6 months ago

Report: Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. curses at God, University of Alabama following state’s abortion ban

Millionaire Florida resident Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. directed some explicit comments at lawmakers in both his home state and in Alabama, as well as the University of Alabama, according to a Sunshine State media outlet.

The “Florida Politics” blog on Thursday posted an interview with Culverhouse, Jr. which followed up on the events of the previous day.

The same blog on Wednesday said that Culverhouse, Jr. was calling for a boycott of the state of Alabama and the University of Alabama over the recently signed into law abortion ban, the “Human Life Protection Act.”

The Florida businessman, who did not graduate from UA at any level of study, last year donated $21.5 million to the university’s law school, which was in turn named after him.

Culverhouse, Jr. is currently the largest donor in the University of Alabama’s history, and outlets like Alabama Media Group on Wednesday zealously pushed the narrative that his support of the university was ending because of the abortion debate.

However, in a concise press release later that day, a spokesperson for the University of Alabama System explained that Wednesday’s outburst by Culverhouse, Jr. came at the tail-end of a prolonged dispute between him and the university that had nothing to do with abortion — or any type of liberal social justice issue.

Culverhouse, Jr. had claimed of his supposed abortion-related stand, “I cannot stand by silently and allow my name to be associated with a state educational system… which promotes blatant discrimination.”

Yet, the UA System advised, “As part of an ongoing dispute, last week Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. asked for the return of $10 million, repeating numerous demands about the operations of the University of Alabama School of Law.”

The System press release also detailed that the System chancellor had recommended to give Culverhouse, Jr. back all of his $21.5 million donation — the day before his comments on Alabama’s abortion ban.

The release continued, “Consequently, [Tuesday] Chancellor St. John recommended to the Board of Trustees that it return all of Mr. Culverhouse’s $21.5 million donation to the Law School, which will be acted on at the Board’s meeting next week.”

“None of the issues between the Law School and Mr. Culverhouse had anything to do with the passage of legislation in which the University had no role,” the System spokesperson concluded. “Donors may not dictate University administration.”

‘Fu** you, and have a nice day’

This release seemed to have angered Culverhouse, Jr., who responded to the System in an expletive-filled Florida Politics article.

“I’m sorry for the university,” he reportedly told the website, “but fu** you, and have a nice day.”

The outlet reported he asserted that an “agreement” was made with the university when making the donation that he would “have involvement in decisions at the school.”

Culverhouse, Jr., according to Florida Politics, acknowledged he had been involved in a dispute with the university over that claim, with the outlet specifying one example that he “disagreed with the law school dean about upping entrance requirements.”

Again, remember the System emphasized, “Donors may not dictate University administration.”

However, Culverhouse, Jr. reportedly made another demand of the university.

Florida Politics wrote, “As far as abortion, Culverhouse said he did say no endowment chair should be appointed until the abortion issue gets resolved.”

To be clear, the university, the law school and the System have nothing to do with Alabama’s abortion law.

Yet, in the Thursday Florida Politics interview, Culverhouse, Jr. still teed off on the issue in dramatic fashion.

“Saudi Arabia is more liberal in granting abortions than Alabama,” the Floridian lamented.

He remarked, “What really f—ing pisses me off is if I sent my daughter to Alabama and she got gang-raped by 15 to 20 men, she could not obtain an abortion without the doctor going to prison. But a lot of rape cases, they get probation, or get 5 years, 15 or 20 years. A doctor faces 99 godd*** years.”

This comes in spite of the fact that Alabama’s new abortion law is not in effect — and will almost certainly never go into effect.

Culverhouse also said he would make similar boycott demands for other states enacting new abortion restrictions, including his home state of Florida.

Multiple abortion restrictions were filed this year in Florida, though none passed, the outlet reported.

Yet, State Rep. Mike Hill, (R-Florida), told the Pensacola News-Journal he intended to file a bill similar to Alabama’s next year, notably telling that local newspaper God had spoken to him after the Yellowhammer State passed its law and encouraged Hill to do so.

“Mike Hill got told by God to do that,” Culverhouse, Jr. commented. “But you can tell Mike Hill that God and Jesus talked to me last night and they said you fu** anybody who violates Supreme Court law. So I’m following God.”

Culverhouse, Jr. added, “Maybe his God and my God are schizo-fu**ing-phrenic, or maybe he should stop using religion to go after women.”

Alabama’s innovative reform to Medicaid is paying dividends

One of the toughest, yet least-talked about, challenges facing the U.S. today is how to effectively deliver affordable health care to America’s growing population of senior citizens. The U.S. Census Bureau has predicted that by 2035, the number of adults over the age of 65 will exceed the number of children under the age of 18. The graying of America’s population especially creates a challenge for what, at times, can be a fractured and overly complicated health care delivery system.

In Alabama, over 90,000 senior citizens’ health care is funded in part via Medicaid, the federally-mandated insurance program that serves the elderly, the poor, and the disabled. Even though Medicaid is federally-mandated, that definitely does not mean that the federal government covers all of the costs — Alabama’s portion of the costs provided by the general fund was $755 million in Fiscal Year 2019, a figure which eats up 37% of all non-education spending by the State of Alabama.

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Over the past several years, I have worked closely with the past two governors, other legislative leaders, Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar and private sector partners to identify new delivery models that will bend the cost curve down for Medicaid, while ensuring Alabama’s senior citizens on Medicaid still receive good medical care.

In early 2017, I went to Washington, along with Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon, Medicaid Commissioner Azar and other state leaders, to meet with Dr. Tom Price, who then served as President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

That trip and subsequent phone calls and data presentations paid off: in 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in Washington granted Alabama the opportunity to pursue a new delivery model of health care services for the more than 20,000 senior citizens in Alabama who are receiving long-term care through Medicaid.

Let me tell you: it is not an easy thing to persuade a federal agency to grant a state a waiver from any program’s requirements. Federal government employees – even the hardest-working and best-intentioned – are not necessarily keen on innovation.

In October of 2018, Alabama launched the Integrated Care Network (ICN). In this new model, Medicaid contracts with an Alabama-based healthcare provider to serve the 22,500 patients who are receiving long-term care through Medicaid. These senior patients and their families have expanded choices through the ICN: most are in nursing homes, but about 30% have chosen to receive care in the comfort of their own homes.

Where are we nearly a year down the road from the ICN launch? A few weeks ago, I convened a meeting of Medicaid, the Department of Senior Services, nursing home owners and health care providers. Their reports were encouraging. According to Medicaid’s estimates, the ICN model has already saved the state $4 million — and Medicaid projects the savings to grow over the next few years.

In 2039, if trends hold, 42% of Alabamians will be 60 years or older. For the senior citizens who will need Medicaid’s assistance, it is imperative that we continue to modernize and innovate in the area of health care, especially for programs like Medicaid that are funded by the taxpayers.

Newton’s first law states that an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion along a straight line, unless it is acted upon by an external force — inertia, in a word. That is a concept that often applies to government programs and agencies. In this instance, the innovation of the Integrated Care Network represents the external force that is moving Medicaid to a sounder fiscal footing.

Greg Reed is the Alabama Senate Majority Leader, and represents Senate District 5, which is comprised of all or parts of Walker, Winston, Fayette, Tuscaloosa, and Jefferson counties.

2 hours ago

Ivey invites Alabamians to join as she lights Alabama’s official Christmas tree

Governor Kay Ivey has invited Alabamians to join her for the official state Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The program is scheduled for Friday, December 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the front steps of the Alabama State Capitol.

“I invite all Alabamians, friends, and neighbors to join us here at the Capitol for that special occasion. This is always a wonderful event and serves as such a great reminder of the spirit of hope that Christmas brings,” said Ivey in a news release.

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According to the release, Alabama’s 2019 Christmas Tree is a 40-foot-tall Eastern Red Cedar. It was grown on Mr. and Mrs. Ray Allen’s Farm in Bullock County. When lit, the tree will have around 37,000 lights strung on its branches. It will also be decorated with special bicentennial ornaments to celebrate Alabama’s 200th birthday.

At around 5:00 p.m. on Friday, the 151st Army National Guard Band will begin playing. At 5:30, the ceremony will begin. The program will also have a performance by the Forest Avenue Elementary School Choir.

Ivey will be joined in making remarks by commander and president of Air University at Maxwell Airforce Base Lieutenant General James Hecker and others.

The citizens assembled are invited to join the governor in counting down before she flips the switch to light the tree.

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

3 hours ago

Merry and bright: How Regions’ headquarters building lights became a holiday tradition

It’s a tradition that’s now over 40 years strong.

Every year, the Regions Center tower in Birmingham, Alabama, is transformed into a brilliant holiday display – with Christmas trees, a massive wreath and a giant stocking celebrating the season every evening.

The lights are visible for miles – from vistas along Red Mountain, to travelers crossing through town on nearby interstates, and to airline passengers about to land at the airport a few miles to the east.

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“Every year, we’re asked how we do it, and while we’ve made a couple updates over time, the process is still very similar to the way it was in the late 1970s,” explained Emilio Cerice, Senior Vice President of Corporate Real Estate for Regions Bank. “The lighting display didn’t begin until the late 70s, but it turned out, the stage was set for the display about 10 years earlier.”

While the building was under construction between 1968 and 1971, Cerice said a light tube was placed in a small area above each window starting on the fifth floor. Initially, the idea was to light the building in bright white every night. But the energy crisis of the 1970s brought that to an end.

“The history of using the lights as a Christmas display started after the energy crisis was over,” Cerice said. “Back then, the building was owned by First National Bank of Birmingham and a company called Sonat – or Southern Natural Gas. The details have been hard to pinpoint, but it’s been said that a Sonat executive was in Houston and saw a building that used its ‘curtain wall’ design – similar to what we have – for a Christmas display. That executive came back to Birmingham and led the effort to get a display here.”

Over time, the building has gone on to carry the AmSouth name; then, following the 2006 merger of AmSouth and Regions, the Regions name and its updated logo were placed atop the tower. But through it all, the holiday lights have remained.

“It’s something we look forward to every year – and it’s something the city looks forward to,” Cerice said. “In recent years, it’s been fun to watch social media and see people sharing creative photos of the building or sharing their memories of coming downtown to see the lights.”

Preparations for the display get underway around late summer or early fall each year.

“The images are created by placing red and green ‘gel sleeves’ over the white light tubes above each window,” Cerice said. “Crews operate with a grid showing the pattern of the display on each side of the building, and that lets them know which windows need which colors. Then, they change the display in February or March every year to the golfer image that we display during the Regions Tradition golf tournament. That one uses some different shades of green, as well as blue, so there’s a lot of changing and re-changing of the gel sleeves that takes place.”

Testing of the Christmas display takes place during the early morning hours in the days before Thanksgiving. If needed, any corrections are made. Then, at 5pm on the day after Thanksgiving, the display comes to life. It remains illuminated until midnight each evening through Dec. 31.

“If you’re near a window from the fifth floor and up when the display comes on each night, it’s very noticeable,” Cerice said. “A lot of people like to try to figure out where their office is in the tree, or the wreath, or whichever side of the building they’re on. We had a team that moved offices two years ago, and not long after they moved in, they looked at the lights above the windows and tried to figure out, ‘So where are we within the tree here?’ They compared the colors of the lights to a video of the building on YouTube and determined they were almost halfway up the tree in their new offices.”

Besides the holiday display and the golfer, the tower has hosted two other displays.

“In 1991, there was an American flag and the letters ‘USA’ in support of those serving during the Gulf War. Then, in 1996, there was an Olympic torch and the Olympic Rings when Summer Olympic soccer was being played at Legion Field,” Cerice said.

The Regions Center tower rises nearly 400 feet over 5th Avenue North at 20th Street North in downtown Birmingham. Some of the best views are from Birmingham’s Railroad Park, as well as from Vulcan Park on Red Mountain.

“Birmingham is our headquarters city. We’re proud to occupy a prominent spot in the city’s skyline,” Cerice said. “And we’re proud to carry on this tradition.”

(Courtesy of Regions Bank)

You’re invited!

The biggest birthday party in Alabama’s history is taking place on December 14, and you are invited! Join us in Montgomery for the grand finale celebration of our state’s 200th birthday.

Watch the parade, listen to concerts and performances, visit open houses and much more.

This is sure to be a day you don’t want to miss. The event is free to the public and lasts all day starting with an elaborate parade at 10:00 a.m. The parade will travel from Court Square Fountain in downtown Montgomery up Dexter Avenue to the State Capitol. There will be marching bands, city floats and unique displays of Alabama history on wheels, such as the USS Alabama and U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The parade is a great opportunity for families to enjoy the celebration together – and it’s only the beginning of a packed day. Following the parade, Governor Kay Ivey will dedicate Bicentennial Park. The afternoon will offer performances, exhibitions and open houses throughout downtown Montgomery. The day will conclude with a concert featuring popular musicians from Alabama and the history of Alabama presented in a never-before-seen way.

Visit Alabama 200 Finale for a complete rundown of the day’s events.

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6 hours ago

Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn: What a difference a week makes

Think back for a moment, if you will. Think back to the middle of last week, where all was right in Tuscaloosa and all was, well, on edge in Auburn.

Crimson Tide fans were confident about their team taking care of business in the Iron Bowl and once again watching their beloved head coach lead Bama into the College Football Playoffs. Auburn fans were hoping for the best — after all, the Iron Bowl was at Jordan-Hare Stadium and the Tigers were facing an Alabama team with a back-up quarterback. Still, many of the Auburn faithful had their head coach in mind — a coach, they thought, who could be a goner if he lost to the Tide.

Fast forward to today … whoa!

The coach they call “The GOAT” has been taking heat from national pundits, while Gus Malzahn is off the hot seat and relishing in the fact that he has beaten Nick Saban two of the last three years. Malzahn should be proud, as he’s the only active coach in the SEC who has beaten Saban more than once — in fact, Malzahn is 3-4 overall against the Alabama coach.

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Why the criticism of the man thought by millions to be the greatest coach in college football history?

Some national media talking heads feel the Nick Saban dynasty is starting to crumble. ESPN’s Paul Finebaum has been very critical of the coach on the network’s many platforms this week. Now, before you scream to yourself, “Who cares what that scrawny pencil-necked geek who has never played a down of football thinks?” I’m here to tell you that skinny Finebaum carries a lot of weight. His opinions are often peppered with inside info and truths that indeed pan out.

So, buy into Paul’s statements or discard them completely if you must, but here is what Finebaum said on ESPN: “We’re not saying that Saban is done, but we’re saying that this dynasty’s window is closing. It’s been a really disappointing season. He’s lost two of the last three to Clemson and now he’s lost two of the last three to Auburn. … He promised after a 28-point loss to Clemson that the Alabama factor would be re-established. Has anyone seen it? There’s no discipline … defense is where the problem is. The team against the last three top-20 opponents has given up 44, 46 and 48 points. That’s not the Alabama team I’m accustomed to.”

Paul certainly raises some good points. Perhaps you can liken the situation to fishing: when I catch a fish, I consider it luck; when I catch two fish very quickly, I consider it a pattern. Is there a pattern to Alabama’s recent setbacks? One pattern? To Paul’s point: against the last four top-20 opponents, the Crimson Tide defense has surrendered 34 points (Oklahoma), 44 points (Clemson), 46 points (LSU) and 48 points (Auburn). Does this mean the Bama dynasty is ending? Well, not so fast, Paul!

In our “what have you done for me lately?” world, let’s discuss what Nick Saban has done lately — say, over the last five years. Over that span, Saban is 65-6 — he’s played in four national championship games and won two of them. In fact, he’s won five of the last 10. This season is actually the first time since the playoffs began six years ago that Bama has failed to make the playoffs. It’s also the first time in six years that Bama has lost more than one game. Like I told a Bama fan the other day: “Man, you people lose two games and you want to drive your car into a ditch.”

Where Finebaum sees a pattern, I see a single football season that saw the Crimson Tide lose two games by a total of eight points — that as injuries plagued the team, from the pre-season departure of Dylan Moses to the departure a few weeks ago of Tua Tagovailoa. Are you a Bama fan? Sleep well tonight, because your team, and your coach, are just fine.

Now on to Gus Malzahn, a man who falling asleep doesn’t count sheep but rather counts X’s and O’s. The coach’s mind is full of more knowledge than you can imagine: a self-professed football nerd, if this man was your 8th-grade classmate, you’d be asking him if he could take your algebra test for you.

So how does this quiet and at times aloof head coach keep getting off the mat just when you think his days are numbered? With drive, with brilliance and with some Jordan-Hare Stadium magic, where he has beaten Saban in three of the last four meetings at home. When the Iron Bowl is played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, anything can, and usually does, happen. Example: 2013? The Prayer in Jordan-Hare followed by the Kick Six. 2017? Just when the heat was on, Malzahn beat Georgia and then Bama to grab a spot in the SEC Championship Game. And 2019? How about a pair of pick-sixes, an effective offense that we have not seen this season and a spot-on field goal kicker?

For all of Gus Malzahn’s critics, the blue-collar, “us against the world coach” comes up big just when he needs it most. And while those critics point to Malzahn’s predictable play-calling, his refusal to change his offensive philosophy and his smoke and mirror formations which they say mask a talent base that is not up to snuff, Malzahn continues to walk his fans back from the ledge with clutch victories.

Auburn fans will tell you that watching football can be harmful to the heart because the team’s ups and downs certainly mess with the blood pressure. But after a win like Tiger fans witnessed last weekend, they’ll take it, and look forward to the next game that the Tigers play. And their coach? Let Saban eat at Ruth’s Chris, Gus eats at Waffle House.

Who’da thunk it? Nick Saban knocked off his throne, while Gus Malzahn wears the Iron Bowl crown. What’s next? Bowl games for both teams and then preparations for the 2020 college football season. What’s on tap for next season? If you root for Bama, I wouldn’t count on the team’s success drying up. And if you root for Auburn? That team’s success is not drying up, but rather warming up.

I’m not sure what we will see from these coaches next season, but I do know this about 2019: what a difference a week makes!

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.