3 years ago

YHRadio: Mayor Battle hopes to apply his Huntsville strategy for success to ALL of Alabama

Huntsville Major Tommy Battle joins Scott Chambers and Andre Tice on Yellowhammer Radio to talk about his recent announcement to run for Alabama Governor in 2018. Mayor Battle lays out his plan to improve the state, which includes a greater emphasis on education, attracting more economic prospects, and repairing the state highways that Scott Chambers commutes on.

The full conversation with Mayor Battle can be heard on the Yellowhammer Radio podcast or in the video above.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Podcast on iTunes.


Scott Chambers:

We are joined right now on the Yellowhammer news hotline by the one, the only Mayor Tommy Battle of Huntsville, Alabama. Mayor Battle welcome into Yellowhammer Radio. How are you doing, sir?

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Doing fine, how are y’all doing this morning?

Scott Chambers:

Livin’ the dream.

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Good.

Andrea Tice:

Glad to have you on board. Excited to hear about you throwing your hat into the ring. I think this is the first time a mayor, this is what Scott has told me-

Scott Chambers:

This is true.

Andrea Tice:

That you are the first mayoral candidate to enter the governor’s race.

Scott Chambers:

Not enter the race, but there has never been a mayor in state history to take the office of governor.

Andrea Tice:

Got it.

Scott Chambers:

So how do you feel about your chances, Mayor Battle?

Mayor Tommy Battle:

We’ve never had a mayor elected governor, that’s why we’ve gotten into the problems that we’ve gotten into.’Cause mayors have to solve problems, it’s interesting, we solve problems in the grocery store line. We’re standing there getting groceries, somebody comes up to us and if there’s a problem, we have to take care of them.

And that’s the same way government’s gotta be. It’s gotta be a person to person government, and we’ve been very, very fortunate. In the north Alabama area we’ve had some great successes, and hopefully we can transfer those successes to the state.

Scott Chambers:

That’s a beautiful answer. That’s a great answer. ‘Cause Andrea and I were talking about this off the air. We’ve had no mayor elected as governor, but we need that because you guys, you balance budgets, you work with city councils, you work with the entire state to make your city prosper, and you’ve certainly done that in Huntsville. I first visited Huntsville when I was a kid, and then I guess when I was about 18 years old, I made my first trip solo to Huntsville to visit friends, and I’ve spent many, many weekends in that fine city over the years. And if you go back five years, you go back 10 years, especially 15 years, and you look at the progress in what you have done as mayor of Huntsville, a big pat on the back to you. Because Huntsville is a beautiful city and there’s been so much progress under your leadership.

Mayor Tommy Battle:

We’re real proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. I moved up to Huntsville in 1980 from Birmingham. I grew up in Birmingham down on Rocky Ridge Road many moons ago. Went to Berry High School down there, and 10 to 60 percent of our people are from somewhere else. As we come in, we try to bring good ideas from areas … Some of the not so good ideas, we try to make sure they stay out of our public policy and it’s been a real successful track record that we’ve been able to do in the last 10 years with jobs, and schools, and education … And you know, touching on all the things that really helped our community grow and state grow.

Scott Chambers:

You mention education there, which is a real important thing for the state of Alabama. I know as mayor of Huntsville, you’ve overseen 250 million dollars in new school facilities. If elected governor of Alabama, will you continue that push for better education in the state?

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Oh gosh, education is key. It’s paramount to being able to recruit industry and recruit jobs. Mrs. Battle was a kindergarten teacher for 27 years and now runs a little nonprofit that gives back materials to teachers. And education is the key for any of our success that we can have. We’ve got to make that one of the number one issues that’s out there because we have great education in a bunch of areas, in quite a few areas across the state, but then you have some key areas that we’ve gotta work on, and as we work on those key areas, and we can bring those up, it brings our whole economic prospects up for the state.

Scott Chambers:

Excellent. Well you know, that’s … Another thing that I want to talk about, and sometimes we laugh and joke because I drive. I live in Etowah county, in south side, and I drive to the studio every day to Birmingham. So, I drive roughly 140 miles round trip each and every day. I drive on state highways.

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Yes.

Scott Chambers:

State highways to someone that drives every day, it’s a pain in my rear, sir, and I know that you have overseen a pay as you go solution there in Huntsville for 500 million dollars in road and infrastructure projects. If elected governor of Alabama, will you assure me and all the other drivers out there we’re gonna have a good road system in this state?

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Well, we’ve got to work on the roads. I mean, that’s gonna be key to us. When you start looking at I-65, which is over capacity [inaudible 00:04:13] and everybody knows that little slow down period just because you’re over capacity. And you compare 65 to what Georgia’s done on I-75 going north and south through the state.

Scott Chambers:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Mayor Tommy Battle:

I-75 is six, eight, 10 lanes all the way across.

Scott Chambers:

Right.

Mayor Tommy Battle:

We’re sitting here with the majority of 65 is four lanes. You just cannot compare. You compare the economic development of every interchange in Georgia on I-75 versus economic development on our interchanges on I-65. Those are things that you want to invest in, and it is an investment, it costs money, but you have to invest in that to become a prosperous state, to become a state with good jobs and good paying jobs, and to improve your job standards and your quality of living.

Andrea Tice:

Mayor Battle, I have a question. Scott mentioned the pay as you go program which you instituted or implemented at least in Huntsville

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Sure

Andrea Tice:

Can you explain that more to the person who’s not from Huntsville, who’s … This is a new concept and how that works and how it’s benefited your area?

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Sure. We’re in Washington, D.C. right now and most of your state highway money and federal highway money is a 90/10 mix. 90 percent federal money and 10 percent local money. We stepped up with the state, and we went to the state because it was crucial that we had some roads built that would keep us on roads prosperity, keep us being able to bring in jobs, bring in industry.

So, we committed 25 million dollars a year to put to roads and road building, and that’s the 25 million dollars a year, year in and year out, that we’ve committed from now until through the foreseeable future. And the state matched our 25 million dollars. So they put up their 25 million dollars.

What it did, it helped them take the money that the state gives [inaudible 00:06:03] and really multiply it so that they can get more road projects out of it because we’re paying more than our fair share for it, and they can use it for somebody else’s match if they need to, but for us it was crucial to pay that just so that we could go ahead and get roads and we could get them into [inaudible 00:06:20] on them in the next seven to eight years. And as we’ve done that … And it’s a pay as you go, it’s not a bonded out, it’s not gonna have our kids paying for it for twenty years. We don’t have that generational debt which I almost call generational theft, which you know, we want something now but we don’t want to pay for it so let’s push it off on our kids. To me I think that’s one of the most important conservative values you can have is that you pay for what you get.

Andrea Tice:

All right, then while we’re talking about money, let me just change the topic just a little bit because there’s a story that came out recently about a woman in Birmingham who was able to defraud the Social Security System for probably roughly 10 years. Even after she was convicted of killing her own husband and that’s where she got the benefits from. Then we’ve got another story coming out of Florida, which is just one state over, of millions and millions of dollars being paid out in Medicaid fraud to people who had fraud allegations against them. So, let’s talk about that whole arena here in Alabama, and what would be some of the first steps you would take as governor to address that issue?

Mayor Tommy Battle:

You know, fraud abuse is something that we all need to jump on but it’s very tough to address situations where most of the work that they’re doing and they’re talking about doing is federal programs being administered federally.

Andrea Tice:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Mayor Tommy Battle:

We need to be more [inaudible 00:07:43] out in Washington. I’m in Washington right now and we’re talking to a congressional delegation and our senators and talking about the need for Medicaid. You need to have Block Grants coming down. The state knows how to administer that money much better than the federal government.

Andrea Tice:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Those kind of issues coming back home to us gives us a local control over it so that we can address what’s actually needed but also we can address the wrongs in the system also. As we work through this it’s gonna be very important to us that we continue to go to the federal government and try to get their fingers out of what we do in the state because I really feel like the state and our local officials have a better idea about where we need to go and what we need to do.

Scott Chambers:

So you’re definitely a states’ rights guy there

Mayor Tommy Battle:

(laughs) Definitely a states’ rights guy. I’m a local community guy. It’s kind of interesting, sometimes the state legislature will send things to the cities because they want to kind of control what the cities do and I keep looking at them and say “Man, y’all the guys that don’t want the federal government stepping into your business and then you step into a local situation.”

Andrea Tice:

Yeah.

Mayor Tommy Battle:

So, I think all of us need to stay in our lanes.

Scott Chambers:

Well our guest is Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle who is running for governor of Alabama and in the final few moments here I have one question and then I want to close out and find out who you are. But before we get to that I want to ask, you know the last administration that just left office in Montgomery … The word corruption keeps coming up, time and time again. Alabama politics have been known for corruption. If elected governor of this state, what will you do to cut down on corruption in Montgomery?

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Well, I think it’s more important that we walk the walk rather than talk the talk. We’ve had many, many people talk the talk of, “I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that. Uhh, you know, uhh w-we’re all good Christian fellows who- who are running for office.” But more importantly, we’ve gotta walk that walk. For nine years we’ve been able to walk the walk of a good honest government that responds to the people, a government that addresses issues that are important. And that’s the only way to build confidence in your government. You’ve gotta tell the people “Hey, there’s a plan, there’s a strategy.” And the end result to that plan and strategy is jobs, is a prosperous community. And if you can make them understand that and work with them so that they can have confidence in you, that’s the only way to get confidence back in your government. And we have lost confidence in our government over the last three years with everything that’s gone on.

Andrea Tice:

Yes, that is true. I’m glad you’re identifying the confidence factor that’s been lost, the trust factor.

Scott Chambers:

No question. Well, in our final few moments here tell us: who is Tommy Battle? Tell us about yourself, for those that around the state, that in north Alabama, most everyone knows the name, knows who you are. In south Alabama, there’s a few people that may not know who the mayor of Huntsville is. So, who is Tommy Battle?

Mayor Tommy Battle:

You know, I think the biggest thing to say is that I learned a lot of values from my parents. I learned from my parents, my mom and my dad, the value of hard work. Working in the back halls of Britling’s Cafeterias which was the family business. Working back there you [inaudible 00:11:04] and everything else, you learn the value of hard work.

But also, going through … Growing up in Birmingham, working in Mobile part-time to get through school, coming to Huntsville … We’ve been able to have some achievements, and the great thing about it is, going to Montgomery it won’t have to be on the job training. We already have a strategy, a plan that has been very successful in the north Alabama area … Can we transfer that to Montgomery, and make Montgomery successful also, and can we pull back confidence in Montgomery? Those are some of the key issues that I think everybody should look at when they’re looking for their next gubernatorial candidate.

Scott Chambers:

Absolutely. Mayor Tommy Battle, we appreciate you being on with us here on Yellowhammer Radio today. We look forward to continuing this conversation as the campaign moves forward and look forward to having you here in studio with us some time.

Mayor Tommy Battle:

Great, I’m looking forward to it.

Andrea Tice:

All right, have a great time up there in D.C.

Scott Chambers:

All right, take care, sir. Absolutely.

Mayor Tommy Battle:

All right, thank you.

Scott Chambers:

Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle on Yellowhammer Radio we’ll come back and take your phone calls, go through some of the rest of the news of the day. You can listen to the program of course on 101.1 FM, 95.3 FM in Birmingham, and also 1260 AM as well. Check us out online, yellowhammernews.com, tweet the program @yhnradio. Your phone calls coming up next 866-551-9933. We are live from the call, KS.com heating and air studio.

6 hours ago

Mayor Randall Woodfin throws down the gauntlet at Birmingham Business Alliance meeting

BIRMINGHAM — Delivering opening remarks at the Birmingham Business Alliance’s (BBA) annual meeting on Wednesday, Magic City Mayor Randall Woodfin challenged the region’s business leaders to stop being so “risk averse.”

Woodfin opened his speech with words of praise for outgoing BBA chairwoman Nancy Goedecke and incoming chairman Jim Gorrie.

He then transitioned into a call-to-action.

“Usually I would get up here and give you all some stats about what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished,” the mayor advised. “I think it is fair to say that 2019 has been a good year for many [in] your organization — individually and collectively for our Birmingham Business Alliance.”

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Woodfin advised that the BBA leadership is pointing the region’s business community in the right direction.

“And the question is: as members of this organization, are we prepared? Are we ready?” he added.

“I don’t have to tell anyone in this room that since the Great Recession… 60% of all jobs have only gone to 25 cities in America,” Woodfin continued. “You need to know that Birmingham is not on that list. So the question becomes, when you walk out of this room, are we prepared to invest in our competitiveness? Do we want to compete? Do we want to set ourselves apart and not be like any other city in America?”

“We don’t have to be like Nashville or Chattanooga or Atlanta or Austin,” he said. “We need to be the best versions of ourselves.”

The mayor outlined the road to getting to that goal.

“That is going to require us to shake off the way we’ve always done things… just based on the sheer nature of what you do, you’re risk averse. But being risk averse in this time as we move into 2020 under Jim’s (Gorrie’s) leadership will not work for us as an organization or as a city. Or for the future and present of what we want our business community to be — to attract, retain, grow and many other things we have to do,” Woodfin stressed.

“As my challenge I leave to the members of this organization in this room, that we are willing to stand behind Jim, just as we did with Nancy (Goedecke), but really be aggressive,” he concluded. “Really be the opposite of risk averse and be hungry enough to do something that’s going to be different to make Birmingham a place that attracts more businesses and for the current businesses in this community to be and remain successful.”

RELATED: Almost two years in, Randall Woodfin reflects on biggest initiatives

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

9 hours ago

Above and beyond: Regions associate honored with Better Life Award after learning sign language to serve deaf customers

Regions Bank on Wednesday honored one of its Alabama associates in a major way for going above and beyond to better the lives of the company’s customers.

In a story posted on Region’s “Doing More Today” website, the company announced Gayla Land was presented with the Better Life Award. This is the top honor bestowed upon Regions associates “for outstanding dedication and job performance, as well as exemplary involvement and commitment to the community.”

For Land, a Regions Bank branch manager in Dothan, the genesis of the award goes back to 2016. She was reportedly serving a deaf customer but wanted to be able to do so better, as communicating properly was a real issue.

“I felt there was something missing. It frustrated me,” Land reminisced. “I could only provide what I could write down. I couldn’t share the information in his approved language.”

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The Regions associate turned that frustration into a solution. Land, on her own time, went out of the way to enroll in American Sign Language classes at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.

However, her dedication did not stop there. She not only learned sign language herself but decided to strike up a partnership with the school.

“I fell in love with the deaf community and the language itself,” Land explained. “Then I told the school, ‘Let’s make a partnership to have them come into the branch for financial education seminars,’ and they agreed.”

The student subsequently became the teacher, as Land began teaching in sign language a series of lessons that cover money management, retirement, identity theft and fraud prevention. Her first group reportedly graduated earlier this year.

This is having a real impact on the lives of Regions customers with hearing impairments.

“They feel more confident in their ability to make financial decisions, and I learn something new every time they are with me.” Land advised.

Her commitment to the hearing impaired continued to be displayed Wednesday when she received the award from Regions. The company donates $1,000 in the honoree’s name to a nonprofit organization of his or her choice, and Land chose the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind to receive the money.

“They do great work providing skills and education to the deaf and blind communities,” she remarked. “I know they will make great use of the money to provide for those families.”

However, her journey is not done yet.

Land is planning to sharpen her sign language fluency by taking advanced classes.

She also used her new platform to urge others to learn the language as well.

“Don’t be fearful or feel judged. Just try to learn. Even if it’s just one new word every day,” Land concluded. “Your eyes will be opened to a new perspective, and you’ll be embraced by the deaf community because you tried.”

You can watch an almost six-minute video on see Land’s work in action below or here.

RELATED: Merry and bright: How Regions’ headquarters building lights became a holiday tradition

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

10 hours ago

Auburn’s Bo Nix named SEC Freshman of the Year, Derrick Brown named best defensive player

The Southeastern Conference’s (SEC) 14 coaches have voted Auburn University quarterback Bo Nix as the SEC Freshman of the Year and defensive tackle Derrick Brown as the Defensive Player of the Year.

The honors were announced Wednesday by the league office. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players.

Brown was also named by the Associated Press as the AP’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year earlier in the week.

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Nix now holds the Auburn Tigers’ freshman record for passing yards (2,366), pass completions (200) and touchdown passes (15) in a season. The Alabama native also rushed for seven scores.

Brown had a monster season on the defensive side of the ball and landed as a finalist for just about every national award possible.

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

10 hours ago

Rogers’ report from Washington: The season of giving across East Alabama

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Each Christmas season, I like to highlight a few of the kind things folks across East Alabama are doing for others.

Below is a small sample of ways our fellow Alabamians have cared for each other over the past year.

In Clay County at Central High School, a teacher, Amanda East, gathered the school supplies that were going to be disposed of from the locker clean out. Those items are now set up to donate to students who need them.

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In Lee County, The Hallmark Channel is coming to Beauregard to present new homes to the 15 families who lost everything when the EF-4 tornado devastated the area.

Hallmark will also serve residents a holiday meal at Providence Baptist Church with Santa and toys for the little ones, too.

In Calhoun County, Dara Murphy of Rosa Lee Boutique organized a White Bag Project for individuals to grab a white bag and fill it up for a child in need. They are also taking clothing and furniture to 20 families.

In Lee, Macon and Tallapoosa Counties, Rep. Peeblin Warren assists 400 seniors with gift baskets.

In Randolph County, the Roanoke Police Department is holding its annual toy drive to ensure local children get a Christmas gift.

In Chambers County, the Christian Service Center collects food and toys to donate to families.

In Montgomery County, Woodland United Methodist Church/Town of Pike Road distribute food. Pike Road and Central Alabama Health Care Systems also distribute hygiene items for local veterans.

Reading these stories makes me proud to be from East Alabama. It is truly heartwarming to see our brothers and sisters across the Third District taking time to take care for someone who needs it most.

May we carry this attitude of service to others all year long.

Wishing you and your families a very Merry Christmas. Remember the reason for the season.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is a Republican from Saks. 

11 hours ago

Crimson Tide’s Jaylen Waddle named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year

University of Alabama sophomore wide receiver and returner Jaylen Waddle on Wednesday was announced as the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Special Teams Player of the Year.

He is the first Crimson Tide player to be named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year since Christion Jones in 2013. The honor was voted on by the league’s 14 head coaches, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own players.

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Waddle, who was already selected by Pro Football Focus as a first-team All-American at returner, led the nation this season in punt return average at 24.9 yards per return. Waddle had 19 punt returns for 474 yards and a touchdown, including a long of 77 yards.

The playmaker also returned four kickoffs for 152 yards and one touchdown this season, in addition to 553 yards and six touchdowns on 32 catches at wideout.

This comes after Waddle was one of 14 Bama players on Tuesday who were named to the All-SEC Coaches’ Team. He was actually named to both the first and second teams at different positions.

Juniors Jerry Jeudy (WR), Alex Leatherwood (OL) and Jedrick Wills, Jr. (OL) were first-team selections on offense, while redshirt senior Anfernee Jennings (LB) and junior Xavier McKinney (DB) were honored as first-team defense. Waddle was a first-team selection on special teams.

Redshirt junior center Landon Dickerson was named to the second-team offense along with juniors Najee Harris (RB), DeVonta Smith (WR), Tua Tagovailoa (QB) and Waddle (WR). Seniors Raekwon Davis (DL) and Trevon Diggs (DB) and redshirt junior linebacker Terrell Lewis were second-team choices on defense.

Waddle was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2018.

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