The Wire

  • Black Bear Sightings Continue to Increase in Alabama

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    Add Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair counties to the growing list of black bear sightings in Alabama in 2018. In recent years, bears have also been recorded in Chambers, Elmore, Jefferson, Lee, Macon and Tallapoosa counties. These recent sightings are more evidence of the state’s expanding black bear population.

    Biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say the increase in sightings may be due to a combination of factors including changes in bear distribution, habitat fragmentation, seasonal movement and the summer mating season. However, most spring and summer bear sightings are of juvenile males being pushed out of their previous ranges by their mothers and other adult males.

    Historically, a small population of black bears have remained rooted in Mobile and Washington counties. Baldwin, Covington and Escambia counties on the Florida border host yet another population of bears. In northeast Alabama, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population.

    “While seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, it is no cause for alarm,” said Marianne Hudson, Conservation Outreach Specialist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “There has never been a black bear attack on a human in Alabama.”

    Black bears are typically secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. Occasionally, a curious bear will explore a human-populated area in search of food.

    “If you are lucky enough to see a bear, simply leave it alone,” Hudson said.

  • Rep. Byrne Releases Statement on Russia

    From a Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this morning in Helsinki.

    Congressman Byrne said: “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily. They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

  • Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Season Closes July 22

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division (MRD) announces the closure of Alabama state waters to the harvest of red snapper by private anglers and state-licensed commercial party boats at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 22, 2018. The quota of 984,291 pounds issued under NOAA Fisheries’ Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) is expected to be met by the closure date.

    “Alabama anglers fished extremely hard on the good weather days during the season,” said Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon. “That level of effort, coupled with larger average-sized fish harvested this year as compared to last year, resulted in a daily harvest rate two times higher than 2017, which prompted an earlier than anticipated closure.

    “The purpose of the EFP was to demonstrate Alabama’s ability to establish a season and monitor landings within a fixed quota and I think we have shown we can do that,” said Bannon.

    Anglers are reminded of the following:

    — Possession of red snapper in Alabama waters while state waters are closed is prohibited regardless of where the fish were harvested.
    — Alabama anglers may fish in federal waters off the coast of Alabama (outside of 9 nm) and land in a state that is open to the landing of red snapper, but they must adhere to the open state’s rules and not transit in Alabama state waters with red snapper on board.
    — The season for federally-permitted charter for-hire vessels will close at 12:01 a.m. July 22.

1 year ago

Supreme Court will not hear Alabama Democratic Conference’s challenge of 2010 campaign finance law

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear a challenge by the Alabama Democratic Conference of a 2010 law prohibiting the transfer of funds between political action committees.

The challenge by the Alabama Democratic Conference, which is a predominantly African-American organization, was that the restriction on transferring money between PACs violated freedom of expression and free speech under the U.S. Constitution.

The impetus for the law was to prevent the hiding of contributions by shifting them around through multiple political action committees.

Last year, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld the law, holding that it does not violate free speech and is a legitimate means of combating corruption. The Alabama Democratic Conference appealed the ruling, and the Supreme Court has now said it won’t hear the challenge.

1 year ago

Alabama Democratic Chair: Trump deserves a chance to prove himself

Ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, one of the top Democrat voices in Alabama is urging voters to give the incoming president a chance.

Joe Reed, the controversial chair of the Alabama Democratic Conference, told WKRG that judgment calls on Trump should wait until he takes office.

“He deserves a chance to prove himself and we’ll see,” said Reed.

“I know a lot of Alabama voted for him. They voted for him because they say he’s conservative. I don’t buy a New York Yankee to be conservative now if you want to know the truth about it. I think he’s wild,” he said. “Maybe before he leaves office somebody can get Mr. Trump’s attention on realities on what America’s about, on realities of what people are about.”

Other well-known Alabama Democrats have agreed that the President-Elect deserves the benefit of the doubt going into his administration.

“I was disappointed that my candidate didn’t win, number one. But like I said, it’s over now, he’s gonna be the President of the United States,” said Charles Barkley, an Auburn grad. “We have to respect the office, and we have to give him a chance. That’s the bottom line.”

“You know, somebody always loses an election,” Barkley added. “We’ve been fortunate we won the past couple with President Obama. We didn’t win this one, but like I said, I respect the office of President of the United States, and we have to give him a chance. Everything he’s said in the past, that’s water under the bridge. And we have to give him a chance, and we have to support him because he’s the President of the United States of America.”

2 years ago

Judge smacks “shadowy” Alabama Democrats as ethics law is upheld

(Capital Research)
(Photo: Capital Research)
(Photo: Capital Research)

Proponents of Alabama’s ethics laws just scored a major victory, as a federal appellate court ruled on Tuesday that the state’s ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers is constitutional.

The decision came after a lawsuit, championed by the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC), claimed that a ban on transfers between political action committees would hinder freedom of speech and make it harder for the group to raise money.

Prior to the law’s enactment, the ADC raised “about half its funds” from PAC-to-PAC transfers, court documents noted.

The problem with PAC-to-PAC transfers is that they have long been used as a funnel for “dark money”, obscuring the source of political contributions and making it nearly impossible to trace the origins of funding for a candidate or cause. For this reason, a panel of three judges on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the current ethics rule should be upheld.

An opinion penned by U.S. Circuit Judge Beverly Martin, who was one of the presiding judges over the case, sheds more light on the decision. She affirmed that the ban does not limit the ADC’s ability to raise funds, but rather “only limits the ADC’s ability to raise money through a specific type of donation—PAC-to-PAC transfers.”

She also included some specific concerns over transparency issues within the Alabama Democratic Conference.

“Because of the ADC’s organizational structure, PAC donations to the ADC give rise to concerns about shadowy campaign contribution activity,” Martin wrote. “Under the PAC-to-PAC transfer ban, contributions to the ADC can no longer pass through PACs in a way that could obscure the true source of the funds.”

The law banning PAC-to-PAC transfers was passed during a special session in 2010 as part of a sweeping package of ethics reforms. At the time, the GOP-led measure earned bipartisan support, despite opposition from once-powerful groups like the Alabama Education Association.

Attorney General Luther Strange praised the decision as “a significant victory in Alabama’s ongoing fight against public corruption.”

“The PAC-to-PAC transfer ban has been instrumental in limiting campaign corruption while adding greater transparency to the elections process,” Strange said in a statement. “I am pleased the federal appeals court upheld the constitutionality of this important law.”

3 years ago

Bentley and Clinton spar over whether Alabama Republicans are racists

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

HOOVER, Ala. — Speaking to the predominantly black Alabama Democratic Conference on Friday, Hillary Clinton slammed Alabama Republicans for requiring proof of citizenship to vote and for shuttering driver’s license offices in the wake of state budget cuts. The Democratic presidential frontrunner insisted that both issues were examples of Republicans trying to return Alabama to its “Jim Crow past.”

“This is wrong,” Clinton said. “Fifty years after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and John Lewis bled, it is hard to believe we are back having this same debate about whether or not every American gets a chance to vote and exercise his rights.

“We have to defend the most fundamental right in our democracy, the right to vote,” she continued. “No one in this state, no one, should ever forget the history that enabled generations of people left out and left behind to finally be able to vote.”

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley pushed back against Clinton’s claims, suggesting the former secretary of state is promoting a false racial narrative in an effort to advance her personal political agenda.

“It seems Mrs. Clinton isn’t as well versed in Alabama’s budgeting process as she is in exploiting a situation for her personal political gain,” Bentley said. “If she were, she would know the closure of 31 Alabama Driver’s License offices is based on a shortfall in funds appropriated by the state Legislature to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. To claim this decision is based on race is absolutely not true. Suggesting otherwise should be considered an effort to promote a political agenda, an area where Mrs. Clinton has often clearly demonstrated her expertise.”

Alabama’s photo voter ID law, which requires voters to present any one of fifteen forms of valid identification, went into effect in 2014.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has assured voters his office will work tirelessly to provide free voter IDs across the state, with a special focus on those counties now without a satellite license office.

“The closure of 31 DMV offices will not leave citizens without a place to receive the required I.D. card to vote,” said Secretary Merrill. “All 67 counties in Alabama have a Board of Registrars that issue photo voter I.D. cards. If for some reason those citizens are not able to make it to the Board of Registrars, we’ll bring our mobile I.D. van and crew to that county. By October 31 our office will have brought the mobile I.D. van to every county in Alabama at least once.”

The state government’s efforts have not, however, stopped Democrats both inside and outside of Alabama from seizing the opportunity to make a political statement.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, Alabama’s lone Democratic congressional representative, even called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Bentley administration’s decision to shutter rural DMVs.

“My office sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for a full, and thorough investigation into the decision to close 31 driver’s license offices across Alabama,” Sewell said last week. “This ill-conceived decision left 8 out of the 14 counties in my district – which is the only majority minority district in the state – without a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue an Alabama driver’s license. The real issue here is about access. Closing these license offices will severely limit access to the most popular form of photo identification used in voting – a state issued driver’s license.”

Jesse Jackson also flew into the state and called Alabama “disgraceful.”

Gov. Bentley dismissed the criticism and said Mrs. Clinton in particular should focus on issues she would actually have to deal with if she became President.

“Alabama will continue to work toward solutions to solve our budget shortfalls,” he said. “Meanwhile Mrs. Clinton can work to solve our country’s $18 Trillion deficit, in the unfortunate event she is elected President.”

3 years ago

Hillary fakes southern accent during campaign stop in Alabama (Video)

Hillary Clinton speaks to the Alabama Democratic Conference in Hoover, Ala. (Photo: Screenshot)
Hillary Clinton speaks to the Alabama Democratic Conference in Hoover, Ala. (Photo: Screenshot)
Hillary Clinton speaks to the Alabama Democratic Conference in Hoover, Ala. (Photo: Screenshot)

HOOVER, Ala. — Speaking at the Alabama Democratic Conference convention over the weekend, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton delivered a familiar stump speech with a somewhat less familiar accent.

The Illinois native, who was schooled in Massachusetts and Connecticut before marrying an Arkansan and spending much of her adult life in Washington and New York, suddenly sounded like a Southerner while addressing the assembled crowd in Hoover.

“There is a pattern of Republicans getting us into economic messes and Democratic presidents having to come in and clean them up,” Clinton said with a folksy drawl that seemed to come and go throughout her remarks. “You know, when my husband became president, thanks to a lot of you in this room, I remember after that election in ’92 him saying to me, ‘It’s so much worse than they told us.’ …And then we got another Republican president, and boy, did he leave a mess… President Obama doesn’t get the credit he deserves for saving the American economy from falling into a great depression.”

(Article resumes after the video)

(Video above: Hillary Clinton speaks at campaign stop in Alabama)

The Washington Examiner noted this is not the first time Clinton has tried to channel her inner Southerner while addressing voters in the Yellowhammer State. While running for President in 2007, Clinton recited a hymn by Rev. James Cleveland with a thick accent while speaking at a church in Selma, saying, “I don’t feel no ways tired,” as the crowd cheered her on.

“Hillary Clinton has started faking a Southern drawl to speak to Southerners, just as she did during her last presidential run eight years ago,” wrote the Examiner’s Curt Mills, who also provided an explanation for why Clinton is making a special effort to win over Southerners.

“With Bernie Sanders narrowing her lead or overtaking her in early caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton is hoping for a ‘Southern firewall,'” Mills explained. “She wants to win in South Carolina and then in the many Southern states holding primaries on ‘Super Tuesday,’ where Sanders is polling much worse. That could mean a lot more of these type of videos, capturing her speaking in a voice she did not learn during her childhood in Illinois and schooling in New England.”

(Video below: Hillary Clinton speaks in a thick Southern drawl while addressing a crowd in Selma, Alabama)

5 years ago

Federal court says new Alabama legislative districts not discriminatory

wooden gavel and books on wooden table,on brown background

A federal appeals court issued a ruling on Friday that the new districts for the Alabama House and Senate do not violate federal law.

In 2011, the Alabama legislature approved the new district lines to keep up with population shifts seen in the 2010 census.

After the U.S. Department of Justice approved the new districts, the Legislative Black Caucus filed a suit under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution claiming the new districts are racially discriminatory.

In August, Attorney General Luther Strange’s office provided evidence and legal arguments to a panel of three federal judges. The court concluded in a 2-to-1 vote on Friday that the new districts did not discriminate and did not violate the Voting Rights Act nor the United States Constitution.

The new districts will be used in the 2014 legislative races.

“I am committed to protecting every citizen’s right to vote for equal representation in state government,” Strange said in response to the ruling. “ I have believed from the beginning of this process that Alabama complied with all legal and constitutional requirements in adopting the new district lines, and I am pleased that the court agreed with our position that the new legislative districts are consistent with federal law.”

“This was a complex case that required skilled and talented legal counsel, and it has been a top priority for my office,” he continued. “I am proud of the evidence we presented and grateful for the attorneys who helped achieve this successful result.”

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said he’s hopeful the court’s ruling will put to rest any remaining concerns over the new districts.

“This judgement reaffirms that our approach to redistricting was in line with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, something that the department of justice also affirmed,” Marsh told Yellowhammer. “It is our hope that there will be no further delays so that voters may be informed of any district change in advance of the June primary.”

“We made it clear from the outset of the redistricting process that we were committed to seeking public input from across the state and utilizing the federal census data in a manner that resulted in fairly drawn legislative districts that fully complied with the law,” House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, added. “Not only was our plan cleared by President Obama’s Justice Department, it also has more majority-minority districts than the reapportionment plan that the Democrats drafted a decade ago. Today’s decision simply affirms our efforts followed the letter of the law, as we knew all along.”

(3:45 p.m. — this story was updated to include a comment from Sen. Del Marsh.
4:44 p.m. — this story was updated to include a comment from House Speaker Mike Hubbard)

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