6 months ago

Watch: ALDOT Director John Cooper, State Rep. Matt Simpson clash over I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge project

Wednesday at an informational meeting for members of the Mobile County legislative delegation, things got a little heated between Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper and State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne).

According to Mobile’s FOX 10 WALA’s Tyler Fingert, Cooper had previously planned not to speak at the meeting. That would have been keeping in line with what appears to be Cooper’s low-profile as the I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge brouhaha has transpired.

However, he broke that silence and spoke for a little more than 20 minutes about the hurdles he and his agency had faced in getting the project in line with what he said were requirements of the Federal Highway Administration and the issues with the Mobile County and Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) potentially removing the project on their long-term Transportation Improvement Plans (TIP).

At the tail end of his remarks, Cooper and Simpson engaged in a back-and-forth about the Mobile delegation’s role in opposing the project and a potential vote on it by both the Mobile and Baldwin County delegation with Cooper warning Simpson about the responsibility he was taking.

Cooper accused Simpson of opposing the project without asking questions first, referring to a letter the Mobile County delegation had sent to Gov. Kay Ivey. However, Simpson, who is a member of both the Mobile and Baldwin delegations, refuted Cooper’s claim by pointing to a meeting attended by Baldwin County legislators that was held in Spanish Fort earlier in the summer.

For that meeting, in particular, the Baldwin County delegation had prepared a list of questions for Cooper, which Cooper later acknowledged having addressed.

Exchange as follows:

COOPER: I want to run on. I’ve got a phone call I’ve got to leave for. But I didn’t intend to speak today. But I want you to leave, with these folks trying to be nice and deal with the professional things that they do without I having said to you – you need to understand if I don’t satisfy the Federal Highway Administration there will be nothing.

I need you to understand bluntly that I have not spent begging and cajoling to approve a document and paying these people to do the same just because I like doing it. It’s what was required to get to this point – to give you the option to object to funding the road. That option can only come to you if I can get to you the information you need to know what option you’re voting on.

And I can’t get it in the position you’ve put me in.

SIMPSON: I haven’t seen anything where we get a vote.

COOPER: I beg your pardon?

SIMPSON: The first time you’ve …

COOPER: Sir, you’ve never asked for a vote on anything, but —

SIMPSON: I’m asking for a vote –

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And I’m telling you, I’ll recommend to the governor she let you vote on it.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I will. I’ll recommend to the governor that she let the two delegations vote on it and I’ll further recommend we don’t do it if there’s not a majority in each delegation.

SIMPSON: That sounds wonderful. That is a huge step today.

COOPER: I’m fine.

SIMPSON: Until this point, following the process of going through what we have done, we have no control. Under the law, currently you don’t have to ask us to ask for a vote. It goes to the toll authority.

COOPER: Sir, I’m trying to listen to you patiently.

SIMPSON: OK.

COOPER: All you’ve done that I’m aware of is condemn the project before you ever asked a single question about it.

SIMPSON: Where have you seen I’ve condemned the project?

COOPER: You signed a resolution opposing the project.

SIMPSON: We signed the resolution asking for a better answer.

COOPER: No, you signed the resolution opposing the project.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You didn’t ask a single question. None of –

SIMPSON: When didn’t I ask questions?

COOPER: None of you asked a single question before you did that.

SIMPSON: Sir, have you talked … just because we didn’t have a question you, we didn’t ask questions?

COOPER: All I know is you didn’t ask me anything.

SIMPSON: OK, the Baldwin delegation sent up a letter with about 22 questions — we sent up to you. You came down to Spanish Fort and answered these questions because you wanted to have them in writing, correct?

COPPER: Correct.

SIMPSON: So please don’t say we didn’t ask questions.

COOPER: The Mobile delegation as a delegation asked no questions.

SIMPSON: I’m in both, so don’t say I didn’t ask questions.

COOPER: Sir, I’m proud you are and I don’t wish to argue with you. But I’ll make that recommendation to the governor. But you as a body need to understand you can have that control. With that control comes great responsibility.

SIMPSON: Absolutely.

COOPER: And we’ll present alternatives to you but you need to help us get in a position we can do that.

SIMPSON: There is nothing in the law, and I’m sorry – I go back to the law. We can take your word all day long that you’re going to give us the opportunity to vote on it. But there is nothing in the law that requires this.

COOPER: Sir, I told you that I would recommend to the governor that she put that in writing.

SIMPSON: That means nothing.

COOPER: Well, then I’m going to have real difficulty pleasing you if my word means nothing and if the governor puts it in writing that means nothing. I don’t know what else I can do.

SIMPSON: This is the first time you have approached us. This is the very first time that has been discussed. So please don’t put it back to I haven’t asked question, because I have asked questions —

COOPER: We don’t need to go over whether you did or didn’t. I apologize for saying that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Is that a path forward?

SIMPSON: We’re trying to find a middle ground.

COOPER: I’m saying, is that a path forward, if the governor would do that? And I don’t know if she will.

SIMPSON: If the governor would allow us to vote, absolutely.

COOPER: I’ll recommend that to her.

SIMPSON: You can put that recommendation on a piece of paper and she can say no.

COOPER: If she does that, will you ask the MPO to put it back in the TIP?

SIMPSON: If you get it in writing first.

COOPER: I said if she does that —

SIMPSON: If you put it in writing that says I will put it to the delegation and let them answer the question, then I will recommend that.

COOPER: — will you ask the MPO to put it back in the TIP?

SIMPSON: If you get it in writing that says —

COOPER: I’ll make that recommendation.

SIMPSON: I think that’s it.

COOPER: You’ve caught it. I hope you’re ready to skin it.

Following the event, Simpson explained to FOX 10 why he saw his questioning of Cooper necessary.

“The purpose of this meeting was to ask questions, and I’m not going to apologize for asking tough questions,” Simpson said. “The project went from $850 million to $2.1 billion, and I think it’s fair to just ask questions, ‘how?’”

@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.

3 mins ago

National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council Endorses Jeff Sessions in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race

Friday, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council announced its endorsement of former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race.

The National ICE Council represents approximately 7,600 officers, agents and employees who work for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) throughout the United States and its territories and possessions.

The National ICE Council endorsement comes just days before Alabama Republicans are set to vote in the party’s primary on Tuesday.

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“On behalf of the men and women of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, we’re proud to endorse Jeff Sessions for Senate in the State of Alabama,” Chris Crane, president of the ICE Council, said in a statement. “We know Jeff Sessions and we know what he stands for. As the United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions led the fight against sanctuary cities and illegal immigration, and was an unwavering champion of law enforcement officers across the nation. As a U.S. Senator, Jeff Sessions was the strongest supporter in the U.S. Congress of ICE, its mission, and its employees. We have no doubt that Senator Sessions will pick up right where he left off – standing up for law enforcement and the enforcement of our laws. We know he will continue to lead the fight against sanctuary cities that threaten our communities and endanger our law enforcement personnel across the country. And we know that he will keep fighting against radical open border policies that threaten our national security.”

“Jeff Sessions has always stood up to The Swamp and always worked to hold Washington accountable,” he added. “We need him now more than ever to stand up for what’s right and stand with President Trump to keep America safe.”

Sessions applauded the endorsement in a statement of his own, and warned of the threat sanctuary cities, open borders and illegal immigration pose to the nation.

“The men and women who serve with the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement are honorable law enforcement officers who serve at the center of this nation’s effort to end illegal immigration,” Sessions said. ‘I am honored beyond words to have the ICE Council’s strong endorsement. We have fought side by side against the powerful, special interest forces that constantly work to further the lawlessness that is occurring at the border. We stood side by side in the effort to elect President Trump. Sanctuary cities and open borders are a threat to our nation. They encourage illegal immigration, protect dangerous criminal gangs, and undermine the rule of law.”

“I am extremely proud of this endorsement,” he added. “No organization has been more committed to law and our national sovereignty than the ICE officers. Their endorsement is therefore extremely valuable. I believe the people of Alabama should recognize how important this endorsement is in understanding who can be most effective in the Senate. I have fought to stop sanctuary cities and I will not rest until our immigration laws are enforced and dangerous aliens are taken off the streets.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

2 hours ago

McCutcheon endorses Chris Lewis in AL-05 GOP primary — ‘Time to make a change’

Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) on Thursday announced his endorsement of Congressman Mo Brooks’ (AL-05) Republican primary challenger, Chris Lewis.

In a brief video filmed outside the State Capitol and released by Lewis’ campaign, McCutcheon explained his support.

“Many people and organizations across North Alabama have discussed with me that it is time to make a change in our congressional seat,” the speaker said. McCutcheon represents parts of Madison County and Limestone County.

He further spoke to Lewis’ service in the United States military.

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Lewis is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval War College. He retired as a commander from the Navy after 23 years of service. His extensive experience reportedly includes multiple combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, service as a strategic analyst for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a decade of defense acquisition experience and Contract Transition Team Lead for Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Arnold Air Force Base.

“Chris has proven his commitment to our nation through his military service,” McCutcheon remarked.

The speaker also highlighted some of the groups who have endorsed Lewis’ bid, including the Alabama Farmers Federation’s political arm.

“I believe Chris has the heart of a servant leader and would be a fine congressman for North Alabama,” he concluded.

Brooks has been endorsed for reelection by President Donald Trump.

The primary will be held on Tuesday, March 3.

Responding to the McCutcheon endorsement, Brooks told Yellowhammer News in a statement, “Bigger government, higher taxing, open borders loving, Never Trump special interest groups and political forces have coalesced around a like-minded Chris Lewis. I wear their opposition like a red badge of courage. I will NEVER put their personal greed and self-interest above my support for America! They know it. I know it. Our team is proud to fight them on behalf of an America we love.”

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

4 hours ago

7 Things: UAB battling the coronavirus, ‘Teachers Bill of Rights’, activists want Madison County to ignore marijuana laws and more …

7. Ban on an occupational tax passes

  • The City of Montgomery wanted to tax people who worked in the city but didn’t live in the city, which is essentially a tax on a job, but the Alabama legislature didn’t think this was a good idea and have killed it.
  • The tax on non-residents has been a problem for legislators for years, but the bill would not repeal any occupational taxes. It just stops city councils from implementing new ones without legislative approval.

6. Senate committee advances death penalty bill

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  • The bill by State Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) that would shorten the appeals process for death penalty cases has been advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will now move to the full Senate.
  • The bill seeks to remove having to go through the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and just going straight to the Alabama Supreme Court, but will still provide the ability to appeal on the federal level.

5. Aniah’s Law passes

  • The bill that would allow judges more ability to deny bail for those who are accused of violent crimes has been passed by the Alabama House of Representatives.
  • State Representative Chris Brown (R-Mobile), the sponsor of the bill, said, “Too many of those who are accused of violent crimes are bonding out of jail and committing even more serious offenses, and it is time for law-abiding Alabamians to start fighting back.”

4. Bernie Sanders is in first and he can beat Trump

  • In new polling data released by Fox News, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary with 31% polling, while former Vice President Joe Biden slips to second with 18%, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in third with 16%, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has 12% in fourth place and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is down in fifth place with 10%.
  • Biden looks good in the most recent polling out of South Carolina which has him leading Sanders 36 to 16%. A big victory in the Palmetto State could give new life to Biden’s flailing campaign.

3. Decriminalizing marijuana in Madison County

  • A letter sent to Madison County leaders by the Madison County Democratic Executive Committee, League of Women Voters of the Tennessee Valley, UAH College Democrats and the NAACP of Huntsville requests that marijuana be decriminalized.
  • The letter states that “to improve the public safety, social equity, and overall well-being of our community” the county should stop arresting people for marijuana possession and also “drop all criminal charges related to cannabis possession,” claiming that this “will help ease racial disparities in community policing, allowing greater enforcement emphasis on crimes that have victims.”

2. Students need to start respecting their teachers

  • Legislation that’s been deemed the “Teacher Bill of Rights” is being considered, which would give teachers 10 rights, including being able to discipline students, remove students from the classroom and to “be treated with civility and respect.”
  • An attorney for the Alabama Education Association Clint Daughtry explained, “Teachers are … the only group of college-education professionals that I know of that run the risk on a daily basis of being hit, kicked, slapped, scratched, what have you.”

1. UAB helping solve the coronavirus crisis

  • With coronavirus wrecking the stock market, a panic is underway, but the University of Alabama at Birmingham has been researching and developing the drug remdesivir through the Antiviral Drug Discovery and Development Center; that same drug is being used to treat coronavirus patients across the United States and in China.
  • The work to develop the drug was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee after U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) became the chairman. Shelby said that this research “could help save thousands around the world.”

4 hours ago

Sessions: Tuberville’s position on trade undermines Trump’s negotiating position

Trade has been at the forefront of public policy discussions in recent days, especially as President Donald Trump has taken a more hawkish approach to the issue in his first term.

That has especially been true with regards to U.S. trade policy regarding China, a nation in which Trump has used tariffs as bargaining tool.

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in November, applauded Trump’s approach. However, he also took a dig at his opponent, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, who Sessions said referred to himself as a “100% free trader.”

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“[China] has got to come to the table,” he said. “You have got to use tariffs to bring them to the table. And if we bring them to the table, we’ll be able to begin a real historic change in their behavior and help American manufacturing. That’s one of the reasons I’m running. Both the border and this need to be done within a year or two of taking office.”

Sessions argued Tuberville’s position on trade undermined Trump’s negotiating ability, given the contrast.

“And I’ve got to say — Tommy Tuberville said he is a 100% free trader,” Sessions added. “He said he opposes tariffs. And he even said he didn’t agree with Trump’s China policy. This is cutting his legs out from under him, making it harder for him to negotiate. The last thing we need to be doing is undermining President Trump’s negotiating position. We’re going to win that negotiation, I’m telling you. And we’re going to make this situation better with China, and we’re going to keep winning in the future.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

5 hours ago

Tuberville vows to give salary to veterans’ causes if elected — Tells Bradley Byrne, Jeff Sessions ‘to have some manhood about you’

Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s comments about the Trump administration’s handling of veterans’ issues last August 2019 at the Shoals Republican Club have been a focal point of the contest for the Republican nomination for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat up in November.

“I’m pissed off at Donald Trump that our vets can’t get health care,” Tuberville said, speaking to the group at the time. “And if I ever get to see him, I’m going to tell him that. You said you were going to fix it, and it ain’t fixed. And that’s who we ought to be taking care of — these young men and women.”

During an appearance on Birmingham talk radio’s 99.5 on Thursday, co-hosts Andrea Lindenberg and Matt Murphy asked Tuberville to address those remarks, which have been used by opponents in political advertising against his candidacy.

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Tuberville said he was upset not with just President Donald Trump but everyone, including himself. As a show of his concern, he pledged to donate his U.S. Senate salary to veterans’ causes.

“Everybody is responsible — the president, me, you, out Congress because they have done something nobody else will do, which is protect this country,” he said. “My salary — you know what I’m doing? I’m going to come on your show once every few months, and I’m going to give my salary, a check, to a veteran or a wife that has lost her husband, or their kids to go to school. I’m not taking one dime, and I’m giving it to the veterans. I stand and put up when I talk. I don’t just talk about it. I’m going to do it. So, yes — I’m mad at everybody.”

When asked if he had any regrets about his statement, he reiterated his support of the president but indicated those remarks were an indication of his willingness to “tell it like it is.”

“Listen, I’m 100% behind Donald Trump,” he said. “He’s the best thing to happen to this country since I’ve been on this earth in terms of getting things done. But he knows. He understands. And he is doing as much as he can. It’s kind of like me getting chewed out for losing a football game when our offensive line didn’t block anybody. He’s got people working for him. But who is going to get the blame? The president is going to get the blame. The head coach is going to get the blame. I’m going to tell it like it is, and if folks don’t like the way I tell it — don’t vote for me because I’m going to tell it. I’m not a politician. I’m not one of these career politicians who is just going to go up there and take a paycheck and hide when there’s a tough vote, or there is something tough that needs to be said about somebody. And I’m going to call it out. But I’m telling you right now: Our veterans need help. They need help now. Not next week, not next year.”

Tuberville also used the discussion about his comments as an opportunity to criticize his opponents former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who he called on to “have some manhood about you.”

“Listen, I’m not going to be a ‘yes man,'” he said. “The people in Alabama deserve somebody who is going to speak for them. And if I need to say something to the president or the leader of the Senate, or secretary of state, I’m going to speak my voice. I’m not going to go up there as a dang puppet. These guys, as you said — Sessions got fired. He has got no business running for this job because he is not going to be respected when he goes back. Bradley Byrne — he turned on the president before he was even elected. And they’re getting on the knees, crawling now to tell people they’re supporting President Trump. My gosh, have some manhood about you. Speak your piece. What did you do it for? Speak your piece.”

“Jeff Sessions did more to protect Hillary Clinton than he did Donald Trump,” Tuberville added. “You think about that — and it really tees me off.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.