Daily News Digest – September 23, 2019

Daily News Digest – September 23, 2019

Presented by AlabamaWorks!

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Monday, September 23.

 

1. New commission to provide ‘deep dive’ into programs’ costs, results.

 

  • Alabama has a new commission charged with digging into state agencies’ books to see if any taxpayer funds should be repurposed.
  • State lawmakers and Gov. Kay Ivey this year created the Commission on Evaluation of Services to take a “deep dive” into General Fund agencies’ programs and spending to find information that could be used to make future funding choices.
  • The commission was born out of what some lawmakers say is a lack of information about the impact of state-funded services and how they’re helping the populations they’re supposed to serve.
  • State efforts to evaluate efficiencies in state government are nothing new. The mid 2000s saw SMART budgeting from the Department of Finance that sought better spending practices. The early 2010s saw Sen. Del Marsh’s Office of Funding Efficiency that eventually led to a consolidation of some state agencies.
  • But this commission is now codified and granted with significant authorities in terms of auditing where the money goes.
  • Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, sponsored the legislation. When he was a freshman lawmaker, he said he was put on the House General Fund budget committee and asked to appropriate money while having little information about the effectiveness of agencies’ programs.
  • “I want a deep dive into agencies,” Wingo said recently. “To understand where the people’s money is going.”
  • Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, has been on budgeting committees during three governors’ administrations. He said when lawmakers allocate money, they don’t always know the results of the programs they’re funding.
  • “We don’t know if they’ve been evaluated, or if we’re funding programs that have never been evaluated and are never going to die because they’re never scrutinized — that makes no sense,” Orr said.
  • The legislation creating the commission was approved in the House and Senate with no opposition. The commission meets for the first time Sept. 30. It will include six lawmakers and six Ivey appointees.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.

 

2. This Trump-Biden-Ukraine thing.

  • Alabama has a new commission charged with digging into state agencies’ books to see if any taxpayer funds should be repurposed.
  • State lawmakers and Gov. Kay Ivey this year created the Commission on Evaluation of Services to take a “deep dive” into General Fund agencies’ programs and spending to find information that could be used to make future funding choices.
  • The commission was born out of what some lawmakers say is a lack of information about the impact of state-funded services and how they’re helping the populations they’re supposed to serve.
  • State efforts to evaluate efficiencies in state government are nothing new. The mid 2000s saw SMART budgeting from the Department of Finance that sought better spending practices. The early 2010s saw Sen. Del Marsh’s Office of Funding Efficiency that eventually led to a consolidation of some state agencies.
  • But this commission is now codified and granted with significant authorities in terms of auditing where the money goes.
  • Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, sponsored the legislation. When he was a freshman lawmaker, he said he was put on the House General Fund budget committee and asked to appropriate money while having little information about the effectiveness of agencies’ programs.
  • “I want a deep dive into agencies,” Wingo said recently. “To understand where the people’s money is going.”
  • Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, has been on budgeting committees during three governors’ administrations. He said when lawmakers allocate money, they don’t always know the results of the programs they’re funding.
  • “We don’t know if they’ve been evaluated, or if we’re funding programs that have never been evaluated and are never going to die because they’re never scrutinized — that makes no sense,” Orr said.
  • The legislation creating the commission was approved in the House and Senate with no opposition. The commission meets for the first time Sept. 30. It will include six lawmakers and six Ivey appointees.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.
  • The political story that will continue to dominate the national news over the next few weeks (or more) is the controversy surrounding former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, whether his business dealings in Ukraine benefited from his father’s position, and whether President Donald Trump’s mention of the situation during a diplomatic call with Ukraine’s president crossed the line.
  • Trump told reporters recently that he mentioned the younger Biden during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymer Zelenskiy as an example of rooting out corruption.
  • “It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump said
  • Biden, who is among the front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination, accused Trump of making a baseless political smear.
  • If you’re like me, this has been a little confusing from the beginning. So, if you want to get smart on what will be an interesting political story this fall and maybe beyond, here are some resources…
  • Read more about the basis behind the Hunter Biden / Ukraine relationship HERE.
  • Read about the latest back-and-forth involving President Trump and congressional Democrats HERE.
  • And read this quick and helpful “cheat sheet” from Alabama’s Quin Hillyer to understand the legal implications of the different angles involved.

 

A message from AlabamaWorks!

Alabama’s unemployment rate is at a record low. This is great for our economy, but it can present problems for those who are under-skilled for open jobs and also dilemmas for employers seeking to fill those positions.
To meet this challenge, Gov. Kay Ivey established Success Plus, a plan to add 500,000+ highly-skilled, credentialed individuals to Alabama’s workforce by 2025.
To learn more, visit AlabamaWorks.com/SuccessPlus.

 

 

 

3. Thousands honor slain Tuscaloosa officer Dornell Cousette.

  • Thousands lined the streets of Tuscaloosa and packed a local auditorium Sunday to mourn and pay respects to Detective Dornell Cousette of the Tuscaloosa Police Department.
  • Cousette was shot and killed while attempting to serve felony warrants to a 20-year-old who is now charged with murder.
  • Cousette, a 40-year-old father of two daughters, was a U.S. Army veteran who served in the TPD for 13 years.
  • The funeral included the reading of letters from Cousette’s daughters, tributes from his fellow officers, and remarks from Mayor Walt Maddox.
  • “His choice was courage. His choice was duty. His choice was fidelity to all. His choice was to be an image of God. Simply put, Investigator Cousette chose hope. Now all of us have a decision to make because just honoring his sacrifice is not enough and it will never be enough,” Maddox said.
  • Read the full story from Carol Robinson and see photos from the day HERE.
  • Also, Tuscaloosa News photographer Gary Cosby, Jr. has some moving photos from the graveside service HERE.

 

4. Back to the Eastern Shore.

  • After voting a month ago to effectively kill the Mobile Bridge and Bayway project, the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization is meeting again this week to formally adopt a Transportation Improvement Plan without the massive, $2.1 billion bridge plan.
  • However, that won’t stop Eastern Shore and Mobile officials from keeping the project on their longer term “visionary” plans with no actual funding identified.
  • Finding a way to alleviate frequent congestion in the I-10 Wallace Tunnel remains a local priority, even if locals can’t agree on a way to pay for building a replacement.
  • Read the full story from Al.com’s John Sharp HERE.

 

5. AP Top 25.

  • Auburn moved up one spot to No. 7 after beating Texas A&M on the road and and Wisconsin climbed to No 8 with a big win over Michigan. Notre Dame fell to 10th after its loss to Georgia.
  • Other than that, the top of the AP Top 25 poll remains mostly unchanged.
  • No. 2 Alabama has been ranked for 200 straight weeks, the fourth longest streak since the AP poll started in 1936. The Tide’s streak began with the preseason poll of 2008. Alabama joins Nebraska (348, Oct. 12, 1981-Sept. 22, 2002), Florida State (211, Sept. 24, 1989-Nov. 11, 2001) and Florida (209, Sept. 9, 1990-Oct. 5, 2002) with poll streaks of at least 200 appearances.
  • Auburn has now defeated two Top 25 teams on the road, No. 23 Texas A&M and No. 13 Oregon. But their task doesn’t get any easier. Auburn faces teams in the Top 10 to close out the season: No. 9 Florida, No. 4 LSU, No. 3 Georgia, and No. 2 Alabama.
  • Read more tidbits and see the full poll HERE.

 

 

News Briefs.

Inmate dies after being stabbed at prison
  • CLAYTON, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama inmate died this month after being stabbed by another inmate, the prison system said Friday.
  • The Department of Corrections said in a news release that Joshua David Willingham, 29, died days after being stabbed by another inmate at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton.
  • The prison system said Willingham was assaulted in a housing area on Sept. 8. He was airlifted to a hospital where he died from his injuries on Sept. 13.
  • The department said Taywan Campbell, 38, will face a murder charge in connection with the assault. Court records aren’t available to show whether Campbell has an attorney.
  • The prison system said it is investigating circumstances that led to the stabbing.
  • Eight inmates have been killed so far in 2019 inside Alabama prisons, according to prison system statistics and news releases.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice issued scathing findings in April that condemned Alabama prisons for what it called unconstitutional conditional conditions, including high rates of violence.
  • Campbell is serving a 40-year sentence for discharging a firearm in an occupied vehicle in Sumter County. Willingham was serving a 20-year-sentence on a first-degree kidnapping conviction in Calhoun County.
  • Story link.
Pygmy hippo born at Montgomery Zoo
  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A pygmy hippopotamus has been born at the Montgomery Zoo
  • The zoo this week announced the arrival of the calf born. Aug. 4. The calf was born to first time parents, mom, Asali, and dad, Mikey.
  • Asali gave birth to twins, but the zoo said the other calf lived only two days because of a condition that made it unable to nurse.
  • The zoo said mom and baby will be housed in a temporary habitat located in the South America realm of the Zoo, near the flamingos, until the calf is about a year old.
  • The pygmy hippopotamus is a large mammal native to the forests and swamps of western Africa.
  • The species is considered endangered in the wild.
  • More WSFA HERE.
Grant money to help assist immigrant crime victims
  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Nearly $700,000 in federal grant money will go to a nonprofit group that works with Hispanic immigrants in central Alabama.
  • An announcement from the governor’s office says the Birmingham-based Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama is receiving the money to work with immigrants who become victims of crimes in Blount, Chilton, Jefferson and Shelby counties.
  • Advocates say immigrants are sometimes hesitant to report crimes because of fear of entanglement with law enforcement and cultural differences.
  • A statement by Gov. Kay Ivey says crime victims deserve assistance regardless of their background, and she is praising the immigrant-aid group for its work.
  • The money will help provide services including support groups and advocacy for crime victims.
  • The Justice Department grant is being administered by the state.
City plans to trap scores of cats that make park their home
  • PHENIX CITY, Ala. (AP) — There’s a plan afoot to trap scores of stray cats that moved into a city park in east Alabama after the felines drew complaints from park-goers.
  • City officials say they’ve received complaints about feral cats begging for food at Idle Hour Park in Phenix City, WTVM-TV reported .
  • The city plans to trap the cats and then bring them to a local shelter, Assistant City Manager Steve Smith said. The hope is that many of them can then be adopted.
  • Smith estimates that about four dozen feral cats live at the park. He said many of the complaints involve cats approaching the pavilions, often in the evenings or at night.
  • It will take a few weeks to complete the trapping effort, Smith said.
  • Park goers have mixed feelings about how the city is handling the situation at the park, which is also home to geese and ducks.
  • “I’m not going to come because I’m scared of cats,” Angela Dawkins told the TV station. “So, I know if I see cats that I’m not going to come and sit down and eat.”
  • Melissa Castillo said park users don’t know whether the cats are carrying diseases.
  • “This park is frequented by people, so it’s probably not the best idea to have them hanging around,” Castillo said.
  • Other residents are in favor of holding a public forum to see how residents want the city to address the issue, rather than moving forward with just one option.
  • Phenix City is near the Alabama-Georgia line, just west of Columbus, Georgia.

 

Headlines.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New commission to provide ‘deep dive’ into state programs’ costs, results
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump suggests he raised the Bidens with Ukraine’s president
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – The story behind Biden’s son, Ukraine and Trump’s claims
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AP Top 25: Auburn climbs to No. 7, Wisconsin into top 10.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS-  Gulf Coast seafood biz slammed by freshwater from floods
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – September 21, 2019
AL.COM  – Motorcycle riders cross north Alabama to mark Trail of Tears
AL.COM  – ‘His star was so bright’: Thousands honor slain Tuscaloosa police officer Det. Dornell Cousette
AL.COM  – Alabama’s Tigers for Tomorrow preserve welcomes 2 white lions
AL.COM  – Alabama incarcerated: How do state prisons and jails compare to the rest of the nation?
AL.COM  – Columnist John Archibald: Alabama cops are trippin’
Montgomery Advertiser – Prattville buying iPads, Chromebooks for students with $10K state grant
Montgomery Advertiser – Group hopes to save First Presbyterian, Montgomery’s oldest standing church
Montgomery Advertiser – Midday shooting kills 41-year-old man on Rosa Parks Avenue
YellowHammer News – University of Alabama creates pediatric fellowship for family medicine physicians
YellowHammer News – Discovery of an endangered species in a well-known cave raises questions
YellowHammer News – USA leads $1.3M fight against opioid addiction
Dothan Eagle – Todd Farms’ uniqueness attracts tourist, locals
Dothan Eagle – Schools, city, police heed safety above all else
Dothan Eagle – Wheels ‘go round: School traffic could be worse, officials say
Tuscaloosa News – Thousands gather for funeral of Tuscaloosa police officer Dornell Cousette
Tuscaloosa News – Memorial service to pay tribute to fallen miners
Tuscaloosa News – Church founder, longtime community leader dies
Decatur Daily – City looks to replace Danville Road fire station for $3 million
Decatur Daily – Man taken into custody after falling from roof
Decatur Daily – Morgan commission may challenge local online sales tax law
Times Daily – UNA Board of Trustees increases budgets, recommends extension of Kitts’ contract
Times Daily – Volunteers participate in Tennessee River Litter Tournament
Times Daily – Native Americans, motorcyclists converge on Waterloo
Gadsden Times – Tropical Storm Karen forms, eyes Puerto Rico
Gadsden Times – JSU Board approves medical leave for President Beehler, discusses rape investigations
Gadsden Times – Todd Mill modernizes sugar cane production
Anniston Star – JSU’s Beehler to take 90-day family medical leave
Anniston Star – Toddler killed after being hit by bus near DeArmanville
Anniston Star – One killed, another injured in Friendship Road wreck
Troy Messenger – Troy University student struck while crossing John M. Long Avenue
Troy Messenger – Corrections officer arrested in Troy on charges of trafficking meth in prison system
Troy Messenger – Purple Cats overcome big deficit in win over Daleville
Andalusia Star News – Smith announces candidacy for county commission
Andalusia Star News – Health Department could see cuts to funding
Andalusia Star News – Despite disqualification, Carrasco is proud
Opelika-Auburn News – Air Force announces new jet will honor Tuskegee Airmen; the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn Public Library hosts Glass Room Experience
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika council approves payment plan
Daily Mountain Eagle – 4 arrested, charged in variety of crimes
Daily Mountain Eagle – Many not sure of opioid treatment options
Daily Mountain Eagle – Public defender sees father’s decline from opioids
Trussville Tribune – 6th annual National Night Out in Trussville planned for Oct. 1
Trussville Tribune – Hundreds gather for the funeral of fallen Tuscaloosa Police officer
Trussville Tribune – Quilt of Valor presented to Vietnam War veteran in Trussville
Athens News Courier – OUR VIEW: County appropriation process needs work
Athens News Courier – World leaders feel the heat in upcoming climate summit
Athens News Courier – People flock to small Alabama town for seven-layer cake
WSFA Montgomery – Alabama law enforcement say goodbye to brother in blue
WSFA Montgomery – Man found guilty of assault in 2018 shooting
WSFA Montgomery – Dogs dropped off at Montgomery shelter with critical injuries recovering
Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham mural of former President Barack Obama vandalized, community offering money for information
Fox 6 Birmingham – Those who mourn find a piece of themselves in Investigator Dornell Cousette
Fox 6 Birmingham – FIRST ALERT: Unseasonably hot weather as fall arrives, isolated showers tomorrow afternoon
WAFF Huntsville – School tantrum leads to 6-year-old’s arrest; grandmother outraged
WAFF Huntsville – Alabama law enforcement say goodbye to brother in blue
WAFF Huntsville – Two people arrested on drug charges in Morgan County
WKRG Mobile – ALEA names some involved in pair of fatal crashes in Baldwin, one arrested
WKRG Mobile – Mobile parent reacts to viral Sandy Hook Promise back-to-school PSA
WKRG Mobile – Possible road rage incident on Airport caught on camera
WTVY Dothan – Woman and infant son hit by vehicle in Okaloosa County
WTVY Dothan – Alabama law enforcement say goodbye to brother in blue
WTVY Dothan – Renowned civil rights attorney awarded key to city of Dothan
WASHINGTON POST  – Trump’s takeover of GOP forces many House Republicans to head for the exits
WASHINGTON POST  – There’s a new way to deal with Confederate monuments: Signs that explain their racist history
NEW YORK TIMES  – As Trump Confirms He Discussed Biden With Ukraine, Pressure to Impeach Builds
NEW YORK TIMES  – Deportations Reduce Crime? That’s Not What the Evidence Shows

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