Citrin Cardiology

Author: Lee Hedgepeth

Alabama carries out latest execution amid controversy

Last week, minutes before his death warrant was set to expire, the State of Alabama executed inmate Tommy Arthur for the 1982 contract killing of Troy Wicker in Colbert County. “I’m sorry I failed you as a father,” Arthur said when asked for his final remarks, according to those who were present. One of his children, daughter Sherrie Stone, watched from the witness room. “I love you more than anything on earth,” he finished, gesturing Stone a thumbs-up and again mouthing “I love you.” Arthur, age 75, maintained his innocence in the 1982 murder that landed him a place...

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Trump budget ‘shortchanges’ Mobile-based LCS program

For the second time since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has drawn the ire of political leaders here on the Gulf Coast. Less than a year after an initial draft of the administration’s priority transportation projects excluded the much-needed Interstate 10 bridge in Mobile, another federal budget proposal has local officials on edge. While Trump’s budget, released just over a week ago, calls for a sizable overall increase in military spending, the Mobile-based Littoral Combat Ship program is not one of the clear beneficiaries of the funding bump — a reality Port City politicos are already working to correct. As originally released just over a week ago, the budget — titled “A new foundation for American greatness” — contains funding for only one additional LCS, the same number scheduled under former President Barack Obama’s last plan. “Like President Trump, I want to see us rebuild our nation’s military, but this budget proposal shortchanges our national defense,” U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne said. “Specifically, the budget does not get us any closer to building up a 350 ship Navy fleet, and it lacks the full funding necessary to reverse our military readiness crisis.” Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump emphasized not just his support for defense, but for creating jobs, saying he would be “the greatest jobs producer that God ever created.” Austal USA, the Mobile company that would benefit from an...

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State lawmakers end historic annual meeting

State lawmakers have headed back home to their districts after ending what was one of Alabama’s most historic regular legislative sessions. Beginning in February, the annual meeting of legislators considered not just the typical bills, but also unprecedented measures such as the potential impeachment of now former Gov. Robert Bentley. Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, a Republican, acknowledged this in his remarks concluding this year’s State House meeting. “As I move into the next session as speaker, I hope that it’s more dealing with legislative issues than all of the outside stuff, if you will, that we’ve had to deal with,” he said. “I think that has added a lot of stress and pressure to the members that this Legislature normally doesn’t have to contend with.” In the meeting’s final days, lawmakers scrambled to pass a bill mandating insurers cover a particular type of autism therapy. While the legislation eventually passed, singular opposition by Sen. Trip Pittman of Baldwin County led to the adoption of an age cap, leaving those over 18 without such required coverage. Another major sticking point of the session was a bill redrawing many of the state’s electoral districts. After a federal court struck down the Legislature’s previous plan as having unconstitutionally diluted African-American voting power, state lawmakers were forced this session to remedy the issue, charged with drawing boundaries that wouldn’t produce similar...

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Bill ending crawfish crackdown to become law

After more than a year of back and forth between local businesses and state health officials over the legality of the events, a bill explicitly permitting crawfish boils and other food-related cultural events on sidewalks in Mobile will soon become law. The legislation, originally sponsored by Rep. Margie Wilcox, exempts from state health department regulations “a regional celebration, tradition or cultural event that is designated as such by the city of Mobile,” and specifically says that exempted groups, which will have to apply for the status with the Mobile County Department of Health, “may boil whole crawfish, for public consumption, outside on the premises of the establishment.” Last year state health officials cracked down on crawfish boils in Mobile, and businesses such as The Merry Widow, Hayley’s and Saddle Up Saloon announced they’d been required to cancel events because of the strict regulations, which prohibited cooking food outside in the open. “There must be a compromise,” The Merry Widow’s Roy Clark told Lagniappe at the time. “More than anything, I’m saddened that one of the most unique and anticipated traditions of Gulf Coast culture — people of all walks coming together at a watering hole around a boiling pot, being a community — might be purged from our lives because of arbitrary restrictions.” The new legislation will prevent that purge by giving Mobile County health officials — instead of...

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Strange lies and an accidental truth

United States Senator Luther Strange thought he’d hit it big: In addition to his cushy appointment to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ old seat by disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley, Strange thought he wouldn’t even have to fight at the polls for the privilege to represent Alabama’s nearly five million citizens in the U.S. Senate for well over a year. Thanks to Gov. Kay Ivey, though, who replaced Bentley and decided to move up the election, Strange didn’t get that latter consolation prize. Instead, he will have to try to stave off challengers — particularly those from his own party — as soon as the Aug. 15 primary election. In an effort to help do that, Strange has brought out the big guns in the form of a campaign cash-backed fake news ad — and trust me, it’s a doozy. Big Luther’s big lies Strange’s first full-length ad, which he released on social media earlier this month, begins with “corrupt politicians” being sprayed down with water as Big Luther drives his muddied white Ford F-150 through a car wash. “We sent him to Montgomery to clean up corruption and Big Luther Strange kept his word,” the narrator in the campaign ad says. “Fighting corrupt Montgomery insiders and special interests.” Then Luther’s ad switches to his proof: his evidence he’s been fighting corruption on Goat Hill. Get ready for it...

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Legislature passes budgets

This year’s regular legislative session is coming to an end and, as is often the case, its last days have amounted to capital crunch time. With unavoidable issues such as electoral redistricting and a governor’s potential impeachment having already eaten up many of lawmakers’ 30 annual working days, state senators and representatives worked in the session’s final hours to tie up loose ends when it came to other controversial legislation, including a bill mandating insurers cover a particular type of autism therapy and a bill authorizing prison construction. While earlier this year it appeared a potential impeachment of former Gov. Robert Bentley would consume the session, the embroiled executive’s resignation and misdemeanor plea deal following the fallout from his admittedly inappropriate relationship with a top aide precluded that possibility. With impeachment worries out of the way, lawmakers were able to pass both the state’s general and education trust funds budgets, although details of the latter were being finalized as of press time. Those budgets — which total nearly $8 billion combined — reflect level funding of most state agencies despite requests for increases, with a couple of exceptions. A slight increase for the state’s law enforcement agency, ALEA, in the state’s general fund will go toward hiring new officers, although the funding bump was more than 18 times less than what ALEA had requested. “This budget funds the core...

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Campaign callouts

With a special election to permanently fill Jeff Sessions’ U.S. Senate seat set for later this year, Alabamians need to get acquainted with the state politicians that could be running the show come Election Day. Below are some of the top contenders for the office and a bit of insight on each. Luther Strange — Appointed by former Gov. Robert Bentley to replace now-U.S. Attorney General Sessions, Strange is the seat’s incumbent. Although his tenure in the nation’s top legislative body has been marred by his dubious appointment to the office by a corrupt politician he was supposed to...

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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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