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St. Clair County Republican Party meets

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, the St. Clair County Republican Party met for their monthly session in Pell City. The group focused on the upcoming Republican primary.

Former St. Clair County District Attorney Van Davis (R) spoke for two candidates that he has endorsed.

“I am here supporting Billy Murray,” for sheriff. “I worked with him during my 18 years as District Attorney. I was asked to speak a few words for a lady I am supporting for Attorney General, Alice Martin. I met her when she was the U.S. Attorney. My perception of her was that she is a tough prosecutor.”

Later, Davis said that he was involved in a public corruption trial in Lee County, “Battling day in and day out with a criminal defense team that was unruly.” Attorney General Luther Strange abstained from the case because his campaign had done business with Craftmasters Printing, which was involved in the case. In the Attorney General’s Office, “We were really having internal problems,” from people in the office who did not want the prosecution to go forward. “When she came in [as Deputy Attorney General], our problems were gone in 30 days. She called me up and said whatever you need in manpower and resources are yours. She is an incredible lady. She is extremely smart and is by far the most qualified person in the Attorney General’s race.”

St. Clair County Board of Education member Bill Morris (R) said, “I have been asked to serve as Governor Ivey’s county campaign coordinator. I would like to introduce the central Alabama Ivey campaign coordinator, George Anderson.”

“I am honored to serve as Governor Ivey’s field representative,” Anderson said. “I came down three
weeks ago from Iowa. When I started out in politics, we did door to door walking from paper lists, that has all been condensed into phone apps. We are using the advantage dialer for phone calling.”

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“We are the best supported candidate in the state,” Anderson said. “We have 67 percent support but we can not let off the gas or we will have a runoff. My job is to make sure that that does not happen. We are reaching out to hard Rs. I was a regional field director for the RNC in Iowa. I also worked for the Iowa Republican Party. I come from an evangelical background. Hopefully I can recruit your help to get Governor Ivey back into office.”

State Senator Jim McClendon, R-Springville, said that the legislature set an all-time record. “We are allowed to meet just 30 legislative days in a session. All the time I have been there, we always barely make it. This last session, we actually met 26 legislative days and saved the taxpayers $100,000. Not every bill got passed but teachers got raises. Income taxes and sales taxes are coming in at all time highs. Our economy in Alabama is a reflection of the economy nationally. We put money into the prison system and are going to add some troopers for the first time in years. We have added some money into mental health, but not nearly enough. We may have a federal judge tell us we have to put in more.”

Sen. McClendon said that under current law, when cities have over 12,000 residents, the mayor goes from being a voting member of the council to a chief executive with a council being a separate legislative branch. Moody is close to that threshold. “We passed a state law giving those cities a choice. They can make that choice until they reach 25,000 residents.”

McClendon said, “I would like to say a word for a candidate in a down ballot race for Agriculture and Industries. Senator Gerald Dial, he has done a lot for St. Clair County. If it had not been for the way the districts were redrawn, I would likely not be your Senator. It would be somebody who lived in some other county and they would not be here. He is a strong friend and ally of mine, and I would love to see him get that position. Agriculture is the biggest industry in Alabama. It is not a very high profile job but a very important job.”

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Former St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Paul Thibado said, “I am here to speak for Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh for lieutenant governor. I have always supported her for everything she has run for. I got to know her when she was state Republican Chairman and she was an excellent chairman. She is going to come to St. Clair County and will spend a couple of days here. I will be calling on help with that.”

Thibado said, “The new ethics law [HB317] is a decay of the legislative process. I would like to recognize Sen. Jim McClendon for voting against it. It was passed and was signed, and it was a decadence to the state. There will be more money paid under the table, and Jim voted against that and that means a lot to me. That is a bad law that got signed by the Governor and that breaks my heart.”

St. Clair County Deputy Freddie Turrentine is chairman of the St. Clair County Party bass tournament. Turrentine reported that the St. Clair County annual bass tournament was a tremendous success and that the party had raised the most they had ever made in the tournament. The party will begin awarding scholarship awards in May.

St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Lance Bell announced that the next meeting will be at the City Market Grill in Pell City on May 24 at 11:45 a.m.

Judge Robert Minor announced that Judge Bill Weatington was in the hospital for five or six days but got out of the hospital on Saturday and would be returning to work on Friday, April 27.

Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup announced that he is running for state House District 30 and asked for the group’s votes.

The major party primaries will be on June 5, 2018.

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.

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Education

Alabama Education Association, Board of Medical Examiners meet over excuses to break COVID-19 quarantines

Prior to the meeting, the AEA on Nov. 5 threatened legal action against the board over the matter. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Officials with the Alabama Education Association and the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners met on Thursday to discuss a concern the association has with doctors who write excuses to allow students to return to school before their mandated COVID-19 quarantine periods expire.

At the meeting between Theron Stokes, associate executive director of the Alabama Education Association, and William Perkins, executive director of the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners, Stokes learned that the board wasn’t aware of the problem, the AEA said in a press release. 

“Both groups agreed to set up a meeting with educational and medical organizations on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Alabama,” the AEA said in the release. “A meeting should be held before the end of the year and will allow the AEA and the Board of Medical Examiners, as well as other educational and medical organizations, to review existing guidelines issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and ensure conformity in following those guidelines.” 

In a letter to Perkins on Thursday, Stokes wrote that it was AEA’s understanding that the board was aware of the problem, but he wrote that during their meeting he became aware that neither the board nor Perkins was aware of the problem. 

“It was not the intent of AEA to cause any unnecessary problems for you, the doctors you represent, or your organization regarding this matter,” Stokes wrote. 

Prior to the meeting, the AEA on Nov. 5 threatened legal action against the board over the matter. 

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“It is our firm belief that there exists no medical scenario under which these students could be written out of quarantine and that to do so is violative of ADPH and CDC quarantine recommendations,” Stokes wrote in the Nov. 5 letter. 

Stokes in his recent letter notes that both agreed in the meeting to bring together representatives of the other organizations to come up with a uniform procedure for following state and federal guidelines. 

“I agree with your plan to conduct this meeting and finalize our goals before the holidays,” Stokes wrote.

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Legislature

Caravan to honor the life of longtime State Rep. Alvin Holmes

The caravan is being organized by community activists Ja’Mel Brown and William Boyd.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There is a car ride caravan honoring the life and service of Rep. Alvin Holmes in Montgomery at 2 p.m. Monday. The caravan is being organized by community activists Ja’Mel Brown and William Boyd.

On Saturday, Holmes passed away at age 81. He was born in 1939 into a very segregated Montgomery and spent his life battling in favor of civil rights causes. He was one of the first Black state representatives to serve in the Alabama Legislature after implementation of the Voting Rights Act.

There had been Black legislators during Reconstruction in the 1870s, but Jim Crow segregation during much of the 20th Century had effectively disenfranchised millions of Black Alabamians for generations.

Holmes served in the Alabama House of Representatives, representing House District 78 from 1974 to 2018. Holmes participated in the civil rights movement. He was a professor and a real estate broker.

The chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, State Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, released a statement mourning Holmes’s passing.

“Representative Alvin Holmes was a great Democrat and a fighter,” England said. “He stood on the frontlines of the fight for civil rights and was willing to sacrifice everything in his fight for justice for all. He not only had a long and distinguished career as a civil rights leader, but also as a member of the Legislature, serving his constituents faithfully and dutifully for 44 years. Alabama has lost a giant, whose wit, intelligence, fearlessness, selfless determination, and leadership will be sorely missed. My prayers are with his friends, family, and colleagues.”

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State Rep. Kirk Hatcher, D-Montgomery, fondly remembered Holmes, whom he defeated in the 2018 Democratic primary.

“Today we lost a dedicated warrior for social justice. Representative Alvin Holmes was a true public servant,” Hatcher said. “What an amazing legacy he has left us! He could always be seen waging the good fight for equality in all aspects of state government and beyond. His public service is legendary and without peer.”

“In recent years, I am profoundly grateful for the grace he showed me in his willingness to share with me his blueprint for effectively serving our people—and by extension the larger community,” Hatcher said. “Today, my fervent prayers are with his beloved daughter Veronica, her precious mom (and his best friend), as well as other cherished members of his family and friends as they mourn his passing. I humbly join the many voices who offer a sincere ‘Thank You’ to Mr. Alvin Holmes for his dedicated service to our Montgomery community and our state. ‘May angels sing thee to thy rest.’”

State Rep. Tashina Morris, D-Montgomery, also fondly remembered Holmes.

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“Sending Prayers to The Holmes family,” Morris said. “Alvin Holmes was the epitome of greatness working for his people!! May you Rest Well !!!”

Republican insider and former State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. also served with Holmes in the Alabama House of Representatives and the Montgomery legislative delegation.

“I served with Alvin for 20 years in the Alabama Legislature,” Hooper said. “We often disagreed on the issues, but even after a heated floor debate, we could shake hands at the end of the day. I always considered him a friend. He loved Montgomery and he was a great representative of his district and its issues. He was always willing to go the extra mile for one of his constituents. When I served as Chairman of the Contract Review Committee, he was one of the committee’s most conscientious members. He was always questioning contracts so he could be assured that the contract represented a good use of taxpayer’s dollars which as Chairman I greatly appreciated. He was one of a kind pioneer in the Alabama Legislature and will be sorely missed.”

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill served with Holmes in the Alabama House of Representatives prior to his election as secretary of state.

“I just learned that former State Rep. Alvin Holmes passed away today,” Merrill said on social media. “I enjoyed the privilege of serving with him from 2010-14. There was never a dull moment whenever he was in the Chamber. I appreciated him for his candor & for his desire to work on behalf of his constituents!”

Holmes was a member of the Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Montgomery Improvement Association, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Alabama Southern Christian Leadership Conference Board, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He has one daughter, Veronica.

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News

SOS Merrill back in hot water over social media interactions

This is not the first time that Merrill has come under fire for the way he handles his social media accounts.

Josh Moon

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Secretary of State John Merrill

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and his social media accounts are back in the news — this time because of a series of childish arguments and insults that found their way into the public domain. 

Over the last two weeks, screenshots of exchanges between Merrill and various Alabama residents have shown Merrill telling people that they are “an embarrassment” and “a disgrace,” and encouraging one man to “get a sex change operation” so he could become who he was “intended to be.”

Merrill told al.com on Sunday that he regretted the exchanges. Speaking specifically about the message in which he encouraged the sex change operation, Merrill said it wasn’t productive and that he should have deleted the original message from the sender and moved on. 

The sender was a Huntsville resident named Michael Richard, who admitted to al.com that he was trolling Merrill with his private Facebook messages. 

Regardless of trolling, however, Merrill’s recommendation was both offensive and degrading, and it will undoubtedly draw the ire of many civil rights groups around the state and country.

Richard said his initial messages to Merrill were in response to Merrill retweeting a selectively edited video showing a white man being hit in the head during a protest and a message claiming there is a “war on whites.” Merrill also retweeted a message that referenced white people fighting back. 

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The full video of the incident shared by Merrill shows the white man kicking another person before being hit. 

A number of progressive groups around the state took issue with Merrill’s retweet and called on him to apologize and take it down. In response, Merrill went on a mini-media tour, giving a number of interviews about the incident and claiming that his First Amendment rights were being threatened. 

Richard admitted that he capitalized on what was clearly a sensitive issue for Merrill, sending him a Facebook private message saying, “You’re an embarrassment to this state.”

Merrill responded by telling Richard that he was a “liberal racist,” and things got way worse from there. 

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The exchange with Richard, however, was not the only one for Merrill in the last few days. Two other Facebook exchanges were also posted online — one with Michael Ledbetter, who Merrill tells to move and mind his own business, and Amy Styles, who Merrill calls “karen.”

This is also not the first time that Merrill has come under fire for the way he handles his social media accounts. He’s currently being sued in federal court for blocking some citizens.

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Congress

Sewell votes in favor of National Apprenticeship Act

The bill would invest more than $3.5 billion to create nearly one million new apprenticeship opportunities.

Brandon Moseley

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Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, last week voted in favor of the National Apprenticeship Act, legislation to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act for the first time since its enactment in 1937.

The new National Apprenticeship Act will create one million new apprenticeship opportunities over the next five years. Registered apprenticeships provide workers with paid, on-the-job training, and are the nation’s most successful federal workforce training program.

“As a long-time supporter of expanding registered apprenticeships, I am thrilled to support today’s legislation to provide 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities over five years,” Sewell said. “Our Nation is facing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and estimates show that more than 7 million of the pandemic’s job losses will be permanent. We need bold investments like those in the National Apprenticeship Act to accelerate the economy and help get the American people back to work in stable, good-paying jobs of the future.”

The bill invests more than $3.5 billion over the next five years.

The act establishes a $400 million grant program to support the expansion of apprenticeship opportunities, including pre-apprenticeships and youth apprenticeships, which will increase $100 million annually to reach $800 million by 2025.

The legislation also codifies and streamlines standards for registered apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to make it easier for both apprentices and employers to participate in high-quality apprenticeships and codifies the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship.

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It directs the office to convene industry leaders, labor organizations, educators and others to expand apprenticeships into new occupations and sectors.

Supporters say the bill could yield $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased tax revenue and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance, and that nothing is more effective at breaking the cycle of poverty than a well-paying full-time job.

Sewell is about to enter her sixth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.

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