House Majority Leader Ledbetter predicts Alabama to ‘move to number one’ nationally in automotive production after Port of Mobile expansion
Tuesday on Huntsville’s WVNN radio, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said he did not think it would be very long before Alabamians started to see tangible benefits of the Rebuild Alabama Act.
The legislation that was recently signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey after she called a special session will raise the gasoline tax six cents in September, then add an additional two cents in 2020 and 2021.
According to the DeKalb County Republican, road projects could start as early as the summer given the bill will allow for counties to bond half of the revenue the additional tax will generate that is distributed to the counties.
“I really think it will be this summer,” Ledbetter said. “I think we’ll see it immediately, and the reason I say that is inside that bill there is a mechanism that the counties can use half of their money to bond with. So, I know there’s mine – I talked to the president of my county commission, and we’re looking at bonding half of that money. So if that happens, you’re going to see a lot of paving going down, and I think it will be significant, especially on those roads we can’t get buses across, or you know, the transportation has been limited due to the fact of the road conditions.”
Ledbetter also predicted one of the aspects of the law, which is to expand the Port of Mobile, will generate a positive impact statewide, especially with regards to the automotive industry.
“I don’t think there is any question about that,” he said. “The thing I think we’ll see – Alabama rank third as far as automotive manufacturing in the country. I think we’ll move to number one. I really do. I think this is that big of a game changer. I think aerospace engineering, and some of those jobs going to the port, building airplanes and building the ships – we’re going to move up the ladder because we got availability in the port to bring the ships in and out, the post-Panamax ships we hadn’t seen.”
“You know, the sad part about it is we build all these automobiles in Alabama – a lot of those were being shipped out of Savannah because we can’t get them out of our port,” Ledbetter added. “I think once this happens, we’ll see the roll off-roll on where we’ll be carrying cars to Mobile from Huntsville, from Lincoln, from here in Montgomery to see them delivered, or shipped out from Mobile.”
Episode 6: Interview with former Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna
Dale Jackson is joined former Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna to talk about how he went from the life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll to leading the music department of Calhoun Community College in Decatur.
Vrenna describes how his love of music took him all over the world, granted him the awards and adulations of millions, and how it made him a better teacher in 2019 in Alabama.
Last September, just before midnight, Senator Doug Jones grabbed his phone, went on Twitter and in no more than 50 words, told the people of Alabama that he would be voting NO on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.
Immediately, I was overcome with shock and indignation. Yes, more often than not, Senator Jones toes the party line; he votes against President Trump’s positions 84% of the time.
Naively, I assumed that with so much at stake, this time would be different.
Surely, I thought, he would be reminded of Brian Banks, an African-American senior at Long Beach Polytechnic High School who had just committed to UCLA before his career was destroyed by a false accusation of sexual assault.
Or maybe, the images of the nine black teenagers falsely accused of rape who collectively spent over 100 years in prison not far from where he grew up would cause him to demand, at the very least, a smidgen of evidence before casting blame.
As he was pondering his decision, I was supremely certain he would hear the cries of Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley as she wept over the casket of her son, Emmett Till, who was abducted, brutally tormented, shot, folded in barbed wire and then dumped in the Tallahatchie River because he “whistled” at a white woman — a lie she recanted some 50 years later.
Surely, I thought, his years as a federal prosecutor, in which he routinely witnessed lives shattered over false accusations, might reignite his deep and profound respect for the sacred principle that, in our criminal justice system, one is innocent until proven guilty.
With his vote, Senator Jones endorsed a cultural movement which mandates that, even in the absence of evidentiary support, we must #BelieveAllWomen.
While seemingly well-intentioned, this categorical pledge should alarm Black folks in Alabama, as it stands to disproportionately affect us the most. Taking punitive action on the basis of accusation, and not evidence, is a philosophical regression that could awaken one of Jim Crow’s most destructive offspring: a society that values the voices spoken from white tongues over those from black ones.
The National Registry of Exonerations, in a 2017 report examining 1,900 exonerations over the past 30 years, determined that 47% of those exonerated were African-American, despite the fact that we make up only 13% of the U.S. population. In cases involving sexual assault, African-Americans constituted 22% of convictions, but 59% of exonerations. In other words, around half of the time, black men are wrongly convicted of sexual assault.
Realistically, if Kavanaugh is not afforded due process, despite being reared in some of America’s most privileged institutions, what chance do we have?
In a criminal justice system rife with inequalities, the presumption of innocence is often the only thing we can hope for. And Doug Jones’ philosophy — one that assumes guilt when accusations are made — is one that leads to the unjust imprisonment of men who look like me.
All survivors of sexual assault and rape deserve justice, just as the accused deserve one of America’s most potent protections: innocence until proven guilty. It is a cornerstone of American jurisprudence – one that separates us from brutal regimes across the globe and one that must not be relegated to a second-class status.
As election season is upon us and Doug Jones walks the streets of our neighborhoods and preaches to our congregations in the hopes of garnering our vote, remember that politics is more than just handshakes and speeches. Our votes, and the people they go to, have the power to turn ideas into reality.
Let’s vow to utilize that power to keep Jones and his destructive philosophy from creating more miscarriages of justice in our community.
Jalen Drummond is a native of Randolph County and alumnus of the University of Alabama
Heaven to hell and back again: How faith, Nick Saban helped Tyrone Prothro get his life back
Three weeks. Just three weeks. That was the time between the greatest high of his life and the greatest low.
Today, 14 years later, the memories of two college football Saturdays please him, yet haunt him. From heaven to hell in a span of three weeks, and to this day, both places remain with him.
The greatest catch in the history of college football. A career-ending, gruesome injury just three weeks later: Tyrone Prothro is known worldwide for both, and the lessons he’s learned from the fall of 2005 have shaped the man that he has become.
Man, was he speedy — a shifty offensive threat at Cleburne County High School, Prothro was listed at 5-foot-9-inches tall.
Most snickered when they saw his height listed as 5’9”, but it didn’t matter, because, in Heflin, Tyrone Protho was a giant — an unstoppable athlete who seemingly scored at will. And, a few years later when his signature football moment arrived on September 10, 2005, the then-Crimson Tide receiver was ready.
It was just before the half, and Bama quarterback Brodie Croyle was looking to send a message to Southern Miss as the home crowd smelled blood. Prothro smelled a big play, and boy, did he deliver.
As Croyle spotted a streaking Prothro down the field, Prothro spotted an opportunity. Up for the football Prothro went, collecting the football along with Southern Miss defensive back Jasper Faulk. As the pair tumbled to the turf, Prothro hung on as Faulk’s helmet was caught between the football and Prothro’s jersey. Tyrone squeezed the football like he had never squeezed a football before as he held onto the ball which was pinned against his opponent’s helmet.
In that moment, “The Catch” was born.
In the weeks that followed, Tyrone Prothro was not only the big man on campus, but rather the biggest story in America. Six months after The Catch, Twitter was born- –and oh, how that play would have gone viral if it had arrived a few months earlier. How big was that play? Prothro found himself in Hollywood the following July accepting the ESPY Award for “Best Play.” An ESPY for the kid from Heflin, Alabama? It was all so surreal.
October 1, 2005, brought to Tuscaloosa one of the biggest football games in recent memory. Three Saturdays after “The Catch,” Prothro was enjoying a performance for the ages. A first quarter 87-yard touchdown catch from Brodie Croyle? Why not? Prothro and crew led the Gators 7-0. Fast forward to the third quarter: Another Prothro TD catch from 16 yards and the Crimson Tide led 31-3. He believed that his life-changing season would continue.
Prothro’s life would indeed change, but it was not the change that he expected.
Late in the Florida game, Prothro went high into the air as he attempted to make another one of his circus catches. This time, as he landed awkwardly, his dream of playing in the NFL would be over. Prothro’s left leg snapped in half. A hush fell over the crowd as never before had Bama fans witnessed such horror, such sadness, such empathy. Through his pain, Prothro managed a thumbs up as he was carted off the field.
Yet just like that, football had left his life.
“Now what?” he asked himself. After all, Prothro had big dreams — but instead of preparing for the NFL Draft, Prothro found himself preparing for surgery.
And then another. And then another.
Prothro underwent a total of 12 surgeries, as he wasn’t concerned with playing football again, but rather walking again. And at the moment when Prothro felt as if all was lost in his life? In the midst of him questioning God?
More confusion arose, as that Alabama coaching carousel had his mind spinning: Dennis Franchione. Mike Price. Mike Shula. Joe Kines. Nick Saban. What in the world was happening in Tuscaloosa?
His football career was over — yet as his mind strained, his competitiveness kicked in: Tyrone Prothro continued working toward his degree.
Focusing on his studies was not his strong suit. And as he looks back today, Prothro told the Huts And Nuts podcast that it was a man named Nick Saban who came to his rescue. Yes, the same coach for whom Prothro never played, the same coach who was forced to officially take Prothro off the Bama roster on August 3, 2007.
Said Prothro on the podcast, “My grades were falling and I was in the dumps. I had a meeting with Coach Saban and he told me that the best thing I could do was to get my degree. He then chewed me out in a second meeting and he helped me realize that it was the best thing I could do for myself.”
In August 2008, Tyrone Prothro graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Human Environmental Sciences.
It’s been 14 years since Prothro felt elation, 14 years since he felt despair. Yet today, he is a happy camper.
At the time of this writing, Prothro and his wife, Sidnie, were expecting the arrival of daughter Laila — she will enter the world as brother London welcomes her with open arms.
After taking a few days off, Prothro will head back to work as an offensive assistant coach with the Jasper High School football team.
Prothro advised, “If I can help one of these kids through my story, I feel it’s why I’m here. I’m going to help as many kids as I can.”
And of his shattered dream of playing in the NFL?
“I was projected to be a first-round pick. I’m not one to sit back and dwell on what wasn’t. All I can do is move forward and work like the next man, taking care of my family.”
Years after feeling an ultimate high and a heartbreaking low, the Alabama football family feels for Tyrone Prothro, as Bama fans are proud of how one of their own has handled adversity.
Prothro’s football life may not have been completed, but thanks to family, faith and a drive possessed by few others, he is now content.
“You just have to take the bull by the horns and keep plugging along. It will be then that it will all pay off,” he explained
Wise words indeed from a “Hero of the Game” and a man who will never forget those three weeks in 2005.
Governor Ivey may go at the prison issue mostly alone
Much like last year with the gas tax, legislators know that the issue of prisons is looming, and they are trying to get out ahead of it.
And like the gas tax play, it appears a special session during the 2020 regular session will be used.
We have been hearing for a while now that Governor Kay Ivey will consider calling for a special session to address this problem and State Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), now a candidate for the Alabama state Supreme Court, confirmed as much during an appearance on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” Wednesday.
In addition, Ward called for legislators to take an outside the box approach to the issue.
Ward said the issue is significantly more complex than it has been made out to be, saying, “First of all, everyone wants one bill, one solution, and these aren’t one bill one solution issues.”
He warned that mass release was not going to be a solution, making it clear that would be a risk to “public safety.”
Ward added, “I think the bulk of any kind of prison reform is gonna be rehabilitation and alternative programming,” and suggested that outside the box approaches, such as drug rehabilitation programs, mental health initiatives and veterans courts, are the most effective means to solve the overarching problem of overpopulation.
Can this be done without massive sentencing reform? Ward says he thinks so.
“You can do this and in a way that everybody, everybody wants to be Conservative about it, but two, it can be solved in a way that doesn’t require a lot of new sentencing changes,” he advised.
There will still probably be a building of new prison capacity and that will likely be done by Kay Ivey and Kay Ivey alone.
He explained why the governor’s office could make a unilateral move, saying, “The reason they can do it without us is because they don’t need additional revenue.”
How that plays out remains to be seen. Ward is right: This issue is not one that is going to be solved with one bill. It is complex and evolving and needs to be looked at from multiple angles.
The legislature will be absolutely thrilled to have the governor’s office handle a bulk of this issue on her own.
They won’t have to deal with voting to spend money on prison instead of schools, kids, healthcare, public safety and whatever other issues you care about.
She takes the heat, the prisons get built, they pass some slight reform laws and the issue goes away.
While I still think there are going to be some fights on this issue come next year, this is, for now, the best plan being suggested.
Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN