Connect with us

News

Marsh’s Call To Define Journalist Causes Blow-Back from Conservatives

Bill Britt

Published

on

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In an opinion piece published by several newspapers throughout the State, the presumptive Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh wrote that, “Freedom of the press is not going anywhere in Alabama.”

(See article here.)

Marsh is responding to the negative attention he has received after saying he wanted to define who is a journalist.

Now, after the publication of his editorial, things are getting even more heated for the Senator, with the conservative Daily Caller and The Liberty Papers both taking issue with his proposed actions.

Under the headline, “Meet The ‘Conservative Champion’ Who Wants To Quash Press Freedom,” the Daily Caller takes Marsh to task for wanting to license journalists…

(see article here.)

…while the Liberty Papers suggest that Marsh would exclude Thomas Paine and other patriots from the Alabama press room.

Advertisement

(See article here.)

More than one reporter has questioned how Marsh is fit to oversee the Alabama Senate, when he is not willing to uphold the US Constitution?

Marsh says that he asked, “the Secretary of the Senate to put together a definition of what qualifies as a legitimate journalist.”

The Alabama Political Reporter, along with the Anniston Star and the Montgomery Advertiser, have questioned Marsh’s mission to define who is and who is not a journalist.

Marsh says he is concerned about what might happen “IF partisan bloggers requested official credentials.”

Marsh is also concerned that, “Allowing agenda-driven bloggers the same access and legitimacy as serious, long-established and unbiased reporters, could soon create a confusing, circus-like atmosphere and blur the line between promoting opinions and reporting facts.”

Who are these “partisan bloggers” and “agenda-driven bloggers” that are causing Marsh such great concern?

He seems worried that these hypothetical partisan and agenda-driven bloggers, “blur the line between promoting opinions and reporting facts.”

(It is important to note that Marsh is setting-up a number of straw men, this becomes even more interesting at the end of his piece, because there he will change to another straw man altogether to add credibility to his argument)

He never identifies these partisan and agenda-driven blogger and doesn’t supply an example of reports that “blur the line between promoting opinions and reporting facts.”

Marsh says he doesn’t want these unnamed bloggers having the same “legitimacy as serious, long-established and unbiased reporters.”

But, Marsh doesn’t want serious, long-established and unbiased reporters, he wants reporters who will not challenge the State’s Republican super majority. That is why Marsh, along with his partner, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, have cowed the press with threats or curried their favor with special access.

He says that, “Just as elected officials are accountable to the people they represent, so, too, are journalists accountable to an editor.”

This is terrible logic.

Anyone who has witnessed the actions of the Republican super majority over the last four years knows that they are beholden to the “money men” and not to the people of Alabama. It is Hubbard, Marsh and former Gov. Riley who supply the cash and call the tunes.

Marsh’s argument also falls apart because of the First Amendment and the Supreme Court’s confirming the rights of the “lone pamphleteer.” Would Marsh have demanded that Thomas Paine report to an editor to publish to be considered legitimate?

He states, “While a free and open press is vital and necessary, there are some who are attempting to hijack the profession by promoting raw, political agendas from the confines of the press gallery. This is not freedom of the press, it is deceitful and wrong.”

Again, who are these people, “attempting to hijack the profession by promoting raw, political agendas from the confines of the press gallery?”

This is a bold accusation, one that demands an answer as to the identities of these individuals, as well as proof of their deceit and wrong-doing.

Marsh told Tim Lockette of the Star that he only wanted “real” journalists to have access to the press rooms. He also told Lockette that he “Never considered the Britts to be real journalists.”

He then told Mary Sells of the Decatur Daily that this was not about Bill Britt.

Of course, we have ample proof that Marsh considered us journalists until we began publishing the unvarnished facts about his deceit and wrong doings with Hubbard.

Marsh also states, “Several past and present members of the Capitol Press Corps reporters have indicated to us that they do not fear this process because they agree that paid political operatives must not be allowed to disguise themselves as journalists. They join us in recognizing the importance of preserving the integrity of their profession.”

Remember I told you that he would change the nature of the straw man to bolster the credibility of his argument? Well, here it is! In this paragraph Marsh, says that “past and present members of the Capitol Press Corps…agree that paid political operatives must not be allowed to disguise themselves as journalists.”

He changed his focus from partisan bloggers/agenda-driven bloggers to “paid political operatives.” Like most politicos, Marsh prays that the citizens he represents have the reading comprehension skills of a six-year-old.

No member of the press corps would agree that “paid political operatives” should have access to the press rooms. That’s what lobbyists do, and if they pay enough, they can sit in Marsh’s office (In Hubbard’s case, he will want to be paid directly).

Marsh, and especially Hubbard, have tried to convince the political class that because the Alabama Political Reporter accepts advertising from the Alabama Education Association, we are not credible. We will take anyone’s advertising dollars, including Marsh’s and Hubbard’s. We would have more advertisers if businesses were not afraid of Hubbard and Marsh.

Of course, it is interesting to note that both SEAGD and APCI, two companies named in the Hubbard indictments, have had paid advertising and/or editorial space on al.com.

This is just one more straw man on which to hang a false premise.

Over the last two years, Marsh and Hubbard, along with a handful of sycophant followers, have sought to revoke our press credentials. Is this the legacy of those who came to power promising an end to public corruption?

Sadly, the Republican super majority in the House is led by a man charged with 23 Felony counts of public corruption and the Senate is led by a man who is stuck to his side like a Siamese twin.

The scriptures teach us to beware of “Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites!” who are like “whitewashed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but are within, full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness.”

Heed the warning.

Advertisement

Economy

More than 80,000 joined the unemployment rolls in Alabama last week

Chip Brownlee

Published

on

More than 80,000 people filed a jobless claim to receive unemployment compensation last week, the Alabama Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Labor say. That number is about eight times the number of claims filed the week before when layoffs began hitting the state.

Alabama Department of Labor spokesperson Tara Hutchison said Monday that some 74,056 people filed an initial jobless claim during the week that ended March 28, according to the department’s preliminary data. That number was revised upward to 80,196 in a U.S. Department of Labor report released Thursday, April 2.

More than 40,000 filed during the first four days of the week last week, with the number jumping past 70,000 by the end of the week before being revised even further upward. The new numbers bring the two-week total to more than 90,000 in the state.

About 10,892 people filed initial claims during the week ending March 21, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s data. That number was also revised upward. That was also a seven-fold increase compared to the week that ended March 14.

The number of people who filed a jobless claim last week is far more than at any point since at least 1987. The U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly unemployment claims data only goes back to 1987 for Alabama.

The Alabama Hospitality Association has estimated that some 225,000 hotel and restaurant workers will be laid off during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Economic Policy Institute’s conservative projections have estimated that nearly 200,000 people could lose their jobs in Alabama.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported on Friday that more than 3.28 million people across the country filed unemployment claims during the week ending March 21. That shattered the Great Recession’s peak of 665,000 in March of 2009, according to CNBC. More than 6.6 million people across the country filed unemployment claims during the week ending March 28.

Advertisement

In Alabama, you can apply for unemployment by phone or online. There have been issues with people having trouble getting through on the telephone system. The state has said freelancers, independent contractors and gig economy workers can now begin filing.

So many unemployment claims have been filed since businesses began laying off people because of the COVID-19 pandemic that the Department of Labor has been having trouble accepting and processing the filings.

WSFA reported this week that some people have not been able to file.

To help alleviate the strain, the state has waived fees that are typically charged when an employer files for their employees.

To be eligible to file for unemployment insurance related to a COVID-19 layoff or firing, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency,
  • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns,
  • Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19,
  • Or, those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Workers can file for benefits online at www.labor.alabama.gov or by calling 1-866-234-5382. Online filing is encouraged.

Continue Reading

Health

Chamber of Commerce releases guide to help small businesses file for coronavirus relief

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a guide to help small businesses, independent contractors and gig economy workers prepare to file for a coronavirus relief loan under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

This guide outlines the steps small businesses need to do to access much-needed funds to help keep their workers on the payroll during this disruptive period.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is working with state and local chambers across the country to provide businesses with the information they need to stay afloat and keep people employed during the pandemic,” said U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark. “This comprehensive guide ensures small business owners fully understand what aid is available to them and how to access those funds as quickly as possible. We remain committed to ensuring no family or business goes bankrupt due to financial hardships associated with the coronavirus.”

Businesses and entrepreneurs can access the Emergency Loan Small Business guide and checklist here.

Additionally, to help small businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has compiled an interactive map to show the aid available to them on a state-by-state basis. Use the interactive map to learn how aid available under the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program, created as part of the (CARES) Act, could help the small businesses in each state.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that they are committed to helping American businesses respond to the coronavirus so they can support their employees, customers, and communities. We are equipping businesses with tools, resources, and information to help them navigate the challenges of the pandemic in real time.

Learn more at uschamber.com/coronavirus.

Thousands of “nonessential” businesses have been closed across Alabama. Restaurants have been limited to carry out or delivery only. Many businesses are struggling to make payroll during the forced economic shutdown.

Advertisement

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce affiliate here in Alabama.

Continue Reading

Education

UAB students helping healthcare workers

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Most of America is spending more time at home and working to find something to stay occupied as our schools and workplaces are largely shut down in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. For America’s hospitals, particularly the intensive care workers, their job has never been more stressful or more important.

215,300 Americans, as of press time, have been confirmed as being COVID-19. For most of them their illness will just mean flulike symptoms and two weeks at their house reading internet news sites and watching way too much bad daytime TV. Unfortunately for nearly ten percent of patients, COVID-19 will mean hospitalization, often in serious or critical condition. Currently 5,004 COVID-19 patients are in the fight of their lives. They can’t win their fight without a lot of help from the skilled doctors and nurses who have made medicine their life’s work.

Students with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Health Services Administration are thanking those healthcare workers on the frontlines, while supporting the local restaurant businesses they love.

Through a partnership with Frontline Foods, the students are independently supporting local clinicians in the fight to keep our communities safe, while simultaneously supporting Birmingham’s local restaurant industry.

Frontline Foods began with independent groups in San Francisco and New York City with the same central idea. They help health care workers and local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, that has already claimed over 5,100 lives.

“As this crisis grows in scope and scale, we want to continue to push that mission forward by boosting the morale of our frontline warriors in need across our communities, all while helping local restaurants and their employees,” said Christina Fortugno, a critical care nurse, second-year Health Administration graduate student and MBA student within the department, and co-organizer of Frontline Foods Alabama.
.
Fortugno and Bradley Tipper, another second-year MSHA and Health Informatics graduate student, decided the entire process of donating needed to be as transparent as possible.

100 percent of donations made to the Birmingham chapter of Frontline Foods through World Central Kitchen’s website will be used to sponsor meals prepared by our local restaurant community and delivered to local hospitals.

Fortugno and Tipper say their group will absorb all of the administrative overhead.

Advertisement

“Being in the Health Services Administration program, we’ve been trained on how to support and help our providers,” Tipper said. “We knew that, even though we were about to leave Birmingham, we wanted to be a part of the solution here.”

In addition to providing meals to health care workers, care packages are another way community members are able to say “thank you” to the doctors, nurses, techs, environmental service workers and others. Care packages contain snacks, goodies and handwritten notes of encouragement, to be delivered to our health care heroes. You can purchase items to be included here.

“We are so inspired by the efforts of these leaders,” said Christy Lemak, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Services Administration. “They identified what was needed and quickly went to work to fill those needs right here in our community, and the fact that this helps both frontline caregivers and local restaurants is a fabulous ‘synergy’ that I think everyone can relate with as well. This is what servant leadership looks like. It’s great to see the students take charge in this way.”

Fortugno and Tipper began delivering these meals on March 30 to UAB’s Emergency Department. They hope to exp of COVID=1and their efforts to other Birmingham-area hospitals in the in the coming days and weeks.

Economic developer Dr. Nicole Jones said, “We all have our roles and can offer support amidst the COVID-19 crisis, and students within UAB’s Department of Health Services Administration certainly have stepped up to offer a kind gesture and boost morale during this time of need. And what a smart idea to order carry-out from local restaurants – small businesses can certainly use (and are appreciative of) the support right now, making this is a ‘win-win’ situation for all.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House’s coronavirus task force said recently that he expects “millions” of Americans will get COVID-19. Fauci expects more than 100,000 Americans will die. As these numbers grow, the strain on America’s healthcare workers will only continue to grow.

(Based on an original report by UAB’s Adam Pope).

Continue Reading

Education

State superintendent Mackey addresses concerns about plans for public schools

Josh Moon

Published

on

Over the last few days, several public school principals in Alabama — most of them from more rural districts — have spoken with APR about a number of concerns they have about the state’s plan for moving forward with the 2019-2020 school year in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The principals were not angry or even necessarily critical of the guidance being issued from the Alabama State Department of Education and their local school boards. Instead, they were simply worried about the safety of their staff and faculty, and they were confused, in some cases, about what they can and can’t do to protect themselves and their staff and to provide food and coursework to their students. 

With things moving so quickly in such an unprecedented situation, it probably should be expected that communication isn’t always the best. So, state Superintendent Eric Mackey spoke with APR about the specific concerns of the principals and offered helpful guidance to teachers, principals and superintendents on what he and state leaders expect from them moving forward. 

Q: One of the first questions the principals had was about employees and teachers who have underlying health issues that make them more vulnerable to coronavirus. They’re worried about those staff members coming back to work next week, even in a setting without students. Can anything be done to protect them? 

Mackey: Well, of course. We don’t want anyone who has a health condition like that to be put in danger. I know everybody’s anxious, really scared — some maybe more so than they need to be and others not as much as they should. We have about 10 people in here in the office today. We’re being cautious. Washing hands, wiping down with Clorox wipes. We have some people who need to be more scared about it. One of our vital employees has a heart condition, another is a cancer survivor. We’ve told them not to come in. That’s just how it has to be. They can contribute what they can from home. 

And I suggest that be the case for these schools. If you have an employee with an underlying condition, we need to look at ways for them to contribute — if there’s a concern with everyone pulling their own weight — ways that don’t put them at risk and protects them. Because that is absolutely the first priority. Maybe they can’t come in. But someone needs to be calling parents and making sure they have everything. There are ways to do this.    

Q: Another concern is the close quarters of the food prep areas for employees working to get lunches out for kids to pick up. 

Mackey: Yeah, that is something that we’ve worked, something we’ve put a lot of thought into and we are concerned about it. But at the end of the day, these things are a balance. It is very important for us to get the meals out to the kids. We know from the response just how important it is. But in doing so, our people have to follow the standards, and being six feet apart is not always practical. What I want people to do is be safe first. Wear gloves and masks and whatever they can to protect themselves and the area around them. 

Advertisement

One thing I’m more concerned about right now is that our cafeteria crews won’t be able to keep up with this pace. It’s one thing to have these folks do this work for two or three weeks. But the same men and women can’t do it forever. They need breaks just like everyone. And as this stretches on, we’re going to have to consider changing people out. You might know already, but a cafeteria worker at one of our schools in north Alabama tested positive for (COVID-19) last week. So far, it doesn’t appear as if any other people were infected. But we closed that school down and stopped the meals from there. As this spreads, it was bound to happen, but it’s another indication of just how cautious we all need to be and how real these concerns are.

Q: Because the schools provide meals to any student who asks for one, some of the schools are running low on meals due to kids from other districts and homeschool kids coming in and getting lunches. Can anything be done to alleviate that situation? 

Mackey: There should be some help coming on that. We just received our waiver (Wednesday) to start serving meals for pickup at all of our schools, not just the schools in high-poverty areas. So, we’re going to start rotating the schools that serve, maybe do five in a district and rotate them around each week. That plan is still being worked on. 

Q: Teachers and principals are also very concerned about the process of handing out packets, and then having those packets returned to them. Have you heard this from other folks around the state, and what do you tell them? 

Mackey: I’ve gotten quite a few questions about handling packets. Again, a totally understandable concern. We have people doing really innovative things to get packets to students. Some districts are mailing packets if they can afford it — and I understand that is not cheap and I’m not recommending it. Other districts are running a bus route once per week. And we’ve given advice to them on that: Don’t go in the house, keep your safe distance, handle with gloves, use sanitizer as often as possible. And that’s the main advice we’ve given to our superintendents — figure out a way that keeps you and your people safe.  

Q: It seems as if what you’re saying on almost everything is that this is a unique situation and you’re not going to question people who get the job done the best they can and keep people as safe as possible. Accurate? 

Mackey: Absolutely. One of our biggest issues is always communication, and it’s understandable to a degree. I’m telling superintendents and they’re passing that information on to their principals and they’re implementing things with their teachers and staff. We’ve all played that old game, and we know that information just gets twisted sometimes when it goes through several channels. But know this: Safety is always first. If you’re doing something and you don’t feel it’s safe, back out of it, tell your principal you don’t think it’s safe. Hopefully, we can get that resolved at that level, but if need be, take those concerns higher. Don’t do things that you feel are unsafe for you. That’s not what any of us want. 

Q: Is that same level of flexibility there for the actual school work and how principals and teachers get that handled?

Mackey: It is. I had a principal today ask if it was OK if he told his parents that the kids didn’t have to do the work and they’d receive whatever grade they had going into this. But if they did the work, he was giving out bonus points up to 10 full points on the final average. I told him that was absolutely fine. It doesn’t punish the kids because of this situation and it provides them with incentives to continue doing the work and continue learning. And that’s the key here. 

Q: Has there been any thought to altering the way things are done next year — possibly taking a few weeks at the start of the year for review and to get the students back up to speed — and tinkering with the start and end times? 

Mackey: There have been many, many discussions, and they’re still ongoing. I’ve spoken to a number of legislators who have quite a few ideas. At this point, there are basically three main options we’ve discussed. One that I’ve had from legislators is to extend the school year from 180 to 190 days, which would give us 10 extra days, two full weeks at the start to have a review period. And we can absolutely do that, except that costs money. Someone has to pay for that, and a school day in Alabama costs just under $21 million per day. I don’t see us having an extra $210 million at the end of this coronavirus. A second option that legislators have asked about is giving assessments at the start of the year, and working off those. We actually purchased some really great assessment tools last year. And finally, the third option is to compress the school year and take the first three to four weeks and teach what would have been teaching the final month of this school year. We’re still working through those to see what we think is best.

The main thing I want everyone to understand is that this is an unprecedented event that’s taking place. You go into a school year and you expect to deal with things like tornadoes or ice storms that close schools. But not this. We’re all trying to work our way through it and do what’s right for the students. But we also want our teachers and staff and principals to be safe and protect themselves.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.