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Sewell receives briefing from EPA on 35th avenue Superfund site

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Selma, joined Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and local officials at a tour of the 35th Avenue Superfund site. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated the officials on the progress being made at the site.

“Today elected officials and community leaders received an EPA briefing on the status of the North Bhm cleanup and toured removal sites.” Congresswoman Sewell said on social media. “We renewed our commitment to work together to secure the health and quality of life for all the residents!”

The EPA claims that the area has excessive levels of toxins from nearby industrial sites and is in the process of removing contaminated soil from the area.

“No neighborhood should ever be left with toxic soil – that’s an environmental injustice that hurts our families and our children,” Rep. Sewell said. “We’re joining together today in our fight for a full cleanup that corrects that injustice. Our families deserve better.”

“Progress has been made at the North Birmingham 35th Avenue Superfund Site but we have much more work to do,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin stated. “Our residents deserve better.”

The EPA briefed the officials on progress at the site.

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“What’s concerning all of us is the fact that there are 500 or so sites that are either abandoned properties or people refused to allow the EPA to come on and remove from those sites,” Sewell said. “I think it’s important to get active members of the community involved” to reach out to residents that would rather not have the EPA digging up all of their yards.

“There are real, tangible issues here that have affected people where they live, where they eat, where they sleep every single day,” Woodfin said. “What we’re committed to, based on everything that has happened, is that this area gets the resources, focus and attention it needs to make sure the residents get what they need to be safe.”

The EPA had wanted to add the site to the National Priority List and expand it.

That move met stiff opposition from state and local officials.

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Bipartisan majorities of both Houses of the Alabama Legislature passed a resolution rejecting NPL status and the EPA’s efforts. Governor Robert Bentley (R), Attorney General Luther Strange, the local NAACP, and the managing council of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) all rejected that recommendation. Without state approval EPA can not add a site to the NPL list.

Prioritization would have allowed EPA to just clean up the sites and collect from the alleged polluters later for the cost of their cleanup, rather than having to negotiate. The corporations that might have had to pay that bill strongly objected to giving the feds that kind of authority. The state would also have had to pick up a portion of the costs.

State Representative Oliver Robinson, D-Birmingham, organized a grassroots effort to fight the EPA’s efforts.

In July a federal jury found Drummond Company Vice President David Lynn Roberson and Balch & Bingham partner Joel Gilbert guilty of having paid Rep. Robinson for his efforts. Robinson cut a plea deal with federal prosecutors in exchange for his assistance in prosecuting Gilbert and Roberson.

Woodfin and Sewell have both sent letters to EPA asking them to reconsider placing the 35th Avenue site on the NPL, in light of the role that public corruption played in the efforts to block NPL status in 2016.

In the letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Woodfin said: “As a result of these illegal actions, thousands remain at risk, including the 1,070 people living in 394 public housing units and 751 children attending Hudson K-8 school.”

“The United States Attorney has already done their part by exposing this criminal hoax and bringing those responsible to justice,” Woodfin wrote. “Still these injustices continue until The North Birmingham 35th Avenue Superfund Site is placed on the National Priorities List and all necessary resources are provided to the people of this community.”

Congresswoman Terri Sewell is seeking her fifth term in the United States Congress representing Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District. Rep. Sewell has no opponent.

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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Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83

The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

Brandon Moseley

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Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton

Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”

Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.

Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.

The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.

While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.

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Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”

His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.

Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.

This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.

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Roby warns Americans to be careful this Thanksgiving

Congresswoman Roby urged Alabamians to adjust Thanksgiving holiday activities to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Brandon Moseley

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Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama

Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, warned Alabamians to adjust their Thanksgiving holiday activities to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

“Thanksgiving is a special holiday because it provides us an entire day each year to pause and give thanks for the many blessings we have received,” Roby said. “Particularly amid a global pandemic, the stress and craziness of life often make it easy to lose sight of just how much we have to be thankful for. Whether you are gathering with loved ones or remaining in the comfort of your own home, I hope we all take time to celebrate gratitude – something we may not do enough of these days.”

“As we’ve learned to adjust our daily routines and activities throughout the course of this pandemic, we know this Thanksgiving will not look like those of the past,” Roby said. “Please be mindful of any safety measures and precautions that have been put in place to help protect your family and those around you. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) released guidance that includes a list of low, moderate, and high-risk activities in order to help Alabamians have a safer holiday season. ADPH suggests a few lower risk activities such as having a small dinner with members of your household, preparing and safely delivering meals to family and neighbors who are at high-risk, or hosting a virtual dinner with friends.”

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, echoed Roby’s warning to be safe this Thanksgiving holiday.

Aderholt said: “I want to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope Thursday is filled with a lot of laughter and gratitude, and that you can share it with friends and family. And while we continue to navigate this Coronavirus pandemic, please stay safe this holiday season.”

On Thursday, the CDC encouraged families to stay home as much as possible over the holiday weekend and avoid spreading the coronavirus.

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“As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” the CDC said in a statement before the holiday. “Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.”

The CDC has updated its guidelines to encourage families to stay home during the holiday.

  • The CDC said that postponing Thanksgiving travel is the “best way to protect” against the virus.
  • If you are sick or anyone in your household is sick, whether you think it is COVID or not, do not travel.
  • If you are considering traveling for Thanksgiving, avoid traveling to locations where virus activity is high or increasing.
  • Avoid travel to areas where hospitals are already overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19.
  • Try to avoid traveling by bus, train or airplane, where staying 6 feet apart is difficult.
  • Avoid traveling with people who don’t live with you.
  • You should consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying travel until the vaccine is available or the pandemic is more under control.
  • Discuss with your family and friends the risks of traveling for Thanksgiving.
  • Try to dissuade people from visiting this holiday.
  • If you do travel, check for travel restrictions before you go and get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Always wear a mask in public settings, when using public transportation, and when around people with whom you don’t live.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who does not live with you.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
  • When you wear the mask, make sure that it covers your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.

Remember that people without symptoms may still be infected, and if so, are still able to spread COVID-19. Remember to always social distance. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands. Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Try to also avoid live sporting events, Thanksgiving Day parades and Black Friday shopping this year.

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Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District and will be retiring at the end of the year. Aderholt represents Alabama’s 4th Congressional District and was re-elected to the 117th Congress.

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Governor announces 3rd year of record Alabama foster care adoptions

In the 2020 fiscal year, there were 814 foster care adoptions, which is an all-time record for the state.

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced that for the third year in a row Alabama reported a record number of foster care adoptions. In the 2020 fiscal year, there were 814 foster care adoptions, which is an all-time record for the state. That is up from the previous year’s record of 731 adoptions.

“I am so proud that Alabama has set yet another record and placed so many children in permanent homes,” Ivey said. “I am so appreciative for the innovative work of our adoption professionals and the Department of Human Resources, during this unique time, to complete this record number of adoptions. Also, I sincerely thank our foster families, and most importantly, the forever families, for giving these children loving homes and for your sacrifice and love for our children.”

In the 2020 fiscal year, 70.5 percent of children who left foster care, went home to family members or their parent(s). While most children in the state’s foster care system do return to their families, there are still children that need adoptive families.

“This is a truly important milestone in a year that has seen many delays to finalizing adoptions, due to the pandemic. We are proud to have found permanency for these 814 children that deserve forever families,” said Alabama Department of Human Resources Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “We could not have accomplished this milestone without our vital partners in the permanency and adoption process, especially the judges and adoptive parents. However, we must be mindful that the work is not done. We have hundreds of additional children that continue to wait for his or her permanent family. Our staff and others are working hard every day to give these children that needed permanency. There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.”

Currently, there are 468 children in Alabama’s foster care system that need forever homes. Ivey also proclaimed November 2020 as National Adoption Month in the state of Alabama.

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Brooks cosponsors bill to bar senior Chinese officials from entering U.S.

“Communist China is America’s geopolitical foe,” Brooks said.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama

Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, this week announced he is cosponsoring the Stop China’s IP Theft Act. This legislation would effectively bar senior Chinese Communist Party officials from entering the United States.

“Communist China is America’s geopolitical foe,” Brooks said. “Communist China unleashed a deadly virus on the world then lied about it. Communist China tries to undermine America at every turn and has a long history of stealing America’s intellectual property. America should make it as difficult as possible for Communist China to work against us and steal from us.”

The bill would ban U.S. issuance of entry visas for Chinese government officials, active-duty members of the Chinese military, and senior members of the Chinese Community Party and their family members.

The Stop China’s IP Theft Act is sponsored by Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Arizona. The measure is also co-sponsored by Republican Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Jody Hice of Georgia, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Greg Steube of Florida, Denver Riggleman of Virginia and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey.

Lesko wrote on Twitter: “I am introducing the Stop China’s IP Theft Act to prevent key Chinese officials and their families from entering the U.S. until we can certify that the People’s Republic of China has stopped their efforts to steal U.S. intellectual property.”

In September, the Trump administration’s State Department announced that it revoked more than 1,000 visas of Chinese nationals over their military links. In May, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation to limit visa issuances over potential IP theft concerns.

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Chinese theft of American intellectual property, including tech with military applications, has been a problem for decades even as the two countries have grown in their trade relationships. The Stop China’s IP Theft Act is not likely to advance in the Democratic Party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives and time is running out on the 116th Congress.

Brooks was recently elected to his sixth term representing Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. Brooks had no Democratic opponent and he easily bested his Republican primary opponent.

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