Author: Lee Hedgepeth

A call for context

Here in the Heart of Dixie, like anywhere, history doesn’t exist in a vacuum. But for Alabamians, in particular, our history has become a part of who we are. Instead of stowing away our past, we often put it on a pedestal for all to see, and that’s to be expected. Alabama’s political and social elite are heirs of not just pride, though. They’re heirs of prejudice, too, and that’s something we should all work to recognize. So when it comes to “protecting” the past with bills like the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, for example, lawmakers in Montgomery are...

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Chief justice sworn in as election season begins

After serving as the state’s acting top judge for nearly a year following the suspension of Roy Moore from the bench, Lyn Stuart has officially been sworn in as Alabama’s second female chief justice, just as election season begins. Moore’s seat was formally vacated when he submitted his resignation and announced his intention to run against Luther Strange for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Following Moore’s resignation, Gov. Kay Ivey appointed Stuart to the role. “Chief Justice Stuart has served with honor and integrity on the high court for more than 16 years,” Gov. Ivey said in a statement. “I look forward to working with her as she now leads the judicial branch of state government.” Stuart, who administered the oath of office when Ivey assumed the governor’s chair, was sworn in by Associate Justice James Main on April 26. Stuart is an Atmore native who lives in Baldwin County. Just before Stuart’s swearing in, former Chief Justice Roy Moore announced his intentions to run for the same U.S. Senate seat just outside the Capitol in Montgomery. “My position has always been God first, family, then country,” Moore said in his campaign kickoff speech. “I share the vision of President Donald Trump to make America great again … Before we can make America great again, we’ve got to make America good again.”...

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Strange arrangements

In Alabama politics, anything can happen. The state has overpaid sheriffs and underfed prisoners, underemployed youth and overcrowded prisons, twice removed judges, convicted politicians, and scandals both personal and political. Lately, out of that rank political potpourri, a couple of strange senate arrangements have simmered to the surface and may soon make their mark on the capital. In the Alabama Senate, the body’s president, Del Marsh, has decided the state’s legislative redistricting plan should go through the tourism and marketing committee. You’re probably scratching your head. I am, too. Then, when it comes to the U.S. Senate, the National...

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Tinker Taylor soldier spectacle

When Gov. Kay Ivey ascended to the highest political office in Alabama, taking over the governor’s chair from the disgraced Robert Bentley, she promised she’d do her best to “steady the ship of state,” and so far she’s been true to her word. Ivey, in her first few days of office, made huge political and personnel strides to do just that. One recent action by Ivey, though, is putting that thus-far promising tenure in danger. Instead of “steadying the ship of state,” Gov. Ivey’s hiring of former state Sen. Bryan Taylor as her general counsel and legal adviser has...

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Ivey aims to ‘steady ship of state’

Gov. Kay Ivey took office just over a week ago, and while the former lieutenant governor still hasn’t settled into the Governor’s Mansion, she’s already made significant changes in the state. Ivey ascended to the governor’s chair after its former occupant, Robert Bentley, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign finance violations in an agreement ending what was nearly the state’s first impeachment of a top politician. Upon taking office, Ivey alluded to Bentley’s fall from power, but said the “dark day” was also an opportunity for the state. “Today is both a dark day for Alabama yet also one of opportunity. I ask for your help and patience as we together steady the ship of state and improve Alabama’s image. Those are my first priorities as your 54th governor,” Ivey said. “When I took the oath of office in 2011 and then again in 2015, I was prepared for this day, but never desired or expected it. The people of Alabama should know that there will be no disruption in the function of your state government.” On her first full day as governor, Ivey’s office confirmed the termination of Jon Mason from his position as director of Serve Alabama, the governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service, a position that paid $91,400 annually. Mason is the husband of Rebekah Mason, with whom former Gov. Bentley admitted to having an inappropriate...

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