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Zeigler seeks answers about ALDOT’s proposed new bridge to the beach

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) released a statement on Thursday announcing that he will be attending the only scheduled hearing on the proposed new Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway.

The hearing starts at 5 p.m. at the Gulf Shores Activity Center, 260 Club House Drive and is open to the public.

Zeigler said that he will use the hearing to try for a third time to get answers to his questions about the proposed bridge.

ALDOT will make a “brief presentation” around 5:45 p.m. and then open the hearing to public comments. Speakers will have two minutes to make statements.

Zeigler said that two minutes is “not-near long enough” to ask his questions, so he will present them as written comments, an option that is allowed.

In April, Zeigler says that he filed a request for documents about the proposed bridge. When he received no response, he filed a second request in July. ALDOT has not answered the Auditor’s questions. He said that he will file the same request a third time at Thursday’s hearing.

“We have to take the comments and will sort through them and summarize and we have to respond to them,” said Brian Aaron, assistant region engineer for ALDOT’s Southeast Region, which includes Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

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Zeigler says he expects to get a response this time “because they are required to respond.”

Zeigler has requested: Copies of any and all studies that demonstrated a need for a bridge over the Intercoastal waterway; Any and all documents that show a change in the need for the Intercoastal bridge since the determination in 2016 that the bridge was unnecessary; Any and all analyses to support spending $30-$87 million in state funds in light of the pressing infrastructure needs throughout the state; and Any and all documents that resulted in the range of costs projected ($30 to $87 million); Documents that show cost overruns on current and recent ALDOT projects.

A private company built a toll bridge across the canal so that tourists and residents could more easily access the beaches in Baldwin County fronting the Gulf of Mexico. This has been very popular, so popular that traffic is starting to back up at times during the holiday season as tourists cross the two lane bridge to the booming beach communities.
According to the court filing from the bridge company, they agreed to widen their bridge at no additional cost. ALDOT has ignored that and is planning to build their own bridge to the beach.

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Zeigler is also asking that ALDOT provide any and all documents that address why the option of widening the original bridge is not being utilized.

The proposed $87 million dollar bridge would be west of and compete with the existing toll bridge. Also, a third canal bridge is moving forward in Wolf Bay, funded by the City of Orange Beach.

“I have more questions than answers about the proposed additional bridge,” Zeigler said in April. “I hope to solve that with my specific requests for public records. With other pressing needs for infrastructure improvements, we need to make sure that this $30 to $87 million-dollar project is the best use of our limited funds.”

Project construction is expected to begin next summer, and last for two to three years. The state expects to finish the environmental permitting process by spring of 2019, and the public meeting is a requirement during this stage.

The state of Alabama recently opened its $110 million Gulf State Park Lodge and Conference Center on the beach and is hopeful that the new attraction will lead to more tourists and conventions in Baldwin County.

Jim Zeigler was re-elected last week as state Auditor, receiving 1,015,662 votes, 60.5 percent. Zeigler actually received slightly more votes than Gov. Kay Ivey (R) in her own successful re-election bid.

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Elections

Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels endorses Mike Bloomberg for president

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Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels announced his endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg today, 4 days ahead of Alabama’s primary election on Super Tuesday. Daniels joins State Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton and Black Caucus Chair Representative A.J. McCampbell in support of Mike. In his endorsement, Rep. Daniels cited Mike’s work taking on tough fights on health care, public education, and supporting small businesses.

“We need a president who has a proven record of bringing people together to tackle the tough challenges we face in this country, and I can’t think of anyone better to do that than Mike Bloomberg,” said Rep. Daniels. “Not only is Mike the best positioned to take on Trump, but he has also proven he can deliver on his promises to make this country better for all. Alabamians should know that when I head to the polls this Tuesday, I’ll be proudly casting my vote for Mike Bloomberg.”

Rep. Anthony Daniels represents the 53rd District in the Alabama State House of Representatives, where, since 2017, he has served as minority leader. Rep. Daniels received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Alabama A&M University. A former public school teacher and small business owner, Daniels is known for championing innovative education programs, like the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering, that prepare young people for promising careers, cultivate homegrown talent, and drive economic growth. Under his leadership, the House Democratic Caucus has made significant strides in addressing key issues like support for cradle-to-Pre-K programs, proven workforce development, and job readiness initiatives, and bringing broadband access to rural areas. They have also succeeded in preventing the passage of partisan legislation that hurts working families.

“Alabamians know how important this election is for the future of our country, and that’s why they’re supporting Mike Bloomberg, a doer and not a talker with a record of not shying away from tough fights,” said Bradley Davidson, Mike Bloomberg 2020 Alabama State Advisor. “We’re honored to have the support of Rep. Daniels, a respected leader in Alabama and beyond, and we look forward to working together with him to get Mike elected.”

Mike Bloomberg will return to Alabama on Sunday, March 1 to participate in the 55th annual Selma bridge crossing to commemorate Bloody Sunday. Additionally, Bloomberg visited Montgomery earlier this month for an organizing event and to speak at the 60th annual Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) Convention, the Alabama Democratic Party’s largest Black caucus. He later received the endorsement of the group.

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Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Warren to travel to Selma

Brandon Moseley

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Sunday, Presidential candidates former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesoata, will travel to Alabama where they will participate in the events commemorating the attempted crossing of the Edmund Pettus bridge by voting rights marchers during the Civil Rights movement;

Bloomberg will participate in the 55th annual Selma bridge crossing to commemorate Bloody Sunday. In the morning, Bloomberg will attend Brown Chapel AME Church for morning worship with congregants and deliver remarks before joining Civil Rights and community leaders to participate in the bridge crossing reenactment.

Elizabeth Warren will participate in the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee Pre-March Rally, the Annual Bloody Sunday March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the Presidential Candidate Forum hosted by the Selma-to-Montgomery March Foundation and The Bridge Crossing Jubilee.

Mayor Buttigieg will participate in the bridge crossing reenactment. This is Buttigieg’s second visit to Alabama. He previously participated in a healthcare round table and visited with volunteers in Montgomery.

This is Mike’s third visit to Alabama since announcing his campaign for president. Mike was in Montgomery earlier this month for an organizing event and to speak at the 60th annual Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) Convention, the Alabama Democratic Party’s largest Black caucus. He received the endorsement of the group.

This will be Elizabeth’s second trip to Alabama. By Sunday, she will have traveled to 30 states and Puerto Rico since launching her presidential campaign.

Mike Bloomberg and Joe Biden will attend Worship and Provide Brief Remarks at Brown Chapel AME Church at 10:00 a.m. CST. The Church is at: 410 Martin Luther King St, Selma, AL 36703.

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Elizabeth Warren will attend the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee Pre-March Rally will be at 1:30 p.m. at Brown Chapel AME Church; 410 Martin Luther King St., Selma, AL 36703.

The annual Bloody Sunday March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge will be at 2:30 p.m. CST beginning at Brown Chapel AME Church. Warren, Buttigieg, and Bloomberg are all committed to attend the bridge crossing reenactment.

Warren has committed to attend the Presidential Candidate Forum is hosted by the Selma-to-Montgomery March Foundation and The Bridge Crossing Jubilee. That event will be at 4:00 p.m. (estimated) and will be held at the George Corley Wallace State Community College; 3000 Earl Goodwin Pkwy, Selma, AL 36703.

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Organizers have confirmed that Amy Klobuchar is committed to attend; but were not sure which events she will participate in.

The crossing of the Edmund Pettus bridge and the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March were key events in the Civil Rights Movement that led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Alabama Democratic Presidential primary will be on Tuesday, March 3. Polls open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m.

 

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Doug Jones praises end of state Democratic Party lawsuit

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Thursday applauded the end of a lawsuit over control of the state Democratic party. 

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Alabama Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy Worley, which means that state Rep. Chris England, who was picked to lead the state Democratic party by a reform group championed by Jones, is the party’s chair. 

“This is a great day for Alabama and her Democratic Party. Throughout much of last year, countless Democrats in our state worked to create a more open and diverse state party, while recognizing and being true to the crucial and historic role held by African-American voters,” Jones said in a statement Thursday.

“The by-laws of the Alabama Democratic Party now reflect the growing diversity in our state — including representation for Hispanic voters, Native American voters, Asian voters, voters with disabilities and voters from the LGBTQ community. And most importantly, the Alabama Democratic Party has dramatically increased leadership opportunities for young voters. Around 70 new caucus members were added to the state party Executive Committee last year—many of them young people from diverse backgrounds throughout the state. I’m proud to continue to work alongside a more unified, diverse and inclusive state party. 

“With the dismissal of this lawsuit, it is time that all who have been involved in this challenge, resolution, and expansion of the Democratic Party come together for a common good. Our state benefits from the ideas and engagement of a competitive two-party system. We have now demonstrated that we have the ability to be inclusive within our own party while working to expand the number and experiences of people who play a role in moving it forward.  

“Chairman Chris England and First Vice Chair Patricia Todd have my complete support and I call on Democrats throughout the state to unite behind them as we move forward in modernizing, re-invigorating, and expanding the Alabama Democratic Party.,” Jones said.

 

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ACLU of Alabama condemns bill banning transgender treatment for minors

Jessa Reid Bolling

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama has condemned a recently approved bill to prevent doctors from providing hormone replacement therapy or puberty suppressing drugs to people younger than 19 who identify as transgender.

House Bill 303, the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, would make it a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for doctors to prescribe puberty-blocking medications or opposite gender hormones to minors. The legislation would also ban hysterectomy, mastectomy or castration surgeries from being performed on minors.

The Alabama House Health Committee and the Senate Health Committee approved the bill on Wednesday in separate hearings, both drawing overflow crowds. The committee approval moves the bill in line for consideration by the full House. 

The ACLU of Alabama said in a statement that the bill targets transgender youth and puts their academic success and health in danger. 

“Transgender girls are girls, and transgender boys are boys,” said Dillon Nettles, policy analyst at the ACLU of Alabama. “Alabama lawmakers are considering legislation that runs counter to medical science, prevailing standards for the treatment of transgender youth and basic human dignity.

“The government shouldn’t threaten medical providers with jail for treating transgender kids and schools shouldn’t discriminate against them when it comes to participation in school sports. HB303 and HB35 are dangerous, discriminatory and put kids at risk.”

Multiple women’s sports advocacy organizations, including The National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation and Women Leaders in College Sports, support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports.

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A June 2019 report from the Trevor Project on mental health issues among LGBTQ youth across the United States found that 78 percent of transgender and non-binary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity in the past year. The report also found that 39 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year, with more than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered. 

The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that focuses on suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ youth. 

This is the second bill in the State House this year dealing with transgender youth. 

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Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, is sponsoring House Bill 35, titled the Gender Is Real Legislative Act, or GIRL Act. It would require student athletes in K-12 schools to participate as the gender listed on their birth certificate, preventing transgender athletes from competing as the gender they identify as.

 

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