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Palmer At Oneonta Congressional Candidate Forum

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, July 1, Gary Palmer joined state Representative Paul DeMarco in Blount County at Oneonta High School for another candidate forum.  This event was hosted by the Blount County Chamber of Commerce and was moderated by Blount County District Attorney Pamela L. Casey.  The twoare running in the Republican Primary Runoff election on Tuesday, July 15.

Gary Palmer told the Oneonta High School crowd, “I love Blount County.”  Palmer told the crowd about how he grew up in Hackleburgh skidding logs behind mules.  “I was the first person in my family to go to college.  After I went my siblings went to college and it changed everything.”

Hackleburgh was wiped out by a tornado in 2011, but that was the second time it was wiped out by a tornado.  It had also been destroyed in 1943.  Gary’s Mom was born and raised there.  She was born in 1934 and still lives there on a farm today.

Palmer said that the Northern Beltway needs to be built for what we need 20 years from now.  “We don’t want to be Atlanta.”

Palmer said, “I have guns and I know how to use them and I have a tractor and I know how to use it.  Unlike some elected leaders I am still connected to my rural roots.”

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Palmer said that he has been laid off from a couple of jobs and had his position eliminated in 1980 so knows how that feels.

Palmer promised, “We will repeal Obamacare.”  It will take 3 or 4 years though and will replace it with something that covers everyone and we can do it for a fraction of what Obamacare costs.  Palmer expects that the Republican will retake the Senate in November and we will have a Republican President inaugurated in 2017.

Palmer said that there is 3 trillion barrels of oil, three times what the world has used in the last 100 years in the Green River formation out west and most of that is on government land.  Palmer said he was asking Congress not to raise the debt ceiling when a member of Congress asked him if he had $1.5 trillion.  Palmer replied, “No, but you do.”  Palmer said we have enough coal to last 500 years.  “We have the resources to dominate the world economy.  We ought to be shipping oil and coal and natural gas all over the world.”

The Hartselle formation in North Alabama is the fourth largest oil sands deposit in the world.

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The U.S. Government will make $14 trillion in royalties alone by drilling.

Palmer said that railroads in the Sixth Congressional District reach 78 percent of the country in 24 hours and we have four major interstates.  This area should be a lite manufacturing sector because we can ship to 3/4 of the country in a timely matter.  We can bring companies in here and build an economy that will create one of the best qualities of life found anywhere in the country.

Palmer said obviously work force development is important, but regulations are killing small business.  More businesses are closing than opening.  Some 47 percent of businesses are closing due to the costs of complying with Obamacare.  A lot of companies are 49ers.  They won’t hire that 50th employee and come under Obamacare’s mandates.  A lot of workers have become 29ers.  Under Obamacare’s rules if you work 30 hours that is considered full time so they are cutting people’s hours back so they never hit that 30 hour threshold where the company has to provide Affordable Care Act coverage.  Workers are now having to work 24 hours in a week at one place and then go work 20 hours in another job that week.

Palmer warned that the EPA has become a menace to our economy.  It is impacting business negatively.  We can’t attract business here in Alabama because of EPA CO2 regulations threatening to eliminate our coal fired electric plants driving up the costs of electricity in coming years.  “We have got to strip them a lot of their power.”

Now the EPA wants the power to regulate the quality of ditchwater.  That will have an extremely negative affect on agribusiness.  Palmer advocated devolving EPA to the state level.  “Bring it down here closest to the people.”

Palmer said that one of the worst scandals was “Fast and Furious” where the ATF armed Mexican drug cartels.  “Eric Holder should have been held in contempt for congress.”  Palmer said that Berghdal could be a deserter.  Laws were broken in his exchange.

Palmer said, “What is going on at the border has created a constitutional crisis.”  Jonathan Turley, a liberal who supported Obama, is warned that we could be losing the Constitution if the President is allowed to act in defiance of the rule of law and the Congress.  “What is going on right now is the point of a crisis.”

Palmer said that right now, “Impeachment is going nowhere in the Senate.”  We have not passed a budget in five years.  Instead the country has been run on a series of continuing resolutions.  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has talked about states taking a more active role through lawsuits.  In the last years of the Bush administration Democrats filed suits in federal court and ran out the clock, Republicans can do something similar to lessen the impact that President Obama can have in his last two years in office.

Palmer said, “We have a window of opportunity to get our country on the right track and we can’t do that by sending the same kinds of people to Washington.”  Republicans have become experts at telling people how bad things are. That won’t work, because people will tune you out to avoid being depressed. Must have a message of hope.  Palmer said that we need to send people to Congress who see it as a mission and not as a career.

If elected, Palmer said that he will have an office in Blount County and he will hold monthly meetings to discuss issues and build a farm team of leaders.

Palmer said that this is not the worst it has been in this country.  In 1979 the misery index hit a record high in spring of 1980.  52 Americans were being held hostage in Tehran.  Liberals and conservatives both believed that the Soviets would win the cold war.  The Soviets were in Afghanistan, Cuba, and North Africa.  We had double digit inflation and interest rates.

Ronald Reagan was campaigning for President and said how we could win the cold war and they said he was dangerous.  Pope John Paul II went to Poland after the Communists had pumped atheism into the schools for weeks and a million people were in the stadium chanting: “We Want God.”  He told his people that love is stronger than death and that was the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.  Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Berlin Wall and said, “Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall.” 16 months later it was down on the ground.  The world changed and it is changing again.

Gary Palmer co-founded the Alabama Policy Institute (API) and for 24 years served as its’ President.  His opponent in the Republican Primary Runoff is state Representative Paul DeMarco from Homewood.

The Republican Primary Runoff is Tuesday, July 15.

The Sixth District is currently represented by Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia who is retiring after this term, his eleventh term.

The eventual Republican nominee will still have to face Democrat Avery Vise and Libertarian Aimee Love in the November 4 general election.

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

Alabama hospitals nearing COVID-19 summer surge levels

Wednesday was the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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UAB Chief of Hospital Medicine Dr. Kierstin Kennedy.

Alabama hospitals reported caring for 1,483 people infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of patients since Aug. 11, when the state was enduring its summer surge. Wednesday was also the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19. 

The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 1,370 on Wednesday, the 36th straight day of that average rising. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,453 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day average of new cases was — for the eighth day in a row — at a record high of 2,192. 

Across the country, more than 80,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high and the 15th straight day of record hospitalizations nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking website.

The CDC this week recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

“The only way for us to successfully get through this pandemic is if we work together,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a message Tuesday. “There’s no one subset of the community that’s going to be able to carry the weight of this pandemic and so we all have to take part in wearing our masks, keeping our distance, making sure that we’re washing our hands.” 

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Kennedy said the best way she can describe the current situation is “Russian Roulette.” 

“Not only in the form of, maybe you get it and you don’t get sick or maybe you get it and you end up in the ICU,” Kennedy said, “but if you do end up sick, are you going to get to the hospital at a time when we’ve got capacity, and we’ve got enough people to take care of you? And that is a scary thought.” 

The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported an increase of 60 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. Deaths take time to confirm and the date a death is reported does not necessarily reflect the date on which the individual died. At least 23 of those deaths occurred in November, and 30 occurred in other months. Seven were undated. Data for the last two to three weeks are incomplete.

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As of Wednesday, at least 3,532 Alabamians have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health. During November, at least 195 people have died in Alabama from COVID-19. But ADPH is sure to add more to the month’s tally in the weeks to come as data becomes more complete.

ADPH on Wednesday announced a change that nearly doubled the department’s estimate of people who have recovered from COVID-19, bringing that figure up to 161,946. That change also alters APR’s estimates of how many cases are considered active.

ADPH’s Infectious Disease and Outbreak team “updated some parameters” in the department’s Alabama NEDSS Base Surveillance System, which resulted in the increase, the department said.

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Corruption

Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence

The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was booked into jail to begin serving his four-year sentence for ethics violations in September. (VIA LEE COUNTY DETENTION CENTER)

Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday reduced former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to just more than two. 

Walker in his order filed Wednesday noted that Hubbard was sentenced to fours years on Aug. 9, 2016, after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges for misusing his office for personal gain, but that on Aug. 27, 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed convictions on five of those counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another count.

Hubbard’s attorneys on Sept. 18 filed a motion to revise his sentence, to which the state objected, according to court records, arguing that “Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency.”   

Walker in his order cited state code and wrote that the power of the courts to grant probation “is a matter of grace and lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.” 

“Furthermore, the Court must consider the nature of the Defendant’s crimes. Acts of public corruption harm not just those directly involved, but harm society as a whole,” Walker wrote.

Walker ruled that because six of Hubbard’s original felony counts were later reversed, his entrance should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months. 

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Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday said Walker’s decision to reduce Hubbard’s sentence was the wrong message to send.

“Mr. Hubbard was convicted of the intentional violation of Alabama’s ethics laws, the same laws he championed in the legislature only later to brazenly disregard for his personal enrichment,” Marshall said in a statement. “Even as he sits in state prison as a six-time felon, Mike Hubbard continues to deny any guilt or offer any remorse for his actions in violation of the law.  Reducing his original four-year sentence sends precisely the wrong message to would-be violators of Alabama’s ethics laws.”

Hubbard was booked into the Lee County Jail on Sept. 11, more than four years after his conviction. On Nov. 5 he was taken into custody by the Department of Corrections.

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News

Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, has “mild symptoms”

It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.

Eddie Burkhalter

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University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Iron Bowl and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the university on Wednesday. 

“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allan, associate athletic director, in the statement. “He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.” 

Saban had previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia but was asymptomatic and subsequently tested negative three times, a sign that the positive test could have been a false positive. He returned to coach that game. 

It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn, given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for quarantining after testing positive and with symptoms. Neither Saban nor the university had spoken about that possibility as of Wednesday morning.

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National

Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83

The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

Brandon Moseley

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Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton

Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”

Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.

Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.

The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.

While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.

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Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”

His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.

Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.

This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.

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