the Business Council of Alabama
1. Bham police officer shot
- An off-duty Birmingham police officer was shot Sunday while responding to a robbery, the department chief said.
- Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith told news outlets that Detective John Finke was shot twice in the abdomen. Two suspects are in custody, he said.
- “He has made it through surgery and is in critical condition,” Smith told reporters. “We are praying very hard for him.”
- The shooting happened in the Woodlawn community where the officer was working security at a church Sunday morning. Smith said it appears the officer “may have observed the robbery in progress” and responded.
- Read more HERE.
2. ‘We’ve failed.’ Lawmakers look at mental health funding, treatment
- More money for mental health care and legislation to increase access to care, especially for people in crisis, are expected in the upcoming session of the Alabama Legislature.
- The potential bills will likely result in the first major discussions in Montgomery about mental health care since 2012 and 2015, when decisions were made to close three state mental health hospitals.
- “I think with everything we’ve got going on in the state, all the things we’re doing well, one thing we’ve failed at is mental health,” House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, told Alabama Daily News.
- Ledbetter, at the request of Gov. Kay Ivey, has been leading conversations with state representatives about how to improve mental health care. He said Senate members, leaders from multiple state agencies and Ivey’s office are all involved and bipartisan support exists in the State House to make changes this year.
- Ivey is expected to outline her goals for mental health in her State of the State address on Feb. 4. That’s also the first day of the legislative session.
- Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell in her feature story HERE.
A message from
the Business Council of Alabama
3. New ads
- With just 36 days to go until Alabama’s primary elections on March 3, campaigns are now in full swing.
- You’ve probably noticed a lot more campaign advertising on your TV, radio and even smart phone. (I heard an ad on Pandora this morning).
- Television advertising is really expensive, but pretty much essential to winning in today’s environment. You want to go up as early as you can to build name recognition, but not so fast that you run out of money and lose steam as election day approaches.
- Three congressional candidates are now up with new spots on broadcast, cable and digital.
- In the 1st District, Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl has substantial resources behind a new ad that pushes his everyman roots and business bonafides.
- Also in the 1st, former State Sen. Bill Hightower has a new ad highlighting his Christian faith and how it applies to his politics.
- In the 2nd District, Prattville businesswoman Jessica Taylor is on the air with a condensed, 30-second version of the “Squad” video that went viral and gained her national recognition.
- Also in the 2nd, ADN has learned that former Attorney General Troy King’s campaign had reserved airtime to run TV ads, but later canceled the buy.
- And this just in: Tommy Tuberville is now up on radio with a statewide buy touting his devotion to President Trump and Christian values.
- Did we miss anybody? Is your campaign up with a new ad or about to be? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Transportation committee talks budgets, road planning
- Members of the Joint Legislative Transportation Committee recently asked state transportation leaders about the funding of infrastructure projects, both in the short term and long term.
- Under the 2019 gas tax and infrastructure law, known as Rebuild Alabama, the committee was reorganized and charged with closer oversight of the state’s transportation spending. The law increased the state gas tax by six cents a gallon last year and two more 2-cent increases are to come. It also requires attendance of the 12 lawmakers on the committee and Wednesday’s meeting had full attendance.
- The committee heard from Don Arkle, chief engineer of the Alabama Department of Transportation, who walked lawmakers through the details of how infrastructure dollars are collected and spent. For the current fiscal year, more than $1.4 billion is expected to be spent constructing roads and bridges, including $840 million from the federal government, $517 million from the state’s road and bridge fund, and $122 million from the first phase of the gas tax increase.
- Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, who sponsored the legislation reconstituting the Joint Legislative Transportation Committee, said he was pleased with how the meeting went.
- “You know, the whole point is to exchange information. ALDOT was here and they gave us a lot of information, and between now and the next meeting, we have time to review it,” Chambliss said.
- Read more, including some of the back-and-forth discussion and pre-filed legislation to change how the ALDOT director is selected, from Mary Sell and me HERE.
5. Impeachment trial rolls on
- President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial enters a pivotal week as his defense team resumes its case and senators face a critical vote on whether to hear witnesses or proceed directly to a vote that is widely expected to end in his acquittal.
- Those decisions on witnesses may be complicated by reports that Trump said he wanted to maintain a freeze on military assistance to Ukraine until it aided political investigations into his Democratic rivals. That’s from former national security adviser John Bolton in a draft of his forthcoming book. The allegation from Bolton challenges the defense offered up by Trump and his attorneys in his impeachment trial.
- The Capitol Hill maneuvering will be complemented by high-stakes efforts on both sides of the aisle to claim political advantage from the proceedings as the presidential nominating season kicks off in Iowa on Feb. 3.
- Read more about what to watch for as the impeachment trial resumes HERE.
- Read more about the Bolton book allegations HERE.
- Read more, ironically, about how many Americans are tuning out the impeachment trial HERE.
Alabama fire chief confirms deaths as fire destroys 35 boats
- SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (AP) — A fire chief in Alabama has confirmed fatalities in a massive fire that consumed at least 35 boats docked along the Tennessee River.
- Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus isn’t saying how many people have died. Earlier, he said 7 people were hospitalized and 7 others were missing after a fire destroyed at least 35 boats docked in Jackson County Park.
- Cres were called to the fire at about 12:30 a.m. on Monday. The chief said most of the vessels were houseboats.
- The Jackson County Emergency Management Agency says firefighting and rescue operations have been taking place on land and in the water.
- The park on the Tennessee River includes a boat ramp, a dock and a restaurant, and offers boat rentals, according to Jackson County’s government website.
- Full story HERE.
Alabama port adding automotive terminal
- MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A new project at Alabama’s main seaport will open the facility to the shipment of finished automobiles.
- The Alabama State Port Authority said Thursday it had signed a deal to build a $60 million automotive terminal in Mobile. It’s supposed to be ready early next year and will allow for vehicles to roll on and off of ships.
- The 57-acre terminal will be able to handle 150,000 vehicles annually with connections to rail service and highways, officials said.
- Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Honda currently make cars in the state, and Mazda-Toyota is building a factory in north Alabama. A docks official said the new terminal will open a new business stream for the docks.
- The project is a joint venture between Terminal Zarate, S.A., a Grupo Murchison company based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Neltume Ports, based in Santiago, Chile.
- Mobile is the nation’s 11th-largest deepwater seaport handling more than 58 million tons of cargo annually, the port authority said.
- Full story HERE.
2 workers injured at Bryant-Denny Stadium
- TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Two construction workers, participating in the renovation of Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama, were injured Saturday when beams fell on a piece of equipment they were operating.
- Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue spokeswoman Holly Whigham told news outlets that the workers were operating a manlift that was struck when the beams fell.
- Firefighters had to free the two workers. They were transported to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, she said. The workers’ conditions were not immediately available.
- “A workplace accident occurred at Bryant-Denny Stadium yesterday. Two workers with a subcontractor were transported to the hospital by emergency responders. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time,” university spokeswoman Monica Watts wrote in an email.
- The university said Wallace Wade Avenue and 8th Street at 11th Avenue have been closed until further notice as a precaution.
Birmingham fined over panels around Confederate monument
- BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Birmingham will pay a $25,000 fine for obstructing the view of a Confederate monument, a judge ordered last week under the direction of the Alabama Supreme Court.
- Circuit Judge Marshell Jackson Hatcher imposed the $25,000 fine that had been ordered by the state’s high court. Justices in November ruled that Birmingham violated a state law protecting historic monuments. Justices directed the circuit judge to enter an order declaring that Birmingham violated the 2017 Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, and to fine the city $25,000.
- Alabama sued Birmingham in 2017 after municipal officials in the majority black city erected a wooden box obscuring the inscriptions on a 52-foot-tall (16-meter-tall) obelisk honoring Confederate veterans.
- The 2017 Alabama Memorial Preservation Act prohibits relocating, removing, altering or renaming public buildings, streets and memorials that have been standing for more than 40 years. The legislation doesn’t specifically mention Confederate monuments, but it was enacted as some Southern states and cities began removing monuments and emblems of the Confederacy.
Sheriff’s office names 1st woman deputy chief in 200 years
- BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A black Alabama woman in law enforcement continues to make history.
- The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that Felicia Rucker-Summerlin was named deputy chief, the first woman in that position in the agency’s 200-year history, news outlets reported.
- “It really hasn’t hit me yet,’’ Rucker-Summerlin said. “I was shocked. When you think 200 years, and here I am.”
- Rucker-Summerlin earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Columbia Southern University and she joined the sheriff’s office in 1990. She was promoted to sergeant in 2004 supervising the Corrections Division, Patrol division and Identity Theft Divisions. She was then promoted to lieutenant in 2008 and in 2016 became the first black female captain, receiving an NAACP honor.
- Rucker-Summerlin told AL.Com that she took advantage of every educational and leadership training opportunity and worked a variety of assignments. She said she took steps to make sure no one could tell her she wasn’t qualified for any position.
- “I didn’t want (it) just because I was female or just because I was black,” Rucker-Summerlin said. “I wanted it because I’m qualified.”
- Rucker-Summerlin said she tells all the female deputies in the department to do all they can to be the best.
- “I’m a prime example that if you keep trying, it will come to you,’’ Rucker-Sumerlin said. “Never give up.”
Alabama ministry clears students’ lunch debt
- MADISON, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama ministry is paying the lunchroom debts of all the students in Madison city schools’ child nutrition program.
- The $21,000 gift was announced recently by Madison-based Inside-Out Ministries, Al.com reported.
- It clears the debt of more than 1,300 students who receive reduced-price meals in the north Alabama city school system.
- “It allows the students and the schools to move forward in 2020 without concern,” said Deborah Ward, director of operations of Inside-Out Ministries. “It’s a gift of love from our board of directors to Madison city students.”
- The donation is the largest one received since Madison City School was founded in 1998, said Marty Tatara, who coordinates the school system’s child nutrition program.
- The school system has “always been committed to feeding all children a full meal, whether they have money or not when they come through the lunch line,” Tatara said. “Despite the financial burden, we do this because nutrition is essential for learning.”
- Ward said the ministry decided to make the donation in honor of Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker. Parker recently announced he would retire in February.
- Madison is a predominately affluent city of about 50,000 on Huntsville’s west side, Al.com reported.
- “No matter a city’s income level, there are needs,” Ward said, “and we hope this donation brings an awareness and many offers of help.”
A message from
Mason-Dixon Polling and Research
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