Subscription Preferences:
5 months ago

Congresswoman Terri Sewell is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

If you only read U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell’s resume, it might be tempting to assume she grew up with connections and privilege.

She went to Princeton University for her undergraduate degree.

She went to Oxford University for her master’s degree.

She went to Harvard Law School for her doctorate in law and began her legal career at a Wall Street firm.

But the lifelong Democrat who represents Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, and who will be honored this month as a Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, said in an interview with Roll Call that she considers herself a “little girl from Selma” whose remarkable path began when she got to go to Princeton.

“That was the ticket that sent me on my way,” Sewell said.

She also grew up in a strong family that emphasized academics, said Sewell spokesman Chris MacKenzie in an interview with Yellowhammer News.

“Her parents were very inspirational figures in her life,” MacKenzie said, adding that Sewell’s father was “a very driven person” and coach of the Selma High School basketball team. Her mother was a librarian.

“Together, they gave me a hunger for learning,” Sewell recently wrote of her parents in an op-ed for the Huffington Post.  “I remember spending countless hours in the library reading through books that brought to life all of the places I wanted to travel someday.”

Sewell became the first black valedictorian of her high school in 1982. A Perkins student loan then helped her get to Princeton because her family did not have the resources to send her to college on their own, she wrote.

At Princeton, Sewell was matched up with a student mentor named Michelle Robinson, she told Roll Call. The two became friends and Sewell said it was like “two worlds colliding” when her “Big Sis” went on to marry another of Sewell’s future friends she’d meet at Harvard:  Barack Obama.

After school, Sewell worked as a lawyer in New York for a decade until her dad had a series of strokes that left him disabled. She came back to Alabama to support him and began working as a public finance lawyer, helping secure funding for local construction of major properties such as the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham and the new stadium at Alabama State University.

She also became the first black female partner in the Birmingham law office Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C.

“That was part of her beginning to work more with members of the local community and helping to develop Alabama’s 7th district,” MacKenzie said.

Fast forward: Rep. Sewell is now in her fourth term and not only is she one of the first women from Alabama to serve in Congress — she is the first black woman elected to the state’s Congressional delegation.

In addition to serving on key committees such as the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Sewell’s office said the following are just a few of her most notable accomplishments:

— Sewell’s first piece of successful legislation recognized with Congressional Gold Medals the four little girls who died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963.
— She advocated for the Air Force to successfully bring the F-35A basing location to the 187th Air National Guard Fighter Wing unit in Montgomery.
— Sewell fought to keep rural Alabama hospitals open, including John Paul Jones Hospital in Camden, by working with rural hospitals, local public officials, stakeholders and constituents.
— She successfully helped Selma’s historic federal courthouse where Martin Luther King, Jr. was jailed, get off the list of endangered federal buildings and worked with the Southern District Court of Alabama to resume federal trials there.
— She successfully introduced and passed bipartisan legislation to incorporate Birmingham’s civil rights sites into the National Park Service system.
— Sewell each year hosts an annual job fair in her district that last year hosted more than 60 employers and 600 job seekers.
–She designed a workforce development initiative called Project R.E.A.D.Y to promote employment through public/private partnerships, job readiness, skills training and career development.
The congresswoman and Governor Kay Ivey will be among 20 Alabama women honored in a March 29 awards event in Birmingham. Event details and registration may be found here.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 hour ago

What is it with Alabama Democrats’ dumb obsession with debates, town halls?

So you’re a Democrat in Alabama, and you want to be elected to high office? You approached your run for office thinking that Doug Jones showed what’s possible for a Democrat in Alabama. Therefore, you determined the time is right to run.

And here you are. You put up your qualifying fee and made it through the primary. It’s you versus a well-funded Republican incumbent in a state outside the Seventh Congressional District, and a handful of other urban minority precincts elects very few Democrats.

It’s a David versus Goliath story. It’s going to require a solid ground game, a fair amount of travel and a campaign message that will sway some Republicans to overlook party labels and mark the ballot for a Democrat.

What’s Walt Maddox’s first significant push? Perhaps it could be the success story of Tuscaloosa and all the things he has accomplished as mayor. Tuscaloosa is still a place people might want to visit – several nice restaurants, an up and coming riverfront, an affluent and diverse population, or yeah – and the University of Alabama and all it has to offer.

It’s a simple message: Do you want Alabama to be more like Tuscaloosa? Vote for me.

428

Instead, the one big thing – the thing that he has tirelessly played up to the media, the topic about which he made internet videos and the one upon which his off-the-rails, left-of-center allies in the media seem to agree is Gov. Kay Ivey’s refusal to debate him.

In Alabama’s Second Congressional District, there’s a similarly mystifying event taking place in the race between Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) and her Democratic opponent Tabitha Isner.

Unlike Maddox, Isner doesn’t have a public service resume on which to run. She has to make the case in what is now arguably the most conservative congressional district in Alabama that she is a better alternative to the incumbent Roby.

She has to find vulnerabilities in this heavily agricultural congressional district. Whereas Roby’s Republican opponents ran against her for not being Trump-y enough, she might be served by saying Roby is way too much Trump – supporting tariffs and restrictions on labor. Her best shot would be to build a coalition of Democrat-voting Black Belt Democrats in Butler, Conecuh, Bullock and Barbour Counties and win over the handful of pockets of Republican-leaning swing voters in Montgomery, Elmore and Autauga Counties.

The math is very tough. But what does she do instead? She makes Roby’s lack of town hall meetings an issue with bizarre performance art in front of the Bird Dog Monument in Union Springs and posting it on YouTube.

A few of Alabama’s media celebrities have taken the bait. Alabama News Network’s senior political reporter Tim Lenox confronted Roby with the video, who shrugged it off.

“I have a packed August where I’ll be spending a lot of time with my constituents both in public meetings and in private meetings,” Roby said at an appearance earlier this week in Montgomery. “[P]rivate meeting scheduled previously scheduled one-on-one meetings — there’s lots of different ways to communicate with your constituents.”

Doug Jones didn’t win a U.S. Senate seat in 2017 because he hammered Roy Moore for not debating him. He had a big assist from the Democratic Party’s opposition research wing known as the mainstream media. He also did a few other things the Democratic Party of Alabama’s past and present won’t do, and that’s work beyond preserving the status quo – but that’s a subject for another time.

Is it noteworthy that a Republican opponent is reluctant to debate or hold town halls? Sure. Is it something to harp on as if it is the magic ticket to higher office? No, it’s just a dumb obsession.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 hour ago

Officials investigating Brewer High School hazing report

A sheriff’s department in Alabama is investigating a report of hazing at a high school earlier this year.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office is working with the county school system on an incident involving students at Brewer High School in February.

107

Schools Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. told WHNT in Huntsville the incident involved the junior varsity baseball team.

Hopkins said the incident happened in a locker room and involved middle school students who played for the junior varsity team.

The students involved were suspended from all summer programs and started the new school year in in-school suspension.

Hopkins says school officials will work with the coaches and team members to provide extra training on bullying.

Sheriff Ana Franklin says investigators are working to determine whether charges should be filed.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.

2 hours ago

Rep. Robert Aderholt remembers Aretha Franklin, her time recording in Muscle Shoals

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) is paying tribute to Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” who died on Thursday.

Aderholt posted a video on his Facebook page documenting Franklin’s time recording at the renowned FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, along with these words:

“The music world has lost a legend in Aretha Franklin. While I was just a young child in Haleyville, I had no idea that just a few miles up the road in Muscle Shoals, she was recording some of the world’s most famous songs. She recorded RESPECT in Muscle Shoals on February 14, 1967. And what a Valentine gift it was. Her voice was one of the many that gave richly to the Muscle Shoals Music, and it will never go silent.”

“We consider it an honor that many of her songs were recorded in the 4th District and here in Alabama,” Aderholt’s office said in a statement obtained by Yellowhammer News. “Besides being an honor, it’s just plain cool.”

1
3 hours ago

You’re not alone, Alabama: South Carolina also has a billion-dollar defunct nuclear site — but it’s worse

The Yellowhammer State and the Palmetto State share many things: heat, southern culture, a love for football.

A more unfortunate commonality between the two, and one receiving lots of attention in both states, is that each has an unfinished nuclear power plant just sitting there, continually making news but not power.

Alabama’s Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station, which has never generated a single watt of power, has become over the years a (literally) concrete representation of the federal government’s vast ambition coupled with its occasional  – or frequent, depending who you ask – inability to follow through.

297

Recent developments indicate that the massive power plant could eventually be put to use, but that is still a long way off.

Still, Bellefonte is a case study of taxpayer investment in a dead-end project

In a way, though, Alabamians can be grateful that they themselves weren’t required to fund the dead-end project through increased monthly energy rates, as consumers in South Carolina were.

Back in March 2008, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) – the South Carolina equivalent of Alabama Power – began the process of applying for authorization to built two new nuclear reactors at its VC Summer site just north of Columbia. The company already operated one reactor at the site.

SCE&G was approved and established contracts for construction. The project was estimated to cost $9.8 billion.

To help with the project’s funding, SCE&G proposed a rate increase, got it approved by the Public Service Commission in May 2008, and construction began later that fall.

Over the years, there were numerous project delays and extra project costs which have, up to the current day, resulted in nine rate increases.

Last July, the project was abandoned after Westinghouse, the company building the reactors, filed for bankruptcy.

As the legislative session winded down this year, the legislature passed a temporary 15 percent rate cut for energy consumers who have paid an estimated $2 billion into the nuclear project fund.

A disaster of nuclear proportions, you could say.

The failure of both Bellefonte and the expansions at VC Summer are disconcerting generally, and downright infuriating for those who were forced to pay into them. Both projects have the potential to succeed, but that will require some kind of co-aligned effort between ambitious big business and government, both of which delivered the failed projects in the first place.

Read about developments on the Bellefonte front here.

Marion Mayor uses tools to prep residents for AlabamaWorks Success Plus Initiative

By: Dexter Hinton, Mayor of Marion, Alabama

When I was elected in late 2016 as Mayor of Marion, I knew there were certain areas in which our town needed to improve. One was education and work preparedness for those who did not want to attend a four-year college. We had gaps that needed to be filled.

As an Industrial Maintenance and Robotics Instructor at the Career Center in Greene County, I know what resources are available to assist those seeking a job or a skills education. When people come to the center, our team has a plethora of tests, assessments, job listings, resume-building sessions and other items at our disposal to help folks get the right position or training that matches their needs or abilities.

587

As Mayor, I realized we needed to get educational tools to Marion residents, especially after Moller Tech announced that it would be locating in Bibb County, adjacent to Perry County, and bringing 222 jobs with it. But with a small town like Marion (population 3,432) not having a dedicated resource center, we didn’t quite know how to unite the two. Then one day, I attended a Central AlabamaWorks meeting and saw AIDT’s mobile unit, which is the Department of Commerce’s skills education center on wheels.

I spoke with Mikki Ruttan, director of Central AlabamaWorks, after the meeting and asked her about the possibility of getting the unit to our area. I learned it could be customized for the needs of its audience. After numerous discussions with other local leaders, we selected basic resume building and a Ready-to-Work course as the initial offerings. I knew the mobile unit would be key in obtaining career readiness for the citizens of Marion. I also felt that our citizens would welcome the chance to improve their skills and knowledge base.

After dozens of conversations, we got the mobile unit scheduled this past April. We posted and delivered flyers all over the city, announcing when and where the unit would be located, and we created a Facebook page. We had no idea what kind of response we would have for this type of educational opportunity. But, our citizens realized how such training could give them a leg up in the job market. As a result, they turned out in droves to learn more and better position themselves for entry into the job market, or to simply upgrade their skill set.

With Gov. Kay Ivey’s Success Plus initiative rollout a few months ago, I knew we had to get our citizens more training to help them, and our state, reach the goal of 500,000 people with post-high-school credentials by 2025. The mobile training unit seemed like the perfect way to deliver those opportunities to our residents.

After some discussion, we were able to get the unit at The Lincoln School. We focused the training on Ready-to-Work. The classes filled immediately, and a waiting list soon formed. Our people were eager to gain knowledge to improve their lives and that of their families. Once they completed the course, they received credentials as an Alabama Certified Worker; a Career Readiness certificate; a free three-credit-hour course at Wallace Community College Selma (if they had a high school diploma); three credits toward a high school diploma (if they didn’t have one); and a referral to the Selma Career Center for free certificates or degree information from WCC in welding, industrial maintenance, electrical technology or nursing.

The unit has been so popular with our citizens that two classrooms are now being refurbished at The Lincoln School specifically for AIDT courses. This means we will have a permanent place for our people to get not only Ready-to-Work training, but also training in other much-needed professions offered by Wallace, such as cosmetology, carpentry, welding, automotive technician and others.

The excitement continues to build for our city. In fact, AIDT has already completed one Ready-to-Work training with several graduates who have received employment.

With the extra effort by Central AlabamaWorks, AIDT, the Career Centers and the Alabama Community College System – combined with the excitement and work ethic of our citizens – I know Marionites can and will be a valued part of the Success Plus endeavor. I look forward to seeing what our citizens can achieve for themselves, their families and our community.