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DNC revokes Worley’s credentials

Brandon Moseley

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The Democratic National Committee voted Saturday in favor of a motion revoking the credentials of Alabama Democratic Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Vice-Chair Randy Kelley.

The two leaders of the Alabama Democratic Party were denied their seats on the committee, but retain their positions with the ADP.

This is an almost unprecedented rebuke of the Alabama Democratic leaders by the DNC.

In February, at the urging of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, the DNC voted to invalidate the 2018 election of Worley as Chair over concerns with how the state Democratic Executive Committee is selected. The national Democratic Party wants more seats set aside for minorities other than Blacks and changes to the party’s bylaws, as well as new elections for chair and vice chair.

A deadline was set of May 17 for all of this to get accomplished. None of that ever happened and there has been no meeting of the SDEC, even though that was required and even though the SDEC customarily meet every summer. A second deadline giving Worley another sixty days to accomplish all of this has since passed and still there is no date set for new elections or for a meeting of the SDEC, which reporters and SDEC members alike have been expecting would happen at any point since April 1.

A key sticking point is how members of the SDEC are chosen. Joe Reed’s Alabama Democratic Conference has a consent decree that the SDEC will reflect the racial composition of the Democratic voting electorate of the state. Generally, over 90 percent of Black Alabamians, 27 percent of the state’s population, vote Democratic. In recent elections, well over 70 percent of White Alabamians vote Republican. The Democratic voters of each county elect their representatives on the SDEC. That group of elected SDEC members is majority White, even though the majority of Democratic voters in the state are majority Black. Under the consent decree, the SDEC is balanced with more Black minority voters….and Joe Reed picks which Blacks are used to balance the SDEC giving the ADC and Reed a mammoth sized block of voters on the SDEC. The national Democrats claim that other minorities: gays, Asians, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, are underrepresented on the Alabama SDEC and has ordered seats set aside for these groups as well, a change the ADP has not yet consented to.

Saturday’s power move by national Democrats is just the latest move in a power struggle between U.S. Senator Doug Jones and Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Joe Reed for control of the struggling ADP that arguably has been going on for years. Jones is the only Democratic party candidate to win any statewide race in Alabama since the late Lucy Baxley narrowly defeated Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R) in 2008 for Public Service Commission President.

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According to Worley, before becoming U.S. Senator, Jones had sought to be ADP Chair; but was denied. Worley blames that simmering resentment for his staunch opposition to her ongoing leadership. Worley was elevated to Chair after then Chair Mark Kennedy resigned due to a feud with Reed. Worley has since been elected and re-elected.

Jones narrowly defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) in a special election in December 2017, a victory many Alabama political operatives thought impossible. Jones shocking upset of Moore did nothing to ease the growing rift between Jones with the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party.

In 2018, with full support from Jones, Montgomery attorney and Democratic strategist Peck Fox challenged Worley for Chair; but Worley with the support of Reed beat back that challenge.

Reed said afterwards, “George Wallace tried the same thing.”

Reed was referring to a long feud between then Alabama Democratic Party Chair Robert Vance and the segregationist Governor George C. Wallace (D). Wallace tried to stack the Alabama delegation to the Democratic National Convention with his supporters and Vance fought back against that. At one point there were two competing groups of ADP delegates to the convention both claiming they were the delegation from Alabama. The much more liberal (by that day’s standards) Vance was victorious. A klansman later killed then federal judge Vance with a package bomb mailed to his Mountain Brook home.

Jones followed that up with personally appealing to the national Democratic Party to intervene and invalidate the 2018 election for party chair.

Following that summer of discontent, Democratic candidates were completely annihilated in Alabama’s November general election, even though nationally Democrats did well, even taking backing control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Alabama Republicans were victorious all over the state, outside of majority minority districts where Reed’s ADC is still enormously. The Alabama Democratic Party did not win a single majority White district in the Alabama legislature in 2018 and has not won a majority White congressional district race since 2008.

Many 2018 Democratic candidates blamed Worley and Reed for their election day defeats, saying that the ADP left $500 thousand dollars on the sidelines and did little to help, while demanding that campaigns pay Reed’s ADC for get out the vote efforts in their races.
Joe Reed’s son, Montgomery County Probate Judge Stephen Reed (D), is reportedly leading in the polls in the Montgomery Mayor’s race which is on Tuesday.

After the 2018 chair elections were invalidated, Tabitha Isner, a 2018 congressional candidate in the Second District, and Dr. Will Boyd, the 2018 ADP nominee for Lt. Governor, both announced that they were challenging Worley.

When that new election will happen and who exactly will be on the SDEC at that time remain open questions.

Jones faces a strongly contested re-election effort in November of 2019. For Democrats to have any realistic hopes of taking control of the U.S. Senate from Republicans they need to hold on to Jones’s seat.

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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America celebrates Independence Day

The United States celebrates its independence from Great Britain every year on July 4.

Brandon Moseley

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The United States celebrates its independence from Great Britain every year on July 4.

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Second Continental Congress. This is a national and state holiday that is celebrated with fireworks, family gatherings, concerts of patriotic music and is traditionally the height of the summer holiday season.

The Declaration of Independence defined the rights of man and the relationship between government and the governed. It also stated the colonists grievances with the distant British government and explained why independence was both justified and necessary.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation,” the Declaration reads.

The principal writer of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson, who would go on to be the wartime governor of Virginia, vice president and the third president of the United States.

As brilliant as the Declaration of Independence is, independence was not won by words alone — but by the sacrifices of the men and women who sacrificed on and off the battlefields of Concord, Lexington, Bunker Hill, Quebec, Charleston, Trenton, Saratoga, Valley Forge, Kings Mountain, Cowpens, Guilford Court House, Yorktown and countless more to win the nation’s independence.

That ragtag, often poorly equipped and underfed army was led by General George Washington. Washington would go on to be the head the Constitutional convention and the first president of the United States, serving two terms.

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Both Washington and Jefferson are immortalized on Mount Rushmore as two of the greatest presidents.

An estimated 25,000 Americans were killed fighting the Revolutionary War. The British forces lost over 10,000 troops including many Americans who opposed independence and fought and died for the British crown. An estimated 58,000 crown Loyalists would leave this country over their loyalty to the British crown. Many of them settled in Canada.

“Today, we celebrate our Nation’s independence and the vision of our Founding Fathers revealed to the world on that fateful day, as well as the countless patriots who continue to ensure that the flames of freedom are never extinguished,” President Donald Trump said in the annual presidential July 4 message.

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ADPH urges Alabamians to have “safer-at-home” July 4th celebrations

This year, amid a global pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health is urging Alabamians to celebrate at home to avoid catching or spreading the virus.

Brandon Moseley

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Saturday is the Fourth of July, a day when many families hold elaborate celebrations with their friends. It is a time for friends, family, fireworks, barbecue, celebrating our nation’s independence and enjoying the summer weather.

But this year, amid a global pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health is urging Alabamians to celebrate at home to avoid catching or spreading the virus.

“Independence Day is a wonderful celebration for all Americans,” the ADPH said on their website. “As we move toward this major holiday, we want to share some recommendations and reminders for local governmental officials.”

The novel strain of the coronavirus is the largest pandemic to deeply impact this country in a century. At least 57,236 Americans were diagnosed with the virus on Thursday alone and 131,533 Americans have died, including 983 Alabamians.

A few simple steps can greatly reduce your chances of being exposed and exposing others to COVID-19. Everyone should practice good hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face and wash hands often. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home, and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others not in your household.

The use of cloth face coverings or masks when in public can greatly reduce the risk of transmission, particularly if the infected individual wears a mask. Many people are contagious before they begin to show symptoms — or may never develop symptoms but are still able to infect others.

The ADPH emphasized that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to it.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warns that everyone should avoid large gatherings.

This CDC video explains more about how large gatherings can spread the virus.

According to ADPH, there are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses at this time.

There is ongoing medical research regarding treatment of COVID-19. Although most people will recover on their own, you can do some things to help relieve your symptoms, including taking medications to relieve pain and fever, using a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough and drinking plenty of fluids if you are mildly sick. Stay home and get plenty of rest.

Alabama is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases in the month of June and into early July.

The state reported at least 1,758 positive cases on Friday alone, the most since the pandemic began. In the past seven days, 7,645 cases have been reported, the most of any seven-day period since the pandemic began.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases — used to smooth out daily variability and inconsistencies in case reporting — surpassed 1,000 for the first time Friday.

Since the first coronavirus case was identified in Alabama in early March, 41,362 Alabamians have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

 

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Byrne secures authorization for additional Austal ship in NDAA

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, this week announced that the House Armed Services Committee approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 by a vote of 56 to 0. The bill includes a Byrne amendment authorizing $260 million to construct an additional Expeditionary Fast Transport vessel at Austal Mobile. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote for passage.

“Today’s defense authorization bill received strong bipartisan support and will ensure that the men and women of our military have the resources necessary to protect American interests and safety,” Byrne said. “Like most legislation, the bill isn’t perfect, but the committee’s willingness to work together towards a common goal should be a template for the entire House of Representatives to follow.”

“It is great news for Southwest Alabama and our entire nation that the committee accepted my amendment to authorize the construction of an additional EPF at the Austal shipyard in Mobile,” Byrne said. “Passage of this amendment acknowledges the critical role the 4,000 men and women at Austal Mobile play in supporting our nation’s military readiness and moving us closer to our goal of a 355-ship fleet. In fact, just this week we reached a landmark when the Austal-built USS Oakland LCS was delivered to the Navy, becoming the 300th ship in our Navy’s fleet. Construction of an additional EPF will strengthen Austal’s footprint in Mobile and bolster its contributions to our national defense, and I hope Congress moves quickly to pass this bill into law.”

The NDAA sets policy and authorizes funding for the entire United States military and has been passed by the House each year for the previous 59 years. The bill is expected to receive a vote in the House as soon as this month.

An Expeditionary Fast Transport is a 338-foot shallow draft aluminum catamaran designed to be multi-mission capable of intra-theater personnel and cargo lift, providing combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability and agility to achieve positional advantage over operational distances. Bridging the gap between low-speed sealift and high-speed airlift, EPFs transport personnel, equipment and supplies over operational distances with access to littoral offload points including austere, minor and degraded ports in support of the Global War on Terrorism/Theater Security Cooperation Program, Intra-theater Operational/Littoral Maneuver and Sustainment and Seabasing. EPFs enable the rapid projection, agile maneuver and sustainment of modular, tailored forces in response to a wide range of military and civilian contingencies such as Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. It is a non-combatant transport vessel characterized by its high volume, high speed, and flexibility. Its large flight deck can accommodate a variety of aircraft.

The EPF is designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots in Sea State 3. The ships are capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A2). The EPF includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. The ramp is suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing countries. The ship’s shallow draft (under 15 feet) will further enhance littoral operations and port access. This makes the EPF an extremely flexible asset for support of a wide range of operations including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support or as the key enabler for rapid transport.

EPF has a crew of 26 Civilian Mariners with airline style seating for 312 embarked troops and fixed berthing for an additional 104. Military Sealift Command (MSC) operates and sustains the EPFs, which will be allocated via the Global Force Management for Theater Security Cooperation, service unique missions, intra-theater sealift and special missions.

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Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

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Supreme Court sides with Alabama in COVID-19 voting case

Brandon Moseley

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The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision Thursday blocked a federal district judge’s order that would have made it easier for many Alabamians to vote during the pandemic, issuing an emergency stay of the lower court’s injunction in People First of Alabama v. Merrill.

The court’s more liberal justices dissented, while the five conservative justices voted to strike down the lower court ruling, which had blocked absentee ballot witness requirements in a few Alabama counties and a statewide ban on curbside voting programs.

The decision to grant the stay means that Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s ban on curbside voting remains in place, and he may intervene into any county in Alabama to prevent curbside voting.

Voters in every county in the state must still follow all the required witness, notary and photo ID requirements for absentee ballots.

Federal District Judge Abdul Kallon had found in favor of the plaintiffs and issued an order allowing local officials to implement curbside voting. Merrill and the secretary of state’s office appealed the lower court ruling to the Supreme Court, who issued the emergency stay.

The court could still hear Alabama’s appeal, but the ruling was a blow for the groups representing the plaintiffs in the case. Caren Short is the senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“While we are deeply disappointed with today’s ruling, we look forward to presenting our clients’ case at trial later this summer,” said Short. “Our goal is simple though unfortunately at odds with Alabama officials. We want to ensure that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama voters will not be forced to choose between exercising their fundamental right to vote and protecting their health or the health of a loved one.”

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Deuel Ross is the senior counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court‘s stay,” said Ross. “Unfortunately, this means that Alabama voters who are at greater risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 will be required to risk their health and violate CDC recommendations in order to vote on July 14. This is occurring at a time when COVID-19 infections are soaring in Alabama and nationwide. Nonetheless, the litigation will continue and we intend to seek relief for our clients and other voters in time for November.”

Plaintiffs argued that making voters go to the polls and wait in line to show a photo-ID would be a bar to voting given the fear of the coronavirus in Alabama. Voters will have to decide whether voting in the July 14 party runoff elections is really worth the risk of possibly contracting the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and possibly dying.

At least 14 Alabamians died from COVID-19 on Thursday, taking the state death toll to 961. Additionally, 1,162 Alabamians tested positive for the coronavirus.

The state argues that voter ID and other security measures are necessary to protect the integrity of the vote and prevent voting fraud. Since his election as Alabama secretary of state, Merrill has said that it is his goal to “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

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