Connect with us

News

Ivey signs resolution urging school board to hold nationwide search for next superintendent

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Gov. Kay Ivey delivers her first State of the State Address. (Adam Brasher/The Auburn Plainsman)

Friday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a resolution urging the Alabama Board of Education to broaden its search for a new superintendent.

State Representative Randall Shedd, R-Cullman, expressed his thanks to Ivey for signing a resolution sponsored by members of the House Urban and Rural Development Committee urging members of the State Board of Education to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent of the Department of Education.

“We’re asking those members to find us a Nick Saban/Gus Malzahn caliber superintendent. Simply put, we want the best in the nation,” said Shedd, chairman of the committee.

The resolution states that “improving the quality of education throughout Alabama should be the guiding force in this search for new leadership for the State Board of Education,” and that the search and recruitment for the most highly qualified person to be superintendent should be done “by any means necessary.”

“We want Alabama’s education system to be at the top,” said Shedd.

In addition to Shedd, the resolution was sponsored by Representatives David Standridge, R-Hayden, Danny Crawford, R-Athens, Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, Prince Chestnut, D-Selma, Bob Fincher, R-Woodland, Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro, and Margie Wilcox, R-Mobile.

Currently, the Board is seeking to fill the position of the superintendent of the State Board of Education.

Public Service Announcement

The resolution wrote that, “It is incumbent upon the State Board of Education to fill the open position with proven leadership that can lead the board and the state in efforts to improve the quality of education in Alabama.”

“The State Board of Education should implement measures to broaden the search to fill this important position with a proven leader who has the vision and skill to develop a strategy, to assemble an effective team, and to apply effective programs and procedures to move Alabama to the top in education,” the resolution further read.

A copy of this resolution was, “Provided to the Alabama State Board of Education so that they are informed of our expectations regarding this matter and our firm determination to support new leadership in implementing goals for improving education in Alabama.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Board has made several high profile gaffes in the last several years that have severely damaged public confidence in the Board.  The Board adopted the Common Core aligned Alabama College and Career Ready standards amidst tremendous public opposition. Educational performance plummeted and one Board member blamed Alabama educated public school teachers for the students’ disappointing performance.

The Board gave a massive 25 percent pay raise to then Superintendent Tommy Bice.  Bice later retired just before a U.S. Department of Education investigation revealed that Alabama had misreported its high school graduation rate. A bitterly divided board then appeared to be about to hire Jefferson County School Superintendent Dr. Craig Pouncey. Then it became public that there was a complaint against Pouncey with the Alabama Ethics Commission.

The Board instead hired Massachusetts attorney Michael Sentance. It later was revealed that a member of the Board was responsible for both the complaint against Pouncey and likely the leak of the complaint. The other members of the board felt that they had been duped.

The Department of Education took over the highly troubled Montgomery School Board.  That takeover has not gone well. Sentence resigned after just 14 months on the job; knowing that the Board then was about to fire him. That was six months ago and the Board does not appear close to naming a new superintendent.

This string of failures has not gone unnoticed by legislators. The Legislature passed the Alabama Accountability Act to allow students in Alabama’s worst schools to get a scholarship to send their child to a private school. The state’s workforce development efforts and career tech education under the board had been criticized by some.

The legislature passed a bill taking away supervision of the Alabama Two Year College System from the Board and gave control of the system to a new appointed board. The legislature passed a charter schools bill, which some on the board resisted.

There was even legislation considered by the Senate in this session to abolish the Board all together and replace it with an appointed board answerable to the governor. That legislation by Senator Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, ultimately failed, but it would be hard to overstate the legislators’ disappointment with how the board has functioned over the last decade going all the way back to the Two-Year College scandal where a number of people went to federal prison including the chancellor of the system.

 

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.

Advertisement

Economy

Alabama weekly unemployment claims dip below 10,000 for first time since March

It is the lowest number of initial claims filed in a week since the number first spiked in the third week of March, when it jumped from 1,824 to 10,982 — though still much higher than before the pandemic began.

Micah Danney

Published

on

(APR GRAPHIC)

There were 9,468 unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, down from 11,692 the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

It is the lowest number of initial claims filed in a week since the number first spiked in the third week of March, when it jumped from 1,824 to 10,982 — though still much higher than the normal before the pandemic began. The most weekly claims filed during the pandemic was 106,739 in the week ending April 4. In 2019, an average of 2,500 people per week filed unemployment claims.

65 percent of the claims — or 6,110 claims — from Aug. 2 to Aug. 8 were related to COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. That compares to 76 percent the week before.

New claims dropped sharply in May and declined fairly steadily, then increased over the first half of July as cases resurged in Alabama but began declining again in the second half of July. Average daily COVID-19 cases peaked on July 19 before beginning a new decline.

Continue Reading

News

Mazda, Toyota invest additional $830 million in joint Huntsville plant

The additional investment into the plant, which is to produce new SUV’s for both car companies, is for new manufacturing technologies to the production line and additional training for the 4,000 or so expected workers.

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday announced an additional $830 million investment in Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp.’s joint manufacturing venture, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, in Huntsville. 

The additional investment into the plant, which is to produce new SUV’s for both car companies, is for new manufacturing technologies to the production line and additional training for the 4,000 or so expected workers, according to a press release from Ivey’s office. 

“Toyota’s presence in Alabama continues to build excitement about future opportunities that lie ahead, both for our economy and for the residents of our great state,” Ivey said in a statement. “Mazda and Toyota’s increased commitment to the development of this manufacturing plant reiterates their belief in the future of manufacturing in America and the potential for the state of Alabama to be an economic leader in the wake of unprecedented economic change.

The additional $830 million brings the total investment in the project to $2.311 billion and will allow for production line modifications for both of the new models. Once complete, the facility is slated to be able to produce up to 150,000 of a future Mazda crossover model and up to 150,000 of the Toyota SUVs annually. 

The joint venture has already hired approximately 600 of the planned 4,000 new workers, and the companies expect to begin accepting applications again later this year.

“Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is proud to call Alabama home. Through strong support from our state and local partners, we have been able to further incorporate cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, provide world-class training for team members and develop the highest quality production processes,” said Mark Brazeal, vice president of administration at MTM, in a statement. “As we prepare for the start of production next year, we look forward to developing our future workforce and serving as a hometown company for many years to come.”

Construction on the Huntsville plant is ongoing, with 75 to 100 percent completion on roofing, siding, floor slabs, ductwork, fire protection and electrical, according to the press release. 

Public Service Announcement

“This newest investment by our partners at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing shows the company’s continued confidence in the ability of our community to provide a strong, skilled workforce to meet the demands for quality and reliability,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said in a statement. “We look forward to the day when the first vehicles roll off the line.”

“We are excited to learn of this additional investment being made by Mazda Toyota Manufacturing,” Limestone County Commission Chairman Colin Daly said in a statement. “We continue to be grateful to MTM for their belief in our community and look forward to our partnership with them for many years to co

Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the new investment will magnify the economic impact of a project that is poised to transform the North Alabama region.

ADVERTISEMENT

“With this enhanced investment, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA is adding new technology and capabilities to a manufacturing facility that was already designed to be one of the most efficient factories in the automotive industry,” Canfield said in a statement. “We’re confident that the groundbreaking collaboration between Mazda and Toyota will drive growth not only for the companies but also for North Alabama for generations.”

Continue Reading

National

Jones calls for fixes to USPS delays and reduced costs for election mail

“Like voting itself, the U.S. Postal Service is vital to our democracy,” wrote Sen. Doug Jones and 46 other senators to the U.S. postmaster general.

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

(STOCK PHOTO)

Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and 46 Senate colleagues in a letter to the U.S. postmaster general on Thursday expressed serious concerns over changes that will increase the cost of citizens to vote.

“Like voting itself, the U.S. Postal Service is vital to our democracy. Since you assumed the role of Postmaster General, there have been disturbing reports regarding changes at USPS that are causing significant delays in the delivery of mail. Under normal circumstances, delayed mail is a major problem – during a pandemic in the middle of a presidential election, it is catastrophic,” the senators wrote in the letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. 

President Donald Trump on Thursday repeated statements he’s made that the U.S. Postal Service won’t be able to process mail-in ballots in the November election without the needed federal funding, which he is withholding. 

“They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion—billion—for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo Thursday morning. “Those are just two items. But if you don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting. Because they’re not equipped to have it.”

DeJoy in recent days has ordered major reshuffling in the Postal Service’s management ranks, ordered a hiring freeze and made other cuts. Secretaries of state nationwide were also notified that instead of the 20-cent bulk rate for election mail, as has been used for decades, now it would cost 55 cents to send such mail via first-class postage. 

The Postal Service in previous elections treated all election mail, no matter how much was spent on postage, as first-class and as such expedited delivery. The recent announcement signals that election mail not sent first class will not receive the same expedited delivery times, worrying many that DeJoy, appointed by the Postal Service’s majority-Republican board in May, is attempting to exert political influence into mail delivery just before the presidential election. 

Trump has repeatedly said, without factual cause, that mail-in ballots are ripe for fraud. Mail-in voting has surged across the country in recent elections and even more so amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states — including California, Colorado and Washington — conduct all elections almost entirely by mail.

Public Service Announcement

Mail-in voting fraud is incredibly rare, according to The Brennan Center for Justice, which noted that in Oregon, a state that votes primarily by mail, only about a dozen cases of voter fraud were proven out of 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000. 

“As Postmaster General, you have a duty to our democracy to ensure the timely delivery of election mail. Millions of Americans’ right to vote depends on your ability to get the job done. We urge you not to increase costs for election officials, and to direct all Postal Service employees to continue to prioritize delivery of election mail,” the senators’ letter continues.

Continue Reading

Elections

Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police endorses Russell Bedsole

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Alabama House District 49 Republican candidate Russell Bedsole.

The Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Republican candidate Russell Bedsole in the special election in Alabama House of Representatives District 49. Bedsole is a Captain with the Shelby County sheriff’s Department and currently serves on the Alabaster City Council.

“There is no doubt that our country, state, and communities are facing extreme challenges,” said Everette Johnson, the president of the Alabama State FOP. “These challenges have caused stress, divisiveness, and concern for the future of our country. Now more than ever, we need strong, yet compassionate, leaders to guide us through these turbulent times. We need leaders who understand how important the safety of our communities should be and the willingness to work together for all. Russell Bedsole is that leader.”

Bedsole said it is an honor to be endorsed by the Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police.

“As a representative of District 49, I will work to protect law and order in our communities and stand up for our conservative Christian values in Montgomery,” he said.

Bedsole and competitor Mimi Penhale were the top two vote-getters in the Republican primary runoff. Chuck Martin, who came in third, has also endorsed Bedsole.

“I wanted to again thank those that voted for me, supported me by putting up signs and making phone calls,” Martin said in a statement on social media. “I also want to thank those who also made donations to fund my campaign. Since I came in third, Russell Bedsole and Mimi Penhale have both ask for my endorsement. I want to ask those that supported me to support Russell Bedsole. Both candidates are great people, but Debbie and I made the decision to support Russell.”

Bedsole has been elected twice by the citizens of Alabaster to represent the city’s fifth ward on the Alabaster City Council. Bedsole’s campaign said that during his time of service, Alabaster has benefited from positive economic growth, a first-class school system and a high quality of life. He has also received endorsements from the Shelby County Fraternal Order of Police, Alabama Association of Nurse Anesthetists and Conservation Alabama.

Public Service Announcement

A runoff election for the District 49 seat will be held on Sept. 1.

“I humbly ask for your vote on September 1 to grant me the opportunity to serve District 49,” Bedsole said.

The special election is being held to fill the seat left vacant when Rep. April Weaver, R-Briarfield, joined President Donald Trump’s administration as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services. House District 49 includes portions of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties. The eventual Republican nominee will face Democratic nominee Cheryl Patton in the Special General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The winner will serve the remainder of April Weaver’s term, which ends in late 2022.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement