1 week ago

Roby: ‘I have cast every vote with the guiding principle that Alabama always comes first’

MONTGOMERY — Congresswoman Martha Roby (AL-02) on Wednesday delivered a public speech and spoke to the media for the first time since announcing that she will not seek reelection to a sixth term in 2020.

Appearing before an overflow, hometown crowd at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs & Issues Breakfast, Roby seemed at peace with her decision.

However, in a deeply heartfelt speech differing from her normal central focus on policies and the issues of the day, Roby expressed her continued passion for serving the people of Alabama’s Second Congressional District — and emphasized how appreciative she and her family are that she has been able to serve, starting with her time on the Montgomery City Council.

“I’m just so overwhelmed and grateful. … It’s been 16 years since Riley and I prayerfully considered putting my name on the ballot for the very first time,” she said. “Never, never could we have imagined that by doing so, and by serving on Montgomery City Council, would that prelude us [serving] five terms in the United States House of Representatives.”

Holding back tears, Roby added, “I don’t have the words to adequately express how deeply thankful I am for the confidence that the people of Alabama’s second district have placed in me to represent them … since January 5, 2011.”

She said after much prayer and consideration, it was simply the right time for her family “to close this wonderful chapter” in their life.

Roby then reflected on some of the highlights of her time in Congress thus far, including one overarching common thread.

“Throughout my time in Congress, I have cast every vote with the guiding principle that Alabama always comes first,” she stressed. “Alabama’s priorities have been my priorities, and together we have been able to deliver some accomplishments.”

She outlined that some of her proudest achievements include work done to support the military, veterans, the agricultural industry, the unborn and general constituent services.

One of Roby’s legacies in Congress will certainly include helping bring the F-35 to Montgomery. She celebrated this in her remarks, as did Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Willie Durham when introducing her.

“[T]he River Region’s military footprint continues to lead our nation and our dedicated service members into the future,” Roby lauded, before emphasizing confidence that Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass will continue to play an integral national security role for many years to come.

On her pro-life beliefs, a choked-up Roby told the crowd, “By now, I hope it’s no secret to anybody in this room that I am unapologetically pro-life. And I’ve used this platform that’s been given to me in Congress to speak out on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Roby said she will continue fighting tirelessly for these priorities and others until her very last second in Congress and added that America’s immigration system is something she is particularly focused on until the end of her term.

“We face some real challenges in a divided Congress,” Roby acknowledged, before going into a list of current and upcoming priorities.

“For starters, I believe it is absolutely critical that Congress address our nation’s broken immigration system,” she remarked. “And you all know, I’ve said it since 2010 — we absolutely must secure our border.”

She then said continuing to fund the nation’s defense adequately and on-time remains a priority for her. Thanks to the historic leadership of Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), Congress last year passed the defense appropriations package through regular order and on-time for the first time in a decade. Roby wants to continue this type of important appropriations work, especially for the military, as she serves on the House Appropriations Committee. She also stressed that she wants to avoid any more government shutdowns, as they harm the Department of Defense and federal employees and contractors in her district and throughout the state.

“I believe that our military, our farmers, our veterans and so many others who depend on certainty with government funding deserve nothing less than for us to do our job — and do it on time,” Roby added.

The congresswoman then stated that passing a federal infrastructure plan remains a priority for her, saying she wants to work with the Trump administration and her colleagues in Congress to accomplish this bipartisan goal. Roby said roadway, railway and waterway infrastructure is critical for the economy, including ports such as the Port of Mobile.

“We have not done enough in this country to properly maintain our infrastructure,” she said.

‘There are retirements every cycle’

Following her remarks, Roby spoke at length to members of the press, answering a bevy of questions, including several slightly different variations of why she is not running for reelection. She dismissed speculation from national — and some in-state — commentators that her decision was indicative of the current political climate.

Roby underlined that her relationship with the Trump administration is good and that her decision had nothing to do with being in the minority in the House.

“It wouldn’t matter who was president, who was speaker of the House,” she added of her decision to retire from Congress.

“This happens every election cycle — there are retirements every cycle,” Roby outlined. “I know that the commentators on the news want to make it into something, but I would say for each individual member of Congress, their reason is different [on why they choose to continue serving or not].”

Roby then said that during the 2018 election cycle, she “made it very clear” going into this current term that she was going to be supportive of President Donald Trump and “everything” she could to advance shared priorities.

“When the president is successful, we’re all successful,” she continued. “There are policies that I share, priorities that I share with this administration, and I’ve done everything I can to make sure to get those priorities across the finish line to the president’s desk.”

“I have a good working relationship with the White House. And there are times that I agree, there are times that I disagree. But, again, I want what’s best for the American people,” Roby advised.

Saying she has no specific future political plans, “the one thing” Roby is promising is that her name will not appear on the ballot in 2020.

‘Toxic environment’

One call to action that Roby said applies to elected officials and members of the public alike pertains to the diminished level of civil discourse in the country, particularly through social media.

“The way we communicate with each other now, even as opposed to 10 years ago, has created a toxic environment — one in which our civil discourse is the worst that I have ever seen it,” Roby emphasized.

“You can sit on a phone or a computer and you can type out anything you want to say without consequence,” she explained. “You know, there’s a lot of people that I run into from time-to-time — they think that I don’t read their Twitter, but I do. And the way they act to my face when they’re looking in my eyeballs is completely different than what they’re willing to say on social media. So, I just think we all have a responsibility…”

Roby expressed hope that the “pendulum” can swing back the other way as far as discourse goes. She said this is key “if we hope to accomplish anything.”

“Because if we’re shouting down at every single person that doesn’t agree with our politics or our position, we’re never going to get anything done,” Roby lamented. “I mean, I have strong convictions about the things that I believe in, but I’ve got to be willing to listen — to at least try to understand where my colleagues are coming from.”

Asked by an Alabama Media Group reporter whether “President Trump sets the tone for that (the level of discourse),” Roby said the responsibility is shared across party lines and societal roles.

“Well, I think that there’s [negative] discourse on both sides of the aisle,” she responded. “Oftentimes people want to point the finger at one person or one tweet, but I think that there’s plenty of blame to go around in terms of the way we communicate with each other. As leaders, in office, we have even more of the responsibility to choose our words carefully. But I do think that there’s responsibility on both sides of the aisle, and quite frankly, in every household in America.”

You can view a tweet thread from Roby’s appearance here.

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

2 hours ago

Alabama postpones 50th anniversary tour over singer’s health

Country band Alabama says it is postponing the remainder of its 50th anniversary tour as lead singer Randy Owen battles health complications.

The group announced Wednesday that the 69-year-old Owen is suffering from migraines and vertigo, and doctors say he needs more time to recover.

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The news comes after a string of already-canceled shows due to the singer’s health.

Bass player and vocalist Teddy Gentry wrote in a statement that though he and the rest of the band are disappointed, Owen’s recovery is the priority.

The 50-city tour was scheduled through Nov. 23, where it would have ended in Salisbury, Maryland.

Rescheduled dates will be released in the coming weeks.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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How Alabama’s Iron Tribe Fitness sets the standard for group workouts

Iron Tribe Fitness, founded in Birmingham, Alabama, is leading the way for workout programs across the nation. Ranked as one of the top five workouts in the nation, this 45-minute HIIT group workout class offers participants exciting and effective workouts in a time frame that works with any kind of schedule.

Recently, the gym hosted Coach 201, a weekend training session for their instructors in their downtown Birmingham corporate location. This session brought together all of Iron Tribe’s local coaching staff to review training guidelines and program goals.

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In hosting this training, Iron Tribe is living out their core value of delivering a consistent experience. Forrest Walden, Iron Tribe’s founder and CEO says this training session taps into the heart of what the program does — which is creating communities that change lives.

“It’s always great to see the entire team come together to fellowship and dive deep into why we do what we do every day,” Walden said.

During the training, Iron Tribe coaches were given the opportunity to learn more about the classes they teach and strengthen their relationships with each other. As a result, the coaches are empowered to return to their home gyms and lead their athletes with renewed skills and confidence.

“Kyle Sottung, our director of product development, is extremely thorough and talented at what he does. To see him lead our Birmingham coaches is always such a blessing. Our coaches are more empowered now than ever to pour into the Birmingham community,” Walden stated.

According to Walden, Iron Tribe is successful because the program is more than just a workout, but a way to strengthen the communities they serve.

“Iron Tribe stands on a list off essential core beliefs. These beliefs steer what we do every day, both inside and outside the gym. It’s our hope that by continuing to develop ourselves that we can be exceptional coaches and role models within our communities,” Walden said.

Ready to get in the best shape of your life? Learn more by visiting irontribefitness.com.

2 hours ago

Limestone County sheriff indicted, arrested on 13 financial theft, ethics charges

Attorney General Steve Marshall on Thursday announced that Limestone County Sheriff Michael Anthony Blakely has been indicted and arrested on several ethics charges.

Blakely, 68, surrendered to authorities and was later released on a $49,000 bond, according to the attorney general’s office.

The indictment includes 13 charges that cover a range of conduct over multiple years.

“Public officials are entrusted to perform their duties honestly and above reproach,” Marshall said in a statement. “When that bond of trust is broken, our society suffers undue harm. My office—working with our federal and state partners—is committed to ensuring that the violators of the public trust be held accountable under the law.”

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Specifically, the first four counts charge Blakely with four separate thefts from his campaign account that total $11,000.

Counts five through 10 charge him with theft or ethics charges stemming from his illegally taking money from Limestone County funds, including from the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Fund.

Count 11 charges Blakely with soliciting a $1,000 wire transfer from a subordinate other than in the ordinary course of business.

Finally, counts 12 and 13 charge the sheriff with using his official position or office to acquire interest-free loans. Count 12 charges Blakely with using his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans in the form of a $50,000 cashier’s check and/or a $22,189.68 credit. Count 13 charges Blakely with using his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans by taking money from a safe that was used to store the Limestone County inmates’ personal funds.

“I would like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its investigative assistance in this case,” Marshall added. “Anyone with information regarding corrupt practices by public officials is encouraged to contact the Alabama Attorney General’s Office at reportcorruption@ago.state.al.us.”

The case is being prosecuted by the state attorney general’s Special Prosecutions Division.

“While the overwhelming majority of public officials serve honorably, those who corrupt the operations of government rob their communities—their friends and neighbors—of the fundamental right to honest government, and we must insist on absolute honesty, integrity and trustworthiness from everyone,” FBI Birmingham Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. commented.

“I want the citizens of north Alabama to know that if they have information about potential wrongdoing by a public official or law enforcement officer, the FBI wants to hear from you,” he advised. “If you have information, call my office’s Public Corruption Tip Line at (844) 404-TIPS, share what you know, and join in the fight against corruption.”

Blakely, as is the case with all indictments, is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

UPDATE 1:20 p.m.

Blakely’s attorneys held a press conference emphasizing that he will plead not guilty to all counts, per WHNT.

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

3 hours ago

NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace: Talladega Superspeedway renovations ‘a whole different level’ — Expect to see other facilities follow its lead

On Wednesday at the Talladega Superspeedway, former NASCAR great Rusty Wallace, the 1989 champion of the sanctioning body’s premier series, took part in a tour with members of the media that showcased the finishing touches being put in the facility’s “Transformation” renovations with its October fall race weekend fast approaching.

The $50 million “Transformation” project comes as Talladega Superspeedway celebrates its 50th anniversary. Among the improved amenities are the Talladega Garage Experience, which is made up of the Open Air Club. Also included are a new Race Operations tower high above the track’s tri-oval and the new Pit Road Club that offers race fans a close-up view of team pit stops.

On Wednesday, Wallace appeared on Huntsville radio’s WVNN to discuss the facility’s overhaul and other changes to NASCAR over the past few decades.

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“These guys have taken it to a whole different level,” Wallace said. “I got there today, and we’re talking about all brand-new garage areas and they made it so all the fans can come down in the garage and stand literally three-foot in front of the race cars, watch the race cars pull in, watch the drivers get out, watch them run their motors, watch all the behind the scenes stuff. And that’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in our sport at all.”

“It adds some aspects to the new builds – the Daytona build, Phoenix, Ariz., Richmond, Va.,” he continued. “And those are fantastic. But Talladega is probably the best I’ve seen. I mean, you literally – you’re a fan. You can stand right in front of that car. It’s neat having that much access.”

When asked how it compared to another time in NASCAR when things were much more accessible, Wallace explained this offered an organization that that era did not provide.

“What it does is it organizes a lot better,” Wallace explained. “There’s places to watch. There are ways to watch. They’re even telling the pit crews where they can put their big toolboxes that they operate out of so it won’t obstruct the view of a fan that has come down there to see these cars.’

Wallace also touted the new 35,000-square foot Talladega Social Club with its 41-foot television and 71-foot wide bar, which was adjacent to the garage area.

The 1989 champion said he expected other NASCAR facilities around the country to follow Talladega’s lead.

“I think you’re going to see all these facilities around the country trying to keep up the facilities and make them the best you can,” he said. “If you ask Rusty Wallace, ‘Hey, do you want it hard or easy to sit inside of a race track,’ I’m going to tell them I want it easy. Do I want to go inside with the air conditioner when it is 100 degrees outside, I’m going to tell you yes. That’s the reason I like these new facilities they’ve got.”

Access to drivers and internet access also compliment the new facility, according to Wallace.

The track, along with its parent company, International Speedway Corporation, announced last year it’s “Transformation,” an approximate $50 million redevelopment that is part of ISC’s long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes.

Full completion of the modernized project is anticipated for October. For ticket information for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 and Sugarlands Shine 250 doubleheader NASCAR Playoffs weekend, October 11-13, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

4 hours ago

Alabama-made ULA rocket powers another GPS satellite into orbit

Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA) conducted its 135th mission Thursday morning when it powered yet another Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite into its targeted orbit.

The GPS III Magellan, built by Lockheed Martin, will enable the U.S. Air Force to continue modernizing the nation’s worldwide navigation network with improved accuracy, better anti-jam resiliency and a new signal for civil users.

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GPS satellites are frequent payload into space. Today’s launch was the 73rd GPS payload powered by ULA.

Of the 81 Air Force satellites in orbit, 34 are GPS satellites.

This fact recently led former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to quip, “The blue dot on your phone is not provided by your cellphone company; it comes from the United States Air Force.”

She elaborated that the Air Force provides GPS coordinates for about 1 billion people every day and enables an $80 billion piece of our economy. With its satellites, the Air Force takes pictures, gathers intelligence, facilitates global communication, monitors weather and conducts the critical task of providing timing signals for the New York Stock Exchange and every ATM in America.

This was the final flight for ULA’s Delta IV Medium rocket. The powerful Delta IV Heavy, with its three common booster cores, will continue to fly U.S. government missions.

The Delta IV’s main engine, manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne, consumed nearly a ton of fuel per second as it pushed the rocket in flight.

ULA’s 1.6 million square-foot manufacturing facility in Decatur is the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Watch the launch:

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer News