By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, February 12, Republican National Committee Members Paul Reynolds and Vicki Drummond addressed the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans (GBYR) at their regularly scheduled meeting at the Sidebar Cafe.
Paul Reynolds said that the Republican National Committee (RNC) is composed of 168 members; three from each state and U.S. protectorate. Reynolds said they are the Supreme Source of authority in the Republican Party. Reynolds is Alabama’s Republican National Committee man. Ms. Drummond is Alabama’s Republican National Committee woman. The Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party is the state’s third representatives. For the last four years that has been Bill Armistead, though a new Chair will be selected on Saturday.
The RNC is separate from the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC), the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and the Whitehouse effort. Reynolds said, “We have no authority over the NRSC or NRCC. They don’t have any authority over us and we don’t have any authority over them.”
Reynolds said the NRC is a very conservative group, though I would send some of them back. “There is always a White House effort going on even when we don’t have somebody in the White House.”
Sometimes the other groups do something or say something that the Republican rank and file do not like, they blame us. “By and large most of the time the RNC is taking the lumps for one of those three other groups.” “Everybody is totally independent of each other.”
The RNC has a rules committee composed of one member from each state. “They write the rules that we operate under in the off years.” Alabama’s representative is committee woman, Vicki Drummond
Drummond said, “I have enjoyed being on the rules committee.” Candidates come and go but the job of the RNC is to hand down our Republican ideas to the next generation. “Our Chairman Reice Priebus has been fantastic.”
Drummond said that when Priebus was elected, “We were in shambles.” The RNC did not even have a credit card to our name. She said that Priebus has turned the party’s finances around and the party controls the House, the Senate, and 59 state legislature chambers. Drummond said that the party is on sound footing for Presidential election in 2016.
Ms. Drummond said that any proposed rule change has to come out of the rules committee by majority; but then has to pass with a 3/4s vote of the 168 member body. The rules can be changed only once every two years.
The RNC want to give our presidential candidate the best chance to win; but the RNC also represents the grassroots, and the state candidates. Drummond said that the party got into trouble in Tampa with that. The Romney campaign had perhaps too much influence over the rules at the convention.
Drummond said that the 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates sliced and diced each other up. In the 2016 GOP Primaries there will be only 8, 9, or 10 debates. Eight have already been scheduled and there are still two that might come to be. The Republican Party will control the media, the topics debated, the moderator, and the venue.
Drummond said that states that move their primaries up in the schedule will be severely punished. States with 30 or more delegates will have number slashed down to 9 and states with 29 or less delegates will be slashed down to 6 at the convention if they break the rules. “We don’t expect to see breaking of the rules.” There will be four primaries in February 2016: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
The GOP convention will be held on July 18-21 in Cleveland. The Party is doing that because the nominee can not touch federal dollars until the GOP actually nominates a candidate. In 2012 Mitt Romney had almost run out of money by the convention, meanwhile the Democrats had 800 paid staffers in Florida and Obama was spending millions of dollars.
Ms. Drummond said, “We have to have a good candidate but we also have to have a strong party not just for the next four years but generation after generation.” “We come together or we hang separately.” “We must come together to get this country on the right track.”0
Paul Reynolds said that he is on the RNC’s policy candidate. Reynold said, “A resolution is a snap shot of what a particular group is thinking on a particular issue based on the information they have at that time.” Before the RNC can pass a new resolution, every Republican member of the Congress and the Senate get a copy and the press gets a copy. The proposed resolutions are put in a file and goes to the platform committee at the convention, which determines the platform for the next four years.
Reynolds said that the Obama Administration is exponentially growing the federal government’s regulatory control over the country. “I work in an industry that is the poster child for federal regulation.” “Some part of your life is more regulated now than it was last week or last year.”
Reynolds said that the Administration is still hiring more bureaucrats. “The legislature said this industry here is out of kilter we need somebody to regulate that industry. Lets form a commission. We have more commissions in Washington than we have people in some counties in Alabama.” These commissions are usually made up of 5 people. Two members from the party out of the White House and three from the party that controls the White House. “The White House party rules the roost.”
Reynolds said that Net Neutrality sounds good; but is really, “An effort for the FCC to take over total regulation of the internet.” Reynolds said it is “Total hogwash.” “It is so they can get their nose under the tent to regulate the internet as a public utility.” There is going to be a fight between the Congress and the FCC. Frankly I hope the Congress bombs the place.
Reynolds warned that the Obama Administration has written 333 pages of new regulations that nobody has seen.
Reynolds warned that these commissions legislate because they write the rules, they are the executive because they carry them out, and they are the judicial because they punish you when you are in violation. “Does the word central committee ring a bell with you?” That is from the old Soviet Union. They are setting up an ad hoc central committee to regulate your life.
State Senator Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) also addressed the GBYRs. Quoting from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ “Some things that should not have been forgotten have been forgotten.” Hightower praised the principles of economist Milton Friedman are timeless. We have a common enemy and we need a common vision. The ideas of Friedman and Ronald Reagan are the vision we need to bring back.
Hightower said that when he ran for the state Senate he knocked on 10,000 doors. When I find a candidate to support I will do a lot more than vote for the person. I am going to write a check and volunteer for them. “I was not the favorite child,” of the Republican Party. I spent $100,000 my GOP Primary opponent spent $700,000.
Sen. Hightower said that the legislature I going into session in March. I am waiting to hear what the Governor has to say. He has floated some trial balloons to see what is acceptable; but it seems like more taxes are coming. How much is the shortfall? We are hearing over $700 million. The budget is one crisis and much of that is caused by rising Medicaid costs. We have been having discussions about what to do to reform Medicaid.
The people don’t want to vote for a lawyer and they don’t want to vote for professional politicians. The Republicans have a majority in the Senate; but it is not a conservative majority. One Republican is a great friend of the gambling industry. Some have suggested legalizing gaming. I don’t support that. “I think it is an unhealthy lifestyle.”
The Chairman of the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans is Jackie Curtiss. Curtiss said that the Young Republicans have had a turbulent relationship with the Alabama Republican Leadership; but that they have always had a good relationship with Reynolds and Drummond.
The new meeting location for the GBYRs is the Sidebar Café on Seventh Ave. South in Birmingham near the campus of UAB.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence
The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
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 one counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another five counts.
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 sentence should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.