By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama garnered national and global attention from the U.S. Senate special election which vaulted Doug Jones into the U.S. Senate. There are a number of winners and losers from this election.
The foremost winner is of course Doug Jones himself. Jones has had a stellar legal career. He has been a U.S. Attorney, an assistant U.S. attorney, a former aide to U.S. Senator Howell Heflin (D), the successful prosecutor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombers, and he is recognized as one of the foremost legal minds in the profession with a who’s who list of corporate and institutional clients. He has had a stellar career; but now he is a Democrat rock star. He walked into the heart of Trump country in the deep south and emerged victorious. Nobody among Senate Democrats can match that accomplishment and the national press attention he has received gives him far wider popular name recognition than Senators who have served longer and have more political victories.
Social conservatives lost mightily and likely won’t ever recover from this defeat. Roy Moore was their champion. He denounced sodomy, abortion, same-sex marriage and urged America to “be good again.” If elected, Moore would have been in position to influence judicial nominations that will be interpreting the Constitution for the next three decades; now Jones will be and clearly that will impact future decisions on same-sex marriage, abortion, the Second Amendment, immigration, transexuals, the role of the government, etc. Only the President influences the future of the federal court system; than a “swing” Senator and now the GOP has just a one vote majority in the Senate. The social conservatives (most of them from rural Alabama ) defeated the business/establishment Republicans (most of them from the suburbs and cities) in the GOP Primary and then were largely abandoned by the GOP elites on election day in the general election.
The LBGTQ community was triumphant. Judge Roy Moore has been their nemesis for years; not just in Alabama but nationally as well. They contributed mightily to getting him removed from his position on the Alabama Supreme Court and now they helped defeat his Senate aspirations. Fewer and fewer preachers are denouncing sodomy from the pulpit and after Moore very few politicians will want to do it on the stump either and risk the wrath that they have been able to deliver to Moore.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) ended the night in the loser category. Ivey was probably right to set the special election this year rather than leaving it for the next election cycle but she is being second guessed now over the decision. She also looked foolish when she said that she believed Roy’s accusers; but was still voting for Roy Moore and did not remove him from the ticket. The decision to schedule the state Senate District 26 special election on the same day as the U.S. Senate election now looms large as a potential contributing factor to why Republicans lost. She looked awkward through all of this and that the Republican Party lost a U.S. Senate seat just eight months into her tenure is an issue that may breathe new life into the campaigns of her many 2018 challengers.
The Black community in Alabama won. Republicans have ignored them, packed them into Black dominated legislative districts, and openly laughed at their complaints and problems. Republicans are not laughing today. The Black voters flexed their muscles all across Alabama. The polls all had Moore ahead by three to eight points; but that was assuming that Black voters stayed home like they did in the 2016 and 2014 elections. There was 44 percent voters turnout in Montgomery County, much of it generated by the SD26 race energy, versus 34 percent turnout across the state. Moore did not really have a outreach program to Black voters. If he had just gotten 22 percent of Black voters he would have easily beaten Jones. NBA and TV star Charles Barkley openly campaigned for Jones. President Barack H. Obama (D) did robo-calls for Jones. Jones campaigned on the last days with Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Selma), Senator Corey Booker (D-New Jersey), and Deval Patrick (D-Massachusetts) while Moore made some inane comments about America being its greatest prior to the Civil War. That was twisted by his opponents to mean that America was greatest when we had slaves, a charge Moore let go unanswered. Black turnout flipped many reliably Republican counties blue and that should put fear in the hearts of everyone in the Republican Party.
Luther Strange managed to lose yet again. Luther should never have accepted that tainted appointment from Governor Robert Bentley (R). It is likely that Del Marsh or Mo Brooks could have beaten Moore in the Primary; but Luther used DC lobbyist dollars and Mitch McConnell to set up a runoff between him and Moore. Then he and his buddys spent millions trashing Moore even though every pollster, including Luther’s own tracking polls, had Moore winning the GOP runoff and emerging as the GOP nominee. Once he squandered a small fortune and whatever good will he had left in the state and LOST convincingly to Moore; Luther then petulantly refused to endorse Roy Moore. There are claims that GOP operatives created the whole underage women narrative and then one of them Tim Miller planted it with WAPO. Luther could have come out and publicly demanded that the RNC and RSLC support electing the Republican nominee; but no he either stayed out of it or undermined Moore from behind the scenes. Luther went from being a generally likable political figure to perhaps the most polarizing figure in GOP politics in Alabama, outside of Moore himself. Luther Strange managed not only to crash and burn his once promising political career, he took out a safe GOP Senate seat, imperil the President’s judicial nominees, and cost the GOP any chance to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The Alabama Democratic Party got a win. They have not won any statewide election since 2008 and really have not seen an energized Democratic base since that election. Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley largely remained behind the scenes; but she inherits an energized base, a new generation of grassroots Democratic organizers that are dedicated to progressive principles and ideas, and a Republican Party that appears divided and beaten down. Whether or not she and Democratic Candidates like Judge Sue Bell Cobb, James Fields and Walt Maddox can capitalize on this momentum is open to question.
President Donald J Trump (R) suffered a massive blow in this race. First he opposed Moore, then he embraced Moore, then he distanced himself from Moore, and then he finally embraced Moore again. Now he is distancing himself from Moore again; but he lost a reliable Senate vote in Luther Strange and a lot of Presidential prestige. His support arguably did as much to energize Black voters for Jones as it did conservative voters for Moore.
This was a big win for the ‘Washington Post’. The aging legacy newspaper has a big reputation; but a lot of that had become ancient history rather than current reality; until Amazon exec Jeff Bezos bought it for a discount a year ago. Moore was cruising toward what should have been an easy win, until WAPO got involved by dredging up women who claimed to have been previously involved with Moore. The move flipped the script on the election from Making America Great Again to what happened in 1979. I find that sort of gotcha journalism sleazy and unprofessional; but the Democrats got this Senate seat largely because of their efforts.
The biggest loser had to be Judge Roy Moore himself. If you run for office enough you will normally lose an election. There has to be a winner and there has to be a loser in any contest, and if you count the primaries, a lot of people lost in their bid to win back this Senate seat. Moore lost more than a cushy job. He has been called “pedophile”, “pervert”, “child molester”, and faced a level of national ridicule and scrutiny in his personal life that far more powerful men have never experienced. After 70 years of service in the Army, in the Vietnam War, as a prosecutor, as a judge, as Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, as the head of his Foundation, as a father, a grandfather; whatever he does in this life Moore will always be best known for the two most serious accusations against him, that if true were one time incidents 38 and 40 years ago, and if not true amounted to slander. Few men and women would want for their lives on this Earth to be known for and judged by what they did in their darkest moments and certainly not for the worst lies their political enemies can concoct. Judge Moore lost an election; but he also lost his good name and reputation and that might not be fixable in this life. This kind of intensely personal attacks and charged negative political attacks is why many people do not want to go into politics.
Opinion | A lesson in civility
As already mentioned here, Sunday afternoon Feb. 9, I participated in a League of Women Voters forum in Dothan to debate the pros and cons of Amendment One. I opposed the measure. Senator Greg Albritton from Atmore supported it.
I had done my homework and so had he. We both spoke with passion and conviction. There was no doubt we were on opposite sides.
However, we were friends when we got there and we were friends when we left.
I respect Greg and the fact that he was duly elected by the majority of voters in his senate district. He certainly has a right to his viewpoint and his opinions. I have no doubt he feels the same about me.
Our exchanges were lively and even interspersed with moments of laughter and good will.
In other words, we were civil.
And as I drove back home to Montgomery, I couldn’t help but think of how what had just played out was in such stark contrast to what we see far too often in politics these days, especially in Washington. Both civility and respect have become four letter words in the nation’s capital where if someone disagrees with you they are usually ridiculed, berated and the object of insults.
We are destroying what is most dear to this republic. The presumption that as a whole we are better than the sum of all our parts. That all citizens should be treated with dignity, not chastised because they don’t think like we do.
I understand better than most that 2020 is an election year and that in such times, passion often replaces common sense. But even so, even that does not condone so much of the junk we see on TV and Facebook right now.
It is shameful.
Of course, I will vote NO on amendment one. And Greg will vote YES.
But to me, the larger lesson of this forum was not so much about the pros and cons of this legislation as it was that civil discourse and disagreement can–and should–be conducted with civility.
When it is not, we are all diminished.
Opinion | President Trump has the best week of his Administration
Last week was President Trump’s best since moving into the White House. After giving a well-received State of the Union address, the President was acquitted by the United States Senate, announced the killing of a major terrorist, and received a great jobs report. On the other hand, Democrats suffered several significant embarrassments.
It began Monday at the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. Despite months of work to manufacture enthusiasm, Democrats experienced extremely low turnout across the state. Things went from bad to worse as a host of errors prevented the counting and reporting of votes! Of course, it isn’t hard to see why the people of Iowa were not eager to support Democrat priorities. Socialist policies like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and confiscation of firearms are radical and dangerous, and most Americans reject them.
In contrast, the very next day, President Trump presented a clear vision for keeping America great in a rousing State of the Union speech. I left my seat many times to applaud the President and his many guests, each of whom had inspiring stories. Two of hi s guests were Stephanie Davis and her daughter Janiyah from Pennsylvania. Janiyah had been on a waitlist of over half a million students to receive a scholarship to go to a better school. President Trump shocked the crowd by awarding her a scholarship right then and there!
The story of Janiyah was especially important to me because the President called on Congress to pass my bill, the Education Freedom Scholarship and Opportunity Act, so that one million American children could have the same opportunity for a scholarship! I developed this bill with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz. President Trump is right that no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing government school, and I am proud to lead this important Trump administration priority.
The State of the Union ended on an embarrassing note for Democrats as Speaker Pelosi ripped up her copy of the President’s speech. This petty, undignified tantrum plainly displayed the level of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” that she and her cohorts suffer from. They simply cannot stand to see President Trump succeed. They are in crisis after their impeachment plan failed. In fact, it backfired and lost support as their rigged process was exposed. Realizing her mistake, Speaker Pelosi appealed to Facebook and Twitter to have videos of her ripping the speech taken down!
I was proud to be a leader in that fight against the sham impeachment. Thursday, a day after the President was exonerated, I was among a handful of House members invited to the White House to celebrate. It was an amazing honor and surprise to receive President Trump’s personal thanks for fighting by his side throughout this process.
Later Thursday, the President announced that an American airstrike had killed Qassim al-Rimi, a terrorist and the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen. AQAP claimed credit for the December 2019 shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station that took the lives of three servicemembers, including Ensign Joshua Watson from Coffee, Alabama. President Trump has made clear that our enemies will pay for taking American lives, and terrorists across the globe now know that he isn’t messing around.
Finally, an excellent January jobs report was released. Employers added 225,000 jobs as the economy continues to strengthen. Importantly, wages for working Americans are rising.
Put it all together and its obvious why the President’s approval rating is at the highest levels of his administration. Clearly the Democrats’ misguided prioritization of an unpopular impeachment scheme has them in dire straits. I vow to keep fighting with the President against radical socialism and to support his America First agenda.
Opinion | Positive results from the Alabama Department of Labor
With the closing of the past decade, and at the beginning of a new one, economic conditions in Alabama couldn’t be much better. We at the Alabama Department of Labor have been busy wrapping up statistics and facts for 2019, and we’re happy to share those positive results with everyone.
If you’ve noticed the news reports over the last year, you’ll know that Alabama is currently experiencing a period of record growth and success. In 2019, we announced brand new economic records nearly every single month. We closed out 2019 with the lowest unemployment rate on record – 2.7 percent! In fact, until last year, Alabama had NEVER experienced an unemployment rate below 3.0 percent. We hit that mark three times last year. Nationally, our unemployment rate decreased more than any other state (over the year).
With that record low unemployment rate, it’s no surprise that we also have record high employment – meaning more people are working today in the state of Alabama than EVER BEFORE. In December, more than 2.2 million Alabamians were counted as having a job, representing a yearly increase of nearly 84,000 people. Every single month in 2019 saw a brand-new record high level of employment. So did our labor force. That means that more people were in the workforce than ever before. That’s significant because it shows that people believe there are jobs to be had. And, #wehavejobs. We have a lot of jobs.
Last year, our economy supported more jobs than it ever has at any point in time in our history. Employers reported more than 2.1 million jobs in November and December. Over-the-year job growth reached record highs, and we met or surpassed the national job growth rate for 11 out of the last 12 months. Alabama employers continue to post jobs on the state’s online jobs database, www.joblink.alabama.gov. More than 210,000 jobs were posted on the site last year, and nearly 800,000 people visited it.
For four years in a row now, we’ve soundly beaten economists’ job growth projections. In 2019, economists projected Alabama would gain 22,000 jobs. We gained 75,000. (Based on year to date growth, January 2019 – December 2019.) For 2020, they’ve projected a gain of 29,000 jobs. We’re hopeful we can beat those projections for yet another year. By the way, the jobs we’re gaining aren’t just any jobs. The majority of the growth was in the professional and business services sector, which includes professions like engineers, architects, and computer systems designers. Wages in this sector reached a record high last year, notching a more than $20 weekly wage increase (over the year). At least seven sectors and subsectors saw record high weekly wages last year, and overall wages, also at a record high, experienced a nearly $9 increase.
Despite all these positive indicators, we know we still have plenty of work to do. Even with record low unemployment rates, there are still some 60,000 Alabamians who are unemployed. Our mission is to connect every Alabamian who wants a job, with an employer who needs a worker. We won’t slack on that mission now. We know our job will never get easier. In fact, as the economy improves, our job in some ways becomes harder. We still have companies locating in Alabama that need workers, and we have an obligation to provide a qualified and trained workforce. With that in mind, we’re working on the following goals:
- First, we are committed to helping Governor Kay Ivey realize her goal of adding 500,000 highly-skilled employees to the workforce by 2025.
In order to meet the needs of our employers, we must continue to work hard every day to train and equip our workforce to respond to today’s challenges. Through the Success Plus initiative, Alabama’s workforce community is committed to add 500,000 credentialed workers by 2025. This can be accomplished in many ways; either through accreditation programs via Alabama’s Community College System, training from the state’s workforce development agency, AIDT, On-the-Job Training and Apprenticeship programs, and more. Our 50 Career Centers, located throughout the state, provide access to all of these programs and more. We are committed to doing our part to ensure the continued success of the state.
- We want to increase awareness of the services available to both employers and jobseekers throughout the state.
Through targeted outreach efforts over the past several years, more and more Alabamians are aware of the free, valuable services available to them through our Career Centers. Not only for the unemployed who are looking for work, we also provide services to those who are looking for a new career. We can help you get the right training, or the right education, to make those dreams a reality. For employers, we can help you narrow your search to find the perfect candidates, and even help with wage costs. There’s truly something for everyone at your local Career Center. Please take a moment and check us out, we’d love to help you! Find out more at www.labor.alabama.gov.
Opinion | Great examples of poor leadership
Let’s talk about some great examples of poor leadership, unacceptable management, and illogical decision-making, coming from our Montgomery County School Board, Alabama State Department of Education, and the Montgomery City Council. Just a few days ago, the local School Board approved an unrealistic initiative, to increase the millage rates, concerning property taxes, to raise annual fees.
I don’t know how much more, of this type assistance, that we can stand. This is not, the type help, we need. The following are reasons that I can’t support this measure.
The city has one of the highest sales taxes in the nation, at ten-cents per dollar. The chairman of the State Legislature Education Trust Fund, has stated numerous times, that most education dollars are generated from sales taxes.
A homeowner who purchases a $150, 000 home, with a 30-year mortgage, will pay over $300,000 for total dollar payoff, due to the interest fees, exceeding the principal, or amount borrowed.
The Montgomery Public School System, is currently under state intervention, and take over status. Their accreditation status, is currently deemed, under review. The MPS has hired an attorney, and they are paying $400 per hour, so that the public is hoodwinked, into believing we need to pay them more money.
According to national data, our State Education system, is dead last in math.
Due to mandatory federal laws, concerning on-base and off-base education, for kids of military families, assigned to military installations; and Department of Defense Education Activity policies; the families assigned to Maxwell-Gunter AFB, are currently attending schools out of district. For instance, in counties such as Autauga, Elmore and Pike Road City Schools. Obviously, these military families and their children, still can’t be properly served under the current low standards, poor academics, and unacceptable conditions, and the present state of the MPS. The federal law clearly states, that sufficient and adequate education, must be provided by the Local Education Agency, which is MPS.
Many of the parents assigned at Maxwell-Gunter, include our international allies from around the globe, and some of the best and brightest minds on the planet. Some are scientists, astronauts, physicists, top engineers, fighter pilots, top military strategists, professors, and instructors. Some adult military and civilian students, at the base military professional education schools; may be from top leader military families of other countries, and persons; who may be considered royal family members, within their nations. Additionally, our education game, must be raised, due to the new creation of our U.S. Space Force. Many space families from around the globe, will surely be attending schools at Maxwell-Gunter AFB.
While the county school system does have a few magnet schools that are doing well and are suitable for attendance, most are not.
Most of the positive compliments about the school system, are coming from the educators themselves, whom are evaluating themselves. Just a few days ago, State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey and MPS superintendent Dr. Anne Moore; were patting themselves on their backs about progress. The Alabama State Department of Education, on their own website, show agencies under their own authority who have been; and they will be evaluating, reporting, and making decisions about themselves. I highly recommend, that a top education agency, from outside our state, not closely tied to ALSDE, and their own websites, conduct a real evaluation, before the MPS is removed from its current intervention status. Public agencies evaluating themselves, are not going to take the proper corrective, nor punitive actions against themselves, and their own entities.
AdvancEd, now known as Cognia, is under the ALSDE authority, devised a color- coded evaluation system, that gave different factors, and ranges, which no one can calculate. The factors being measured, weights assigned to each factor, formulas, baselines, equations; still can’t be verified for accuracy nor reliability, when tied to the colors. When persons create a system, and they can’t explain it, and the numbers don’t jive, it’s probably not reliable, nor credible.
The Alabama Charter School Commission is also under the authority of the ALSDE. A new charter school in Montgomery, is currently under chaos, facing lawsuits and turmoil. A one -year old Charter School in Mobile is already on the failure list. Now we have, poorly performing schools under the flagship of MPS regular schools, and charter schools. My perception is that, we are being offered more junk—not more quality schools. Someone at the ALSDE, must put a freeze, on placing more poorly performing Charter schools into our communities.
Whites and middle-class blacks, have rightfully left the MPS system, and they have placed their kids in private schools, or they are home schooling their kids. Not long ago, I spoke with a white family with three kids. They were paying $45,000 per year, in costs for private school fees, and other charges. They are tax payers too. I highly recommend, that the State Legislature and Congress pass laws that will provide families, who are placing their kids in private schools; and homeschooling, be provided the per student dollar amounts; to defray some of their costs and fees. Right, now they are receiving nothing for their education tax dollars. They would have more options.
Public entities and taxpayer funded-school agencies, should not be rewarded for poor performances. Money can’t remedy poor leadership, unacceptable management, nor continued illogical decision-making.
Most devasting, rather than consolidating, and closing many poorly performing schools, the MPS is adding more poorly performing charter schools, in an attempt to justify a property tax increase. Throughout the state, persons who are supposed to be running the Charter schools have departed in the dead of night; and no one can really nail down who is in charge. In the new, local Montgomery Charter School, many teachers have quit, and many complaints have been surfacing, about 10 bosses walking around; hitching up their pants, claiming that they are in charge.
Now, we all know very well, that is too much leadership and management, within one school building, for only one school, with a principal already on station.
Hopefully, some one within the Montgomery County Commission, and the County Legislative Delegation will stop the initiative to increase millage, based on the aforementioned issues. The one thing that is the biggest issue, and challenge, is the lack of Trust from the public, concerning the MPS and the ALSDE. In the past, the Montgomery County Commission, has strongly supported the millage-rate property tax increase. I look forward that, they will do the right thing this time.
I hope that our leaders, will begin building an education system based on core values, such as honesty, integrity, trust, accountability, responsibility and prudent decision-making.
I highly recommend, that citizens vote yes on March 3, concerning the Appointed State Education Board Amendment (SB397), legislatively referred constitutional amendment. So that we can begin to build an education system, that all will, of which, be proud.
Another example of poor leadership, is coming from our Montgomery City Council. Concerning the implementation of Occupational Taxes in Montgomery. The following reasons are why I oppose it.
The City has a ten-cent sales tax, which is the highest in the nation. Many other cities, also used the unrealistic logic, that if employees don’t live in the city; and they drive from outside the city, and work here; they should pay because they are using our city services. Every day, people who don’t live in Montgomery shop in our city, and they pay for services, and all applicable taxes just like everyone else.
Montgomery is proposing to initiate, an occupational tax on Everyone who works in the city. Numerous residents are complaining, that if the occupational taxes are imposed, the amount of their annual occupational tax fees would exceed, the cost of their total annual residential property tax bill, of around $700. That would now be $1400 annually, for the property tax bill and the occupational tax fees.
Further, if government continues to take, more and more of employee earnings, we will become slaves. Most revealing, are the reasons most people are travelling, from outside Montgomery, is because of a poorly performing Montgomery County school system.
The travelling employees have the skills, knowledge and abilities to perform in the high skill jobs. Most are well educated, and they have the proper training needed to perform those tasks. They should not be punished for that.
Many city councils, copy what other cities do, and use their poor logic. The problem is, if you copy someone else’s paper, they both receive F’s for their grades.
Montgomery City Council members, local and State School Board members, must do a better job of educating and training its citizens. Additionally, make better original decisions, to really move our city and Great State forward. I thought that with all of the new committees being formed on the local School Board, and new city committees, that new ideas would be presented.
Too many persons are being placed on committees and boards, who are great at parliamentary procedures, and they are earning an A+; although in the wrong area. We must ask the following persons to resign, from their current positions. Those who arrive at meetings unprepared; members not providing solutions; those making appearances at meetings with no input; members who have conducted no research; persons who agree with other members when it’s totally wrong; persons making decisions, not in the best interest of our country, state, county and city.
I fully support HB147 which recently passed in the House County Municipal Committee. The Bill would protect all workers from double taxation through occupational taxes.
As a former doctoral-level student in Public Administration, I was taught that a city’s power and authority, are derived from the State Constitution and the State Legislature. Due to the supremacy clause. The Legislature can also change, and take away power from the cities.
In closing, I Love city councilmen Charles Jinright and Glen Pruitt. However, I must disagree with them on these issues, and I must do the right thing by supporting HB147. Respectfully, I’m asking the citizenry, to do the same.
Glenn Henry is retired from the U.S. Air Force. He has been a high school teacher and university adjunct professor. He has earned numerous IT Cisco certifications. He is a Certified Professional Ethical Hacker. He lives in Montgomery with his wife Teresa.
Gov. Ivey names members of study group on gaming, lottery
Inmate at Ventress prison tests positive for Tuberculosis
Mexico isn’t paying for Trump’s border wall. Alabama is.
House passes bill to make it a hate crime to attack law enforcement
Jones joins bipartisan vote to approve Iran war powers resolution
House committee fails to advance “gender is real” legislation
John Merrill elected Chair of Republican Secretaries of State Committee
ADECA names Elaine J. Fincannon as new deputy director
Ivey urges legislators to address prison system problems
Gov. Kay Ivey’s 2020 State of the State Address
Ivey seizes gaming issue
Marsh holds meeting with gaming interests day after Ivey calls for the Legislature to stand down on gaming
Private prison company eyes Elmore County land for one of state’s new prisons
Opinion | Deception, subtlety and the wholesale destruction of current ethics laws mark proposed rewrite
Developer Tim James proposes privately-funded toll road as “catalyst for economic growth”
Alabama Democratic Conference endorses Michael Bloomberg for president
Bill Britt5 days ago
Opinion | Deception, subtlety and the wholesale destruction of current ethics laws mark proposed rewrite
Infrastructure5 days ago
Developer Tim James proposes privately-funded toll road as “catalyst for economic growth”
Elections5 days ago
Alabama Democratic Conference endorses Michael Bloomberg for president
National3 days ago
Mexico isn’t paying for Trump’s border wall. Alabama is.