Good morning and Happy Friday!
Here’s your Daily News for June 12.
1. Coronavirus worsens in Alabama
- Troublesome times are here.
- Alabama reported 849 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, according to the Department of Public Health.
- That’s our highest number of new cases in one day since the pandemic began. And while there could have been a backlog in tests getting processed, there doesn’t appear to be a correlating increase in tests being administered to explain the jump, as many would presume. The 3-day, 7-day and 14-day rolling averages of new cases are all spiking as well.
- State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris confirmed that the capital city of Montgomery has emerged as a hotspot.
- “I think reopening the economy gave a lot of people the wrong impression … that, ‘Hey everything is fine. Let’s go back to normal,’” Harris said. “Clearly, it is not that way. Really, now more than ever we need people to stay six feet apart, wear face coverings and wash their hands.”
- Some have attributed the spike in cases to Memorial Day gatherings, which would make sense. But that would also mean we aren’t yet seeing the effect of potential infections from the recent protests around the state.
- Read more on the state situation from Ramsay Archibald HERE. See the state data for yourself via the BamaTracker website HERE. And read more on how Alabama fits into the national picture HERE.
2. ADOC ordered to show prison hiring plan
- A federal judge this week questioned whether the Alabama Department of Corrections can meet required hiring goals and gave it until today to show him a written plan for getting more staff in its prisons.
- “And the bottom line is that the court stands ready now to assist in addressing this problem if there is one,” U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson said in his Monday order.
- Thompson previously ordered ADOC to hire about 2,000 additional correctional staff members by early 2022 and quarterly ADOC staffing reports are now required.
- The latest report, filed June 1, shows ADOC is still more than 2,000 staff members away from the goal, with less than two years to meet it. Alabama prisons have an overall vacancy rate of 54.9%.
- The ADOC would need to gain approximately 213 officers and approximately 23 supervisors per quarter for each of the eight remaining quarters in order to meet that order, Thompson said this week.
- A comment about the order or hiring challenges was not available from ADOC on Thursday.
- The Legislature this year increased ADOC’s budget by $40 million in an effort to raise pay and increase benefits for correctional officers.
- A new basic correctional officer earns $31,469 per year. New correctional officers earn about $38,335 per year, according to ADOC.
- Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.
3. Tuberville travels to meet Trump
- How about that for a photo op?
- U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville traveled to Dallas on Thursday to meet with President Donald Trump and was photographed deplaning Air Force One with him.
- Tuberville did not fly on Air Force One, but rather met Trump at the airport in Dallas.
- In a statement, Tuberville said he and the president discussed the status of the Alabama Senate race and “ways to Make America Great Again.”
- The former Auburn football coach has Trump’s endorsement in the July 14 GOP runoff with former Senator and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
- The two candidates finished close in the March 3 primary, with Tuberville winning 33.39% of the vote to Sessions’ 31.65%.
- Recent polling has been mixed.
- Read more HERE.
4. In the Weeds w/ Kelly Butler
- Another episode of the In the Weeds podcast is up today.
- This week we dove into the CARES Act and specifically how much federal money the state is receiving, where it is going and how it is being spent.
- Congress passed the $2 trillion CARES Act in March, and Alabama’s share of the money amounts to $3.2 billion.
- Half of that was appropriated by the Legislature last month, but the other half went directly to state agencies, health providers and other institutions.
- Caroline Beck did a full accounting of where the money is going in an in-depth story we ran yesterday. Meanwhile, Mary Sell specifically looked into the $275 million state colleges and universities are getting. Both stories are worth your time.
- Caroline also sat down with Finance Director Kelly Butler to talk about his department’s role in doling out the money.
- Butler is an interesting figure. In the past, the lofty role of finance director has tended to be filled by political types. Butler is not a politician, but rather a career state employee who worked his way up through the ranks to earn the top job. And while at first he inherited a booming economy with record revenues to play with, now he faces the daunting challenge of navigating the state’s finances through the uncharted waters of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Read and listen to Caroline’s full interview with Mr. Butler, as well as my lame introductory commentary, HERE.
- In the Weeds w/ Alabama Daily News is also available via Apple Podcasts HERE, Google Podcasts HERE and Spotify HERE.
5. News Briefs
Comedian ‘FunnyMaine’ charged with inciting riot
- An Alabama comedian who spoke at a rally following the police killing of George Floyd was arrested on a charge of inciting a riot by police who contend he helped spark a night of violent unrest in Birmingham.
- Jermaine Johnson surrendered to police on the misdemeanor charge on Tuesday and paid a $500 bond before being released, his lawyer, Emory Anthony, told al.com.
- Anthony said he was surprised that police decided to charge Johnson, who goes by the moniker “FunnyMaine” and is known for his videos about the University of Alabama football team.
- “He’s not guilty,” Anthony said.
- Johnson spoke at a peaceful rally in a downtown park on May 31 before a crowd went a few blocks away to Linn Park, where a Confederate monument was badly damaged. People later spread out through the area, smashing windows, setting fires and looting.
- In his speech, Johnson ticked off a list of sites he said demonstrators could not tear down. He continued: “But what I’m not telling you to do is walk to Linn Park. I’m not telling you to walk to Linn Park after this rally. I’m not telling you to tear something down in Linn Park. I’m not telling you that I’m going to be over there after this rally.”
- The city later removed the Confederate monument, a stone obelisk.
- Story link.
2 dead after small airplane crashes in Alabama
- SELMA, Ala. (AP) — Two people were killed when a single-engine airplane crashed in a rural area in western Alabama, authorities said.
- The Piper PA-32 aircraft went down a few miles outside Selma on Wednesday afternoon, killing the pilot and a passenger, The Selma Times-Journal reported.
- Commander James Stockman, a spokesman for the Naval Education and Training Command, said the two victims were active-duty Navy personnel assigned at Naval Air Station Pensacola. He said he could not release the names of the victims at this time.
- Dallas County Coroner Alan Dailey said neither person was from the area.
- The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to determine the cause of the crash.
Commission revokes charter school contract
- MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama regulators have revoked the charter of a contested south Alabama charter school that has struggled to get up and running.
- The Alabama Public Charter School Commission made the decision Tuesday to revoke the charter for Woodland Prep in Washington County.
- Michael O. Sibley, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Education said the charter contract was revoked due to failure to meet facility requirements, failure to meet fund raising requirements and failure to meet community engagement requirements.
- Public charter schools are schools that receive government funds but operate independently. Alabama lawmakers authorized the creation of charter schools in 2015. The state commission approved Woodland Prep in 2018. The state charter school commission is now almost entirely made up of new members.
- The Washington chapter of the Alabama Education Association, an organization representing public school employees, in August filed a lawsuit seeking to block public funds from going to the charter school.
- Read the full, in-depth story from Trish Crain HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alarming rise in virus cases in Alabama, other states
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State ordered to show prison hiring plan
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tuberville travels to meet with Trump
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In The Weeds with State Finance Director Kelly Butler
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – FBI agents show up at home of superintendent in Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Comedian ‘FunnyMaine’ charged with inciting riot in Alabama protest
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – A look into where Alabama’s $3.7 billion coronavirus relief money went
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – $275M in CARES funds allocated to Alabama higher education
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – NFIB: Small business optimism rebounds, other trends offer mixed results
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Scott’s challenge: Uniting Senate GOP behind police overhaul
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Sessions attacks Tuberville’s residency in new ad
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New poll shows tight Senate race in South Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama city to pay $300,000 ransom in computer system hack
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – June 11, 2020
AL.COM – Alabama roadmap to open K-12 schools nearly ready, state chief says
AL.COM – The coronavirus is worse than ever in Alabama, as new cases hit all time high
AL.COM – Nancy Worley drops legal battle over control of Democratic party
AL.COM – Alabama AG: Law says no path to legally remove Confederate statue in Huntsville
AL.COM – Alabama Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville meets with President Trump
AL.COM – Bradley Byrne endorses Jerry Carl in District 1 race; continues to stay out of Senate contest
AL.COM – Jermaine ‘FunnyMaine’ Johnson charged with inciting a riot after Birmingham protests
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Don’t be fooled. Huntsville’s Confederate monument isn’t going anywhere
AL.COM – Alabama’s 10 fastest-growing cities; four of them are in Baldwin County
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery teenager killed in Thursday shooting
Montgomery Advertiser – Accomplice law case of Lakeith Smith, sentenced to 55 years, gains renewed interest
Montgomery Advertiser – Public defenders rally against ‘systemic racism’ in criminal justice system
Tuscaloosa News – Comedian charged with inciting riot in Alabama protest
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa council to revisit apartment ban
Tuscaloosa News – Fatal shooting victim’s brother charged with murder
Decatur Daily – Decatur worries about cyberattacks as Florence pays $300K ransom
Decatur Daily – As contact tracing increases, Orr looks at regulations
Decatur Daily – Traveling rabies clinic aimed at keeping cases down
Times Daily – Florence still awaits response after ransom
Times Daily – A look into where Alabama’s $3.7B coronavirus relief money went
Times Daily – Hackers fail to breech Muscle Shoals PD firewall
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Teachers are looking for a plan on returning to the classroom
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – The Alabama Department of Labor makes improvements to help speed up unemployment claims
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – A look into where Alabama’s $3.7 billion coronavirus relief money went
Anniston Star – $275M in CARES funds allocated to Alabama higher education
Anniston Star – A look into where Alabama’s $3.7 billion coronavirus relief money went
YellowHammer News – Two Navy pilots dead after plane crash in Dallas County
YellowHammer News – Byrne endorses Jerry Carl in AL-01’s Republican primary runoff — ‘Will stand with Trump’
YellowHammer News – Alabama’s biggest movie theater chain says locations will open in July
Dothan Eagle – Fugitive arrested on drug trafficking charge in Enterprise
Dothan Eagle – Man arrested on multiple sex charges involving a minor; faces 22 additional porn charges
Dothan Eagle – Wiregrass brothers die in two-vehicle crash
Anniston Star – Schools wrestle with reopening plans as COVID-19 cases surge
Gadsden Times – DHR calls attention to elder abuse
Gadsden Times – Float trip fundraiser to benefit children in need
Gadsden Times – Police Report for June 12
Troy Messenger – Head-on crash kills brothers
Troy Messenger – Pike County cases jump by 17 in one day
Troy Messenger – Many forces behind alarming rise in virus cases in 21 states
Andalusia Star News – Man convicted of murder gets life in prison
Andalusia Star News – Fourth of July parade a go in Andalusia
Andalusia Star News – County nears 100 cases of COVID-19; 21 confirmed in last two weeks
Opelika-Auburn News – Rauch takes over reins at Opelika Chamber
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika Giving Day tops last year
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn, chamber SCORE some help for local businesses
Daily Mountain Eagle – Arrests made in West Jasper shootings
Daily Mountain Eagle – Comedian charged with inciting riot in Alabama protest
Daily Mountain Eagle – Dora High FFA reach ‘gold-ranked’ status
Trussville Tribune – Detectives searching for video and witnesses after shooting near Center Point
Trussville Tribune – Trussville City Schools plans to use state money to build new central office
Trussville Tribune – Huddle House construction in Pinson set to resume this month
Athens News Courier – Pryor Field renovations to include removal of WWII beacon tower
Athens News Courier – Council approves purchase of protective equipment for APD
Athens News Courier – COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD: Tanner playground approved for new shade structures
Sand Mountain Reporter – Albertville officially welcomes Food City | Former Kmart property to be home of chain’s first Alabama location
WSFA Montgomery – Merrill says Ala. prepared for July runoff after ‘unfortunate’ Ga. primary
WSFA Montgomery – MPD changes use of force policies amid national call for reform
WSFA Montgomery – Public defenders host rally against racism in justice system
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville nurse returns home after treating COVID-19 patients in New York
WAFF Huntsville – COVID-19 in Alabama: State sees 848 new cases in 24 hours
WAFF Huntsville – Citizens voice concerns to Huntsville City Council
WKRG Mobile – Man dies after his vehicle strikes tree that fell in roadway
WKRG Mobile – Pensacola city council takes step to bring a vote on Confederate monument removal
WKRG Mobile – NAACP, Sons of Confederate Veterans debate Semmes monument removal
WTVY Dothan – USDA “Farmers to Families” program benefiting Wiregrass
WTVY Dothan – Circle City BMX attracts new riders during Coronavirus pandemic
WTVY Dothan – Former collegues Tom Nebel and Teresa Thomas remember Ann Varnum
WASHINGTON POST – Confederate statues: In 2020, a renewed battle in America’s enduring Civil War
WASHINGTON POST – Trump pushes fights over racist legacy while much of America moves in a different direction
WASHINGTON POST – Dow slides more than 1,800 points on fears of coronavirus resurgence, more economic pain
NEW YORK TIMES – As Americans Shift on Racism, Trump Digs In
NEW YORK TIMES – ‘A Slap in the Face’: Black Veterans on Bases Named for Confederates
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Fans Can’t Sue if They Contract Covid-19 at Rallies, Campaign Says