Here’s your Weekend Digest for Sunday, January 19.
1. Shelby talks Senate impeachment trial
- U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos this morning that he hasn’t made any decision yet on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
- “I have not prejudged anything,” Shelby said. “I have my own thoughts about things at this point. But we haven’t heard any of the summaries, any of the arguments… I do have some observations, though, at this point, and they’re early and they’re not conclusive. One, it looks to me at this juncture that the House has got a weak hand. They’re wanting us in the Senate to open the case up and to retry everything. We don’t know what’s going to come forth this week.”
- When asked if a witness like John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, would be a relevant witness, Shelby said he “could be,” but maintained that the House’s case is generally weak.
- “Well, he could be. He might be. Would he add anything? I don’t know yet. But I would be open to listening to the arguments,” Shelby said. “And I think that’s the only way to be fair to both sides in this case.
- “I think the House rushed to judgment on this. They could have pursued this a lot longer. But they made a political decision. And I think it’s — they’ve got problems now and they want us to unwind their problems.”
- Watch Shelby’s full interview, complete with 1998 Larry King flashback, HERE.
2. Candidates clash over government billing dispute
- With just six weeks to go until the March 3rd primary elections, the gloves are starting to come off as some Republican candidates for Congress in Alabama’s 2nd District mix it up on the campaign trail.
- Late last week, AL.com columnist Kyle Whitmire published a piece critical of Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman, whose moving company, Coleman Worldwide, in 2015 paid a $5 million settlement to the federal government in a weighing and billing dispute. Coleman’s company specializes in moving military families from base to base, and in 2012 the Department of Justice pressed a False Claims Act case saying the government was over-billed due to falsified truck weights.
- In a statement to Alabama Daily News, the Coleman campaign strongly asserted that the company did nothing wrong, the settlement was a business decision to avoid further legal expenses, and that the employee in question was fired for poor performance prior to the company’s knowledge his unlawful behavior.
- One fellow candidate in the race wasted no time pouncing on the story. During a news conference Friday, Prattville businesswoman Jessica Taylor accused Coleman of “corruption” and questioned his fitness to serve in Congress. “Jeff Coleman can’t ‘move and shake’ out of this one,” Taylor said.
- Read more from me HERE.
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3. 59/20 interchange set to reopen
- Months of headaches for daily commuters, long-haul drivers and downtown businesses are coming to an end as Interstate 59/20 reopens through Alabama’s largest city.
- Workers have virtually completed finishing touches like yellow striping and installing signs on a mile-long section of the highway that was demolished and rebuilt after the old road was shut down about a year ago. The project forced east-west traffic to take alternate route through Birmingham.
- Officials opened the westbound lanes Friday night after a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and they said both sides would be open Sunday night.
- State officials said that by opening the new elevated highway before Tuesday, the contractor, Texas-based Johnson Brothers Corp., will earn a $15 million bonus because the job was finished early.
- The project cost some $700 million total.
- Read more about the project HERE.
4. Courts won’t reconsider confederate monument ruling
- The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday refused to reconsider a ruling that prohibits Birmingham from obscuring, or taking down, a Confederate monument in a city park.
- Justices turned down a rehearing request without comment.
- The court in November ruled that Birmingham violated a state law protecting Confederate monuments when it put plywood panels in front of a towering obelisk in a downtown park.
- The decision reversed a circuit judge’s finding that the law was an unconstitutional violation of a community’s free speech rights.
- Justices directed the judge to instead enter an order declaring that Birmingham violated the 2017 Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, and to fine the city $25,000.
- Read more about the case HERE.
5. Alabama lynching memorial, museum expanding
- The nation’s first memorial to lynching victims is expanding, and just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. day.
- The Equal Justice Initiative on Saturday opened a new welcome center and exhibition space that will add to the existing lynching memorial and museum that documents the history of racial inequality in America.
- The pavilion, located in downtown Montgomery, will serve as a hub for visitors to the two previously opened sites, EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which documents the era of racial terror lynchings between 1877 and 1950 and the Legacy Museum.
- The Legacy Pavilion will include a monument to women, men and children who were victims of racial terror lynchings in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and during Reconstruction.
- It will also honor civil rights figures including Martin Luther King Jr., Claudette Colvin, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Jonathan Daniels, Jo Ann Robinson, and E.D. Nixon and describe the role Montgomery played in fueling a civil rights movement.
- Read more about the new addition HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Interstate 59/20 set to reopen through Birmingham
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama court won’t reconsider Confederate monument ruling
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama lynching memorial, museum expanding
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Shelby discusses Senate impeachment trial on ‘This Week’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Candidates clash over government billing dispute
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 17, 2020
AL.COM – National Archives: ‘We made a mistake’ altering anti-Trump photos
AL.COM – First woman bishop elected for Episcopal Diocese of Alabama
AL.COM – Republican congressional candidates differ on I-10 financing during debate
AL.COM – LGBT activists say new bills target transgender youth
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Heroes inspire and yet frighten us, too
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: DOJ accused congressional candidate’s company of fraud. He blames … Obama
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: Alabama needs Just Mercy
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Sen. Steve Livingston sees opportunity to strengthen Alabama’s aerospace and defense industry
TIMES DAILY – 50-yard-line mass baptism prompts complaint in Alabama town
TIMES DAILY – The Times Daily: MLK never gave up on his dream, and neither should we
ANNISTON STAR – Last known Confederate combat casualty will get a new burial in Munford 155 years after death.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Mayor Stephen Reed: Martin Luther King Jr. made Montgomery a beacon of hope and change
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: The Power of One
WASHINGTON POST – Richmond braces for giant gun rights rally on Monday
WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post: The National Archives was wrong to alter history. Fortunately, it reversed course
WASHINGTON POST – A radioactive legacy haunts this Navajo village, which fears a fractured future
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Jennifer Delton: Why the ERA might set women’s rights back
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump’s Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Brazen’ as Democrats Make Legal Case
NEW YORK TIMES – How 17 Outsize Portraits Rattled a Small Southern Town
NEW YORK TIMES – Supreme Court to Consider Limits on Contraception Coverage