Connect with us

News

Ivey speaks at announcement of Talladega Superspeedway Infield Transformation Project

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Thursday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) was in Talladega at the Motor Sports Hall of Fame to announce that the Talladega Superspeedway is going to spend $50 million to transform the infield at the iconic NASCAR track. The Talladega Speedway Corporation is promising that the changes will transform the infield and will offer a new, modern, one-of-a-kind experience that will enhance their current fans’ visit to this historic track and be more than ever a showcase tourist destination for new fans and entertainment seekers in the future.

“Alabama has been proud to be the home of the biggest and baddest race track in NASCAR,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “Both the track and this facility is world class and world renowned. In 2017 Talladega has a $437 million economic impact supporting over 8000 jobs.”

“Almost 50 years ago, Alabama became home to the Talladega Superspeedway,” Gov. Ivey said. “Today, I am thrilled to kick off the development of the Talladega Transformation Infield Project. This project will take this track into the next 50 years and give its loyal fans an even better experience.”

“26 million visitors came to Alabama last year and many of them were drawn by Talladega and the Motor Sports Hall of Fame,” Ivey said. “I am proud to lead a state that has this much to offer visitors.”

Alabama will celebrate its bicentennial as a state in 1969. The Talladega Super Speedway will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019 too. The new infield transformation will be complete by the time of the October race that year.

The Super Speedway’s management team says that the new interactive Garage Fan Zone Experience: will allow grandstand ticket holders and infield guests who purchase the Garage Fan Zone Experience admission close access to the teams, cars and inspection stations during race preparation via fan viewing walkways in the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garage; A new, modern 35,000-square-foot open air club (covered) with a 41-foot video board, 740-square-foot bar and views into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garage; Wi-Fi in all areas of the Garage Fan Zone; Social and engagement areas with concessions/souvenirs/restroom facilities, along with a guest services center and first aid station; New opportunities for driver/personality appearances and entertainment programming; New tram routes to deliver fans to the Garage Fan Zone; New garage suites with views into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garage stalls; 44 stalls in the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garage; A new Paddock Club to enhance the experience for fans and corporate guests; And a new Gatorade Victory Lane with up-close fan view as part of the Garage Fan Zone Experience.

The transformation will have new expanded, premium RV camping and amenities: Approximately 300 total new spots near the Alabama Gang Superstretch and front stretch by the start-finish line; The new spaces will all be equipped with power and water hookups; and new infield mobile shower options in Turns 1 and 2. There will also be a new Turn 3 infield vehicle tunnel that will be large enough for convenient RV, tram and team hauler access and will be open 24 hours a day beginning Wednesday of race week. The track will also build: new infield road infrastructure, premium parking and utilities; A new NASCAR race operations building and broadcast booths high above the tri-oval; And renovation of drivers meeting area and expansion/upgrades to the current media center.

Advertisement

Economic Developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Since 1969, Talladega Superspeedway has been a part of Alabama societal and cultural history. The superspeedway generates an economic impact of approximately $400+ million per year for our state, and the venue boosts Alabama tourism and is part of the quality of life that locals expect,” Nicole Jones added, “The infield amenities aimed to enhance the fan experience will open in 2019, just in time for the Alabama Bicentennial and 50 years of Talladega Superspeedway.”

Childress is the all time winningest car owner in Talladega Super Speedway history.

“A lot of times when I speak, I say: Only in American. Only in America can a kid with $20 race car and a dream be here today,” Richard Childress said. “I raced here in 1969. Big Bill France gave me $400 to race in the Grand American. The Professional Drivers pulled out, so France gave us another $1000 to come race at Talladega. I towed my car here on the back of a big 1953 flatbed truck. I had to keep adding water because my car was losing fluids all day. When I left here, I had that $400 plus that $1000 in my pocket plus some winnings that I made that day. Afterwards Bill sent me a letter and said if you ever need anything from him and NASCAR show that letter. I still have that letter today. For RCR this will be our 50th anniversary as well.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

“The Talladega Superspeedway is where my career began and it holds a special place in my heart,” Childress said,

“Talladega creates millions of dollars in tax revenue from the thousands that attend events and the track provides employment for hundreds of Alabamians.” State Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) said. “We are fortunate to have them in Alabama.”

Mike Helton is the Vice Chairman of NASCAR and was President of the Talladega Superspeedway from 1988 to 1993.  The Talladega Speedway Company is owned by the International Speedway Corporation (ISC).

“When it comes to Talladega I love coming back to Talladega,” Helton said. “It is just not because of the race track, but also the people some of the best friends I have ever had in my life

“What a great step by the ISC and the France family,” Helton said. “It not only helps this facility it helps our entire industry and is reflective of ISC’s commitment to deliver a NASCAR project in a modern consumers way.”

When asked by reporters about debating Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (D), Gov. Kay Ivey told reporters that: “The only ones who want to see a debate are the media and my opponent.”

Birmingham based HOAR construction is the primary contractor on the project. The project’s architectural and engineering work is being done by the employee-owned DLR Group based in Omaha, Nebraska.

Advertisement

Legislature

Bill unlocks the “revolving door” for public employees

Bill Britt

Published

on

After a brief introduction lasting approximately three minutes, SB177 passed out of the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee with a favorable report.

If the legislation sponsored by Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, becomes law, it will radically alter the “revolving door” statute permitting any public employee to leave a government job and immediately return as a representative for that entity or another government agency.

Under existing law, former public officials and public employees are prohibited from serving as a lobbyist or otherwise representing clients before the governmental body for which he or she had served or worked for two years after leaving office or employment.

This legislation would open the door for all types of public employees to avoid the current law.

However, Gudger’s bill does away with the two-year prohibition on public employees, allowing them to freely serve as agents of their former boss or another government body.

Under state law, a public employee is defined in part as, “Any person employed at the state, county, or municipal level of government or their instrumentalities.”

“We see a distinction between public employees who move to other public employment and those who leave for jobs in private industry,” said Sonny Brasfield, Executive Director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama. “The bill leaves in place the strong prohibition against shifting from public employment to private employment, but creates an exception that we feel is appropriate for public employees who want to continue to work in the public sector.”

Advertisement

The proposed legislation was presented to the state’s attorney general’s office for analysis as well as ethics officials.

Gudger, who is vice-chair of the committee, did not explain why the legislation was needed and neither did any of the committee members ask for a reason for the drastic rewrite of the state’s ethics law.

Why it was passed out of the Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development committee rather than ethics or judiciary raises questions as well, as does the fact that there was no discussion.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Republican lawmakers made ethics reform a centerpiece of their efforts to wrestle power from Democrats in 2010. Having succeeded in gaining control of the State House, Republican lawmakers passed what would be called the toughest ethics laws in the nation.

Legislation currently proposed by Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, would render the existing State Ethics Act useless as an effective tool to regulate the behavior of public officials and employees.

Opinion | Deception, subtlety and the wholesale destruction of current ethics laws mark proposed rewrite

Since the indictment and conviction of Mike Hubbard—the former Speaker of the House who led the charge to swing the Legislature to Republican control, many of his former colleagues have sought to rewrite the ethics laws championed ten years ago. Gudger, a newcomer to the state Senate, was not a part of the class that passed the 2010 ethics laws.

Hubbard was sentenced to state prison nearly four years ago but currently remains free pending a ruling by the State Supreme Court.

The bill passed out of committee unanimously with both Democrats and Republicans supporting the measure.

Committee members are as follows:

  • Chair Steve Livingston
  • Vice-Chair Garlan Gudger
  • Will Barfoot
  • Tom Butler
  • Clyde Chambliss
  • Vivian Davis Figures
  • Arthur Orr
  • Dan Roberts
  • Malika Sanders-Fortier
  • Clay Scofield
  • Cam Ward

Article was updated for clarity.

 

Continue Reading

House

Opinion | Ethics are dying and you don’t care

Josh Moon

Published

on

Alabamians don’t care about ethics. 

Just admit it. Or, actually, don’t even bother admitting it, because the evidence is quite clear. 

You don’t really care that much. 

Oh, sure, you say you do. Each election, when the pollsters start making calls asking you to rank what’s most important to you, you list ethics right up at the top. In most cases, it’s the No. 1 issue for voters, according to the polls. 

But that’s BS.  

Your supposed love of ethics is a facade. It’s something you say because you think you’re supposed to say it. But deep down, it’s like bottom five on your list. 

And I know this because I see who you vote for. 

Advertisement

I see how you fail to punish those who abuse ethics laws, who skirt the rules of campaign finance, who seek to constantly roll back the protections put in place to ensure your government operates fairly and plays favorites as little as possible. 

Not a single person who has attacked Alabama ethics laws or who has been accused of violating campaign finance laws or ethics laws has lost an election in this state in recent years. 

Some have gone to jail and been forced to resign, but conservative voters in Alabama have sent exactly zero bad actors packing. And if we’re honest, I think we all know that Mike Hubbard — the face of political corruption in this state — would likely win his old House seat back if he ran in the next election.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Because you care more about the R beside the name of a candidate than you do about the quality of the candidate. 

Don’t dispute this. 

In 2018, when Republicans in the state legislature carved out massive loopholes in the ethics laws, despite corruption prosecutors raising red flags, not a single person who voted for that monstrosity paid a political price. In fact, Republicans who were thought to be vulnerable won easily, despite their support of a bill that went against what was allegedly voters’ top priority. 

In that same election cycle, Attorney General Steve Marshall, who clearly seemed to have accepted campaign funds that violated Alabama laws, won easily. In the primary, when GOP voters could have chosen another Republican — one with a history of fighting public corruption — they still chose the establishment Republican, and turned a blind eye to sketchy ethical behavior. 

The sketchy ethical behavior of the state’s top law enforcement officer.

If you don’t care about that, there’s not much left. 

And so, here we are now, with one GOP hack after another whittling away at the ethics laws each and every year. 

A couple of years ago, we made broad exceptions for “economic developers.” Even as the most sensible and independent members of the ALGOP screamed bloody murder over the extra large loopholes. 

Last year, Sen. Greg Albritton tried to essentially remove ethics altogether, with a rewrite bill that was so shockingly brazen that even the party leadership had to turn its back on it. 

And this year, there are two more attempts to weaken the laws. 

One is from Rep. Mike Ball, who is one of Hubbard’s oldest and bestest pals, and a guy who has wanted to rewrite the ethics laws ever since his good buddy was sent to rich-white-guy’s prison in Alabama. Which is to say Hubbard is out on bond on appeal forever. 

Ball’s latest bill might just challenge Albritton’s for the most shamefully obvious attempt to undermine ethics laws. Except, instead of rewriting the laws, he just removes the portions that allow district attorneys and the AG’s office to prosecute them. Unless the charges go through the Ethics Commission first. 

So, the commission that is appointed by the legislature would be the only group that could bring ethics charges against the legislature.

A fox appointed by other foxes to guard the hen house. 

But we don’t stop there. 

In addition to Ball’s bill, there’s also one from Sen. Garlan Gudger that would get the revolving door swinging again. 

As part of the 2010 ethics reform package, lawmakers were prohibited from leaving their elected positions and accepting lobbying work for a period of two years. Gudger’s bill would carve out an extensive exception, allowing for former public employees to return to their old job — or ANY OTHER public position — and immediately start lobbying. 

Because, you know, just the other day, I passed by a group of people talking on the street about the things that really need fixing around this state, and their top issue was how unfair it was that these folks couldn’t work as lobbyists immediately. 

This is pathetic. 

These are people carving out exceptions for themselves and their buddies — working to rig the game so they can keep sucking up public dollars and making sure hefty contracts go to their pals. It’s government handouts for the wealthy and crooked. 

And you’d be outraged about it. If you cared at all.

 

Continue Reading

House

McCutcheon says public opinion is driving gambling debate

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Thursday, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, told reporters that public opinion is driving the debate on gambling.

Speaker McCutcheon praised Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s (R) working group on gambling and said that a lot of good people had been appointed to that group.

At Gov. Ivey’s State of the State address, she told the Legislature to wait on bringing any gaming bills until her working group could be appointed, study the issue, and issue a recommendation on what sort of gambling should be passed by the legislature, if any. Thus far the Legislature has complied with the governor’s request.

The Alabama Political Reporter asked McCutcheon, there are only 24 legislative days left in this session, wouldn’t it make more sense for the legislature to give the Governor’s working group six months or whatever time they need to formulate a recommendation. That would give legislators time to carefully study and understand this proposal and bring it in the 2021 legislative session, rather than trying to pass a bill in the next few weeks without legislators having time to fully understand what it is that they are voting on.

McCutcheon agreed that that would be smart, but that public demand is driving this debate.

“Legislators are hearing from constituents who are asking why all of our neighboring states have lotteries and other gaming and we don’t,” McCutcheon said.

APR asked: this would be a constitutional amendment so if anything is wrong at all in the bill that passes it is not so easy to go in and fix. Doing it in a special session would give legislators more time to analyze the legislation.

Advertisement

“That’s a good option, but public opinion is driving this train and that is growing,” McCutcheon replied.

Reporters asked what committee would the gambling bill be assigned to. Last year it went to tourism.

McCutcheon said that he needed to see the bill to know what committee it would be assigned to. “It could be an education lottery,” in which case it would go to education. We have to wait and see.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Last year, the Senate passed a simple paper lottery proposal that would have brought revenue to the state general fund (SGF). Some legislators in the House objected and argued that gambling funds should go to education. Others objected to the lottery bill because it did not have video lottery terminals (VLTs) at the existing dog tracks.

Before this legislative session began, the Poarch Creek band of Indians (PCI) which operate two large video bingo casinos in Wetumpka and Atmore, presented a proposal which would bring the state “a billion dollars” in exchange for a compact with the state. In exchange the state would fully legitimize their existing gaming facilities, allow them to expand those to full Class A gaming with table games, allow the tribe to build new casinos in Birmingham and Huntsville, and a sports book. There would also be a lottery. The existing dog track operators in Shorter, Birmingham, and Greene County object to this proposal because it would give PCI a de facto gaming monopoly.

Gambling opponents argue than any lottery or expansion of gambling proposal would prey on people who don’t understand math and would adversely affect the poorest among us.

 

Continue Reading

National

Byrne: People of Alabama “do not want the coronavirus brought here”

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Sunday, Senate candidate Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, expressed his opposition to a federal government plant to relocated coronavirus infected people in Anniston.

“The people of Alabama DO NOT want the coronavirus brought here,” Congressman Byrne said. “I’m fighting to bring this to a full stop. Leave these people in the place they came to, don’t spread them around the US, and keep them OUT of Alabama. The risk is much too high.”

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) also expressed concerns about the federal plan to relocate coronavirus exposed passengers to Anniston. Coronavirus infected persons could be in Alabama as early as Wednesday.

“Late Friday night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) informed me about their proposal to transport Americans who have tested positive with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to a FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston,” Ivey said. “Sensing the urgency, I quickly informed the offices of Senators Richard Shelby and Doug Jones and Congressman Mike Rogers, as well as Dr. Scott Harris with the Alabama Department of Public Health.”

“On Saturday, it appears that a press release from HHS was inadvertently, and perhaps prematurely, sent notifying the State of Alabama that these individuals were scheduled to begin transporting to Alabama as early as Wednesday,” Ivey continued.

“Obviously concerned, there were a number of conversations between HHS, the White House, my staff and me, as well as two rounds of conference calls including the senior staff of the Congressional Delegation to try to clarify HHS’ intent and reasoning for selecting Alabama,” Ivey continued. “On one of the calls, they informed us that the CDP in Anniston is only being considered as a “back-up” plan, in case they run out of alternative locations. They assured us on both calls that no decision had been made to send anyone to Anniston.”

“I made it abundantly clear that while the State of Alabama wants to work closely with the Trump Administration to assist fellow Americans who may have tested positive for the Coronavirus, there were some grave concerns about why the site in Anniston was chosen and how, logistically, this would play out in the event this back-up site were to be eventually activated,” Ivey said in a statement to the media. “First and foremost, my priority is to protect the people of Alabama. While locating these folks in Alabama is currently a backup plan, this is a serious issue and we need to be fully aware of the facts regarding the potential of housing them in Anniston.

Advertisement

“I am grateful to Senator Shelby and his team for coordinating today’s effort to send officials from HHS to Alabama to provide further clarity to this situation,” Ivey said. “I also appreciate Congressman Rogers for speaking with the President and informing him of the concern of the people of Alabama. Through these coordinated efforts, we will begin a process that will be transparent, and hopefully find a solution of which we are united and comfortable with.”

Congressman Rogers expressed his concerns about the coronavirus infected persons being housed in the Third Congressional District.

“Earlier this evening, I spoke with President Trump,” Rogers said in a statement on Saturday. He agreed with me that the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to house those Americans exposed to Coronavirus at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston is the wrong decision. President Trump had no advanced notice and these individuals were brought to the continental United States without his consent. I will continue to work with President Trump and HHS to find the best facilities that meet the needs for those Americans that have been exposed to this dangerous virus. The CDP is not that place.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Byrne shared Rogers comments and added, “We’ve been tracking the issue and I’m glad to stand with Rep. Rogers and President Trump as we work to stop this ill advised plan.”

Coronaviruses are extremely common throughout the animal kingdom and are one of the causes of the “common cold.” This is novel (new) strain of the virus, that appears to have come from bats. Researchers are calling this disease COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”

As of Sunday morning, there have been 78,966 diagnosed cases of COVID-19. 53,079 of these are still active. 23,418 people have recovered from their illness and been discharged. 2,469 have died. Most of these are in China, where the plague originated; but at this point the disease has spread to 32 countries.

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.