By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, Auburn residents rejected calls by the city’s elites for mammoth property tax increases. The referendum shows that the people of Alabama are hostile toward more growth in government and politicians throughout the state of Alabama should take notice of this epic defeat.
Auburn is unique in the state of Alabama in that the largest employer in the city is education. Most Auburn residents know numerous people with doctorates (whether they have their own PhD or not). They (more than most people in Alabama) know the importance of having a strong K-12 education in laying the foundation for a lifetime.
That said, Auburn School Superintendent Karen DeLano’s demands that the people surrender more of their money to her school system were convincingly rejected by Auburn voters by 54% to 46% (according to the numbers available at press time.) An impressive 9,687 people voted in this single issue referendum hidden on a late September ballot, when most of the people of this state are normally focused on college football and the start of bow season.
DeLano somehow convinced Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn that this scheme was a good idea and that this actually had real popular support. The Speaker was wrong on both counts. DeLano failed to convince the voters that raising their property taxes by 9 mills was in anybody’s best interests. Ms. Delano probably should resign for her role in this whole sorry debacle.
The people of Alabama (and the nation) think that they are taxed enough. Wage growth is virtually nonexistent, the housing crash is still recent in people’s memories and families are worried about the affects of impending Obamacare and paying for their own retirements.
Thinking that a tax increase was a good idea right now shows that the educrats in Auburn’s city school system are somehow insulated from the lives of real people and what they think.
The bigger picture is that unless they are in a strong Democratic District (and even then I would have doubts) politicians running in the 2014 elections need to distance themselves from any calls for additional taxation for education or for any other purpose.
If the voters in Auburn won’t back an education tax increase then it likely won’t pass anywhere in Alabama and any statewide revenue measure should be dead on arrival in the 2014 legislative session.
Two military pilots killed in plane crash in Foley
Friday, a Navy pilot and a Coast Guard student pilot were killed when their Navy T-6B Texan II training airplane crashed into a home in Foley. No one in the house was killed.
Commander Zach Harrell, a public affairs officer with Naval Air Forces, said that the plane crashed around 5:00 p.m. A house and two cars on the ground were hit in the crash.
“It is with a heavy heart that we mourn two of our pilots who lost their lives during an aircraft crash in Alabama today,” the Chief of Naval Air Training said in a Twitter post. “Our deepest sympathy goes to their family and friends at this difficult time. Rest in peace, Shipmates. We have the watch.”
Navy Lt. Rhiannon Ross, age 30, of Wixom, Michigan, died when her T-6B Texan II trainer aircraft crashed. She was a Navy instructor pilot, officials announced on Sunday. Also killed was Coast Guard Ensign Morgan Garrett, a 24-year-old student aviator.
Ross earned her commission in April 2012. Before joining the Florida-based Training Squadron Two in February 2018, she served three years with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 out of Norfolk, Virginia.
Garrett was from Weddington, North Carolina, and was a 2019 Coast Guard Academy graduate.
“Their spirit, friendship, and devotion to their country will not be forgotten,” Navy officials said in a Sunday news release.
Ross was a member of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor’s Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps, according to her Navy career bio. Her personal awards include a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
Friday’s accident marked the Navy’s first aviation-related fatality in more than a year.
“The incident is currently under investigation,” Harrell said. “The Navy is cooperating fully with local authorities.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said on Twitter, “Very sad to hear about the Navy trainer aircraft that crashed in Foley. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two service members who lost their live.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, said, “As we await additional information, I hope you will join me in praying for the victims and their families. According to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s office, the plane was a US Navy aircraft.”
A home caught fire after the plane crashed but the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office also said no one on the ground was injured.
The T-6B Texan II is a tandem-seat, turboprop aircraft primarily used to train Navy and Marine Corps pilots, according to the Navy.
There are 245 T-6Bs based at the Navy’s two aviation training bases, Naval Air Station Whiting Field, outside of Pensacola and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. The airfield is about 45 miles from the crash site.
Zeta poses potential threat to Alabama Gulf Coast
The National Hurricane Center is predicting that Tropical Storm Zeta will come ashore somewhere between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle at or near hurricane strength later this week.
Hurricanes/tropical storms can and do change direction in the Gulf of Mexico; but at this point the forecast is for it to come ashore at or near the eastern Louisiana Gulf Coast. The storm could be felt along the Alabama Gulf Coast, which is still in the process of recovering from Hurricane Sally in September.
All Alabamians, but particularly residents of Mobile and Baldwin Counties are being urged to continue to monitor the progress and track of Zeta as it leaves the Yucatan Peninsula and enters the northern Gulf of Mexico. The storm is expected to bring storm surge, heavy winds, heavy rainfall, and isolated tornados wherever it comes ashore.
ABC 33/40 Birmingham television meteorologist James Spann said that Zeta should be a hurricane by early this morning as it approaches the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. As Zeta moves into the northern Gulf of Mexico Wednesday, it should drop below hurricane strength again due to increasing shear and the cooler shelf waters. The NHC is forecasting Zeta to arrive on the Southeast Louisiana coast late Wednesday or Wednesday night.
Zeta is expected to bring widespread rain across Alabama after midnight Tuesday night, and Wednesday will be wet with rain much of the day. The rain will continue into Wednesday night, and will end from west to east during the day on Thursday. Rain amounts could be between one and three inches for most of inland Alabama. For now, no major flooding issues are expected in Alabama.
State officials are continuing to monitor Zeta. At this point, there are no plans to request evacuations of Alabama residents; but residents of coastal Alabama and low lying areas should pay close attention to emergency management authorities as the storm potentially approaches.
2020 has had more named storms and hurricanes than any year on record.
We are near “a dangerous tipping point” with coronavirus: former FDA head
11,729 Alabamians were diagnosed with the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, in the past seven days, by far the worst week in the month of October. So far 29,654 Alabamians have been diagnosed with the coronavirus during the month of October. That is already higher than the entire month of September, in which the state had just 28,643 cases in the entire month.
The state of Alabama is following a national trend of surging cases here in the middle of October. 79,453 Americans were diagnosed with the coronavirus nationally on Saturday alone, shattering the record worst single day of the pandemic in the USA, 77,295 set on July 16.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows admitted that efforts to control the virus have failed.
“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
Alabama Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth (R) was one of those diagnosed with the virus this week. The Lt. Gov. reports no symptoms.
Former Food and Drug Administration head Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS News Sunday that the coronavirus situation in the nation is at “a dangerous tipping point” amid a widespread surge of the coronavirus cases.
Gottlieb told CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” that there may not be any “forceful policy” to prevent a crisis.
“We’re in a dangerous tipping point right now,” Gottlieb said. “We’re entering what’s going to be the steep slope of the epidemic curve. These cases are going to continue to build.”
326 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 in October to take the state’s total death toll from COVID-19 up to 2,866, 78 of them in just the last week. 384 Alabamians died from COVID-19 in September. 582 died in August and 630 in July, but if the number of cases continue to rise, the death toll will likely rise with it.
“If we miss this window this is going to continue to accelerate and it’s going to be more difficult to get under control,” Gottlieb warned. “Most states have just a lot of spread. That’s going to change over the next two or three weeks. Things are going to look much more difficult. So we need to take steps right now.”
Gottlieb admitted that there is no public support for a second economic shutdown so we will have to find “other methods”; but lamented that he did not see “any forceful policy happening any time soon.”
920 Alabamians were in the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms on Sunday, the highest number since September 2.
184,355 Alabamians have been diagnosed with the coronavirus thus far in the pandemic. 107,050 of those cases are still active. 74,439 Alabamians have recovered from the coronavirus, but public health authorities warn that COVID immunity drops rapidly following infection, thus people who survived cases six months ago can potentially be reinfected.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is the Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Fauci said that a decision on whether or not to approve a COVID vaccine could be coming early in December.
“We will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, beginning of December,” Dr. Fauci said. “The amount of doses that will be available in December will not certainly be enough to vaccinate everybody — you’ll have to wait several months into 2021.”
Gottlieb warned that a coronavirus vaccine is “not going to affect the contours” of the virus during the next few months.
“Even if vulnerable Americans get vaccinated by the end of the year, they’re”not going to have protective immunity until 2021,” Gottlieb said.
Public health officials are warning citizens to continue wearing their masks, social distance, stay home as much as possible, wash hands frequently, stay home if you are sick, quarantine if you test positive for the coronavirus whether you have any symptoms or not, and get vaccinated for the flu as flu season will soon be upon us. Alabama remains under a statewide “Safer at Home” order with a mandatory mask order thru November 8; but that is likely to be extended past Thanksgiving given the surging virus cases.
The global COVID-19 pandemic 1,159,009 persons through Sunday.
Vote on Amy Coney Barrett confirmation could come as early as today
Sunday, Republicans in the Senate voted to end debate on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett as a United State Supreme Court Justice. The final Senate vote on her confirmation is expected to come Monday evening.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) voted to cut off debate and advance Judge Barrett’s confirmation. The Republican Senate majority voted to end debate on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett on a 51 to 48 vote. The move means that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is likely to put forward the vote on Barrett’s confirmation sometime today. Democrats continue to filibuster and use the Senate’s arcane rules to delay the vote as long as possible. It appears that Republicans have enough votes to confirm Barrett to the High Court.
“After speaking with Judge Barrett, I am confident that she is the right choice to serve on the Supreme Court,” Sen. Shelby said. “Judge Barrett is exceptionally qualified for this role and maintains strong conservative values and a deep commitment to our Constitution.”
U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) voted with his party and voted “No” on moving forward on Barrett’s confirmation.
Jones refused to speak with Barrett and admitted to reporters that he has not watched any of Barrett’s confirmation hearings. Focusing instead on his efforts on the campaign trail.
Jones said after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died that he would not support any Trump nominee before the November 3 general election.
Judge Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate and instructor. She is a devout Catholic with seven children, including two adopted children from Haiti. She currently serves on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She was appointed by President Trump in 2017.
After graduating from law school, Judge Barrett clerked for D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman and for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Judge Barrett practiced both trial and appellate litigation in Washington, D.C. at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca, & Lewin, and at Baker Botts. She worked for more than 15 years in academia, shaping the next generation of legal minds and supporting the professional development of her students, before being appointed to the federal judiciary by Pres. Trump.
Republicans, including Coach Tommy Tuberville. have been very critical of Doug Jones for his refusal to support Barrett and his No vote on the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Tuberville is challenging Jones in the November 3 general election.