Author: Lee Hedgepeth

The race for governor heats up

Photo via Facebook With a growing list of candidates and millions in campaign cash already on the line, the race for Alabama governor — an election still over a year out — is heating up. So far 10 candidates have formally filed for a principal campaign committee with the Alabama Secretary of State’s office. Of those, one candidate, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, has already dissolved his committee and backed out of the gubernatorial arena: “Basically too many negatives for this this thing to add up to being a positive,” he said. The nine remaining candidates with...

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Feds’ request for statewide voter info on hold for now

Secretary of State John Merrill photo via Facebook In the wake of both a lawsuit filed by an electronic privacy group and widespread noncompliance from local officials including here in Alabama, a commission tasked by President Donald Trump with assessing election integrity has put on hold its request for respective states’ voter information. The body, created by an executive order in May, is called the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, and is tasked with identifying “voting systems and practices used for federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and...

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Court rules state’s treatment of inmates’ mental illness unlawful

(Photo courtesy of Alabama Public Radio) A federal district court judge has ruled that Alabama’s “horrendously inadequate” treatment of mentally ill inmates violates the United States Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. The decision, written by U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson, is only the first in a series considering various phases of a class-action lawsuit filed by Alabama inmates with disabilities alleging unlawful conditions and treatment by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). Just over 300 pages long, Thompson’s opinion focuses on mental health treatment, with physical disabilities and accommodations set to be considered in a later...

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Austal secures multimillion-dollar Navy contract

Australian-owned shipbuilder Austal announced it has officially been awarded a $584 million contract to build another littoral combat ship (LCS) for the U.S. Navy in its Mobile shipyard, but not without some controversy. The announcement comes weeks after policymakers scrambled to have an additional LCS ship added to President Donald Trump’s defense budget — the first draft of which kept funding for the frigate program at Obama-era levels. Austal said the 417-foot LCS 28 will be built here in Mobile “employing techniques that would be applied if it wins the Australian government’s $3 billion offshore patrol vessel contract.” “While...

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Beach Express announces lower tolls through Labor Day

Detroit-based American Roads LLC has announced it will lower tolls on the Baldwin County Beach Express for both visitors and residents through Labor Day in an effort to reduce traffic, particularly on the bridge and Highway 59. “Beach Express GO! will cut summer toll rates by more than 20 percent for visitors. Some local residents will see savings of over 70 percent below the standard rate,” American Roads announced. “Designed to immediately ease congestion on Highway 59, the program includes a plan to move traffic more freely over the bridge during periods of high demand.” The company also announced...

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Despite threat of suit, Fairhope council refuses funds for mayor’s lawyer

The Fairhope City Council approved close to a dozen resolutions at its latest meeting June 26, but one proposed by Mayor Karin Wilson and pushed by her, according to council members, under threat of legal action failed to gain support. That resolution would have authorized up to $15,000 for Wilson to negotiate agreements to contract a lawyer specifically for her office and for a mediator to negotiate between herself and the council, which have been in tense relations since their election last November. Wilson, who was at a mayor’s conference in Miami and did not attend Monday’s City Council meeting, sent Harry Satterwhite to represent her. Satterwhite, a Mobile-based attorney, was listed in the proposal as the mayor’s choice for legal counsel and spoke to members about the resolution. “There’s something on the agenda tonight … It’s a resolution [Mayor Wilson] is proposing to hire counsel for the mayor’s office here in Fairhope,” Satterwhite told council members on June 26. “She contacted me a couple of weeks ago and explained to me concerns she’s got about the relationship she has with the council, and it’s her perception that there’s a lot of tension with the council. There is a lack of cooperation, a lack of communication, a lack of information that she’s getting, and of course I understand the council has its own view and its own opinion of...

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Spanish Fort High School’s AP reading list, class materials cause uproar

A summer reading list assigned by a Spanish Fort High School AP Government and Economics teacher has been removed from the Baldwin County school system’s website after a public backlash, but similarly controversial material remains posted on the site as of this writing. The summer reading spectacle began when the reading list for the 12th grade teacher Gene Ponder’s Advanced Placement course was posted and widely circulated on social media. The list of 31 books leans overwhelmingly to the political right, including a few works by mainstream conservatives like Thomas Sowell and Ronald Reagan, scattered among many others by...

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State ABC Board approves 5 percent tax increase

Come Nov. 1, Alabamians will pay 5 percent more for liquor — no matter where they shop — after the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Board approved a markup on spirits at its last meeting. The markup brings the state’s total to 35 percent over cost and was approved unanimously by the Board earlier this month after a preliminary approval in March and a period of public comment. ABC officials said the increase was necessary to level the playing field across the state given recent decisions in a couple of counties to increase their markup locally, driving up competition...

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