to run, his modus operandi kicked in.

“I made a decision years ago that I was going to be on the giving end rather than the receiving end,” he explained.

And Crowell has been doing so ever since he came to Montgomery in 1968. His work in the community is renowned, best exemplified by his being named the city’s “Man of the Year” in 2018. From the YMCA to the Shakespeare Festival, Crowell has served on the board or been chairman of just about every civic or philanthropic organization possible in Alabama’s capital city. Each step along the way, his leadership style and dedication to bettering the community one cause at a time has earned him the respect of his peers, which just kept getting him recruited to serve in more and more ways.

He sees being Montgomery’s mayor as the last recruitment destination on his journey — one final, hugely impactful way to give back to the community he and his family love.

Crowell also views his longtime service as a personal investment into the community and future generations. In his opinion, Mayor Todd Strange’s administration has the city moving in the right direction, and the retired general wants to keep this momentum going and protect his investment the best way he knows how – through serving.

“I feel I’ve made a sizable investment in this community, and I think the train is on the right tracks right now,” Crowell shared. “And I don’t want to see any regression in it. The only way I can be assured that it continues, because I’ve never been one to be on the sidelines: if you’re not in the game, you can’t play.”

“So, I made a decision that I’m going to be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And you do that by being in the game. If I’m in the game, I can ensure that my investment does not go astray. … I’m pretty passionate about helping. And I’m pretty passionate about making certain that there is follow-through on whatever we decide we want to do,” he continued.

‘Neighborhood mayor’

While noting there are several policy issues and goals he has, Crowell stressed that there are two priorities that stand above the rest for Montgomery right now.

“[T]hey’re visible … education and crime,” he said. “I think the root of crime is education. If individuals are not educated, or they don’t feel like they can be educated, then we’ve got a problem.”

Crowell said he will be a “neighborhood mayor,” visible and personally engaged with each area of the city. He wants to restore hope to the neighborhoods that are in a state of decay — both by addressing vacant buildings and cleaning up overgrown, neglected lots, as well as instituting tangible programs that ensure opportunity is accessible for hardworking people in Montgomery, regardless of their lot in life.

He also said he is “not going to be defensive about crime.” Crowell openly acknowledged the problem and explained that he wants to tackle the problem head-on.

“I’m going to lay the gauntlet down where it is,” Crowell advised.

He also noted that government alone cannot be the solution to Montgomery’s present or future. He urged others to get involved just as he has been for the last half-century: volunteerism. Crowell also shared some advice for those looking to make a difference.

“You learn that you’ve been given opportunities that others may not think that they have, although they were there – they didn’t take advantage of them,” he said. “You should be a spark for some of these others who’ve given up, who feel like they can’t excel. They need somebody like you to show them the way.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Former Etowah Co. sheriff sues ALdotcom, law enforcement officers over damaging story

Former Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin is suing for defamation the individuals involved in a 2018 news story in which a woman accused him of illegal activities, including statutory rape.

The defendants listed in the suit include current Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Horton, Oneonta Police Chief Charles Clifton, the parent company of Alabama Media Group’s AL.com and reporter Connor Sheets.

Horton was Rainbow City’s police chief at the time the story was published. He later beat Entrekin in a Republican primary to become the county sheriff.

The news story at the center of the lawsuit was published in 2018 under the headline “Police investigating allegations Alabama’s ‘Beach House Sheriff’ had sex with underage girls.”


Entrekin was given the moniker ‘Beach House Sheriff’ because of a widely shared report from earlier in 2018 that detailed how he used an old Alabama law to keep for himself hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for feeding the county’s prisoners; the beach house had a similar price tag to the amount of money he kept.

Entrekin’s lawyers argue in the suit that the publication of the article alleging rape was “reckless and malicious” and in their mind more due to a collective animus from the defendants than proper journalistic and policing practices.

The claims at the center of the 2018 article are made by a woman named Mary Elizabeth Cross, who alleged that Entrekin committed statutory rape by having sexual relations with her at drug-fueled parties in 1992 when he was 29 and she was 15. Cross was age 41 in 2018 when she came forward with the allegations.

Entrekin told AL.com at the time, “I’ve never had sex with any 15-year-old girl or had drugs around or anything. I have never done drugs in my life. That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard of. Never, ever has anything like that happened before.”

Cross brought the accusations to Horton in 2018, who was police chief of Rainbow City at the time. Horton was also then running against Entrekin in a campaign to be Etowah County Sheriff, so he referred the case to Oneonta Police Chief Charles Clifton.

Entrekin’s lawyers argue in the suit that Oneonta Chief Clifton has been “harboring a personal grudge against” against Entrekin “since the 1990s” that stemmed from “past professional interactions.”

The AL.com report says Clifton is the individual who contacted reporter Connor Sheets about the allegation, and two reporters and law enforcement officers interviewed her together during a long drive.

The lawyers for the former sheriff make similar claims that both Sheets and Horton participated in the article out of personal dislike for Entrekin.

Horton’s dislike, they argue, stems from what was in 2018 his ongoing campaign against Entrekin for the county sheriff position.

Sheets, they allege, harbors “a demonstrated dislike for Alabama sheriffs generally, and Mr. Entrekin in particular.”

In addition to Sheets, the suit names Advance Local Media, which publishes AL.com, along with the cities of Oneonta and Rainbow City, which employed Clifton and Horton respectively at the time of the article’s publishing.

The AL.com report cited a friend of Cross’, who the reporter allowed to remain anonymous, as corroborating the existence of the parties where young girls were with older men around the time of the alleged criminal behavior.

Entrekin’s complaint says that he did not purchase the lakeside property until 1995, three years after the incidents are reported to have happened. Additionally, a boat structure cited in the allegation against Entrekin was not built until 2009, his lawsuit contends as evidence in his favor.

The attorney for Entrekin filed the lawsuit in Etowah County Circuit Court. It can be accessed here.

The defendants in the suit did not return calls for comment left by the Gadsden Times, the paper closest to the relevant officials.

Entrekin’s lawyers said in a statement that their client “seeks to correct the record and repair some of the damage these defendants have done to his reputation and employment possibilities.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

14 hours ago

Officials say Alabamians cannot be required to wear a mask in order to vote

Secretary of State John Merrill on Friday released guidance from his office and Attorney General Steve Marshall saying face masks cannot be a requirement in order to vote in Alabama’s July 14 primary runoff election.

A release from Merrill’s office outlined that the secretary of state has received numerous inquiries from county and city officials questioning the legal authority to require or not require voters to wear masks. Various localities in the state have enacted general mask ordinances recently.

In public response to those inquiries, Merrill confirmed that state law does not place limits on an individual’s right to vote, citing Article III, Section 177(a) of the Constitution of Alabama, which reinforces the inherent right of eligible citizens to vote.


Additionally, Merrill’s office advised that a notice from the attorney general’s office dated June 30 declared, “Though the Attorney General strongly recommends that voters and poll workers follow CDC guidelines when in public places and behave in a manner that is respectful of poll workers and fellow voters, it is clear that state law does not allow for an individual’s qualification to vote to be contingent upon the wearing of a mask or face covering, respecting social distancing, using gloves, or having a temperature in a normal range.”

Merrill stressed the bottomline.

“While it can be ‘strongly recommended’ that an individual wear a mask, it cannot be required,” he stated. “In our state, we will continue to see that the right for every eligible Alabamian to vote is protected.”

You can view CDC guidance for voters and election polling places here.

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

14 hours ago

How to save the 2020 college football season

The sports media and the political media world are gathering to undo college football.

Why? I can’t even begin to understand it.

But with the Ivy League ending their fall sports and the Big 10 ending non-conference games, with other conferences to follow, it is becoming increasingly clear that the game we all love will be killed by the end of the month, if not sooner.

The ending of non-conference games makes absolutely no sense.


Look at the University of Florida and their schedule: They have a game with the University of Kentucky at home and an away game at Florida State. Which game do you think will get played (if there is a season)?

Kentucky, because it is in the same conference.

But Lexington and Gainesville are 708 miles away, while Gainesville and Tallahassee are around 150 miles away from each other.

So logistically, having Kentucky come to Florida is a bigger “hassle” but that game might get played.

If you can rationalize this using science, medicine, politics, logic, common sense or wild guesses, let me know.

This ridiculous decision all but dooms a season because it is indefensible and silly.

So, how do we fix this?

Throw out the conferences for a season and replace them with 50 state divisions and reset the schedule completely.

If the distance is an issue, and that’s the best reason I can come up with to end non-conference games, this eliminates that.

This will force every state to play all games in their home state, with no exceptions. These are trying times after all.

Here is a potential Alabama schedule:

9/5 – Alabama A&M  at Alabama
9/12 – Faulkner at Alabama
9/19 – Alabama at Samford
9/26 – Alabama at Troy
10/3 – UAB Blazers at Alabama
10/10 – Birmingham-Southern Panthers at Alabama
10/17  – Alabama at West Alabama
10/24 – Alabama at Alabama State
11/7 – Jacksonville State at Alabama
11/14 – North Alabama at Alabama
11/21 – Alabama at South Alabama
11/28 – Auburn at Alabama

This will be good for these schools to play the powerhouse. Maybe fans eventually get to see these games in person; the schools could even get some of that sweet TV revenue.

The rankings can be done, the same with the coaches’ and media polls.

When this schedule is done, have your conference championships and College Football Playoff as normal.

Is this the perfect system? No.

This is going to require innovation and new ideas. If you want an actual college football season, this is the best bet.

Any conference that thinks it is going to continue on, as usual, is crazy. The sports media is set for self-destruction with their thirst to insert politics into America’s avenues for escape. Killing the college football season is their goal.

They will chip away at them until they relent.

Economies will be further destroyed, jobs will be lost (in their industry as well), and lives will be changed forever.

When college football is officially canceled, we will all know things have changed for good.

It will happen.

15 hours ago

Five Guys workers who refused to serve cops have been fired, suspended

The Five Guys employees who reportedly refused to serve members of the Daphne Police Department have been fired and suspended, according to a statement from the company.

Yellowhammer News detailed earlier this week a report first made by WKRG that three Daphne police officers were refused service at a Five Guys location.

The national headquarters of the restaurant released a statement saying, “The actions the Daphne, AL franchise have taken include termination and suspension of the employees involved. The store has temporarily closed for further education and customer service training with a representative from the Daphne Police Department and will reopen at 4PM today, July 10th.”

“The actions and sentiments of a few employees in Daphne, AL do not represent Five Guys or the local franchisee,” added the company on Twitter.


The incident caused uproar on social media from citizens angry that members of a police department were being refused service based on the uniform they wore.

“The Daphne Police Department appreciates the outpouring of support from our community and from supporters of Law Enforcement across the country. We also want to thank Five Guys on a corporate and local level. We have been working through this situation and there has been total cooperation. The Daphne Police Department does not think that the actions of a few employees represents Five Guys as a whole,” the Daphne police told FOX10 on Thursday, while the investigation was still underway.

The department also dispelled rumors that the officers were not wearing masks, saying, “All three officers were wearing masks the entire time they were inside of the establishment. The events that occurred while the officers were in the restaurant were unfortunate.”

Five Guys added on Friday that the chain was committed to “fair, respectful, and equal treatment for all customers.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

15 hours ago

U.S. Attorney Jay Town resigns to join private sector

U.S. Attorney Jay Town announced Friday that he is resigning his post with the Department of Justice and will take a job with a defense contractor in Huntsville later this year.

Town, 46, has been serving as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama since he was nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by Congress in 2017.

“It was an honor to be a part of this Administration with an unrivaled class of United States Attorneys from around the nation. I will forever remain thankful to those who supported my nomination and my tenure as the U.S. Attorney,” Town said in a statement.


Before his appointment, Town served in the U.S. Marine Corps and as a judge advocate. He has also worked in the Madison County District Attorney’s Office.

“I offer my gratitude to Jay Town for his three years of service as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Jay’s leadership in his District has been immense,” said U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.

“His contributions to the Department of Justice have been extensive,” continued Barr, before adding, “I appreciate his service to our nation and to the Justice Department, and I wish him the very best.”

Town said of his new role, “I have accepted an incredible opportunity to work for a privately held defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company located in Huntsville operating in both the government and commercial sectors. My role, which will begin later this year, will be significant but also has the virtue of allowing me to remain much closer to home. There will be an announcement by the company in a few weeks further explaining my position.”

As head federal prosecutor in the Northern District, Town oversaw the federal prosecutions for crimes committed in Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, Oxford and many other cities.

“My service as the U.S. Attorney has been the highest honor of my legal career. I am saddened to depart, but it is undeniable that I leave behind an incredibly competent and talented team that will always fight for justice here in the great state of Alabama,” Town commented on Wednesday.

“The Attorney General of the United States will announce my replacement in the coming days or weeks,” he concluded.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95