By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—At a meeting in Birmingham last week, Representative Mike Hubabrd (R-Auburn) rallied the Young Republicans to protect the GOP supermajorities against fake Republicans trying to take back the power in Montgomery.
“I’m telling you the race will be determined in the primary,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard called out groups like AEA, who intend to support pro-eduction candidates on both sides of the aisle.
“We cannot let those entities infiltrate and highjack our primary. They are going to try. AEA in their propaganda has made it clear that Republicans are going to have alternatives in the Republican primary,” Hubbard said.
State political parties are not allowed to endorse in primary elections, however Hubbard’s PACs can.
Network PAC lists Hubbard as the Treasurer and the Storming the Statehouse PAC lists Hubbard as the chair. The two PACs have a collective $159.951 in cash on hand, according to the January 31 filing reports.
Hubbard plans to use his PAC money to protect incumbents and defeat challengers. “We’re in the incumbent protection business right now,” said Hubbard.
Hubbard says he wants to separate the real Republicans from the fake ones.
But what about the so-called fake Republicans who are in his guarded supermajorities?
In the incumbent pool are several party-switchers, who ran on Democratic principles and were elected to hold public office as Democrats. Representatives Steve Hurst (R-Munford), Lesley Vance (R-Phenix City), Mike Millican (R-Hamilton) and Alan Boothe (R-Troy) all switched into the Republican Party shortly after the 2010 elections.
Later, Representative Alan Harper (R-Northport) switched to join the Republican ranks.
In the senate, three men can be flagged and challenged as Hubbard’s “real republicans.”
Senator Jerry Fielding (R-Sylacauga) switched to the Republican party after running as a Democrat.
Senator Richard Laird (I-Roanoke) left the Democratic Party to hold office as an independent, but caucuses with the Republicans.
Most interestingly, though, is Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn), who supported the Democrats long before he ever became a Republican.
Whatley donated a significant amount of money–$2,300–to the Obama campaign in July, 2008. This donation occurred around the same time that Whatley applied for an appointment, under the Obama administration to become the state director of USDA Rural Development in Alabama.
Whatley did not get the appointment, and many believe it was due to inaccuracies on his resume. Shortly after, Whatley joined the Republican Party and ran against Senator Ted Little, a 32-year incumbent, riding into the seat on the Republican landslide of 2010.
Hubbard has vowed to protect his incumbents against challengers, saying that he feels an “obligation to help defend these men and woman.”
The 2014 primary elections will be June 3, 2014. Hubbard fears that there will be people “running to the right of our folks, running to the left of our folks,” and he has made it clear that he wants none of them to hold office.
AFL-CIO endorses Adia Winfrey for Congress
Monday, the Dr. Adia Winfrey for Congress campaign announces that she has received the endorsement of the Alabama AFL-CIO in her campaign for Congress.
At their annual convention last week, union leaders from across the state recognized Dr. Winfrey’s passion, ability to lead, and attentiveness to the issues affecting working men and women, as reasons to endorse Dr. Winfrey, the Democratic challenger, in Alabama’s Third Congressional District race.
“Labor unions have long been a leading force in our nation’s economy,” Dr. Winfrey wrote. “Workplace safety standards, employee benefits, equal pay for women, non-discrimination policies, and so much more can be attributed to directly to union members who were willing to speak up for what is right. I look forward to being a voice for Alabama’s hard working men and women in Congress.”
Dr. Winfrey is challenging nine term incumbent Mike Rogers (R-Saks) in the November 3 general election. During his 18 years in Congress, Mike Rogers has earned only a 16 percent lifetime rating by the AFL-CIO for his votes.
“For 7 generations my family has called Talladega, Alabama home,” Winfrey said. “I am the mother of four amazing children, a Doctor of Psychology, author, founder of the H.Y.P.E. (Healing Young People thru Empowerment) Movement, and…I am running for Congress in Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District! I believe in the future of our beautiful state and nation. It is time for leadership with a new vision which is #FocusedOnAlabama.”
Winfrey has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wilberforce University and a doctorate of clinical psychology degree from the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology. She is the founder of the H.Y.P.E. (Healing Young People thru Empowerment) Movement.
Gulf State Park will have a prescribed burn in late August
Monday, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced that that it is planning to have a prescribed burn as Gulf State Park later this month.
The planned prescribed burn at Gulf State Park is a necessary part of a forest management plan associated with longleaf pine restoration, wildfire fuel reduction and invasive species control. The 140-acre burn will take place in a section of the park’s campground between August 18 and September 3, 2020, weather permitting. Camping reservations are not being accepted for campsites 1 to 123 and sites 469 to 496 during the burn period.
If weather conditions are favorable during the burn period, an additional 110 acres of marsh near the campground might be burned as well to reduce the risk of wildfire in that area. The planned burns will not affect camping reservations for campsites outside of the burn location.
The Alabama Forestry Commission will conduct the prescribed burns for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) State Parks Division. They assure the public that every effort is being made to ensure safety and proper smoke management during these burns.
Prescribed fire is an effective way to reduce wildfire risk, enhance wildlife habitat and maintain a healthy forest ecosystem. This is especially important in the south Alabama coastal region due to the vegetation type and a longer growing season. The use of prescribed fire enables the Alabama State Parks Division to better manage its parks’ forest resources into the future.
For more information about the benefits of prescribed fire, visit www.outdooralabama.com/prescribed-fire-alabama.
Gulf State Park has two miles of beaches, a spacious campground a brand new Lodge and Conference Center, Lake Shelby, miles of walking paths, camping sites, and a fishing pier that allows anglers to fish out into the ocean for schools of saltwater fish normally accessible only to fishermen with boats. Gulf State Park has gorgeous white sand, surging surf, seagulls, pelicans, restaurants, a pool at the lodge, and a variety of activities for the entire family to enjoy.
Gulf State Park is a destination that Alabamians visit over and over again all year round. Gulf State Park has beaches, hiking, camping, dining, canoeing, a dog park, indoor lodging amenities, freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, educational adventure at the Nature Center as well as new programs starting at the Learning Campus and Interpretive Center. Gulf State Park is located on the southern end of Baldwin County, fronting the Gulf of Mexico. The Alabama gulf coast is world renowned for its beaches.
The fishing pier is presently closed for renovation and some facilities may not be available currently due to COVID-19 restrictions. Check with the park for more details.
The Alabama State Parks Division relies on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. Alabama has 22 state parks across the state available for a variety of entertainment needs. Six of those parks are developed into resorts. They are Cheaha State Park, DeSoto State Park, Gulf State Park, Joe Wheeler State Park, Lake Guntersville State Park, and Lakepoint State Park.
To learn more about Alabama State Parks, visit www.alapark.com.
Saban tries to save the college football season
Monday, University of Alabama head football Coach Nick Saban said that he wants to play the 2020 season for the players.
“I want to play, but I want to play for the players’ sake, the value they can create for themselves,” Saban told ESPN. “I know I’ll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don’t care about player safety. Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of July. It’s a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can’t get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they’re in a bar or just hanging out.”
Saban’s comments came on a day when the very future of the 2020 season was on the brink. The Mountain West Conference announced that it was suspending all sports indefinitely due to the coronavirus. Hundreds of college football players have taken to Twitter and social media begging the powers that be not to kill this season. They were joined by Saban and other prominent figures in the sport, including Michigan head football Coach Jim Harbaugh, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and even President Donald J. Trump (R).
“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay,” Trump said on Twitter supporting a statement by Lawrence.
Some conferences had already made up their minds to punt on the season.
“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and overall communities,” said Dr. Mary Papazian, chair of the MWC board of directors. “Through the hard work of many over the past several months, the conference made every effort to create an opportunity for our student-athletes to compete, and we empathize with the disappointment this creates for everyone associated with our programs. The best interests of our students and student-athletes remain our focus and we will persist in our efforts to forge a viable and responsible path forward.”
A decision to postpone of cancel the 2020 college football season could come as early as this week. A growing tide of voices are calling for the cancellation or postponement of the college football season
ESPN’s Heather Dinich reports that this is based on what the athletic conferences are hearing from their medical advisory boards about the long term affects of COVID-19.
College Presidents are very concerned that COVID-19, while rarely fatal in college students, can leave survivors with heart issues that may well be long lasting. The mother of one Indiana player reported that her football player son contracted coronavirus while on campus for pre-season for strength and conditioning training. Her son developed symptomatic COVID-19, that included breathing difficulties. Now he is over the COVID-19; but has heart inflammation that jeopardizes his playing career and perhaps even his long-term health.
There is a similar situation with a Major League Baseball player who had COVID-19 and not has heart inflammation, which doctors say can be a side effect of contracting COVID-19. Over half of college football players are African-American, the demographic that has seen the highest rate of bad outcomes from COVID-19, including death.
The University of Louisville recently had to cancel all football activities on campus when a group of football players, in violation of the coronavirus social distancing protocols, attended a party on campus and not thirty players tested positive for the coronavirus.
A number of college football players have contracted the virus including University of Alabama, Auburn University, and Clemson players.
The presidents are concerned about the long-term health effects of COVID-19 on college athletes as well as the rest of the student body and faculty and staff. They are also concerned about the schools’ legal liability if they don’t do everything in their power to fight the spread of the virus and cancelling fall sports is arguably necessary to fight the spread of the virus. Congress failed to pass legislation that would have given schools and employers liability protection from COVID related lawsuits.
The Mid-American Conference (MAC) and South West Athletic Conferences (SWAC) (which includes Alabama A&M and Alabama State) have already voted to postpone fall sports to Spring. The decision by the MAC puts pressure on the other Division 1 Football Bowl Series schools to also postpone or cancel the season. The University of Connecticut has already cancelled its 2020 football season, the first Division 1 school to make that decision. Others could follow.
On Tuesday, the Big 10 Conference presidents will meet on possibly postponing the 2020 season to December or later.
The PAC 12 conference college Presidents will also meet to discuss the possibility of postponing or cancelling all fall sports. A number of PAC 12 players have come out vocally expressing concerns about the safety of playing the sport during the global pandemic.
The Big 10 and PAC 12 are two of the “Power Five” conferences along with the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the Big 12, and the ACC. If either the Big 10 or PAC 12 were to postpone or cancel the football season it would be difficult for the other schools to continue without them; though most conferences have already adopted a ten game conference only season. Alabama and Auburn are members of the SEC.
The Power Five conference commissioners met on a conference call Sunday night to prepare a recommendation on how to proceed if the Presidents decide that playing sports in the fall are an unnecessary risk. They were unable to reach a decision on whether that recommendation should be to play the 2020 fall sports in the spring or to cancel fall sports altogether as spring sports, including baseball and softball were last spring.
The commissioners of the SEC and ACC both released statements saying that they are moving forward to play. It is highly possible that some of the Power Five conferences will play this fall and some will play in the spring. How this would affect the college post season is still unclear.
“The college football season should be canceled, it should be canceled today,” said ESPN sports commentator Stephen A Smith on Monday. Smith cited a lack of leadership looking out for the health of college athletes in college football.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit had already come during the spring and predicted that the sport could not be played this year due to athlete safety. There is a growing consensus in both the medical and academic community that this may be the case.
A decision by the PAC 12 on Tuesday, could start a domino effect that will lead to the cancellation or postponement of all fall sports.
Some analysts have expressed skepticism that the 2020 and 2021 football seasons could both be played in the 2021 calendar year and even that the COVID risk will be less in the spring than it is now.
The SEC had already reduced the season from 12 games to 10 and postponed the state of the football season to Sept. 26. SEC football players were already supposed to be in camp preparing for the fall season; but the conference has postponed the start of football practices to August 17.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association at this point still plans to play high school fall sports including football.
More than 1,000 Alabamians have died this summer from COVID-19
Through June, July and the first week and a half of August, the state has amassed an additional 1,103 dead from the coronavirus pandemic.
More than a thousand Alabamians have died from COVID-19 this summer as schools prepare to start back. Through June, July and the first week and a half of August, the state has amassed an additional 1,103 dead from the coronavirus pandemic.
Summers in Alabama are known for barbecue, beach adventures, days at the lake, watermelons, blackberries, golf weekends and long vacations. The summer of 2020 will also be remembered for more than 81,000 coronavirus cases and for the mounting death toll from the virus.
The state headed into summer with 630 Alabamians dead from COVID-19 on May 31. That number has since increased 1,733.
As Alabama reopened its economy, many Alabamians chose to ignore the governor’s statewide “safer-at-home” order and carried on with their activities without wearing a mask or practicing social distancing. Some of them paid for their mistake with their lives — or the lives of loved ones.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported at least 296 deaths in June and 605 in July — the most of any month thus far in the pandemic. At least 202 Alabamians have died in the first 10 days of August.
On July 15, Gov. Kay Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris modified the “safer-at-home” order to mandate the wearing of masks in public and whenever you might be within six feet of another person not from your household. School systems that are reopening this month are doing so with mask requirements.
The public health emergency runs through the end of August, but will likely be renewed for September unless there is marked improvement in the number of cases.
Doctors and hospitals are doing a better job at saving COVID-19 patients or the death tolls would be even worse; however, the uptick in deaths in Alabama is due to the sheer number of people being infected.
As of Monday, 99,390 Alabamians had tested positive for the coronavirus. More than 80,000 of those cases were diagnosed just this summer since June 1. The sheer volume of people infected is leading to Alabama’s surging death toll.
At least 81,438 have been diagnosed over the summer with 1,655 being diagnosed on Monday alone. The seven- and 14-day averages of cases have been coming down since July 20 after coronavirus positives peaked on July 19 at over 1,850 cases per day, on average, in mid-July.
The current seven-day average is at 1,352 cases per day.
The surging number of coronavirus cases has led to higher numbers of Alabamians having to be hospitalized for the virus. On Sunday 1,595 Alabamians were hospitalized with the virus.
Alabama schools start back this month, though many systems have started back online due to concerns that in-person classes will only spread the coronavirus.
There are several things that citizens should do to protect themselves from the virus. The first is to stay at home rather than risk contracting the virus by going out. If you do go out, wear a mask or cloth face covering. Always stay six feet away from other people not from your household.
Do not shake hands or hug. Wash your hands frequently. Isolate sick members of your family from the rest of the household. Avoid parties and large gatherings. Don’t touch your face.