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Republicans React to Controversial New Proposed Bylaw Changes

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Friday night Republicans from around the state will have their annual summer dinner in Montgomery. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is scheduled to address an estimated 600 Alabama Republicans and their supporters. On Saturday morning, the Alabama Republican Executive Committee will meet to address executive committee business including some proposed changes to the bylaws that have been generating considerable controversy.

Committee member Jeff Peacock took to Facebook on Friday morning to express his opposition to some of the proposed changes.

Peacock wrote, “Fellow ALGOP Committee members, I ask you to oppose three proposed changes to our ALGOP Bylaws at next week’s Summer Meeting. Since I serve as a member of the six person Bylaws Committee, I wanted to share my perspective with you on these proposals.”

The first change involves qualifying Fees. This change would require that all candidates for the state committee (regular and bonus positions) to pay a qualifying fee to the state party. Peacock said, “So, for example, if your county has an open seat on the state committee and three people run for this seat, all three must pay a qualifying fee to the state party. This qualifying fee is in addition to the Capitol Club dues that must be paid by the prevailing candidate.”

Peacock said, “I firmly believe that decisions such as this should be decided by the local committees rather than mandated by the state party. Furthermore, since the bonus positions are elected solely by the county executive committees, then it should be the county party that receives the qualifying fee, not the state party. Therefore, I encourage you to vote ‘no’ on this proposed change to the bylaws.”

The second bylaw change which Peacock opposes is a provision for removing Steering Committee Members for taking a position contrary to the current RNC platform. The measure which has gotten considerable press was actually defeated in the Bylaws Committee by a 4-2 vote. The controversial measure was not approved by either the Bylaws Committee or the Steering Committee. Despite this it still appears to be on the agenda in the upcoming meeting.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that this provision was introduced to target Stephanie Petelos for comments that she made to ‘the Alabama Political Reporter’ in which she stated her personal support in extending marriage rights to homosexual couples.

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Nationally known GOP/Libertarian political consultant and Alabama native Stephen Gordon wrote to the executive committee, “This issue began when the president of the Alabama Federation of College Republicans issued a public statement supporting the US Supreme Court regarding their recent DOMA decision. While it is an important topic, this issue goes considerably beyond same-sex marriage. On both sides of the aisle and across the country, people perceive the effort to pass this bylaw as bullying a female college student and as an attempt to silence dissent.”

Peacock wrote, “I ask you to oppose this change for several reasons: – This change sets a dangerous precedent that any disagreement with the platform could lead to removal from party leadership. For example, do you realize that the current RNC platform supports statehood for Puerto Rico (pg 29) and a two-state solution (co-existence of Israel and Palestine) in the Middle East (pg 49)? If you publicly oppose these ideas, you could be removed from the steering committee under this new bylaw.

  • In the unfortunate event that our platform becomes more moderate, this bylaw would effectively silence any efforts to fight against this moderation.
  • This proposed bylaw change is poorly defined. For example, who will decide if someone has violated the bylaw? And will the accused be allowed any due process or right to appeal? The proposed change fails to address either of these questions.”

Gordon wrote, “While there are some exceptions to the rule, pretty much every YR or CR I know adamantly opposes this proposed bylaw. One doesn’t get to be CR president on a larger campus or YR chairman in a larger county or region without some political acumen – remember that these are contested elected positions. And the Steering Committee seats are assigned not to local presidents or chairman, but to the “Chairman or President” of their respective state federation. If a young leader has managed his or her way through this dual election process, it’s is pretty clear that they speak for the majority of their “constituents” when they voice a political opinion. And like anyone else holding any elected position, if they fail in this regard, they can be voted out of office.”

Third Peacock is also opposing a change to the bylaws which would prevent elected officials from serving on the state, district, or county executive committees.

Peacock wrote that this rule would restrict elected officials from holding positions on the state, district or county executive committees and would prevent elected Republican officeholders from serving as delegates to the Republican National Convention. Peacock said that he disagreed with this change because he believed it would be unfair for the Party to tell those Republicans that they are not welcome to be a part of the party organization and because, “I think we should encourage elected Republicans to be MORE, not less, involved in our party. This measure will stifle involvement, not promote it.”

Peacock wrote, “Finally, as with the qualifying fee situation, decisions like this should be made at the county level, not mandated by the state party. If a county committee does not want elected officials on the committee, they can make that decision without the state party getting involved.”

Critics of the changes warn that driving dissidents out of the party could potentially weaken the big tent that is the Alabama Republican Party and potentially weaken the party in the long run.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Health

Jones urges public to heed surging COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Thursday pleaded with the public to take COVID-19 seriously, especially now, as reopening of schools and Fourth of July celebrations near. Meanwhile, the state continues to see record numbers of new cases and hospitalizations. 

Alabama on Thursday saw a fourth straight day for record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations — and a record number of newly reported COVID-19 cases, when taking into account data collection problems that inflated Monday’s total.

As of Thursday afternoon, 843 people were being treated in Alabama hospitals for COVID-19, according to the state health department. That number is an increase of nearly 22 percent over this time last week, and a near 40 percent increase compared to the beginning of June.

At least “961 of our neighbors and family members have lost their lives to COVID-19, and we need to be cognizant of that as well, as those numbers continue to grow,” Jones said during a press briefing Thursday, also noting that over the last 14 days Alabama has seen 11,091 new cases of the virus, which is 28 percent of all the state’s COVID-19 cases. 

Jones said that while we’re testing more people in recent weeks, The Alabama Department of Public Health’s statistics show that a greater percentage of the tests are coming back positive.

Based on a seven-day average, roughly 14 percent of the tests conducted in the state are now coming back positive. Public health experts believe that such a high percentage of positives is a sign that there continues to be community spread of the virus, and that there still isn’t enough testing being done. 

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Jones said he’s concerned, too, about the timing of the surge in new cases, coming in the weeks after Gov. Kay Ivey lifted her more rigorous restrictions and after Memorial Day celebrations.  

“People did not seem to get the message about social distancing and wearing masks, and we are seeing these numbers increase and increase and increase,” Jones said. 

Jones noted the state’s long lines for people seeking help with their unemployment applications, some even camping out overnight to get that help, and said he’s written a letter to Senate leadership asking for federal funding to state departments of labor to better service those in need. 

The senator also discussed Oklahoma’s recent expansion of Medicaid, and said that the action made clear state leaders there understand that during the pandemic they needed to get all the help they can to their fellow citizens. 

“It is my hope that Alabama will also do likewise. We continue to see a rise in the number of people that could benefit from expanded Medicaid,” Jones said, adding that he’s still working to get another round of incentives to states to encourage expansion of Medicaid. 

Asked if there would be another round of stimulus checks sent to individuals, Jones said “maybe.” 

Jones said the next round of COVID-19 legislation is being drafted behind closed doors by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader from Kentucky, and that it’s uncertain whether more direct payments to individuals will be included in the final bills. 

“I’ve heard mixed messages coming out of the administration and Senator McConnell’s office,” Jones said, adding that he’s for the additional payments and thinks it will be needed going forward. 

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, speaking during the press conference, said the Montgomery City Council could take up at the next council meeting a measure that would place guidelines on businesses within the city to be held accountable for helping enforce the city’s mask ordinance for the public. 

In the absence of a statewide mask order, local governments have been instituting their own in recent weeks. Wearing masks, staying home when at all possible and maintaining social distancing when one can’t are the best ways to reduce spread of the virus, public health experts say.

Montgomery currently has a mask order in place, which carries the possibility of a $25 fine for individuals not following the order. 

Reed said at the next meeting, council members may deliberate on a measure to require businesses help ensure the public adheres to the mask order or face possible suspension of their business license “for a couple of weeks, so that is yet to be voted on, and we will look at that.” 

Reed said that the point of the city’s mask order isn’t to fine people, however, but to encourage them to wear masks and help save lives. He noted that Montgomery’s mask order has been followed by similar orders in Mobile and Selma, as local municipalities make independent decisions to protect their fellow citizens.

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Health

Alabama’s COVID-19 surge is not slowing

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama on Wednesday saw a third straight day for record high COVID-19 hospitalizations, as concern grows over the possibility that Alabama’s hospitals could become stressed due to the influx of coronavirus patients. 

The state on Thursday also saw a record number of newly reported COVID-19 cases, when taking into account data collection problems that inflated Monday’s total. 

The state added 1,162 new coronavirus cases Thursday. On Monday, there were 1,718 cases, but because of delays in data collection, Monday’s numbers included figures from Saturday and Sunday. The previous high daily case count was June 25, when the state saw an additional 1,129 cases. 

The seven-day and 14-day rolling averages of daily cases both reached record highs this week. The seven-day average reached 981 Tuesday, a record, and remains high at 979. The 14-day average reached 843 Thursday for the first time. Rolling averages are used to smooth out daily inconsistencies and variability in case reporting.

The number of patients being treated in Alabama hospitals for COVID-19 also reached an all-time high on Wednesday, when 797 patients were being cared for, following record highs on Monday and Tuesday. A seven-day average of hospitalized coronavirus patients on Wednesday also reached a new high at 709. 

Additionally, the number of tests that are positive remains high. Taking into account incomplete data in April that inflated the numbers then, on Thursday the seven-day average of percent positivity was at 13.64, the third highest percentage since the start of the pandemic. The 14-day average of percent positivity on Thursday of 12.16 was the highest it’s been, taking into account the inflated April numbers. 

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Public health officials and experts believe the percentage of tests that are positive should be at, or preferably below, 5 percent. Any higher, and the data suggests that the state is not performing enough tests and many cases are still being missed.

At least 81 deaths have been reported in the last seven days, bringing the state’s death toll from COVID-19 to 961. In the last two weeks, 160 people have died from COVID-19.

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Guest Columnists

Opinion | Gov. Ivey: This is our time, Alabama

Gov. Kay Ivey

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My fellow Alabamians:

In a few days, America will celebrate her 244th birthday. 

Traditionally, many towns and cities around the country light up the night with fireworks and music festivals. In 1776, John Adams predicted that Independence Day would be “celebrated by succeeding generations” with “pomp and circumstance…bonfires and illuminations.”

However, largely because of COVID-19, this year’s observance of our country’s birth will likely be a bit more subdued than previous years. While unfortunate, this is certainly understandable.

Today – and very likely in the days that will follow – instead of talking about what unites us as one nation – other conversations will occur that are, quite frankly, a bit more difficult and challenging. 

My personal hope – and prayer – for this year’s 4th of July is that the marvel of our great country – how we started, what we’ve had to overcome, what we’ve accomplished and where we are going – isn’t lost on any of us.

We are all searching for “a more perfect union” during these trying and demanding days.

Over the past several weeks, our nation has been having one of those painful, yet overdue, discussions about the subject of race.

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The mere mention of race often makes some people uncomfortable, even though it is a topic that has been around since the beginning of time.

Nationally, a conversation about race brings with it the opportunity where even friends can disagree on solutions; it also can be a catalyst to help total strangers find common ground and see things eye-to-eye with someone they previously did not even know.

Here in Alabama, conversations about race are often set against a backdrop of our state’s long – and at times – ugly history on the subject.

No one can say that America’s history hasn’t had its own share of darkness, pain and suffering.

But with challenge always comes opportunity. 

For instance, Montgomery is both the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the cradle of the Confederacy. What a contrast for our Capital City.

The fact is our entire state has, in many ways, played a central role in the ever-evolving story of America and how our wonderful country has, itself, changed and progressed through the years.

Ever since the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, thousands of Alabamians – of all races, young and old – have taken to the streets of our largest cities and smallest towns in protest to demand change and to seek justice.

These frustrations are understandable. 

Change often comes too slowly for some and too quickly for others. As only the second female to be elected governor of our state in more than 200 years, I can attest to this. 

Most of us recognize that our views on issues such as race relations tend to grow out of our own background and experiences. But, fortunately, our views can change and broaden as we talk and learn from each other.

As a nation, we believe that all people are created equal in their own rights as citizens, but we also know that making this ideal a reality is still a challenge for us.

Even with the election of America’s first African American president 12 years ago, racial, economic and social barriers continue to exist throughout our country. This just happens to be our time in history to ensure we are building on the progress of the past, as we take steps forward on what has proven to be a long, difficult journey.

Folks, the fact is we need to have real discussions – as an Alabama family. No one should be under the false illusion that simply renaming a building or pulling a monument down, in and of itself, will completely fix systemic discrimination.

Back in January, I invited a group of 65 prominent African American leaders – from all throughout Alabama – to meet with me in Montgomery to begin having a dialogue on issues that truly matter to our African American community in this state. This dedicated group – known as Alabama United – is helping to bring some very legitimate concerns and issues to the table for both conversation and action.

As an example, Alabama will continue to support law enforcement that is sensitive to the communities in which they serve. We have thousands of dedicated men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our state every single day. But we can – and must – make certain that our state’s policies and procedures reflect the legitimate concerns that many citizens have about these important issues.

I am confident all these conversations – and hopefully many more – will lead to a host of inspirational ideas that will lead to a more informed debate and enactment of sound public policy. 

We must develop ways to advance all communities that lack access to good schools, jobs, and other opportunities. As governor, I will continue to make education and achieving a good job a priority – it distresses me that some of our rural areas and inner cities face some of the greatest challenges in education.

There are other critical issues that must be addressed, and I will continue to look for solutions along with you.

Everyone knows government cannot solve these problems alone. Some of the greatest solutions will come from private citizens as well as businesses, higher education, churches and foundations. Together, we can all be a part of supporting and building more inclusive communities.

In other words, solving these problems comes from leaning on the principles that make us who we are – our faith – which is embodied in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

My beliefs on how to treat people were shaped in Wilcox County and my faith was developed at the Camden Baptist Church. 

The bible tells us over and over that our number one goal is to love God with all of one’s heart and then to love our neighbor as we love our self. That is what I strive to do every day.

When anyone feels forgotten and marginalized, compassion compels us to embrace, assist and share in their suffering. We must not let race divide us. We must grow and advance together.

Being informed by our past, let us now carefully examine our future and work towards positive change. Together, we can envision an Alabama where all her people truly live up to the greatness within our grasp. We cannot change the past or erase our history… But we can build a future that values the worth of each and every citizen.

So, in closing, my hope and prayer for our country as we pause to celebrate America’s 244th birthday, is that we make the most of this moment.

As for our state, let’s make this a time to heal, to commit ourselves to finding consensus, not conflict, and to show the rest of the nation how far we have come, even as we have further to go. 

These first steps – just as we are beginning our third century as a state – may be our most important steps yet.

This is our time, Alabama. May God continue to bless each of you and the great state of Alabama.

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Elections

Tallassee mayor endorses Jeff Coleman

Brandon Moseley

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Republican Congressional candidate Jeff Coleman has received the endorsement of Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock. Coleman is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the July 14 Republican primary runoff.

“Alabama needs a strong conservative candidate who will not back down from a challenge, and will represent the voice, people, and values of those who live in Alabama and District 2,” Hammock said. “Jeff Coleman has my full support and endorsement.”

Coleman thanked Hammock for the endorsement.

“Mayor Hammock’s leadership is evident by the respect the community has for him,” Coleman said. “He is a leader not just for Tallassee but for the surrounding area as a whole. It is an honor to have the support and endorsement of Mayor Hammock and many more in the Tallassee community!”

Tallassee is on the Tallapoosa River and is in both Elmore and Tallapoosa Counties. The city has a population of 4,581 in 2018, which is down from its peak in 1999 of 5,858.

Coleman now has the endorsements of the mayors of Luverne, Dothan, Millbrook, Geneva, and Florala.

Coleman is a native of Dothan. He is the fifth generation of his family to head the family business, Coleman Worldwide Moving, based in Dothan. He recently stepped down as President and CEO in order to run for Congress. Coleman is a former Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama. Coleman is one of the wealthiest people in Alabama.

Coleman has been endorsed by BCA and the Alabama Farmers Federation, as well as the Alabama Realtors Association, Alabama Home Builders Association, Alabama Retail Association, Alabama Trucking Association, Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Coleman is a graduate from Northview High School where he was a member of the 1981 Football team that won the Alabama High School Football State Championship. He has a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama and a Master’s in Business Administration from Troy University in Dothan. He is an Eagle Scout, a 2011 Graduate of Leadership Alabama and a 2015 Graduate of the Air War College National Security Forum. Coleman served two terms as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Alabama.

Coleman is running in the Republican primary runoff against former State Rep. Barry Moore on July 14. The eventual Republican nominee for the open 2nd Congressional District seat will face Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall in the November general election.

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