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McCuister Running as Independent in Senate District 32

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Friday, July 25, the Alabama Political Reporter had a long conversation with Independent candidate for Alabama State Senate District 32 Kimberely McCuister, about her views on many of the issues affecting both the State of Alabama and Senate District 32 in Baldwin County.

The Alabama Political Reporter asked Mrs. McCuister about her views on Medicaid Expansion.  McCuister said that she believes we are going to have to act on that.  There are 350,000 people in Alabama who can’t get insurance.  Kentucky accepted the expansion and people benefited.  “We definitely have to do something. Republicans had the same reservations in 1965 about the Medicare Program.  Now try to take away someone’s Medicare.”  The opponents of the Affordable Care Act basically have the same argument with it then that they have now.  “Frankly I think the public option should never have been taken off the table.”

On the Alabama Accountability Act McCuister said, “I totally oppose that.  There has been $25 million collected and only $24,000 given out.  Where is that money now?”  There are ways to fix the schools.  The Chicago Public Schools were a mess until Arne Duncan and a team of people came in there and turned it around, but we need to have the right people in place.

APR asked McCuister if she supported teacher tenure.  The former teacher said no she does not.  “I have always felt that teachers should be like every other professional and should be judged on their present performance.”  McCuiston also opposes school vouchers.

McCuister said that Alabama should fix their public schools so that when you move here the local schools here are at the same level as in other states having taught the same material.

On Common Core, McCuister said, “I think we need something a little different.”  She said that she favors uniform standards across school district and state lines because we are a part of the United States, but is not for a lot of standardized testing.  She said, “We are going to have to do something,” and suggested taking the best elements from Common Core and the best from other sources, including the old standards.

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APR asked McCuister if she favored raising taxes on Alabama families?  McCuiston said, “No we can not raise the taxes on individuals.”  The state already collects $3 billion from the personal income tax, but collects only about $800 million from corporations that do business here.  “That is a big discrepancy.”

McCuister said that the first thing we need to do is to clean up all the corruption in Montgomery.  There are too many people in Montgomery who are trying to make money off of the state.  All that needs to stop.

McCuister said that the state needs leadership that that builds a consensus among the people.  The people also need to engage state government more.

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McCuister said the state’s prison crisis is, “Really a mess.”  We need to look at our laws and change things like mandatory minimums that are responsible for prison overcrowding. “As far as building more prisons that is not the answer.”  McCuiston also said that we do not want to privatize prisons because that makes a commodity of people.

McCuister also said, “We definitely don’t want to abolish the Auditor’s office.” On giving industries incentives to come to Alabama from the education fund, McCuister said, “No you leave the education fund alone.”

McCuister favors the State allowing medical marijuana.  She said that she knows of several elderly folks who would prefer marijuana over the pain medications that they are getting currently from their doctors.

Kimberly said that her district is a 3.5 billion service and tourism industry.  She is concerned about how that could be threatened by the proliferation of oil and gas pipelines.  “Oil and tourism don’t mix.”

APR asked McCuister if she favored Gary Palmer’s plan to radically increase domestic oil and gas exploration.  She said, “Absolutely not.  Nobody wants to come to Orange Beach or Gulf Shores to stare at oil wells.  Nobody wants that.”

She said that corporations had too much influence on campaigns in the state and that many of Alabama’s elected officials, “Are doing the bidding of those corporations.”   Her campaign has not taken any PAC (Political Action Campaign) money.  The Alabama Political Reporter asked if she has taken any AEA money.  McCuister said, “No.” and that she probably would not take any AEA money if it were offered.  She complained that the Alabama Ethics Commission does not do enough to fight corruption and is too weak.

McCuister said that she has asked her opponent Sen. Trip Pittman if he is still under a gag order to discuss the oil boom scandal and the FBI investigation and he won’t answer.  If he is McCuister speculated that he can’t talk about the allegations, because it is an ongoing investigation.  “Pittman says he had no ethics training, it does not take training to know the difference between right and wrong.”

On using toll roads to fund new highways, McCuister said she has experience with that due to the Foley Express.  “They extended the beach express, but nobody uses it to avoid paying the $3.50 toll.  If you toll that bridge (the I-10 bridge that is to be built) people are going to find a way not to pay the tolls.”

On the home owner’s insurance problem for Baldwin and Mobile Counties, she said that if you look at where the claims are coming from, there are more claims from Central Alabama.  “Insurance companies will gouge you wherever they can.”  McCuister said that homeowners south of I-10 would benefit from more competition in the insurance market.

Mrs. McCuister said that she was born in Sharon, Pennsylvania and moved to Alabama at age 14.  She lived for years in Pelham and then moved to Chicago, Illinois where she worked as a nurse and then as a teacher in Hanover Park, IL.  She has lived in the District since 2008.

On the Red Snapper controversy, McCuister said, “I am worried for our charter boat captains.” She said that Gov. Bentley’s answer to the shortened federal season of allowing private boats to fish for snapper on the July weekends in state waters hurt the over 400 charter boat captains because they weren’t able to go out during those days, making a bad situation for the boat captains even worse.  Kimberely supports efforts to extend Alabama’s state waters further out.

When asked why she chose to run as an Independent rather than as a Republican or a Democrat, McCuister said, “I don’t think inside a box.  Being an Independent is a mindset.”  “I want the people to tell me what they want.  I listen.  I want to represent them not some corporation.”

On why she is running for our Alabama Senate seat District 32, she said in a prepared statement, “The reasons are many, but the most important reasons are these.   Democracy is not one person existing on a Ballot. That’s a ‘no brainer’ and unfortunately for Alabamians across this State November elections will be a lot of no choice.  I feel our Constitutional rights as human beings are currently sacrificed for profit and power by the status quo in Montgomery. I also see too much of that profit going into the hands of elected officials, and lobbyists, and not to benefit the good citizens of Baldwin County. We have gotten to a place where the average person has no real voice in local or state Government, and they only pay attention to the highest bidder, while the rest of us are sold out for a few pieces of silver.”

McCuister said, “I want common sense and ethical values to be the standard and returned to our State Capital, and the Constitution of Alabama and the United States upheld for everyone. Our rights are at stake no matter who you are, and what party you vote for. The loss of those rights will be disastrous for future generations.  I began a journey 4 years that has ultimately lead to my candidacy, The BP Oil Disaster. I learned as a resident of lower Baldwin County very quickly what I felt, or produced as fact held no weight with local or state officials from the top down. I had no choices and no value. I was speaking out at more Public forums, meetings, and workshops than anyone could fathom. I got no results, no answers, and felt totally placated by the people elected into office some I voted for. I decided to get bolder and louder and organized protests and rally’s thinking well maybe if we yell loud enough, they will pay attention. I define ‘They’ as The Good Ole Boys. It’s a club and the rest of us are not in it. They pander only to those from who they can personally benefit from. The moral and ethical values of these guy’s is only apparent at campaign and election time eloquently telling people what they want to hear. They have no intention of paying attention to you.”

McCuister continued, “I realized if I want to help my fellow citizens, do something to end the reign of those ethically and morally challenged I would have to go to Montgomery inside the belly of the beast. I am a strong citizen advocate for all. I hold no allegiance to either political party. We need to do what is practical and logical for the people and their business in District 32, and stop worrying about labels they are not important. There is way too much money and greed currently deciding the fate of thousand here to be fair. This is what happens when you have only 1 political party dominating everything. It breeds corruption.”

The General Election is on November 4.

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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Economy

New unemployment claims continued dropping last week

Micah Danney

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There were 8,679 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, slightly fewer than the 8,848 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

Of the claims filed between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19, 4,465, or 51 percent, were related to COVID-19. That’s the same percentage as the previous week.

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Economy

Unemployment benefits could change for some Alabamians

ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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Some Alabamians receiving unemployment benefits could see changes in those benefits after the Alabama Department of Labor conducts a required quarterly review and redetermines eligibility, the department said Friday. 

The Alabama Department of Labor said in a press release Friday that no action is required by those receiving regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. 

ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3. 

“Some may remain eligible for PUA or PEUC, OR they may be required to change to regular unemployment compensation. Weekly benefit amounts may also change. This depends on eligibility requirements,” ADOL said in the release. “Those claimants whose benefit year ends prior to October 3, 2020, will have their claims reevaluated.” 

After the review, if the claimant is determined not to be eligible for regular unemployment compensation, those who qualify may still be able to be paid under PUA or PEUC, and that determination will be made automatically and payment will be issued, the department said in the release. 

Claimants must also continue to certify their weeks.

Many claimants are not receiving benefits because they fail to file their weekly certifications, i.e. requests for payment. ADOL cannot pay benefits for weeks that have not been properly certified. Certifications can be done online at labor.alabama.gov or by calling the appropriate number:

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  • Montgomery – (334) 954-4094
  • Birmingham – (205) 458-2282
  • Not in Local Area – (800) 752-7389

PUA recipients must file their weekly certifications either by telephone or on the PUA app, at pua.labor.alabama.gov.

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Congress

Alabama Republicans praise President Trump’s SCOTUS nomination

“The confirmation process is already proving to be another brutal fight, but I am certain that this is the job for a strong, conservative woman,” Ivey said.

Brandon Moseley

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President Donald Trump, left, and his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. (WHITE HOUSE PHOTO)

President Donald Trump on Saturday nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court, and, if confirmed, Barrett would fill the vacancy created by the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Trump’s nomination of Barrett was met with near universal praise among Alabama Republicans including Gov. Kay Ivey and a number of other elected officials.

“I commend President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Judge Barrett will be focused on interpreting the law, being an arbiter and not a lawmaker, as the Supreme Court demands of its justices,” Ivey said. “Based on her proven career and background, I am confident that Judge Barrett will be articulate and a fair supporter of issues important to Alabamians such as protecting the unborn and our Second Amendment rights, while applying the law impartially.”

Barrett has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since 2017. Before becoming a judge, she was a law professor at Notre Dame Law School and previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Ivey said Barrett will embody the precedent established by Ginsburg and further prove that a woman can be a wife, a mother, a person of faith and hold strong personal convictions while still effectively performing the duties required of a justice.

“The confirmation process is already proving to be another brutal fight, but I am certain that this is the job for a strong, conservative woman,” Ivey said. “The people of Alabama overwhelmingly supported President Trump in 2016, and I commend him for performing his constitutional duty of nominating to the Supreme Court and getting the job done that we elected him to do. The late Justice Ginsburg herself noted that even in an election year, ‘a president doesn’t stop being president.’”

Before her death, Ginsburg reportedly made a request that her replacement not be nominated or confirmed until a “new president is installed.” Last week, Ginsburg became the first woman and the first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

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President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump pay their respects to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, as she lies in repose at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Justice Ginsburg passed away on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

“I eagerly anticipate Judge Barrett’s confirmation, and I look forward to continuing to forge a strong relationship between President Trump and the state of Alabama during his next term,” said Ivey.

Democratic Senators, though they do not appear to have the votes to stop Barrett’s nomination, are vociferously opposed to confirming a new justice before the Nov. 3 election determines whether Trump will serve as second term.

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Democrats point to what they say is the hypocritical position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to hold hearings or a vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, in 2016.

All but two Republican senators appear prepared to vote for Barrett’s confirmation, all but assuring her a seat on the court and solidifying a 6-3 conservative majority.

“I am extremely pleased with President Trump’s selection in nominating Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama. “From her clerkship for the late Justice Scalia to her tenure on the 7th Circuit, Judge Barrett has had a distinguished career and has proven her commitment to the rule of law. Our next Supreme Court Justice must be a steadfast supporter of upholding our nation’s Constitution. I have no doubt in Judge Barrett’s qualifications, and I look forward to supporting her nomination.”

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, has said he will not vote for any nominee until the results of the Nov. 3 election are decided.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan:

“President Trump has nominated a superior candidate for our nation’s highest court. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a solid constitutional jurist who has distinguished herself both on the bench during her time on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, in academia as a law professor at the University Notre Dame and as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia,” Lathan said. “Judge Barrett’s focus on following the Constitution is apparent in her opinions, in cases ranging from the 2nd Amendment to immigration. Even three Democrat Senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Joe Donnelly crossed party lines in 2017 to support her first nomination to the bench.”

“A mother of seven, including two adopted children from Haiti, Supreme Court nominee Barrett has been called a ‘powerhouse’ constitutionalist,” Lathan continued. “Her consistent rulings on applying laws to the words of our U.S. Constitution is the exact example of what the justices are tasked with in implementing their rulings. Based on qualifications and experience alone, Judge Barrett’s nomination merits a vote by the full United States Senate.”

Congressman Gary Palmer:

“President Trump has made an excellent choice in nominating Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to her and her family,” Congressman Gary Palmer, R-Alabama, said. “Judge Barrett has a stellar record of faithfully interpreting the law, training young lawyers, producing brilliant scholarship, and upholding the Constitution. Her devotion to her family, and her dedication to her students during her years as a law professor, are also commendable. There is no question that she is highly qualified and will make a fantastic Justice. I urge the Senate to confirm her quickly.”

Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville:

“I am so excited about President Trump’s nomination today of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville. “She understands that’s it’s her job to interpret the Constitution as it’s written and not to manufacture new law from the bench. Her nomination opens the door to protecting unborn life, preserving our Second Amendment gun rights, and securing the religious freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution.”

“My opponent, Democrat Doug Jones has a very different opinion,” Tuberville continued. “He’s already announced his opposition to any candidate offered by President Donald J. Trump, and he said even meeting and listening to Judge Barrett would be useless. When it comes to giving fair consideration to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Doug Jones is a lost ball in high cotton. But that comes as no surprise. He voted against Brett Kavanaugh and said he would have opposed Neil Gorsuch if he’d been in the Senate at the time. Democrat Doug even voted twice to remove Donald J. Trump from office. Since becoming our placeholder senator, Doug Jones has opposed everything most Alabamians support and supported everything most Alabamians oppose. Instead of representing our conservative Alabama values, he’s represented the Hollywood and New York values of his high-dollar, out-of-state campaign donors.”

“There’s no telling what kind of dishonest tactics Doug Jones, Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris and the other Senate liberals will use against a woman who is imminently qualified to sit on our nation’s highest court,” Tuberville warned. “So I’ll close by asking you to join me in praying for Judge Barrett and her family as she faces what promises to be a tough and partisan confirmation hearing. With your prayers and support, America will soon have a strongly conservative Supreme Court, and Alabama will have a new senator who actually represents the citizens of this great state. May God bless Judge Barrett. May God bless President Donald Trump. And may God continue to bless the greatest nation mankind has ever known.”

Congressional candidate Barry Moore:

“I applaud the President for making this nomination now, as the Constitution mandates,” said Congressional candidate Barry Moore. “I’m confident that the Senate will also take up Judge Barrett’s nomination in a timely fashion and not delay the process until after the election. The Constitution doesn’t state anything about waiting until after an election to fill Supreme Court vacancies, despite what the Democrats want us to think.”

“I’m pleased that President Trump has chosen a strong pro-life woman for the Supreme Court,” Moore continued. “I’m also impressed by Judge Barrett’s credentials and experience. I am certain she’ll make an exceptional addition to the Supreme Court, and will serve us well for many years to come.”

“We, as a nation, must act now by praying for President Trump, Judge Barrett and their families,” Moore concluded. “They need to have a shield of favor and protection prayed over them. I truly believe we are in a spiritual battle for our nation and the Democrats will stop at nothing to destroy the character of Judge Barrett, as they’ve done for the last 4 years with President Trump.”

Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter

“I join the members of the Alabama House Republican Caucus in praising President Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville.

“Judge Barrett clerked for one of the court’s greatest conservative jurists, Judge Antonin Scalia, and she understands that her job is to interpret the Constitution as the founding fathers wrote it, not to invent new law out of thin air,” Ledbetter said. “The suit against Alabama’s strongest-in-the-nation pro-life law is currently working its way through the federal courts, and it could be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future. Having a conservative majority on the nation’s highest court will be essential to the Alabama Legislature’s efforts to protect unborn life from harm. We encourage the Senate to hold confirmation hearings as soon as possible and to hold an up-or-down vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination immediately after they conclude.”

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National

23rd Alabama inmate dies with COVID-19

There have been 409 total positive COVID-19 cases among inmates and 392 total among employees as of Sept. 26.

John H. Glenn

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The Alabama Department of Corrections on Friday reported the 23rd COVID-19 death among inmates in the state’s prisons.

Christopher Nalls, a 59-year-old inmate serving a 15-year sentence, died Sept. 10 at a local hospital in Hamilton, Alabama.

Nalls was moved to the local hospital on Aug. 31 to receive treatment for pre-existing health conditions unrelated to COVID-19.

His admission test upon entering the hospital was negative, and after treatment, Nalls was discharged Sept. 4.

Upon return, Nalls’s condition worsened, and he was readmitted Sept. 10. He died later that same day. A postmortem COVID-19 test showed Nalls died with COVID-19.

ADOC did not report any other positive COVID-19 cases among inmates in correctional facilities. But in the same report Friday, ADOC reported six new positive cases among staff, bringing the staff total to 28 active cases.

ADOC’s Office of Health Services initiated investigations into possible prolonged exposures between positive staff members and inmates or employees.

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There have been 409 total positive COVID-19 cases among inmates and 392 total among employees as of Sept. 26.

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