Author: Lee Hedgepeth

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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Fairhope extends moratorium on residential expansion

The Fairhope City Council voted to extend its six-month moratorium on subdivisions and other multi-family structures for another 90 days, citing the need for officials to catch up with the “rapid and substantial” growth the coastal community has seen in recent years. The prohibition, first approved at the end of 2016 and set to end July 4, only applies to new projects, and so won’t halt any construction already underway. Minor projects are also excluded from the ordinance. Those are caveats Fairhope leaders emphasized when the ordinance originally passed, staving off criticism that officials are potentially stymying the city’s...

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Feds say Alabama misrepresented past graduation rates

An audit just released by the federal Office of the Inspector General found Alabama officials disregarded federal educational standards, miscalculating and misreporting graduation rates as recently as the 2013-2014 school year and as early as 2010-2011. The 35-page audit report, which was released last Friday, says the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) lacked an accurate and effective method to ensure the validity of school systems’ graduation rates and “misreported” these figures to federal education officials. “We found that ALSDE’s system of internal control did not provide reasonable assurance that reported graduation rates were accurate and complete during our...

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