By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Voters in House District 104, in Mobile County, go to the polls on Tuesday to select their candidate to replace Representative Jim Barton (R) from Mobile. Margie Wilcox won a close race versus children’s boutique owner, Susan Hightower, in the Republican Primary Runoff special election six weeks ago and now faces Democrat, Stephen P. Carr.
Republican Voters narrowly chose Margie Wilcox over Susan Hightower. Ms. Wilcox received 51% (1723 votes) to Mrs. Hightower’s 49% (1657 votes). Now Wilcox has to unite the Republican electorate and turn out her voters in order to defeat Stephen Carr, who faces an uphill battle in the Republican leaning South Alabama District.
Margie Wilcox is a prominent business owner who owns cab companies and airport transport companies. The Theodore businesswoman is staunchly pro-Life and supports the traditional family.
Wilcox said on her website, “By ensuring that our parks are clean and safe and that our police have the resources and the laws to fight crime we can keep families together and our children safe. We need a stronger focus on families!” Wilcox is a charter member of St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church.
If elected, Wilcox promises to reduce the size of government, publish most government documents on the web, and strengthen Alabama’s ethic laws. Wilcox said on her website: “Just a few years ago our republican leadership did a great job in passing new laws to improve our trust and confidence in elected leadership. Unfortunately the loop holes have been found. Double dippers are still double dipping and the old revolving door is spinning even faster. I am a cheerleader for the conservative leadership in our state and I want to join them with a push to close those holes and keep the promise to be the most honest and transparent leadership in the history of Alabama!” Wilcox is a graduate of Leadership Mobile, a former member of the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee and has been very active in the Business Council of Alabama and the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Stephen P. Carr said in a press release on Friday. “With the announcement by Chad Fincher that he will not seek re-election, the Mobile delegation to the legislature has now had three departures by representatives from their seats in the last year. Clearly public service is a heavy responsibility and if your heart is not in the right place, namely to serve the people, then it can become very easy to walk away from that responsibility in pursuit of self interested occupations. Mobile has a chance on Tuesday, January 28th, to send a true public servant to Montgomery for a change. I am the best candidate and have no personal gain ambitions tied to my candidacy. I seek to serve the people, and that is what I will do as long as I have the privilege to serve. I have served in the Army, in Community Mental Health Clinics, in Church and Faith Based organizations, and have always put others’ interests before my own. This trait of wanting to help and to serve others is what has driven me to run for the District 104 seat and I hope that the people of Mobile County will give me the chance to prove to them that I am what I say that I am, a public servant.”
Stephen Carr said in a previous statement, “This (the January 28 special general election) will be the first election of 2014 for an open Alabama House seat and it marks a very important opportunity for voters to send a message to Montgomery that the supermajority politics of the last three years has not worked on the behalf of our citizens. In fact, the supermajority in Montgomery has not created adequate job growth, has not ensured that our public education system has a continual chance to succeed, and has not looked out for the interests of our seniors, veterans, low and middle income workers, and has not set us on a path that makes Alabama a relevant player on the National Political scene.”
The House District 104 seat became vacant following the resignation of Representative Jim Barton (R) this past August when he left to pursue a job opportunity as a professional lobbyist. The winner will serve the remainder of Barton’s term and will still have to face re-election in 2014 along with every other seat in the Alabama Legislature. House District 104 is located in the southern section of Mobile County and stretches from I-65 to the Mississippi line.
Both camps are anxious to motivate their voters to go to the poll. Rare winter weather on Tuesday could depress the expected low voter turnout even further.
Wilcox said on Facebook, “We are in the “red zone” (to borrow a football phrase). Let’s push hard to accomplish our goal and WIN this election. Call and volunteer for: waving, placing signs, reminding voters to vote, poll greeting, victory party committee, etc. Thank you for all of your efforts I am forever grateful.”
Troy vs. South Alabama football game postponed due to COVID-19
Tuesday, the University of South Alabama paused its football workouts because of COVID-19 issues. Saturday’s “Battle for the Belt” game between Troy University and South Alabama has been postponed, both schools announced Tuesday. No makeup date has been announced.
The Jaguars will be pausing football workouts on a temporary basis.
“This postponement is unfortunate, however it’s prudent and wise,” said USA Athletics Director Joel Erdmann. “Our most significant concern is the well-being of our student-athletes. We are looking forward to hosting Troy at Hancock Whitney Stadium at a date to be determined. We appreciate the collaboration and understanding of Troy, and the leadership of the Sun Belt Conference office in working through this situation.”
South is next scheduled to play host to Texas State on Saturday, Oct. 17.
“We are obviously disappointed for our team but certainly respect this decision,” Troy Athletics Director Brent Jones said. “This is a tremendous rivalry game for both teams and fan bases, and I appreciate South Alabama Athletics Director Joel Erdmann and the Sun Belt Conference for their open lines of communication during this process. We look forward to welcoming our great fans back to The Vet on Oct. 10 when we host Texas State in our home opener.”
Troy, South Alabama and the Sun Belt Conference will work together to determine if there is a mutual date that the game could be rescheduled later in the season.
South Alabama defeated Southern Mississippi University on opening day; but lost to Tulane and UAB. South Alabama played UAB on September 24. USA has not released whether or not any of their players in that game against UAB have tested positive for coronavirus.
Troy will play against Texas State on October 10 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy.
It’s the first virus-related postponement for the Jaguars, who have also “paused” football practice and workouts indefinitely. South Alabama also paused offseason football workouts for roughly a week in mid-July. The school has declined to announce the number of players and/or staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19, though a handful of players have been unavailable for undisclosed reasons in the Jaguars’ last two games.
Troy (1-1) has already had its Sept. 5 opener against the University of Louisiana Monroe postponed until Dec. 5 due to a COVID outbreak on the Warhawks’ team.
South Alabama and Troy do not have a common open date until at least Dec. 12. This makes re-scheduling the game difficult. The latest date the Sun Belt Conference championship game could take place is Dec. 19, with the final bowl pairings set to be released the following day.
Auburn University had its home opener vs. Kentucky last Saturday and will play the University of Georgia on Saturday. The University of Alabama will have its home opener Saturday in Tuscaloosa vs Texas A&M.
The NFL has had to postpone the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Tennessee Titans game this week after Titans players and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus. The NFL hopes to play that game on Monday or Tuesday.
There have been 13,558 cases of coronavirus in Mobile County, the second most in the entire state trailing only Jefferson County. Mobile County has had 748 people diagnosed with the virus in just the last week. 295 people have died of COVID-19 in Mobile County, which trails only Jefferson County.
The state of Alabama has had 154,701 coronavirus cases and 2,540 COVID-19 deaths in the global pandemic. 1,019,065 people globally have died from COVID-19.
Nursing Home Association announces plan for indoor visits
The Alabama Nursing Home Association today announced a plan to resume indoor visitation in nursing homes and continue outdoor visitation. The resumption of limited indoor visits is possible because of a change in guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and an amended state health order.
“It’s important for nursing home residents and their family members to be able to visit in person and this is another step toward returning life to normal in nursing homes,” said Brandon Farmer, President & CEO of the Alabama Nursing Home Association. “We are pleased CMS is moving in this direction and thankful Governor Kay Ivey and Dr. Scott Harris amended the state health order to accommodate this change. We are working closely with Governor Ivey’s administration and the Alabama Department of Public Health to help our members understand and implement these guidelines.”
According to the CMS guidance referenced in the amended state health order, visitors and nursing home staff must follow certain requirements for the limited indoor visits. The CMS guidance says, “we encourage facilities in medium and high-positivity counties to test visitors, if feasible. Facilities may also encourage visitors to be tested on their own prior to coming to the facility (e.g. within 2-3 days) with proof of negative test results and date of the test.” Visitors must also adhere to CMS’ core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention and pass a health screening. The requirements are designed to protect the health of nursing home residents and staff members. Visitors who do not comply with the infection prevention requirements will not be allowed to visit. According to CMS, nursing homes located in a county with a positivity rate of greater than 10% will not be allowed to offer indoor visitation.
“Resident safety is our top priority as we expand visitation and the CMS guidelines will be closely followed. The public must continue to do its part to lower the spread of COVID-19. Decreasing community spread and consistent testing are key to our ability to offer indoor visits,” Farmer said.
For indoor visitation, CMS says nursing homes must have no new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and not be currently conducting outbreak testing, limit the number of visitors per resident, limit the number of visitors in the building at one time and limit visitors’ movement inside the building. Visitors must wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose and practice social distancing while visiting their loved one during their entire visit. Violation of these policies could result in denial of future indoor visits.
CMS said outdoor visitation is still preferable to indoor visits and outdoor visits should be held whenever practicable. All visitors of Alabama nursing homes will need to schedule an appointment to visit their loved one.
Below is a list of do’s and don’ts for nursing home visitors.
Nursing Home Visitor Do’s and Don’ts
- Do schedule an appointment to visit with your loved one
- Do use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before, during and after your visit
- Do wear a mask covering your mouth and nose during your entire visit in the facility
- Do maintain social distance of at least six feet from staff and residents
- Do keep out of areas that are not designated for visitation
- Don’t remove your mask while in the facility
- Don’t leave the designated visitation area
- Don’t come to the facility without an appointment
- Don’t come to the facility if you have any symptoms – coughing, sore throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell – even if you attribute these symptoms to some other cause (allergies or cold).
Birmingham City Council approves 2021 budget
The Birmingham City Council late Tuesday night approved Mayor Randall Woodfin’s budget for the city, hard-hit by COVID-19.
Woodfin’s $412 million budget is almost 9 percent lower than the previous budget, and includes numerous cuts to staffing, including a hiring freeze, suspension of nine paid holidays, furloughs and salary cuts of between 3 percent and 10 percent for some workers. The city projects a $63 million shortfall due to the pandemic, which has already resulted in a loss of $17 million caused by reductions in sales tax, use tax, occupational tax, lodging tax and business licenses, according to a press release from the city Wednesday morning.
“This has been a budget of difficult choices. None of our decisions were taken lightly,” Woodfin said in a statement. “I want to thank the council for working with me to maintain critical, essential services for our residents with the revenue available to the city. The economic impact of COVID-19 has put every city in a similar position. Together, we will work through this crisis to revitalize our neighborhoods.”
Among city workers furloughed are 61 full-time and 23 part-time workers from culture and recreation facilities, and 91 full-time and 67 part-time library employees. Those library workers were furloughed Friday, and the move prompted protests from some of those library workers and their supporters outside City Hall before the Council meeting on Sept. 22.
Woodfin’s budget maintains the city’s FY2020 level of funding for street resurfacing, demolition, weed abatement and continues prioritizing increases to the city’s pension fund, according to the release.
In an effort to balance out losses due to the pandemic the city has also eliminated 444 vacant positions, suspended merit raises, cost of living adjustments and longevity pay. Woodfin himself also took a voluntary 10 percent pay cut.
Both the city’s capital and operating budgets can be reviewed here.
Shelby meets with Barrett, is “confident” she is the right choice to serve on Supreme Court
Wednesday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) met with Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Following the meeting, Shelby stated his strong support of Judge Barrett’s nomination. Shelby said that Barrett “Will be an excellent addition to the Supreme Court.”
“After speaking with Judge Barrett, I am confident that she is the right choice to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Senator Shelby. “Judge Barrett is exceptionally qualified for this role and maintains strong conservative values and a deep commitment to our Constitution. I have no doubt that Judge Amy Coney Barrett will be an excellent addition to the Supreme Court.”
Shelby expressed his strong support for President Donald J. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
“I look forward to supporting Judge Barrett’s nomination to serve on our nation’s highest court, and I urge my colleagues to do the same,” Shelby continued.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has announced that Barrett will get a vote on the Senate floor.
Senate Democrats have objected to the nomination being confirmed before the November 3 general election.
Pres. Trump defended his decision to nominate Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court during Tuesday’s presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
“Elections have consequences, we have the Senate and we have the White House,” Trump said. “She is outstanding.”…..“We won the election and we have the right to do it.”
Since her nomination by President Trump, Judge Amy Coney Barrett has been making routine visits to Capitol Hill to meet with Senators. Many Democratic Senators, following the lead of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), are refusing to meet with Judge Barrett.
Barrett fills the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett currently serves as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She clerked for legendary Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as well as Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Before and while serving on the federal bench, she was a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School. Barrett is a devout Catholic and mother of seven, including two adopted Haitian children.
Shelby said that Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s excellent academic achievements, legal expertise, and judicial record prove that she is eminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.
It is the constitutional responsibility of the U.S. Senate to provide “advice and consent” to the President on all executive nominations, including judges to federal courts, appeals courts, and the Supreme Court.
Richard Shelby has served in the United States Senate since 1987. All of the eight current Supreme Court Justices, even Ginsburg who just died, were appointed and confirmed during Shelby’s tenure.