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Five Elected Officials Switch To GOP

Brandon Moseley



By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Friday, March 6, the Alabama Republican Party announced that five elected officials from Lauderdale and Talladega Counties have decided to switch to the Republican Party.

Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) welcomed the new officials to the Republican Party at a press conference at the Shoals Conference Center in Sheffield.

ALGOP Chairwoman Terry Lathan said to the new members, “You did it right. You searched your heart…and then you reached out to the Lauderdale GOP.”

The Lauderdale County Executive Committee welcomed: District Attorney Chris Connoly, Circuit Clerk Missy Holman Hibbett and County Commissioner Faye Parker into the Republican Party.

Lathan said on Facebook, “At a press conference in Florence with the Lauderdale Co. GOP to welcome 3 new elected officials with Gov. Bentley in a packed room, a beautiful sky scraping cross on the road and white stuff everywhere! I’m use to warm white sand! What is this cold stuff?”


Earlier this week, the Talladega County Republican Executive Committee and their Chairwoman Gina Grant welcomed District Judge Jeb Fannin and Circuit Clerk Brian York into the Talladega GOP at their monthly meeting in the Talladega County Commission Courtroom.

Chairwoman Grant said that she believes the two men will be great assets to the Party and bring with them a wealth of experience in law and service.

Lauderdale County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Quinton Hanson welcomed the crowd and introduced Governor Bentley, who welcomed the three new Republicans and talked about his life-long path as a Republican.

The Republican Party holds its first majority in Lauderdale County. The Alabama Republican Party hopes to continue to expand their majority across the state of Alabama.

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ALGOP Secretary Lynn Mitchell Robinson joined the Alabama Republican officials in attendance.

In 2002, Lynn Greer was the first Lauderdale County Republican ever elected. A growing GOP tide in the elections since then has led to the point where the officials who switched parties on Friday gave ALGOP the majority of Lauderdale County elected offices. In November of 2014, every resident Republican running for office was elected.

The Lauderdale Republican Party announced in a statement, “After a long extensive process, today the Alabama Republican Party will recognize District Attorney Chris Connolly, Circuit Court Clerk Missy Holman Hibbett, and County Commissioner Fay Parker as Republicans. While today we recognize these office holders as Republicans the Republican voters when they run for reelection will determine if they receive the endorsement of the party. That being said we welcome these office holders to the Republican Party.”

Lauderdale District Attorney Chris Connolly is a graduate of the University of Alabama Law School. He has been an attorney since 1987. He was elected District Attorney in 2004. Connolly has successfully prosecuted numerous cases, including a death penalty conviction and the first elder exploitation case in Alabama. Connolly has expanded the Drug Court, has partnered with Safeplace to establish the first Domestic Violence Unit in the Shoals, and helped establish One Place of the Shoals, which is only the second Family Justice Center in the State of Alabama.  Chris and his wife Laura have been married for 31 years and have two daughters. He is an active member of St. Michaels Church in St. Florian, serves as the President of the Board of Directors for One Place, and is on the Board of Directors for Cramer Children’s Advocacy Center, the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force, and the Lauderdale County Community Corrections Board. He has served on the Board of Directors for Rape Response, as well as Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Shoals.

Missy Homan Hibbett is the Lauderdale County Circuit Court Clerk. Missy graduated from the Alabama School of Law in 1996, after earning a degree in Corporate Finance/Financial Management from the University of Alabama. Hibbettt worked as an attorney for 10 years before running for Circuit Clerk in 2006. Hibbett has served on the Executive Board of the Alabama State Clerks Association as First and Second Vice President, was awarded the Clerk’s President’s award for establishing the State Magistrate Certification guidelines, and has received the President’s award numerous times for special service and outstanding commitment to the Alabama State Clerks Association. Missy is married to Kneeland Hibbett, Jr. and is the mother of twins. She is a member of Woodmont Baptist Church, the Lauderdale County Bar and serves on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of the Shoals. She was recently recognized as a Patriotic Employer by the Secretary of Defense, for supporting employee participation in the National Guard and Reserves.

Faye Parker is a Lauderdale County Commissioner. He was born and raised in Waterloo, where he graduated from his hometown high school in 1964. He has managed grocery stores for A&P Supermarkets and owned his own company in Waterloo – a general store and body shop. In 1990, he sold his company and went to work for the Board of Education, where he has worked since then. For the last 10 years, he has served as the Transportation Director.

Parker was elected County Commissioner in 2008 and plans on running for reelection again in 2016, this time as a Republican. Parker quoting what Ronald Reagan’s said of the Democratic Party, “I didn’t leave them, they left me.” Parker says that he is very disappointed to see the direction that our country has been heading over the past several years and is excited to be welcomed into the Republican Party.

Jeb Fannin was appointed district judge by former Gov. Bob Riley (R) when Judge George Sims retired. Fannin was elected to a full term in 2010 with 52.5 percent of the vote over Jeanne Dowdle Rasco (R). Fannin is a 1988 graduate of Thomas Goode Jones Law School.

Brian York was elected Circuit Court clerk in 2012. He has a finance degree from the University of Alabama in Birmingham and is studying law at the Birmingham Law School. He had previously worked for Farmers Insurance and the City of Talladega.

Since winning control of the state legislature for the first time in 135 years the Alabama Republican Party has focused on winning county court houses across the State.

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.



Alabama breaks daily case record, hospitalizations reach new high for third straight day

Rising cases and hospitalizations suggest the death toll will keep climbing in the weeks and months to come.

Eddie Burkhalter




Alabama on Wednesday broke the state’s record for a single-day increase in coronavirus cases, and for a third straight day had record high COVID-19 hospitalizations. 

There were 1,801 hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide on Wednesday, which was a 40 percent increase compared to two weeks ago. The rapid pace of rising hospitalizations is raising alarms among hospitals already overburdened with coronavirus patients, in addition to regular patients seeking other care.

Concern is also rising among public health experts and hospital officials that Thanksgiving gatherings will lead to the number only increasing in the days and weeks to come.

Dr. Jeanna Marrazzo, director of UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases, told reporters Tuesday that there is a possibility that hospitals will have to set up mobile hospitals to care for the rush of patients, and that she worries hospitals may not have enough staff to care for “what might be a tidal wave of patients in the next month.” 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield made a dire prediction Wednesday during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event, as cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to surge across the country. More than 90,000 people in the U.S. were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Redfield said.

“The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” Redfield said.


UAB Hospital was caring for a record 127 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, the second straight record-high day for the hospital. Huntsville Hospital on Tuesday had a record 317 COVID-19 patients. The hospital hadn’t updated daily numbers as of Wednesday afternoon. There were no formal intensive care beds available in Mobile County on Tuesday. 

The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 3,928 COVID-19 new cases Wednesday but noted that 706 were older test results not reported to the department from an outside facility until Tuesday. Even without those cases included, the remaining 3,222 cases reported Wednesday amount to the largest single-day increase, excluding a similar but larger backlog of old test results reported Oct. 23. 

Alabama’s 14-day average for new daily cases was at 2,382 on Wednesday, which is a 29 percent increase from two weeks ago. 

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Rising daily cases can’t be attributed to more testing, however. Over the past week, roughly 35 percent of reported tests have been positive. Public health experts say that number — known as the positivity rate — should be at or below 5 percent otherwise cases may be going undetected and not enough tests are being performed.

ADPH also reported 73 more COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, bringing the state’s death toll to at least 3,711 deaths. Of those deaths added to the count today, 20 occurred during the month of November, 32 occurred in previous months, and 21 aren’t yet dated by the department, meaning they could be new deaths from late November or early December.

Of the 779 deaths added to the death toll in November, 34 percent died in the month of November, 56 percent died during previous months and the remaining 10 percent haven’t yet been dated. 

Deaths are lagging indicators, and it can take weeks, and sometimes months, for ADPH to review medical data and confirm a person died of COVID-19 and verify the date on which they died, so it will likely be many weeks before a clearer picture emerges as to how many Alabamians are currently dying from coronavirus.

Rising cases and hospitalizations suggest the death toll will keep climbing in the weeks and months to come.

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Two more Alabama inmates die after testing positive for COVID-19

The deaths mark the 33rd and 34th deaths among inmates within Alabama’s correctional facilities.

John H. Glenn




Two inmates in Alabama prisons have died after testing positive for COVID-19, marking the 33rd and 34th deaths among inmates within Alabama’s correctional facilities.

Ash-Shakur Halim Shabazz, 60, who was serving a 26-year sentence at Limestone Correctional Facility, was transferred to a local hospital on Nov. 20 after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Shabazz suffered from multiple pre-existing medical conditions, dying the same day he was admitted to the local hospital. The full autopsy concluded that Shabazz was positive for COVID-19 at the time of his death, according to the ADOC press release.

Three days later, a second inmate, Danny Joe Mann, 66, died after being transferred to a local hospital.

Serving a 20-year sentence at Hamilton Community Based-Facility/Community Work Center, Mann likewise suffered from multiple pre-existing medical conditions and was transferred on Nov. 23 after showing symptoms of COVID-19. He was tested upon admission and a positive test result was confirmed. Mann died later that same day.

As of Nov. 27, 834 inmates and 645 ADOC staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to ADOC’s COVID dashboard. Of those inmates, 40 have recently tested positive at eight separate facilities, while 30 workers at nine facilities recently tested positive.

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Department of Justice sues Ashland Housing Authority alleging racial discrimination

“AHA has engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination by steering applicants to housing communities based on race,” the complaint alleges. 

Eddie Burkhalter




The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday filed a lawsuit alleging that the Housing Authority of Ashland violated the Fair Housing Act by intentionally discriminating against Black people who applied for housing because of their race.

The DOJ in its complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, names as defendants the Housing Authority of Ashland, the Southern Development Company of Ashland Ltd., Southern Development Company of Ashland #2 Ltd. and Southern Development Company LLC, which are the private owners and managing agent of one of those housing complexes.

The department’s complaint alleges that the Ashland Housing Authority denied Black applicants the opportunity to live in overwhelmingly white housing complexes on the city’s East Side, while steering white applicants away from properties whose residents were predominantly Black in the West Side. The AHA operates seven public housing communities spread across both areas, according to the complaint.

“From at least 2012 to the present, AHA has engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination by steering applicants to housing communities based on race and by maintaining a racially segregated housing program,” the complaint alleges.

The federal government states in the complaint that as of June 2018, 69 percent of all AHA tenants were white, but 99 percent of tenants at Ashland Heights, on the East Side, were white, 92 percent of tenants at another East Side community were white and 91 percent of tenants at yet another East Side housing development were white.

Similar disparities were seen in public housing communities in the West Side, the complaint states.


AHA kept separate waiting lists for both segregated areas, the complaint alleges and allowed applicants who decline offers of housing “without showing good cause, even when they decline offers for race-based reasons,” to maintain their position on the waiting list, in violation of AHA’s own policies intended to prevent race discrimination.

“On April 11, 1968, one week after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the United States enacted the Fair Housing Act to outlaw race, color and other forms of discrimination in housing. Denying people housing opportunities because of their race or color is a shameful and blatant violation of the Fair Housing Act,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division in a statement. “The United States has made great strides toward Dr. King’s dream of a nation where we will be judged by content of our character and not by the color of our skin.”

“The dream remains at least partially unfulfilled because we have not completely overcome the scourge of racial bias in housing,” Dreiband continued. “Discrimination by those who receive federal taxpayer dollars to provide housing to lower-income applicants is particularly odious because it comes with the support and authority of government. The United States Department of Justice will not stand for this kind of unlawful and intolerable discrimination. The Justice Department will continue to fight to protect the rights of all Americans to rent and own their homes without regard to their race or color.”

U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona for the Northern District of Alabama said in a statement that individuals and families should not have their rights affected by their race or national origin. “Our office is committed to defending the civil rights of everyone,” Escalona said.

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The lawsuit seeks damages to compensate victims, civil penalties to the government to vindicate the public interest and a court order barring future discrimination and requiring action to correct the effects of the defendants’ discrimination.

The DOJ in a press release encouraged those who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination at the defendants’ properties should contact the department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743, mailbox 9997, or by email at [email protected] Individuals who have information about this or another matter involving alleged discrimination may submit a report online at

The DOJ in August the U.S. Housing and Urban Development determined that the Decatur Housing Authority was disallowing Black people to live in public housing located in riverfront towers while requiring Black people to live in less attractive apartments elsewhere.

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Clean water advocates want a comprehensive water plan for Alabama that creates jobs

Under new leadership, a plan for preserving clean water and fair access to it may be within reach in Alabama.

Micah Danney




Environmentalists are optimistic about making progress on water resource issues and the state’s climate change preparedness under the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden and next Congress, particularly because the president-elect is indicating that economic gains go hand-in-hand with protecting the environment.

“It’s really exciting to see the Biden administration put jobs in the same conversation with their climate and environmental policies, because for too long there has been that false argument that jobs and the environment don’t go together — that you can’t have a regulated business sector and create jobs,” said Cindy Lowry, executive director of Alabama Rivers Alliance.

On a recent post-election call with other advocates, Lowry said that the current policy outlook reinforced the importance of voting. There have been some steps forward for conservation during the presidency of Donald Trump, she said, like the president’s signing of the Great American Outdoors Act in August, but the administration has prioritized industry interests.

Under new leadership, a plan for preserving clean water and fair access to it may be within reach in Alabama.

“We have spent so much time and energy as a movement trying to defend and basically just hold the line against so many of the rollbacks, and now we can focus on moving forward on certain areas,” Lowry said.

Julian Gonzalez, a clean water advocate with the nonprofit Earthjustice in Washington D.C., said on the call that the incoming Congress will be the “most environmentally aware Congress we’ve had.” Still, the real work remains.


“Everything needs to be one conversation, and you should be able to go call your Congressperson and say, ‘How are you going to fix America’s water problem?’ and they should have an answer, but right now that’s not the case,” Gonzalez said.

For Alabama’s water advocates, priorities are what to do with coal ash, how to prepare for droughts and flooding, improvements to water and wastewater infrastructure and providing relief to communities that have been affected by environmental degradation.

While production of coal ash has reduced due mostly to market-driven decreases in the burning of coal, enough facilities still use it that Alabama is developing its own permitting process and regulations for storing it. The Biden administration can provide leadership on the issue, Lowry said.

While many people associate water issues with drought, Lowry said the topic encompasses much more than that. Pipes that contain lead need to be replaced. There’s plenty of water, she said, but the state needs a comprehensive water plan that prepares communities for drought management, especially as more farmers use irrigation, which uses more water.

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Her organization has been working toward a state plan that can ensure fair access to water without depleting the environment of what it needs to remain stable.

With the increased frequency and intensity of storms being attributed to climate change, water infrastructure will need to be upgraded, Lowry said. Many communities rely on centralized treatment centers to handle their wastewater, and many of those facilities are overburdened and experience spills. Storms and flash floods push old pipes and at-capacity centers past their breaking points — pipes leak or burst and sewage pits overflow.

Lowry said that there has been some progress in recent years on funding infrastructure upgrades in communities and states. It’s a more bipartisan conversation than other environmental issues, and communities that have been hit hard by multiple storms are starting to have new ideas about how to rebuild themselves to better withstand the effects of climate change.

Still, Alabama’s preparedness efforts are all reactionary, which is why a comprehensive water plan is a priority, she said.

“Policies like that — proactive policies that are really forward-thinking about how we will make decisions if we do run into challenges with our environment — are something that this state has not been very strong on,” she said.

Lowry hopes for more emphasis on environmental justice, with official agencies working more with local municipalities to provide relief to communities hurt by pollution and weather events. Such problems are characteristic of the Birmingham area, where Lowry is based, and the Black Belt.

She wants to see stronger permitting processes for industry projects and easier access to funding for cleanups in communities that need them. North Birmingham activists have been trying for years to get a Superfund site there on the Superfund National Priorities List.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to address these problems, Lowry said. Having multiple avenues for access to funding is important so that all communities have options. Smaller communities can’t always pay back loans, so they need access to grants.

Lowry emphasized that new jobs must be created without exacerbating climate change. Although Alabama tends to look to heavy industry for economic gains, she said she’s hopeful that a different approach by the Biden administration will trickle to the state level.

Lowry also said that conversations about climate change in Alabama have to be put in terms of what is happening in Alabama.

For her and other environmentalists working in the Deep South, it’s all about relationships and establishing trust. The environment becomes a less partisan issue when you focus on the basics, she said, because everyone wants clean water.

“I’ve found it much more easy to have conversations with elected officials at the state level in places like Alabama, where people do kind of grow up a little closer to nature and conservation, and [by] just kind of meeting people where they are,” Lowry said.

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