Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, July 14.
1. It’s Election Day
- At long last, it is Election Day in Alabama.
- After a nearly four-month delay, voters will go to the polls to decide pivotal party contests for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and court races.
- Many folks have voted already via the absentee process, which I discussed in my column this week.
- But, if you’re like me, you still need to go to the polls today.
- If you don’t know your polling place (mine changes from municipal to state), you can look it up HERE.
- Want to read up on what’s on the ballot today so you can be prepared? Check out this brief rundown HERE.
- Finally, if you are going to the polls today, wear a mask. It’s the least you can do to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
2. Sessions’ last stand
- Seeking to reclaim his old Senate seat from Alabama, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions faces former college football coach Tommy Tuberville — a political newcomer endorsed by President Donald Trump.
- Trump casts a long shadow over the Alabama race, backing Tuberville after turning decisively against his former Cabinet member. Sessions held the seat safely for 20 years before resigning to lead Trump’s Justice Department. He was forced out of the position when their relationship soured over his recusal in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
- Sessions hopes his long relationship with state Republicans will carry him through. He was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump in 2016, and their alliance was solidified as Trump adopted hard-line immigration proposals that Sessions had championed for years in the Senate.
- “I am asking each of you to stand with me Tuesday. I have stood with you. I’ve defended our values, been effective in the United States Senate. I support and totally advanced the Trump agenda. It was my agenda before he announced. It was my agenda when he announced. That’s why I supported him,” Sessions said during a recent campaign stop.
- Sessions said in campaign appearances that he had no choice but to recuse himself, because he had participated in Trump’s 2016 campaign and could have been a subject or witness.
- Tuberville has mounted a strong challenge to Sessions, armed with both Trump’s endorsement and name recognition from his years on the Auburn University sidelines. He led Sessions by about 2 percentage points in the March primary before picking up Trump’s endorsement.
- In campaign appearances, it has not been unusual for people to seek autographs or selfies with the former coach in a state where college football is king.
- Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.
3. As school year approaches, leaders worry about teacher, staff shortages
- While school leaders grapple with how to safely and effectively reopen their classrooms next month, high on their lists of concerns is how to find enough teachers and staff to cover the expected COVID-19-related leaves and retirements.
- Even before the coronavirus, teachers and substitute teachers were in short supply in many school systems.
- “We were already having difficulty finding substitutes,” Russellville City Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes said about staffing prior to COVID-19. There are four schools in his system. Grimes is in the process of hiring permanent substitutes for each of them to help cover accrued sick, vacation or medical leaves, which can be weeks at a time, that teachers may take in the upcoming year. After that, he’s working on a plan to put other staff members in classrooms as needed.
- The Alabama Association of School Boards recently put together a list of frequently asked questions regarding personnel for school administrators. Included are the variety of leave options available to teachers if they or family members contract COVID-19, if they’re exposed to COVID-19 at school or if they have concerns about their health.
- Lack of child care for young children as the pandemic continues could also be an issue for some teachers and substitute teachers.
- Vic Wilson, executive director of the Council of Leaders in Alabama Schools, said he’s encouraged administrators to have a proposal for teacher retirements prompted by the virus and shortages of substitute teachers and other staff, including bus drivers.
- “If you have people who fall in the high-risk category, you better have a plan,” said Wilson, who last year served on a statewide teacher shortage task force.
- Bus driver availability is especially concerning for Grimes.
- “Even if we can find substitute teachers, not everyone is qualified to drive a bus,” Grimes said. Many of his bus drivers are retired from other professions and are older.
- Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.
4. In the Weeds: Runoff Election Day
- Sometimes Election Day can be a little boring.
- Everybody wants to know what’s going on. Text messages fly back and forth wondering “what are you hearing?” and the like.
- No new information really starts coming in until the polls close at 7:00, leaving a lot of politicos and politically-inclined people to suffer most of the day wanting to talk politics and wondering about the results.
- Well, have we got a podcast for you.
- Just as we did for the March 3rd Primary, political consultant David Mowery and I recorded a special “In the Weeds” podcast discussing the ins and outs of Election Day.
- We talk about voter turnout, the surge in absentee voting, the Senate race, the House races and the emergence of Club for Growth in Alabama.
- If you need something to whet your political whistle on this Election Day, listen to our little show.
- Or watch it, if you want. This is the first time we’ve brought a video element to the podcast, which, despite some alignment issues, seems to have worked out okay.
- You can listen via Apple Podcasts HERE, on Google Podcasts HERE, on Spotify HERE or on YouTube HERE.
5. News Briefs
Retired Alabama newspaper publisher Barrett Shelton dies
- DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — Retired Alabama newspaper executive Barrett Shelton Jr., who helped promote the Tennessee Valley region during his time in journalism, has died.
- The Decatur Daily, where Shelton worked as editor and publisher until his retirement about a decade ago, reported that Shelton died Sunday. He was 89.
- Shelton began working in the newspaper business in the late 1950s and was named general manager of the family-owned paper in 1965. He took over the top roles following the death of his father in 1984.
- Remembered for his love of the community along with his work in journalism, Shelton also helped promote the Tennessee Valley region and develop industry in the area.
- “There wasn’t a bigger supporter of Decatur and Morgan County than Barrett Shelton,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. “He did a lot around the community and did it quietly. He was very impactful and very generous.”
- Survivors include Shelton’s wife and three children.
18-year-old charged in slaying of Alabama sheriff seeks bond
- HAYNEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — The attorneys for an 18-year-old charged with capital murder in the slaying of an Alabama sheriff are requesting his release from jail as court proceedings remain delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Lawyers representing William Chase Johnson filed a motion for bond last week, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
- Johnson has been held in the Elmore County Jail since Nov. 23, the night he was accused of fatally shooting Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams Sr. in the face as the sheriff was attempting to disperse loiterers at a Hayneville gas station.
- Grand jurors have yet to take up the case as the investigation remains ongoing and court proceedings have been on hold in Lowndes County, which has one of the state’s highest virus infection rates, the newspaper reported. July’s grand jury session was canceled, with the next meeting set for January 2021.
- “This amounts to over a one year pre indictment delay in this matter. This is unreasonable,” Johnson’s attorneys wrote.
- If convicted, Johnson could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole. But the brief contends Johnson has “a law abiding and supportive family,” has made no threats against witnesses and has lived his entire life in Montgomery County, where his father is a sheriff’s deputy.
White House virus task force member says ‘none of us lie’
- WASHINGTON (AP) — A top member of the White House coronavirus task force said Tuesday that “none of us lie” to the public, an accusation President Donald Trump had retweeted, and that while kids need to be back in school as Trump insists, “we have to get the virus under control.”
- Adm. Brett Giroir’s comment came a day after Trump shared a Twitter post from a former game show host who, without evidence, accused government medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, of “lying.”
- Trump himself has at times disregarded the advice of his medical experts on the task force and continues to play down the threat from the virus as it spikes across the country, forcing some states to slow or reverse steps to reopen their economies.
- Asked on NBC’s “Today,” whether the CDC and other doctors are lying, Giroir allowed that mistakes have been made and that public guidance is updated when more is learned about the virus, “but none of us lie. We are completely transparent with the American people.”
- Full story HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – As school year approaches, leaders worry about teacher, staff shortages, protecting vulnerable
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Seeking comeback, Sessions faces Tuberville in Alabama race
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate, House runoffs included on Alabama runoff ballot
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In the Weeds: Runoff Election Day
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AL-2 GOP runoff, candidates battle for who is the truest Republican
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama elections chief: Masks can’t be required at polls
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judge: Women can get abortion pill without doctor visits
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ALEA to upgrade driver’s license system
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pac-12, Big Ten shelve games and fears grow of ripple effect
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stacy Column: Absentees and outside groups factor big in runoffs
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – White House virus task force member says ‘none of us lie’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – July 13, 2020
AL.COM – 1,860 new Alabama coronavirus cases since yesterday; Jefferson, Madison combine for 500 plus
AL.COM – Opelika state senator in hospital with COVID-19
AL.COM – President Trump talks up Tommy Tuberville on election eve conference call
AL.COM – 2 state inmates, including 31-year-old prisoner, die after testing positive for COVID-19
AL.COM – Alabama lawmakers push $150 million health plan to state school board
AL.COM – Alabama coroner reactivates mobile morgue as coronavirus cases explode
AL.COM – Jeff Sessions clarifies I-10 bridge project remark to say he strongly opposes massive tolls
AL.COM – Health official warns north Alabama faces ‘going off the cliff’ on COVID-19
AL.COM – Alabama Senate campaign down to last day for Sessions, Tuberville
Montgomery Advertiser – Marbury Middle School closed due to coronavirus exposure, could delay Autauga Schools reopening
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery Police need help finding missing 14-year-old Jakayla Safford
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama coronavirus spread continues, hospitalizations accelerate
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Runoff election preps for COVID-19
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Child eye doc recommends ways to protect eyes during virtual learning
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Local teachers express fears about returning to the classroom
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama concert promoter discovers a sweet, new purpose
Tuscaloosa News – Professional rodeo event is coming to Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa News – Help sought in finding mall shooting ‘person of interest’
Decatur Daily – With infections rising, Decatur mask ordinance takes effect
Decatur Daily – US debates school reopening, WHO warns ‘no return to normal’
Decatur Daily – In the community: Lazy days of summer
Times Daily – Report: separation from pets can be ‘ruff’ when owner returns to work
Times Daily – Sales tax holiday this coming weekend
Times Daily – ADOC says plan in the works to test entire inmate population
Anniston Star – RMC chief urges Jacksonville council to require masks
Anniston Star – Cleburne County closes probate office after staffer tests positive for COVID-19
Anniston Star – State says plan in the works to test Alabama’s entire inmate population
YellowHammer News – Trump gives closing pitch supporting ‘true conservative’ Tuberville in Tuesday’s runoff
YellowHammer News – Alabama-built rocket set to power NASA mission to Mars this summer
YellowHammer News – Altimmune COVID-19 vaccine candidate tested at UAB shows positive preclinical results
Gadsden Times – Skateboarder found dead in Arab Sunday
Gadsden Times – ECHD to hold drive-thru back-to-school shot clinic
Gadsden Times – Commission to meet in called executive session
Dothan Eagle – Houston County sees COVID cases jump by 80 over weekend; other counties also see surge
Dothan Eagle – Finally, Election Day – GOP will select November’s nominees
Dothan Eagle – Son remembers Pittman’s Food Store – once a community cornerstone in Dothan neighborhood
Opelika-Auburn News – Food Bank of East Alabama receives donation of 10,800 eggs from Cal-Maine Foods
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn council mulls mask ordinance; members to meet again Wednesday
Opelika-Auburn News – Commissioner at EAMC with COVID-19; English asks voters to wear masks Tuesday
WSFA Montgomery – EAMC officials concerned about rise in COVID-19 cases
WSFA Montgomery – Developer of bamatracker.com on a mission to make COVID-19 data relevant
WSFA Montgomery – Former Dallas County deputy arrested in New Hampshire
WAFF Huntsville – Scottsboro City Schools announce plans for reopening school, blended learning plan
WAFF Huntsville – Health official warns of new COVID-19 surge and the possibility of overwhelming system
WAFF Huntsville – Marshall County election officials make safety preparations ahead of primary elections
WKRG Mobile – Clergyman and wife test positive for COVID-19
WKRG Mobile – Continuing to quarantine out of abundance of caution, Fairhope City Council pres. tests positive for COVID-19
WKRG Mobile – Pensacola protester files motion to dismiss charges under ‘Stand Your Ground’ law
WTVY Dothan – Dothan police plan to question man after death of his aunt
WTVY Dothan – Deadly crash south of Troy claims life of Coffee County man
WTVY Dothan – Man busted in Dothan for bogus bills prison bound, co-defendant also pleads guilty
WASHINGTON POST – California orders new closures as U.S. retreat from coronavirus reopenings accelerates
WASHINGTON POST – White House effort to undermine Fauci is criticized by public health experts, scientists and Democrats
WASHINGTON POST – Trump administration to recommend National Guard as option to help hospitals report coronavirus data
NEW YORK TIMES – Coronavirus Live Updates: States Look at Returning to Lockdown
NEW YORK TIMES – New York Confronts Second-Wave Risk: Visitors From Florida and Texas
NEW YORK TIMES – The Stunning Sweep of the Coronavirus Through the Rio Grande Valley
NEW YORK TIMES – Coronavirus Live Updates: States Look at Returning to Lockdown
WALL STREET JOURNAL – As U.S. Surge in Coronavirus Cases Continues, Some States Tighten Rules
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Supreme Court Permits First Federal Executions Since 2003
WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Stock Futures Edge Up Ahead of Banks’ Earnings
Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)