Author: Rob Holbert

Spanking judge story different in Arkansas

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A judge is accused of using his powerful position to give lighter sentences to defendants who helped satisfy unusual sexual desires that included paddling young men and boys on their bare butts. The feds swoop in and indict him and the pervy judge lands in the slammer. What? You’ve never heard that story before? Oh, that’s right, I forget this is Mobile. Our version of that story is a little different. It goes something along the lines of: Powerful judge is accused of manipulating sentences in exchange for sex and spanking young...

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Ship hits the fan? Not so, Raines says

It may not go down in journalism history on quite the same level as Geraldo Rivera breaking into Al Capone’s empty vault on live TV, but Ben Raines’ recent stories for al.com about possibly finding the long-lost Clotilda slave ship have similarly focused massive attention on what ended up being a non-event. On Monday Raines published a story revealing the shipwreck he claims to have discovered at the beginning of the year in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta during an extreme low tide has been determined by experts not to be the famed slave ship Clotilda, the last vessel to carry...

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Boeing up to its old tricks again

I’m not sure if most communities typically have enemies, but Mobile almost certainly does. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Boeing. The Chicago-based, Seattle-born airplane manufacturer has consistently and aggressively tried to pee in Mobile’s cornflake dreams of becoming a major player in the jet-building world. We had to fight them tooth-and-nail to land Airbus and now it seems we may go through the same type of wrestling match to see the Canadian company Bombardier’s C-Series passenger jet assembled here. It’s enough to drive you to drink tiny, airplane-sized bottles of booze. If you’re someone who chooses Kardashians over aerospace...

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Pistol-packing teachers aren’t the answer

Will we one day soon drop off the kids at school knowing their teachers are armed, trained and ready to gun down any potential mass murderer bent on harming the students? If one Alabama lawmaker has his way we will. The idea is perhaps a natural response to the horrors of school shootings that have happened in other parts of the country. We’ve been fortunate in this state not to have experienced a school killing spree like the one that took place in Parkland, Florida, last week — or the many others that have taken place nationwide since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold became the poster children for school murderers on a dark day in Columbine, Colorado, nearly 19 years ago. I say we’ve been lucky because kids have brought guns to school, although none that I know of were intent on mass murder. Every community in the United States faces the same issue of guns winding up at school. Just last week there were two incidents of guns on campus in the Mobile-Baldwin area. Fortunately neither resulted in anyone being hurt. In the wake of last week’s killing of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we’ve begun the same worn-out debate about how to stop the next one before it happens. As usual there’s the logical outrage over how the shooter gained access to an assault...

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Pistol-packing teachers aren’t the answer

Will we one day soon drop off the kids at school knowing their teachers are armed, trained and ready to gun down any potential mass murderer bent on harming the students? If one Alabama lawmaker has his way we will. The idea is perhaps a natural response to the horrors of school shootings that have happened in other parts of the country. We’ve been fortunate in this state not to have experienced a school killing spree like the one that took place in Parkland, Florida, last week — or the many others that have taken place nationwide since Eric...

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Press Club co-founder Jo Ann Flirt passes away

Jo Ann Flirt, who worked in a variety of local media over her 85 years, passed away early this month after a short illness. Flirt was probably best known for her work as director of Historic Blakeley State Park for 40 years, holding the interim director’s position from 1977 through 2003, when she was finally named director. She retired late last year. But Flirt’s background was in journalism and she both worked and taught in the field for several years. She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama and subsequently taught journalism and public relations...

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Incumbent judges unopposed … again

A few post-Mardi Gras odds and ends: Over the years Lagniappe has done a few stories about the reluctance of members of the Mobile County Bar Association to take on sitting judges at election time. As local lawns are currently festooned with signs for judicial candidates, that issue may, at first blush, seem to have corrected itself. But not so fast. Right now there are six people running for Circuit Judge in Mobile County — five for one open place. The other open place had one attorney, Wes Pipes, qualify, meaning he will win by default. Meanwhile, seven incumbent...

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Let the good food fly

There was a time when average was good enough, I’ll admit. Like everyone else, I held my hands out asking for more of what, in retrospect, really wasn’t all that special. But that changed a few years ago. It started when the Mardi Gras maskers began throwing the peanut butter MoonPies. Since time immemorial we’d all been steeped in the traditions of rolling around on the ground trying to pry a chocolate or banana MoonPie out of some 7-year-old’s hands. Or leaping into the air using what little athleticism Father Time and 50 years of Pizza Hut hadn’t taken...

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AL.com webpage to see changes soon

According to the first Advance Local update of the year, al.com will soon see a reworking of its home page, which will serve as the test model for all of the company’s websites nationwide. This news comes just a month after the Newhouse Corp. announced all of the entities that had been separated over the past few years would now be rolled back into one under the Advance Local Media LLC moniker. “Peter Weinberger, John Hassell, Matt Jaeger and the Innovation team are putting the finishing touches on an exciting new home page, which will initially be tested on...

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Big decisions ahead for BP money

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill seems like a lifetime ago. Most of us were not so closely tied to the Gulf that it left scars on our way of life or financial well-being. Yes, lives were changed by the disaster, but for 90-plus percent of us the most lingering stress caused by the spill has been in waiting for all that sweet, sweet BP money to roll in. The oil giant agreed to pay billions in fines and reparations to not only make us whole, but to make us even better than we were before that tragic day when...

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