Trump’s election sparks protests locally, nationally
By Jason Johnson/REPORTER
With the 2016 presidential election in the rearview mirror, it’s safe to say the reaction to Donald J. Trump’s unexpected victory has been mixed. While many lauded the New York mogul’s convincing victory last week, others took to the streets in protest of a president-elect they’ve deemed sexist, racist and xenophobic.
This week, some protests in major cities and on college campuses stretched into their sixth day, and while most have remained peaceful, others have not.
Anti-Trump demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, quickly escalated to violence last week with protesters destroying property, blocking streets and throwing projectiles at police officers. Just since last Thursday, riots have caused $1 million worth of damage in Portland and led to more than 100 arrests.
Over the weekend, some of that dismay made its way to Mobile, as the Alabama Green Party held a “Rally Against Trump(ism)” in Cathedral Square. Contrary to what some assumed, the organizers in Mobile weren’t just protesting the election’s outcome.
“A lot of people think [Donald Trump] came into power because he gave a racist, misogynistic, homophobic message, and that most people that voted for him hold those same ideas in their heart, and I’ll say, ‘Yes, some of them do,’ but most voted for Donald Trump because he brought an economic message to the people,” Tyler Henderson, chair of the Alabama Green Party, said. “This is a message that resonated, and you can tell this because another economic populist rose up alongside Donald Trump, and his name was Bernie Sanders.”
As many on the political left have done over the past week, Henderson laid some of the blame for Trump’s victory at the feet of the Democratic Party and its nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Claiming a need for a “political alternative to the Democratic Party” in Alabama, Henderson pushed for those at the rally — around 30 or so — to consider the Green Party.
He and other speakers also condemned a rash of reported attacks and harassments directed at minorities since Trump’s election. On Sunday, Trump himself addressed those incidents in an interview with Lesley Stahl aired on the CBS program “60 Minutes,” telling those responsible to “Stop it.”
In Mobile, Henderson called on Trump’s supporters and his detractors to speak out against that type of “bigotry” if it continues.
“What we’re seeing now is a rise in very angry, but also very bigoted, ideology, and whether you like Donald Trump or not, that’s what’s happening because of his presidency,” Henderson said. “We don’t just call on the allies of minority communities and the allies of LGBT communities and allies of women — we’re also calling on you that voted for Donald Trump to stand up for what you claim to believe in and condemn these people.”
Consistent with predictions that Trump had a miniscule chance of taking the White House, those that make a living through market speculation have also been wrong about the immediate effects a Trump presidency would have on U.S. financial markets.
Before the election, a long-shot Trump victory came with a warning from Wall Street giants such as Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley — an unexpected, unpredictable candidate seizing the presidency would cause a drop in stocks in favor of a more-secure bond market. Yet so far the opposite has proven to be true. Bond markets in the U.S. and in Europe have seen a wave of sales suggesting investors are betting on an economic policy under Trump that will favor a rise in interest rates.
Still, with campaign rhetoric touting domestic growth and promises to dismantle longstanding international trade agreements, Dr. Reid Cummings, director of the Center for Real Estate and Economic Development at the University of South Alabama, said last week that Trump’s effect on the economy would be left to speculation until he takes office.
However, he also added, “in general, business tends to like smaller government and less regulation.” If that holds true, he believes a Trump White House coupled with GOP gains in Congress could be “good for business” overall.
Still, in port cities such as Mobile, Trump’s desire to negotiate “better deals” in existing international trade agreements is something local officials will likely be monitoring closely.
To that effect, Jimmy Lyons, president of the Alabama State Port Authority, told Lagniappe some of his initial concerns have eased slightly over the past week, as Trump has moved away from the “talk of protectionism” in trade that came up during his campaign. Lyons says he now wonders how much of that was “just the heat of the campaign” and how much might live on to become executive policy.
“Anything that could spark a trade war — where we put a tariff on our stuff, and then another country puts a tariff on their stuff — could have an effect on imports and exports, and that was one of the only things that was a significant concern of mine from the standpoint of operating a port,” Lyons said. “But given some of the softening we’ve seen now that the campaign has ended, I don’t know that those concerns are as valid any longer.”
But while Trump’s economic policies might look malleable heading into 2017, his environmental policies don’t appear to be losing any steam from campaign trail.
Last week he selected Myron Ebell, a leading contrarian of the scientific consensus on global warming, to head the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump has also maintained he would rescind the “job-destroying executive actions” President Barack Obama took related to climate change — including the Clean Power Plan aimed at limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange was an early critic of that plan, joining 24 other states’ attorneys general in securing a stay on implementing the plan from the U.S. Supreme Court in February.
“[It] would shutter coal-fired power plants around the country, including in Alabama, while killing jobs and raising power bills for hard-working families,” Strange said of the Clean Power Plan at the time. However, while Strange might be happy with the early signals from Trump’s transition team, they’re causing concern for environmental groups along the Gulf Coast — even among those that have historically worked with Democrats and Republicans alike.
“During this time of presidential transition, one of the world’s most important environmental restoration efforts will continue in the Gulf region, and we urge the Trump administration to work with Gulf experts on any policies that may impact this region,” Kara Lankford, interim director of Gulf restoration at Ocean Conservancy, told Lagniappe. “At the same time, [we’re] concerned about the signals being sent by the Trump transition team, with a climate change denier currently being considered to lead the EPA transition team. Given the need for strong action on climate change to protect coastal communities, especially in the Gulf, we will be following this appointment closely.”
Locally, Mobile Baykeeper executive director Casi Callaway said the environment of the Gulf Coast takes on a different level of importance because of how necessary it is to not only the area’s ecosystem, but also to its “jobs, economy, community, health and recreation.”
If environmental support at the federal level is scaled back under Trump — and all signs suggest it will be — Callaway said, there will still be local environmentalists in multiple organizations committed to doing what’s best for Mobile Bay.
“If over the next four years environmental protection is no longer a priority, Mobile Baykeeper will just have a bigger job to do,” she said. “As the environmental advocate for our coastal community, [we] will continue to achieve progress toward a healthier, more sustainable environment with the support of our members and volunteers who are committed to clean water, clean air and healthy communities.”
Congressman: State could benefit from Trump presidency
By Dale Liesch
Voters in Alabama overwhelmingly chose Republican President-elect Donald Trump over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton on Election Day, and that loyalty may pay off as his administration begins to take shape.
Not only are several Alabamians being considered for positions inside a Trump White House, including Sen. Jeff Sessions, but with the GOP retention of the House and Senate, some of the state’s representatives could see new leadership roles on Capitol Hill.
Sessions, who is from Mobile, has been rumored to fill a number of Trump’s cabinet positions in the week since Trump’s Electoral College win: a possible attorney general post, or maybe secretary of defense or secretary of homeland security, according to media reports.
Sessions, one of the first senators to throw his support behind Trump, will apparently be rewarded for his early support of the real estate magnate.
U.S. Rep Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said Sessions would do a wonderful job as a member of Trump’s cabinet.
“I’ve known Jeff Sessions for 40 years,” Byrne said. “He has a high level of integrity … he’s well respected. He’ll be a tremendous asset to the Trump administration.”
Sessions’ appointment to a cabinet position will undoubtedly help the Mobile area when it comes to decisions of the federal government, Byrne said.
Sessions’ possible cabinet appointment would not be the first time he’s been tapped by a president. He was rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986, in part due to his actions as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama and for his views toward the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Sessions successfully ran for Senate in 1996 after a brief stint as Alabama Attorney General.
In addition to Sessions possibly leaving the Senate for the White House, Alabama could also benefit from the GOP’s retention of a congressional majority. Byrne said GOP Sen. Richard Shelby will maintain his high position in the senate and other Alabama members of Congress could see their roles expanded.
For instance, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) could see greater responsibility as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Byrne said. U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) could see a promotion from sub-chair of the House Armed Services Committee, he added.
“For the rest of us, it’s too early to know,” Byrne said.
Alabama’s support of Trump could pay dividends when it comes to policy decisions and federal spending as well, Byrne said. Progress on the Interstate 10 bridge over the Mobile River should continue under a Trump administration, he said. The president-elect has championed a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which Byrne thinks will include money for the federal portion of the project. The state’s portion of the project could come from tolling or Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act money, which is given to Gulf Coast states by oil companies in exchange for drilling rights off the coast.
“I expect the design portion to be complete by the end of next year,” Byrne said of the bridge project. “The state should be able to decide on funding by then. Construction could begin as early as 2018.”
A Trump presidency could also mean continued support for the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, which would benefit Austal, Byrne said. Trump’s call for an expansion of the U.S. Navy fleet from 276 ships to 350 ships would mean the build-out of the LCS program’s 52 ships would have to continue, Byrne said; 26 of those ships would be built in Mobile.
In addition to infrastructure funding and increased military spending, a Trump administration could return the state’s red snapper season to a normal duration, Byrne said.
Trump would be able to “reach down” to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Fisheries Services to get them to end the current regulations, he said.
In a column released this week, Byrne also said he looked forward to working with Trump on securing the border and repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, “once and for all.”
Baldwin turns out for Trump
By Jane Nicholes
Baldwin County voters turned out in droves to vote for Donald Trump, achieving record turnout in numbers if not in percentages.
Some 95,000 people went to the polls, and they stood in lines that often ran outside, down sidewalks and around buildings. When the votes were counted, 77 percent voted for Trump, 19 percent for Hillary Clinton and the remainder for a smattering of other candidates.
Only two small precincts, the Vaughn Community Center near Stockton and the Douglasville Boykin Center in Bay Minette, went for Clinton over Trump.
Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell had predicted turnout would be at 80 percent or above and was surprised to find on Wednesday that it was actually 65 percent. He visits the polls on Election Day and makes projections based on the turnout when he arrives at a precinct.
“The trend dropped way off later in the day, which told me that the younger voters didn’t come out after work like we thought they would,” Russell said. He said he was surprised, but he also noted that rain lingered late into the day in south Baldwin County. Lines may have discouraged some voters as well.
Sheer numbers, though, set the record. “That’s the biggest turnout that we’ve ever had in the history of the county by far,” Russell said. Four years ago there were 69,000 voters for the presidential election.
Russell said the population increase over four years plus the turnout show that he will need more money in the future to run high-profile elections. The next such election will be in June 2018, when the governor, Legislature, statewide and county officials will be on the ballot.
Baldwin was one of 14 counties to experiment with a new format for checking voter IDs. People in two precincts walked in, had their driver’s licenses scanned and then signed in on a screen, like a credit card transaction.
The experiment was confined to the Bay Minette and White House Fork precincts and proved to be faster than manually looking for a voter’s name in a book, Russell said. He said 95 percent of Baldwin County voters have driver’s licenses.
While those two precincts were faster, nearly 5,000 absentee ballots took until 1 a.m. to count, Russell said.