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.

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

The voter-ID fracas in Alabama is much ado about nothing (Opinion)

(Photo: Flickr)
(Photo: Flickr)

This op-ed was originally published by National Review Online.

By Hans A. von Spakovsky

Many on the left are in a ferment over Alabama’s closure of some part-time Department of Motor Vehicles offices. It’s being done for budgetary reasons, but liberals are claiming it’s being done to raise a “barrier for poor and minority voters” in getting an ID to vote, according to the Washington Post. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton said that “it’s a blast from the Jim Crow past” and Jesse Jackson claimed that “this new Jim Crow isn’t subtle.”

It’s really a sign of how desperate critics of voter-ID laws are that they would raise such inflammatory, ridiculous claims over a budget issue that has nothing to do with race, Jim Crow, or discrimination. After all, they’ve been steadily losing their fight against voter ID in the courts, with only a few exceptions, and in the realm of public opinion.

Alabama’s new voter-ID law for both in-person and absentee voting went into effect last year. Despite the outcries that it would “suppress” votes, there have been no problems or complaints that anyone has been unable to vote because of the new requirement. It’s been the same in all of the other states, such as Georgia and Indiana, that have implemented such ID laws. I’ve written numerous papers looking at turnout data in states after ID laws became effective — ID laws have no discernible effect on decreasing or preventing turnout.

Alabama has 44 driver’s-license offices throughout the state. It apparently also had 31 satellite offices that were open only part-time and that accounted for less than 5 percent of the driver’s licenses issued each year. Because of the budget passed by the state legislature, Alabama’s state government had to “allocate scarce limited resources in Fiscal Year 2016,” according to a letter sent by Governor Robert Bentley to Representative Terri Sewell (D., Ala). So the state government decided to close these satellite offices. Sewell is one of the critics whose “impulsive, ill-informed” comments about that decision were, Governor Bentley says, “based on irresponsible media reports.”

What all of the media and critics missed or deliberately ignored is that, in addition to being able to use a driver’s license to meet the voter-ID requirement, you can get a free voter ID in every single county in the state. In addition to DMV offices, the secretary of state offers free voter IDs in all 67 counties through the local election registrar.

Furthermore, as Governor Bentley points out, those satellite offices being closed are typically “located in the county buildings where the registrars and probate judges offices are located.” So individuals who would have used one of the part-time satellite DMV offices to get an ID will be able to simply walk to another office – in the same building — to get the ID they need for voting. And that is supposed to be the reimposition of Jim Crow?

Alabama even provides a free birth certificate or marriage license if you need it to get an ID. And if you can’t access a polling place because you are disabled or elderly, you don’t have to have an ID to vote by absentee ballot. Additionally, Alabama will continue to provide “mobile units to register and develop photo identification cards to those who need it throughout the state, and who may find themselves limited by lack of transportation,” according to Governor Bentley.

Finally, none of the critics mention that, in addition to driver’s licenses and the specially issued voter-ID cards, you can vote in Alabama also using an ID issued by any state or the federal government — a passport; a local, state, or federal-government ID; a student ID issued by any private or public Alabama college; and a military or tribal ID.

Jesse Jackson is headed to Alabama to protest what he calls an effort “to suppress the vote, skewed to discriminate against minorities.” And he is demanding a Justice Department investigation, although the only thing the Civil Rights Division lawyers would have to investigate is how many additional steps a voter will have to take to walk to the registrar’s office in the county government building to get an ID.

How many extra steps would it take to violate the Voting Rights Act in the view of the Obama Justice Department? Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is an Alabama native and a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

3 years ago

Jesse Jackson coming to Alabama to fight Drivers License office closures

Jesse Jackson (Video screenshot)

Jesse Jackson (Video screenshot)
Jesse Jackson (Video screenshot)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Jesse Jackson will be traveling through Alabama Wednesday, condemning the state’s closure of 31 part-time satellite Drivers License offices, many of which are in counties with majority-minority populations.

“It puts Alabama in a disgraceful posture again,” Jackson told WBRC.

The Alabama Black Caucus announced that Jackson will appear at Bethel Baptist Missionary Baptist Church in Pratt City at 9 a.m. before traveling to the Alabama State House for an event at 2 p.m..

While many Democrats and activists, including presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have blasted the closures as racist in practice, if not in intention, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) director Spencer Collier have maintained the decision was based simply on which offices served the fewest drivers.

Though Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill assured voters his office would work relentlessly to provide free non-driver voter IDs across the state, with a special focus on those counties now without a satellite license office, Jackson and many others have seized the situation to make a political statement.

“Alabama is making too much progress to take a radical step back on the right to vote because the fact that you have the right to vote is what made it possible to have new industry coming to south,” said Jackson. “What you have is the new south under attack by acts such as this.”

“Alabama passed a bill requiring for the first time a photo ID for voting, hitting African-Americans, the poor, the young and the old disproportionately,” wrote Jackson in an op-ed published by the Chicago Sun-Times. “Now Alabama is using a budget squeeze to shut down 31 satellite offices that issue driver’s licenses, the most popular form of voter ID. This new Jim Crow isn’t subtle.”

Jackson’s comments are not the first time the former Civil Rights leader has attacked the Bentley administration. In 2014 he likened Bentley’s refusal to expand Medicaid to Gov. George Wallace’s infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door.”

“Wallace blocked the school door based on race,” Jackson said. “[Bentley is] blocking the hospital door based upon class. Blacks were locked out of the schools, and black and whites have been locked out of access to medical care, and he should be judged as such.”

In addition to Drivers Licenses the following, unexpired, unrevoked forms of identification are acceptable at polling places as well:

Nondriver ID, Alabama Photo Voter ID card, State Issued ID, Federal Issued ID, US Passport, Employee ID from the Federal Government, State of Alabama, County, Municipality, Board or other entity of Alabama, Student or employee ID from a public of private college or university in the State of Alabama, Military ID, or a Tribal ID.

4 years ago

Alabama progressives warn blacks to vote or face silencing, targeting and ‘Klan’ events

Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma), President Emeritus of the Alabama New South Coalition
Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma), President Emeritus of the Alabama New South Coalition

The Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC), whose stated purpose is “to promote the general welfare of all people through independent focused organizations dedicated to progressive ideals of freedom, justice and democracy,” appears to be working to accomplish those goals through a simple method — fear.

The group is disseminating a mailer to black households around the state warning them that if they do not vote, the state will be controlled by “extremists” who will take away their “right to speak,” continuously conduct drug raids “only in the Black community,” and “honor klansmen,” among other things.

(Click image to enlarge)
New South Coalition

Background on the Alabama New South Coalition

ANSC was founded in Birmingham in 1986 and featured Jesse Jackson as its first convention speaker. One of its founders was Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma), who continues to serve as the group’s president emeritus. Sen. Vivian Figures (D-Mobile), the current minority leader in the Alabama senate, also serves on the group’s board of officers.

Sanders has frequently used similar racially charged campaign tactics in the past.

In 2010 he warned voters in a robocall that Alabama would go “back to the cotton fields of Jim Crow days” if Republicans rose to power.

In 2013, Sanders joined Louis Farrakhan in leading a mass protest across Alabama of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

This election cycle, a sister organization of the ANSC encouraged its members to take advantage of Alabama’s open primary system to swing Republican elections, in spite of having endorsed a straight Democratic ticket in years past. Their efforts came up short, apparently leading them to return to these more familiar efforts to drive voters to the polls.

With very little drama at the top of the ticket, voter turnout on Tuesday is expected to be low. ANSC is likely hoping their latest tactics will swing some close elections as a result of Republicans sitting at home thinking their vote won’t matter.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about voting in Alabama

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Bentley dismisses Jesse Jackson’s accusations of class warfare in Alabama

Gov. Robert Bentley (Photo: Yellowhammer)
Gov. Robert Bentley (Photo: Yellowhammer)

In a meeting with the Alabama Media Group editorial board Tuesday, Jesse Jackson slammed Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s decision to not expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, and compared it to George Wallace trying to stop black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama.

“Wallace blocked the school door based on race,” Jackson said. “[Bentley is] blocking the hospital door based upon class. Blacks were locked out of the schools, and black and whites have been locked out of access to medical care, and he should be judged as such.”

Bentley responded to Jackson’s comments on Wednesday, saying that he has made it a point as governor to represent all Alabamians, regardless of their race, income-level or party affiliation.

“That was somewhat offensive,” Bentley said of Jackson’s remarks. “Let me tell you, I was there in Tuscaloosa when Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door to keep two young black individuals from enrolling. I was there as a student. I have been involved so much in the celebration of our 50th year of civil rights in Alabama. We are proud of how far we’ve come in this state. And let me tell you, we have come a long way and I want to be the governor who represents all people in this state. I don’t care what color they are, I don’t care what Party they’re in, I represent everybody.”

Bentley has become a frequent target of various special interest groups, editorial writers and policy makers for his unwillingness to expand Medicaid.

He devoted a large portion of his 2014 State of the State address to defending his decision, saying, “We will never see an end to the plague of poverty by offering a deeper dependence on a flawed government system.”

Critics of Bentley’s decision point out that the Federal government had agreed to pay for 100 percent of the expansion through 2016, before decreasing its share of the costs down to 90 percent in the years to come.

Bentley responded by pointing out that whether the Federal government pays for it or not, it’s all “your dollars, your hard-earned tax dollars.”

The federal government has said they will give us money to expand. But how can we believe the federal government will keep its word? The anything but Affordable Care Act has done nothing to gain our trust.

First, they told us we could keep our doctor – that turned out not to be true. Next, they told us we could keep our policy – that’s not true. Then they told us our premiums would not go up – nothing could be further from the truth. Now they are telling us we’ll get free money to expand Medicaid.

Ladies and Gentlemen, nothing is free. The money the federal government is spending with wild abandon is not federal dollars – those are your dollars, your hard-earned tax dollars. There is no difference between federal money and your money.

Our great nation is 17.2 trillion dollars in debt and it increases by 2-billion dollars every single day.

That is why I cannot expand Medicaid in Alabama. We will not bring hundreds of thousands into a system that is broken and buckling.

Jackson discussed a wide range of issues during his Alabama Media Group interview, including prison reform, compensation for college athletes (during which he says field goals are worth “2 points”!) and the current conflict in Israel. Click here for a full write up over at

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

5 years ago

Alabama Democrats & Farrakhan get the old band back together

Sen. Hank Sanders and Louis Farrahkan
Liberals’ favorite America-hating anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan, is coming back to Alabama for the second time in as many years at the behest of Alabama Democrats.

Farrakhan and Democrat State Senator Hank Sanders, who warned voters in 2010 that Alabama may be “going back to the cotton fields of Jim Crow days” if Republicans were put in power, will lead a caravan from Birmingham, through Shelby County and down to the steps of the capitol building in Montgomery. Their goal is to raise awareness about Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and to protest Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments that it represents the “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires nine states — almost all of which are in the south — to get approval from the U.S. Dept. of Justice for even the slightest change to voting procedures. It was passed in 1965 and imposed on states with a history of racial discrimination.

Almost a half century later, the question before the United States Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder is whether or not Section 5 is constitutional now that the extreme conditions that made it necessary no longer exist.

Comments by conservative Supreme Court justices during oral argument on the case led many onlookers to believe they would have the five votes needed to strike it down.

Justice Scalia said the Voting Rights Act had essentially created “black districts by law.”

Scalia also addressed the Court’s need to rule on the case. “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes… Even the name of it is wonderful, the Voting Rights Act. Who’s going to vote against that?” He wondered.

But liberal justices argued that Section 5 is still needed.

Justice Elena Kagan said pre-clearance requirements “seem to be working pretty well.” Justice Sonya Sotomayor called out Shelby County directly. “Some parts of the South have changed. Your county pretty much hasn’t,” she said. “You may be the wrong party bringing this.”

President Obama has also expressed his support for upholding Section 5.

In spite of all the flack conservatives get for being “stuck in the past,” it is liberals who seem to lack the ability to let go of antiquated solutions for problems that either no longer exist or have drastically changed over time.

“Progressives are remarkably uninterested in progress,” conservative columnist George Will wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed. “Social Security is 78 years old, and myriad social improvements have added 17 years to life expectancy since 1935, yet progressives insist the program remain frozen, like a fly in amber. Medicare is 48 years old, and the competence and role of medicine have been transformed since 1965, yet progressives cling to Medicare ‘as we know it.’ And they say that the Voting Rights Act, another 48-year-old, must remain unchanged, despite dramatic improvements in race relations.”

And right here in Alabama, Democrats continue to rely on the same tired race-baiting stunts. Jesse Jackson’s not available? Call Sharpton. He’s busy? Somebody get Farrakhan on the line.

What else is going on?
1. Sessions, Cruz, Lee & Grassley team up to fight gang of eight immigration bill
2. Wetumpka Tea Party president gives emotional testimony before Congress
3. Wife of Alabama senator threatens to expose women sending racy photos to her husband
4. McClendon will primary Fielding in Senate District 11
5. Bradley Byrne is running for Congress