Daily Digest- August 29, 2018

Daily Digest- August 29, 2018

Good morning! Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, August 29, 2018.

1. Norris Green sues Medical Examiners Board.

  • Norris Green, the former director of the Board of Medical Examiners who was fired last September, has filed suit in federal court claiming wrongful termination and a lot of other things.
  • He’s seeking $10 million in damages and, perhaps just as noteworthy, airing some grievances with how the Board of Medical Examiners operates.
  • This is the quasi state agency that is charged with investigating and regulating medical doctors. The Medical Association of Alabama, which is the doctors’ lobby/trade group, is also named in the lawsuit.
  • Green claims there is a “culture of self-indulgence” wherein Board members overcompensate themselves for travel and expenses – $10,000 a pop for “continuing medical education” seminars and a $300 per diem expense allowance for travel.
  • He also says there is too close a relationship between the Medical Examiners, which regulates and investigates doctors, and the Medical Association, which lobbies in support of doctors.
  • Reading the lawsuit, Green claims he tried to reform some of these practices as director and was subsequently shown the door.
  • There’s a lot more to it, so go read Alabama Daily News reporter Will Whatley’s story with links to the 52-page lawsuit HERE.

2. Panel talks school safety, mental health.

  • State, federal and regional officials gathered at the Alabama Capitol Tuesday to discuss the ongoing issue of school safety and preventing gun violence on school campuses.
  • The Federal Commission of School Safety is holding a series of “listening sessions” across the country, and its final one was in Montgomery.
  • The biggest issue they discussed: mental health.
  • “You can surround a school with a wall strong enough to hold Fort Knox,” said Gov. Kay Ivey, “But the real danger likely comes from that person inside the school who is having difficulty with mental or societal issues and is terribly frustrated and not adjusting.”
  • She, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, and ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor all participated in the roundtable discussion. The meeting was led by Deputy Education Secretary Mick Zais.
  • The Alabama Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Mental Health have teamed up to set up 47 special counseling programs for schools in the state – something I didn’t know – but that’s still only “a fraction” of what the needs are, Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear said.
  • Local school leaders asked for more funding and flexibility to current funding to be able to do things like hire School Resource Officers and set up security systems.
  • Not a hot topic: gun control. Several members of “Moms Demand Action” were present at the public hearing to express their support for stricter gun control policies.
  • Read more from AL.com’s Trisha Crain HERE and from the Montgomery Advertiser’s Krista Johnson HERE.

3. Senate racing to confirm judges.

  • Get this: the U.S. Senate has now confirmed 60 federal judges nominated to the bench by President Donald Trump.
  • That includes 33 district court judges, 26 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court Justice (with another on deck).
  • That’s a serious conservative shift in the judiciary and the most tangible legacy of the 2016 election.
  • Another federal judge for Alabama was confirmed yesterday – Judge Terry Moorer will serve on the bench in the Southern District of Alabama.
  • Moorer, who has been serving as a magistrate judge in Montgomery, is President Trump’s first African American nominee to the federal bench. He’s also the first Republican-appointed African American federal judge in Alabama and the first nationally in ten years.
  • Sen. Richard Shelby, who shepherded Moorer’s nomination said he is “well-suited to be a U.S. district judge in Alabama’s southern district” and that “his decade of experience serving as a magistrate judge, along with his devotion to upholding the constitution make him fit to serve in this prestigious role.”
  • Shelby’s full statement HERE.

4. Talking about ethics.

  • The task force charged with revising and improving the state’s Ethics Code met Tuesday at the Attorney General’s office.
  • They deliberated over the finer points of how to regulate the relationships between public officials and those who seek to influence them.
  • Most everybody says we need better, simpler rules governing how lobbyists and those who hire them influence public officials.
  • But, when it comes to actually changing, folks get reluctant.
  • For example: one proposed revision is taking the limit for what lobbyists can spend on meals and drinks for public officials down to zero. The idea being if everyone knows it’s dutch treat, that’s a pretty simple rule.
  • But several on the panel didn’t like that idea, including many in the lobbying industry who say the current $25 limit is fine and has some “safe harbor” value for those in uncertain situations.
  • Also not a consensus: a proposed revision to clarify who is and isn’t a “principal” under the law. It’s the one change everyone agrees is needed, but how exactly to do it is tough to agree on.
  • My biggest takeaway: changing the ethics code is not easy, and eight years after the last big revision, maybe folks have grown more accustomed to the rules than we realize.
  • I’m going to get deeper into this later but catch up on the basics by reading Brian Lyman at the Montgomery AdvertiserMike Cason at AL.com, and Jenn Horton at WSFA.

5. The AlaDems dust up isn’t done.

  • Remember all the drama a few weeks back when the Alabama Democratic Party re-elected Nancy Worley as its chairwoman?
  • Reformers like Sen. Doug Jones, who were trying to change the leadership and direction of the party, came up short.
  • It was an example of how longtime party boss Joe Reed still has control. The way he appointed more than 30 new voting members to the committee right before the vote would make some banana republics blush. But it’s right there in the rules by consent decree.
  • Now some are appealing for the intervention of the Democratic National Convention. Ralph Young has filed an official DNC complaint arguing its rules and diversity requirements were broken.
  • One point of contention that’s likely to get noticed: When appointing minority committee members, Reed only selects African Americans. Zero Hispanic, Asian, Indian, or Arab Americans, even though they make up enough of the electorate to have a seat or two.
  • As crazy as that sounds, it is all written into the rules.
  • I’m interested to see where this goes. Read more HERE.

Bonus: Skip Tucker

  • If it’s Wednesday we are reading Skip Tucker.
  • He’s in the football spirit (aren’t we all?) and recalling memories of legendary Alabama quarterback Ken Stabler.
  • Here’s an excerpt
  • Stabler was at once extremely simple and extremely difficult. It’s easy to say he did mostly what he wanted. The difficult part is to determine what it was he wanted most, and why. Stabler, much as anyone I’ve known, was true to himself.
  • The fact that his “self,” so far as I knew him, was a complex blend of self-absorption, self-interest and kindness. And near limitless ability. He was unflappable and tough as a kevlar doughnut.
  • The last time I saw him in Tuscaloosa, he was sitting in his car one afternoon, full of beer, and as I walked by he yelled, “Hey, Skip. You my horse if you never win a damn race.”
  • Read Skip’s full column and see where that horse story goes.

Headlines

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Green sues Medical Examiners in $10 million wrongful termination action
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Skip Tucker: The Snake and I.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Complaint filed with DNC over Worley election.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – The Latest: McConnell has ‘total confidence’ in Sessions.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Google denies Trump charge it rigs “Trump News” searches.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Final farewells to Sen. John McCain begin at Arizona Capitol.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Graham: Relationship between Trump, Session ‘beyond repair.’
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Ethics law changes mulled by revision commission.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER Mental health services hot topic at Federal Commission on School Safety meeting.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Emmett Till: Finding the truth behind decades of lies.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Stepping away from suspensions: How schools are dealing with behavior.
DECATUR DAILY – US military support needs oversight.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – 5-mill property tax fails in Muscle Shoals.
ANNISTON STAR – The flip side to America’s (and Alabama’s) upbeat job news.
ANNISTON STAR – Editor Phillip Tutor: Maddox, Jones and the ‘giant blue wave’ that’s unlikely in Alabama.
AL.COM – AG says Hubbard ruling reaffirms need for ethics law clarity.
AL.COM – Student mental health key to improving school safety, commission hears.
AL.COM – Senate confirms black Alabama judge to federal bench.
AL.COM – Democrats change, lose candidates in state House races.
AL.COM – Complaint against Nancy Worley filed with Democratic National Committee.
AL.COM – Mitch McConnell: Sessions ‘ought to stay exactly where he is’.
AL.COM – Mississippi lottery bill may soon be signed into law.
AL.COM – Jim Bonner loses appeal with state GOP, starts Senate write-in campaign.
AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith: John McCain was the RINO who first showed me political independence.
AL.COM – What does Alabama have to show for 8 years of Republican rule?
AL.COM – Alabama has fifth highest rate of impaired driving deaths, study says.
WASHINGTON POST – Trump privately revived the idea of firing Sessions this month, according to people familiar with the discussions.
WASHINGTON POST – Trump’s economic adviser: ‘We’re taking a look’ at whether Google searches should be regulated.
NEW YORK TIMES – Republicans Resist Plan to Rename Senate Building for McCain
NEW YORK TIMES – If G.O.P. Loses Hold on Congress, Trump Warns, Democrats Will Enact Change ‘Quickly and Violently’