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House of Representatives passes measure to reverse federal employee salary freeze

Gabby Dance

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday giving federal workers a 2.6 percent pay increase, nullifying President Donald Trump’s administration’s December 2018 decision to freeze federal employee salary rates.

This pay increase will put executive branch employees at an equal level with military members in terms of pay raises.

The measure reverses President Trump’s executive order signed during the government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history that froze approximately 800,000 government workers from receiving pay checks for 35 days.

“The president’s decision to freeze pay for federal workers amidst the government shutdown was just salt in the wound,” said Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “I met with some of our hardworking TSA agents in Birmingham and Montgomery who were struggling to pay their mortgages and rent, and amidst that financial hardship, the president announced that they did not deserve a moderate pay increase. That’s just not right.”

A generational gap in government workers due to low wages and long hiring processes may eventually lead the country to a crisis point. Almost one third of the federal workforce will be eligible to retire in five years, and there has been an inability to recruit and retain younger workers.

Since 2011, deficit reduction has largely been in part to federal employees, who contributed nearly $200 billion to reduction. In addition, their jobs remain essential to the societal structure of modern America.

“These workers help make sure our families stay safe, inspecting the airplanes our families fly on and investigating terrorist threats,” Sewell said. “Federal employees, like those who work at the federal prison in Aliceville, depend on these reasonable pay increases to make ends meet.”

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Elections

11th-hour smear campaign against Byrne linked to opponent Tuberville, sources say

Bill Britt

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A story published February 24, on Gateway Pundit alleges, “Bradley Byrne kicked his brother’s widow off her land,” but the land was never owned by Byrne’s sister-in-law.

Whether the reporter at Gateway Pundit didn’t read all the court records or there were other motives, the erroneous accusations on the popular right-wing blog are now being used to smear Byrne in the final hours of a heated U.S. Senate race.

See complete records. 

Political consultants not tied to Byrne’s campaign say that operatives working for his rival, Tommy Tuberville, are promoting the story to damage Byrne. Random text messages are being sent to distribute the story as well as numerous calls to Alabama media outlets to report on the false claims. State political reporters have rejected the story due to its inaccuracies.

Several calls and voice messages to Tuberville’s campaign have gone unanswered.

The land in question was part of the estate of Byrne family matriarch, Elizabeth Patricia Langsdale Byrne.

In her original will signed July 23, 1996, Mrs. Byrne left her property in Baldwin County to her three children, Dale, Bradley and Patricia.

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However, on Feb. 25, 1999, she amended her will, removing her eldest son leaving the property to only Bradley and Patricia.

On Dec. 6, 2000, Mrs. Byrne again amended her will, leaving one-third to Bradley, one-third to Patricia and one-third as a “life estate” to Dale. According to the will, the life estate left to Dale would go back to Bradley and Patrica upon Dale’s death because a life estate means ownership of land is only for the duration of a person’s life.

Mrs. Byrne died in 2008; she was followed in death by her son Dale in 2014,  at which time the life estate bequeathed to him expired.

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Bradley, who his mother selected as executor of her estate, then filed the necessary paperwork with the Baldwin County probate office to address Dale’s death as stipulated in Mrs. Byrne’s will.

The Gateway Pundit story leaves out crucial details and in its interview with Dale’s fourth wife, Gloria, repeats claims she made that are not grounded in facts.

There is also a false claim that Byrne refused to leave the campaign trial when his brother died, but he did in fact cancel a scheduled event in the family’s time of morning.

The same reporter at Gateway Pundit wrote several stories praising Tuberville and trashing his other primary opponent, Jeff Sessions, calling him a skunk and a snake.

Court records clearly show Byrne acted in accordance with his mother’s wishes as they were detailed in her last will and testament.

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Elections

Atlanta Mayor to campaign for Biden in Alabama

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden (D) announced that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will travel to Tennessee and Alabama to campaign on behalf of Joe Biden.

On Friday, Mayor Bottoms will travel to Tennessee, where she will host a Women for Biden event with State Senator Brenda Gilmore, moderate a health care roundtable, and host a meet and greet with State Representative Harold Love in Nashville. She was supposed to have hosted a GOTV kickoff event with Mayor Lee Harris and State Senator Raumesh Akbari in Memphis, Tennessee; but that event has been reportedly cancelled.

On Saturday, Mayor Bottoms will travel to Alabama, where she will host community events in Huntsville and Birmingham before speaking at the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors.

Biden has promised that his campaign will carry South Carolina, where he is leading in the polls. Biden hopes that he can win several southern states, including Alabama, on Super Tuesday to emerge as one of the leaders in the race for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

The Huntsville community Event with Keisha Lance Bottoms in Huntsville will be 9:30 a.m. at the Huntsville Country Club 2601 Oakwood Ave NW, Huntsville, AL 35810. Doors open at 9:00 a.m.

The Birmingham community Event with Keisha Lance Bottoms is somewhere in Birmingham at 12 noon; but the Biden campaign has not given us a location. We will update this story once the details are available.

Mayor Bottoms will address the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors in Selma at 3:00 p.m. pm Saturday. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. C.S.T. at Browns Chapel A.M.E., 410 Martin Luther King Street, Selma, AL, 36703.

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Biden has been endorsed by both Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-Selma) and U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama).

Biden is the favorite to win both the South Carolina and Alabama Democratic Primaries. Biden however is trailing in most of the Super Tuesday states to frontrunner U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Sanders carried 47 percent of the vote in the recent Nevada Caucus. Sanders won the New Hampshire primary and won the most votes in the Iowa Caucus; though South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg won the most number of Caucuses, and thus the most delegates in Iowa.

Biden was the early front runner in the polls; but has been hurt by Republican charges of nepotism benefitting his son, Hunter Biden, while he was Vice President from 2009 to 2017.

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The Alabama Democratic Conference has endorsed former New York City Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg was a late entry into the race, thus was not even on the ballot in Iowa, Nevada, or New Hampshire and won’t be on the ballot in South Carolina either. Bloomberg has spent over $350 million of his own money to buy TV and media ads. Bloomberg is a billionaire with a fortune estimated to be worth over $66 billion.

Moderate Democrats like James Carville have expressed fears that the Democratic Party will suffer tremendous losses in November if Sanders, a self-declared Socialist, wins the nomination.

The Alabama Democratic presidential primary will be on Tuesday.

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Elections

Bloomberg making final Alabama push

Josh Moon

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The Michael Bloomberg campaign is making Alabama one of its top Super Tuesday priorities — hoping that state Democratic voters will help catapult the former New York City mayor into the running for the party’s presidential nomination. 

Bloomberg has already spent more time in Alabama than most of the other candidates — including kicking off his presidential run by qualifying first on the Alabama ballot and speaking at an Alabama Democratic Conference meeting — and has flooded the state with workers and cash, buying advertising spots and building infrastructure the likes of which Alabama has rarely seen. 

With the primary less than a week away now, Bloomberg’s campaign is making a last push. 

That will be highlighted by the former mayor’s visit to the state over the weekend and a number of surrogates making their way around Alabama throughout the coming days. 

That starts in earnest on Thursday, when former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, one of the first mayors to endorse Bloomberg, travels to Miles College for a “community conversation” with students and others. 

The visit to a historically black college is no coincidence, as Bloomberg’s campaign looks to regain the support of black voters after his history as NYC mayor drew major fire from his Democratic primary opponents. Having the endorsement of the ADC, the state’s black caucus, will certainly help, but former Vice President Joe Biden maintains strong support among black voters and moderates in Alabama.  

Nutter will be joined at Miles by former Birmingham Mayor William Bell, who also has announced his support for Bloomberg. 

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Following the event at Miles, Nutter will travel to the Alabama State House in Montgomery for a meeting with the Alabama Baptist Association Leadership and then on to Selma, where he’ll attend a reception for the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors.

 

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National

Alabama, Oregon groups move to join legal fight over Equal Rights Amendment

Eddie Burkhalter

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Organizations in Alabama and Oregon have asked a federal judge to let them join in the legal fight over the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. 

Mia Raven, policy director for the grassroots Alabama reproductive rights group the Yellowhammer Fund, and founder of the People Organizing for Women’s Empowerment & Rights (P.O.W.E.R.) House in Montgomery, is joined by the Oregon-based nonprofit VoteERA.org and its president and founder, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, in the filing of a motion to intervene in the federal lawsuit. 

Alabama’s attorney general Steve Marshall in December 2019 joined attorneys general for Louisiana and South Dakota as plaintiffs in a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama that argues that the deadline to ratify the amendment has expired. 

The Equal Rights Amendment, if ratified by a 38th state, would ban discrimination based on sex. Proponents of the amendment hope that Virginia’s new Democratic majority means a second chance for the protections for women. 

Congress passed the amendment in 1972 and five years later it was ratified by 35 states, but the deadline to gain the needed 38 states passed in 1979, so Congress extended the deadline to 1982. 

Nevada in 2017 became the 36th state to ratify it, and was followed by Illinois in 2018.

“We have worked for decades seeking to ensure the ratification of the federal ERA.  Our decision to seek to intervene in the states’ pending lawsuit is a reflection of our persistent devotion to guaranteeing equal rights under the law for all people.” said DiLorenzo and Raven in a joint statement. 

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Attempts to reach Raven for comment were unsuccessful. 

Since the lawsuit was filed, attorneys general in Tennessee and Nebraska have joined Alabama as plaintiffs fighting ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. 

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