By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, June 19 Alabama’s Republican Sixth Congressional District candidates, state Representative Paul Demarco and former Alabama Policy Institute President Gary Palmer met at Birmingham’s Region Part for a Congressional Debate hosted by the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans (GBYR). GBYR Chair Jackie Curtiss thanked the events sponsors, the candidates, and the overflow crowd which was estimated at over 350 people.
Rep. Paul DeMarco (R) from Homewood said that he and his wife, Jacqueline, were recently blessed to have their first child, his name is Jack. DeMarco said that he is worried about the future that Jack will inherit. Jack’s share of the national debt is $60,000 and climbing.
DeMarco said that it is important to elect men and women of courage. They have to have the courage not only to fight Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi but also their own party when they are wrong.
Palmer said that the Republicans should stop being so pessimistic about the future of our country. They need to be talking about hope again. People are giving up. As conservative Republicans we have become experts at depressing people. We need to convince people that the country can get on the right track.
Palmer said that America is an Energy super power and we need to be presenting a vision on how to get our country back and need to be focused on solutions.
DeMarco said that Obama’s policies have been discouraging job growth and increasing regulation and that is something that we must put a stop to.
Palmer said that Obama’s greatest accomplishment is about to be making Jeff Sessions the budget chair .of the Senate (when Republicans take over the Senate). Palmer said that because of Obamacare you can classify some companies now as 49ers because they won’t hire that 50th worker (and come under the Obamacare mandate).
Gary Palmer said that what happened in Iraq is an unprecedented failure of intelligence. The United States leaving created a power vacuum that is being filled by the terrorists and Iran.
Demarco said that the treatment of our veterans across the country by the VA is a disgrace and said that secondly using the IRS to target conservatives is the two biggest failings of the Obama administration.
DeMarco said that across the board: agency by agency the federal government has gotten bigger and more powerful including the: EPA, the SEC, the VA, IRS etc.
Gary Palmer said that Obama has definitely violated his oath of office. “If impeachment is on the table I will support it.” Palmer said that there are other things that Congress can do to rein in this President’s executive overreach and Palmer added, “We need to impeach Eric Holder as well.” This is the most dangerous corrupt administration in the history of the country Palmer said.
DeMarco said that the IRS scandal alone should be grounds for impeachment.
DeMarco said, I would support legislation for term limits. Senator Vitter has introduced legislation which DeMarco promised to wholeheartedly support. DeMarco however said that he would not commit to limit himself to a fixed term if term limits legislation does not pass.
Palmer said that political office should not be a job. He said that he is committed not to move up there (Washington). Congressmen that do, they become part of the Washington culture. Palmer pledged to hold a breakfast once a month to discuss issues with constituents and develop a farm team of leaders for the state, including his eventual replacement when his ten years are up.
DeMarco said that “We don’t need to wait a decade I am part of that farm team.”
Palmer said that he supports balancing the budget but it depends on the situation. “If we go to war I wouldn’t put a balanced budget ahead of the defense of the country.” World War II is an example.
Demarco said that he supports a constitutional amendment. We aren’t going to balance the budget over night. DeMarco said, “I would never vote for a tax increase.” There is too much money in federal revenue now.
DeMarco said that American men and women died for the Iraq democracy and it appears to be lost because of President Obama’s weak foreign policy. I look back to President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Peace through strength.’
Palmer said it was purely a political move by President Obama to pull the troops out of by 2011.
Palmer said that he would support a no fly zone over Iraq to hault the ISIS advance.
Palmer said We have 3 trillion barrels of oil in one formation out west alone. We need to be selling oil all over the world and we will make OPEC irrelevant.
DeMarco said that he would not make a decision about what to do in Iraq without having a thoughtful analysis of it and he is not privy to security briefings.
Palmer said I agree with Paul that we don’t need boots on the ground. U.S. involvement should be limited to air strikes and observers. The big mistake of the Bush Administration was nation building. Palmer said, “You can’t do business with somebody Monday through Friday and blow them up on Sunday.
Palmer said, “Nobody believes that we are going to deport 11 to 12 million people it would be a humanitarian crisis that would mark our country for decades.”
DeMarco said, “This is a nation of laws.” We must secure our borders and can not allow amnesty or instead of ten million illegals it will be 20 million then it will be 30 million. “If you don’t secure the border it doesn’t matter what you do.”
Palmer said that radio ads have been running in Central American telling these people that if they got their kids in this country they could stay in this country. I believe that was done by the Obama Administration. Every one of them has to go back.
DeMarco said they have to go back for three reasons: we have to follow the law, we can’t afford this, and this is a potential health crisis. Take them back to the countries where they came from.
Palmer said that Congress should cut off every dime of financial aid to those countries that don’t take them back.
Palmer said that his favorite political philosophers were John Locke who laid the groundwork for our constitutional republic, the Founding Fathers, and Algernon Sydney wrote a treatise in the 1690s that challenged the authority of the monarchy. He was imprisoned and executed in 1683.
DeMarco said that his favorite political philosopher was Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of independence. All of us can appreciate Thomas Jefferson.
The panel for the debate was composed of ABC 33/40’s Honora Gathings, Cliff Sims with Yellow Hammer, and GBYR CD6 Debate Chairman Marshall Yates. The moderator was radio personality Matt Murphy at 1070 WAPI am.
The debate was sponsored by: Regions Bank, The Alabama Association for Justice, 1070 WAPI, Yellowhammer News, Shaun McCutcheon, Xtreme Concepts, Senator Clay Scofield, the law firm of Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt, Chris Chip Beeker Jr. for PSC Place 2, Bella Designs by Claire Brown, Governor Dr. Robert Bentley, David Faulkner for State House 46, Matt Fridy for Alabama House District 73, Senator Cam Ward, Representative Jack Williams, The Cosby Company, Homewood Friends and Family Chiropractic, Arnold Mooney for Alabama State House 43, Will Sellers, and Amie Beth Shaver for Alabama State House 43.
The Republican Primary Runoff will be July 15.
“We’re not going to get a do-over:” Alabama health officer on Thanksgiving and COVID-19
There were 1,427 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alabama on Monday, the most since Aug. 11.
Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris on Monday pleaded with the public to avoid gatherings over Thanksgiving as COVID-19 continues to surge in Alabama and hospitals statewide are filling with coronavirus patients.
“We don’t want this to be the last ever Thanksgiving for someone in your family, like your parents or your grandparents,” Harris said during a press conference Monday.
Harris said Alabama’s numbers aren’t headed in the right direction and more than 230,000 Alabamians — roughly 4 percent of the state’s population — have been infected by the coronavirus.
“We are adding a couple of thousand new cases a day, at least, that we are aware,” Harris said. “This is a time for people to be vigilant. This is a time to be careful and to think about what you’re going to be doing.”
Alabama added 1,574 new coronavirus cases on Monday, and the state’s 14-day average for new daily cases was at a record high 2,087. In the last two weeks, the state has added 29,223 cases, the most cases in any two week period since the pandemic arrived in Alabama in March.
There were 1,427 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alabama on Monday. The last time so many were hospitalized in the state was on Aug. 11, during Alabama’s summer surge.
Harris said that he and his wife will be staying home for Thanksgiving instead of having his family’s regular large, intergenerational gathering. What happens with Alabama’s COVID-19 numbers over Thanksgiving will impact what the state’s December holiday and Christmas season will look like, Harris said.
“Are we gonna be here a month from now trying to have the same conversation? I really, really hope not,” Harris said.
Dr. Mary McIntyre, the Alabama Department of Public Health’s chief medical officer, said during the briefing that her home usually sees between 15 and 20 family members arriving for Thanksgiving. They’ve limited this year’s Thanksgiving to three additional people from out of their household, for a total of seven people, she said.
Everyone must wear masks and have temperatures checked at the door, she said.
Everyone will be seated six feet from one another and a Zoom video conference will be set up for those family members who won’t be attending in person, McIntyre said. They’ll use disposable plates, cups and utensils and have the ability, weather permitting, to eat outdoors.
“If we want to live to see another Thanksgiving, and I do, that it may mean stepping back this Thanksgiving and really limiting the number of people, and some of the things that we do,” McIntyre said. “Now is not the time to get out to do Black Friday shopping.”
Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a separate press briefing Monday echoed concern over the possibility of spikes following Thanksgiving and Christmas if the public doesn’t do what’s needed to keep themselves and others safe.
“We are very much worried about the potential spike in numbers. We’ve also seen some of our own staff getting sick,” Kennedy said. “And unfortunately that’s not been at work. It’s been because we are just like you. We’re tired. We’re lonely. We want to try to socialize, and some of us have let our guards down and, as a result, have gotten sick.”
Kennedy said while there’s is concern over future spikes following the upcoming holidays “there is a way for all of us to help prevent that from happening.”
Kennedy said when Gov. Kay Ivey first issued her statewide mask order and social distancing requirements, the public masked up, businesses enforced the orders, and coronavirus numbers improved.
“It didn’t get nearly as bad as we thought, and we are really hopeful that the community is going to come together and do that again for us,” Kennedy said. “Because it’s more than just not having enough space for the COVID patients. It’s also those patients who do not have COVID that have other conditions. They rely on us for routine care, and we want to make sure that we’re available to provide that.”
Kenedy said UAB has an incredible group of staff members, who’ve proven themselves to be quite resilient, but that “the group is tired.”
“We’ve been doing this every single day since March, and so as you can imagine, people are very tired. It’s very emotional, especially as we see younger patients getting sick with this and getting sick in ways that we weren’t expecting,” she said.
Harris again urged the public to make smart decisions that will help slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re not going to get a do-over on this,” Harris said. “This is a big national holiday, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and our numbers are worse than they have ever been during this entire response. Please be careful. Please be safe. And please try to take care of those people who are most vulnerable.”
Governor allocates $3.6 million in CARES Act funds to food banks
The money is to go to the nonprofit Alabama Food Bank Association, which will administer the funds.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday announced that $3.6 million in federal CARES Act money will be used to reimburse food banks for COVID-19-related expenses.
“Alabama is a state where neighbors help neighbors, even in the most difficult times,” Ivey said in a statement. “The Coronavirus pandemic presented significant challenges around the world, as well as here at home in our own state. Food banks in communities across Alabama have been a lifeline for those in need, and I am proud to be able to put these funds toward the Alabama Feeding Initiative. I have told Alabamians that I remain committed to getting these CARES Act funds into the hands of those who need it.”
The funds are to go to the nonprofit Alabama Food Bank Association, according to the memorandum of understanding. The association will administer the funds to eight participating food banks across the state, which can be reimbursed for the following:
- The purchase of food, packaging and related supplies to meet increased demand.
- operational expenses, including fuel and maintenance, incurred due to handling a higher amount for food, as well as open-air distribution events.
- Rental costs of storage space and vehicles to handle increased volumes of food.
- To purchase PPE, screening equipment and decontamination services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Unless Congress extends the deadline, Alabama and other states have until Dec. 30 to spend CARES Act funds or the money reverts back to the federal government. Ivey has just under $1 billion left to spend before the deadline.
Alabama Education Association, Board of Medical Examiners meet over excuses to break COVID-19 quarantines
Prior to the meeting, the AEA on Nov. 5 threatened legal action against the board over the matter.
Officials with the Alabama Education Association and the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners met on Thursday to discuss a concern the association has with doctors who write excuses to allow students to return to school before their mandated COVID-19 quarantine periods expire.
At the meeting between Theron Stokes, associate executive director of the Alabama Education Association, and William Perkins, executive director of the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners, Stokes learned that the board wasn’t aware of the problem, the AEA said in a press release.
“Both groups agreed to set up a meeting with educational and medical organizations on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Alabama,” the AEA said in the release. “A meeting should be held before the end of the year and will allow the AEA and the Board of Medical Examiners, as well as other educational and medical organizations, to review existing guidelines issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and ensure conformity in following those guidelines.”
In a letter to Perkins on Thursday, Stokes wrote that it was AEA’s understanding that the board was aware of the problem, but he wrote that during their meeting he became aware that neither the board nor Perkins was aware of the problem.
“It was not the intent of AEA to cause any unnecessary problems for you, the doctors you represent, or your organization regarding this matter,” Stokes wrote.
Prior to the meeting, the AEA on Nov. 5 threatened legal action against the board over the matter.
“It is our firm belief that there exists no medical scenario under which these students could be written out of quarantine and that to do so is violative of ADPH and CDC quarantine recommendations,” Stokes wrote in the Nov. 5 letter.
Stokes in his recent letter notes that both agreed in the meeting to bring together representatives of the other organizations to come up with a uniform procedure for following state and federal guidelines.
“I agree with your plan to conduct this meeting and finalize our goals before the holidays,” Stokes wrote.
Caravan to honor the life of longtime State Rep. Alvin Holmes
The caravan is being organized by community activists Ja’Mel Brown and William Boyd.
There is a car ride caravan honoring the life and service of Rep. Alvin Holmes in Montgomery at 2 p.m. Monday. The caravan is being organized by community activists Ja’Mel Brown and William Boyd.
On Saturday, Holmes passed away at age 81. He was born in 1939 into a very segregated Montgomery and spent his life battling in favor of civil rights causes. He was one of the first Black state representatives to serve in the Alabama Legislature after implementation of the Voting Rights Act.
There had been Black legislators during Reconstruction in the 1870s, but Jim Crow segregation during much of the 20th Century had effectively disenfranchised millions of Black Alabamians for generations.
Holmes served in the Alabama House of Representatives, representing House District 78 from 1974 to 2018. Holmes participated in the civil rights movement. He was a professor and a real estate broker.
The chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, State Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, released a statement mourning Holmes’s passing.
“Representative Alvin Holmes was a great Democrat and a fighter,” England said. “He stood on the frontlines of the fight for civil rights and was willing to sacrifice everything in his fight for justice for all. He not only had a long and distinguished career as a civil rights leader, but also as a member of the Legislature, serving his constituents faithfully and dutifully for 44 years. Alabama has lost a giant, whose wit, intelligence, fearlessness, selfless determination, and leadership will be sorely missed. My prayers are with his friends, family, and colleagues.”
State Rep. Kirk Hatcher, D-Montgomery, fondly remembered Holmes, whom he defeated in the 2018 Democratic primary.
“Today we lost a dedicated warrior for social justice. Representative Alvin Holmes was a true public servant,” Hatcher said. “What an amazing legacy he has left us! He could always be seen waging the good fight for equality in all aspects of state government and beyond. His public service is legendary and without peer.”
“In recent years, I am profoundly grateful for the grace he showed me in his willingness to share with me his blueprint for effectively serving our people—and by extension the larger community,” Hatcher said. “Today, my fervent prayers are with his beloved daughter Veronica, her precious mom (and his best friend), as well as other cherished members of his family and friends as they mourn his passing. I humbly join the many voices who offer a sincere ‘Thank You’ to Mr. Alvin Holmes for his dedicated service to our Montgomery community and our state. ‘May angels sing thee to thy rest.’”
State Rep. Tashina Morris, D-Montgomery, also fondly remembered Holmes.
“Sending Prayers to The Holmes family,” Morris said. “Alvin Holmes was the epitome of greatness working for his people!! May you Rest Well !!!”
Republican insider and former State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. also served with Holmes in the Alabama House of Representatives and the Montgomery legislative delegation.
“I served with Alvin for 20 years in the Alabama Legislature,” Hooper said. “We often disagreed on the issues, but even after a heated floor debate, we could shake hands at the end of the day. I always considered him a friend. He loved Montgomery and he was a great representative of his district and its issues. He was always willing to go the extra mile for one of his constituents. When I served as Chairman of the Contract Review Committee, he was one of the committee’s most conscientious members. He was always questioning contracts so he could be assured that the contract represented a good use of taxpayer’s dollars which as Chairman I greatly appreciated. He was one of a kind pioneer in the Alabama Legislature and will be sorely missed.”
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill served with Holmes in the Alabama House of Representatives prior to his election as secretary of state.
“I just learned that former State Rep. Alvin Holmes passed away today,” Merrill said on social media. “I enjoyed the privilege of serving with him from 2010-14. There was never a dull moment whenever he was in the Chamber. I appreciated him for his candor & for his desire to work on behalf of his constituents!”
Holmes was a member of the Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Montgomery Improvement Association, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Alabama Southern Christian Leadership Conference Board, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He has one daughter, Veronica.