Connect with us

News

Governor awards grants to promote safe neighborhoods

Staff

Published

on

Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded seven grants totaling more than $300,000 to help several Alabama communities become safer places to live, work and play.

Funds from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods will help the cities of Birmingham, Bessemer, Huntsville and Anniston along with other areas in Jefferson and Madison counties to take steps to reduce violent crime in their neighborhoods by applying local initiatives.

“Alabamians deserve to grow up in neighborhoods without fearing for their safety or the safety of their children,” Gov. Ivey said. “I am encouraged that these local initiatives developed through this program will make our communities safer, change lives for the better and thwart those who are determined to do evil.”

Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide program that brings together community leaders, law enforcement and judicial officers, elected leaders and others to examine crime issues and work to develop solutions.   

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available to the state from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“ADECA is committed to working with Gov. Ivey and those representing the local initiatives to take back our neighborhoods and make sure that law-abiding citizens do not feel threatened by criminals,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said.

Grants awarded are:

Public Service Announcement

Jefferson County Commission -Bessemer Cut-off Jurisdiction ($45,000) to fund 65 high-definition surveillance cameras to be placed in areas where crimes have occurred within the Bessemer Cut-Off jurisdiction.

Jefferson County Commission ($45,000) to enable the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department to increase camera technology to discourage crime and to provide needed evidence to arrest and convict people involved in criminal activities. 

Better Basics Inc. – Birmingham area ($42,000) to provide students at Central Park Elementary School in Ensley and Martha Gaskins Elementary School in Centerpoint with reading and math programs to reduce illiteracy, advance academic achievement and provide encouragement for future achievement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office ($18,014) to continue and expand the Helping Families Initiative to strengthen families, encourage academic achievement and reduce out-of-school suspensions and absenteeism.

Anniston ($39,175) to continue and upgrade the city Police Department’s technological enhancement program which uses technology to discourage crime and helps investigate, locate and arrest violent offenders.

Huntsville ($67,240) to upgrade technology of the North Alabama Multi-Agency Crime Center to enhance the focus on high-crime areas, violent crime and gang activities.

Madison County Commission ($45,415) to enable the Madison County Sheriff’s Department to improve technology to combat violent crime and to purchase protective equipment to reduce injury of narcotics officers when conducting their duties.

ADECA administers a wide range of programs that support law enforcement, victim programs, economic development, water resource management, energy conservation and recreation.

 

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

Advertisement

Corruption

Attorney general opposes motion to reconsider Hubbard’s prison sentence

“Hubbard is not being punished for his reversed convictions. He is being punished for the crimes of which he remains convicted,” Marshall wrote to the court. 

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard reported for his prison sentence at the Lee County Detention Facility on Sept. 11.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in a court filing Tuesday opposed a request by former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s attorney for the court to reconsider his 4-year sentence on six felony ethics violations.

Marshall in the filing said that after four years of appeals, Hubbard remains convicted of those felonies.

“This Court’s carefully calibrated sentence of a four-year split, among other penalties, properly accounted for the severity of Hubbard’s crimes, the position of trust he abused, and the need for serious penalties to deter other wrongdoers,” Marshall wrote to the court. “In addition, Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency now that he is finally in jail.”

“In sum, nothing material has changed since Hubbard earned his four-year sentence four years ago. It’s simply time for him to serve it. Accordingly, his motion should be denied,’ Marshall continued.

Hubbard had originally been convicted by a Lee County jury on 12 ethics violations, and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld 11 of those convictions, but the Alabama Supreme Court later reversed five of those convictions and upheld six.

He began serving his four-year sentence for the six convictions of using his office for personal gain on Sept. 11.

Hubbard’s attorney argued in a separate court filing that the court should reconsider his sentence because five of the 12 convictions were reversed, but Marshall told the court Tuesday that the sentence Hubbard received was just.

Public Service Announcement

“Hubbard is not being punished for his reversed convictions. He is being punished for the crimes of which he remains convicted,” Marshall wrote to the court.

Hubbard’s attorney in his request to reconsider sentencing also argued that Hubbard has already suffered from a “divestment of his business interests.”

Hubbard’s convictions related to consulting contracts that enriched him while he served as speaker.

ADVERTISEMENT

The state’s attorney general at the time of his conviction determined that Hubbard had bilked Alabama out of more than $2 million.

“Suffice it to say, it is a bad advocacy strategy for Hubbard to mourn his loss of an income stream worth millions, which he financed on the backs of hard-working Alabamians who expected an honest elected official. That Hubbard has lost some of these ill-gotten gains in no way suggests that Hubbard has paid back his debt to society,” Marshall wrote to the court.

Continue Reading

News

Alabama Power reopens business office lobbies

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

The Alabama Power Company has reopened its business office lobbies, which have been closed since March due to fears of the coronavirus.

“We are ready to be back, welcoming the customers because we’ve missed them,” said Sandra Tucker who works in the Jasper Alabama Power office and Appliance Center. “Just to see their face, to interact with them and to be able to help them, we’re excited about that.”

Tucker is one of several customer service representatives who help Alabama Power customers in and around the Jasper area. Tucker says that she and her colleagues have missed seeing the faces of their customer “family” since the company adjusted walk-in operations at its business offices in March.

“We are a friendly family that just wants to help our customers,” Tucker said. “It’s just an opportunity to serve them that we haven’t been able to do since this pandemic started. We’re just excited to see them.”

Supporting customers affected by COVID-19 with tailored, customized solutions to meet their needs remains a priority as the Alabama Power Company continues to navigate the pandemic. As part of that solution, the company this week announced it has safely and responsibly resumed walk-in operations at its business offices and Appliance Centers.

Alabama Power says the reopened offices are in compliance with safety best practices. Walk-in customers are asked to comply with signs in the offices to ensure Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are followed to protect the safety and health of both fellow customers and Alabama Power employees. The offices are also limiting customer capacity at the offices to further hinder virus spread.

“Customers who visit their local business office will see new safety updates and precautions installed to protect the well-being of them and our employees,” said Alabama Power’s senior vice president of Customer Operations Jonathan Porter. “We have been thoughtful and detailed in our plans to provide the safest and best experience for our customers.”

Public Service Announcement

The Alabama Power Company said in a statement that its commitment to customers and the communities we call home has not wavered.

The company says that it has mobilized and enacted programs and policies to support residential customers, businesses and communities.

To help customers facing economic or medical hardships due to COVID-19, Alabama Power is offering new payment plans. This new offering allows customers to spread out energy bill balances over several months. To enroll, customers can visit https://www.alabamapower.com/residential/billing-and-payment-options/payment-plan.html or use the automated system at 1-800-245-2244 to check eligibility and set up a plan in a few simple steps.

ADVERTISEMENT

Since the state of emergency was declared in March, Alabama Power has not disconnected or charged late fees to any customer affected by COVID-19. The company says that it will return to standard business operations for customers on September 28.

Standard business operations include the following services for residential and business customers: Responsibly reopening walk-in services at Alabama Power business offices and Appliance Centers; Continuing to work individually with customers on payment assistance resources; and Using multiple channels to notify customers behind on payments options to maintain service.

Alabama Power also offers several programs designed to help low-income, elderly or disabled customers with energy bills.

Project SHARE is a program in partnership with the Salvation Army. Project SHARE helps pay energy bills of low-income Alabamians who are age 60 or older and/or disabled. Customers who want to request energy assistance can apply at their local Salvation Army office or by calling 205-328-2420. Alabama Power customers who want to help others can donate by checking the Project SHARE box on their Alabama Power bill.

The Alabama Business Charitable Trust Fund works with local community action agencies to help cover the cost of heating and cooling for low-income families and those struggling with temporary financial problems. Customers who are interested can contact the community action agency in their county. For more information, visit this website.

Additionally, energy bill discounts are available for customers receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid for Low Income Families (MLIF). The discount includes $14.50 toward the customer charge. Eligible customers can sign up at any Alabama Power business office or by phone at 1-800-245-2244.

In addition to these programs, the Alabama Power Foundation continues to support organizations in the state through a $1 million pledge for COVID-19 relief efforts.

The company says that its customer service team stands ready to work individually with customers who need help. Customers are encouraged to reach out for support online at AlabamaPower.com or call 1-800-245-2244.

Alabama Power warns that it has continued to see an uptick in scammers taking advantage of customers during the pandemic. The company said that it will never contact customers demanding bank information or an immediate payment on accounts. Customers who are unsure if a call is a scam are encouraged to hang up immediately and contact Customer Service at 1-800-245-2244.

Alabama Power Company, Mississippi Power, and Georgia Power are the three divisions of the Southern Company. Southern Company has 27,943 employees and a market cap of $56.1 billion.

Continue Reading

Education

Alabama declines to release COVID-19 data associated with child care centers

APR has asked for that data and whether ADPH was aware of the number of cases associated with child care centers statewide.

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

(STOCK PHOTO)

It was unclear Tuesday the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 there have been among staff, children and relatives associated with child care facilities in Alabama, because the Alabama Department of Public Health declined to release that data.

“All cases of COVID-19 are required to be reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health under notifiable disease laws. ADPH is aware of cases in entities such as child care but does not report separately from other data,” said Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer, in a message to APR on Tuesday.

APR has asked for that data and whether ADPH was aware of the number of cases associated with child care centers statewide.

Landers noted that ADPH does provide the percentage of cases among age ranges, however. There had been approximately 2,628 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Alabama children 4-years-old and younger as of Monday, according to ADPH’s dashboard, but the department doesn’t specify which of those cases are associated with child care centers, and it was unclear how many cases there have been among relatives or workers connected to child care centers.

While children 10-years-old and older can efficiently transmit COVID-19 to others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a recent report note that “limited data are available on SARS-CoV-2 transmission from young children, particularly in child care settings.”

The Sept, 18 CDC report looked at three COVID-19 outbreaks in child care facilities in Salt Lake County, Utah, during April 1 through July 10, and found that the 12 children who contracted the disease spread it to at least 12 others outside the centers, and one parent was hospitalized with coronavirus.

In one facility, researchers confirmed five cases among workers and two among children. One of those children, aged 8 months, transmitted COVID-19 to both parents, the report notes. Many of the children had mild symptoms or none at all, researchers found.

Public Service Announcement

“COVID-19 is less severe in children than it is in adults, but children can still play a role in transmission,” the report reads. “The infected children exposed at these three facilities had mild to no symptoms. Two of three asymptomatic children likely transmitted SARS-CoV-2 to their parents and possibly to their teachers.”

While Alabama’s Department of Public Health isn’t releasing data on cases associated with child care centers, many other states are, including Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, California, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

There have been 332 confirmed cases, two deaths and 14 separate outbreaks associated with child care centers in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

ADVERTISEMENT

Health officials in California’s Sonoma County traced 30 cases of coronavirus to one child at a child-care center in the county, where 16 students, 11 relatives and three workers tested positive, according to The Los Angeles Times. In addition to that outbreak, there have been 62 other cases at 13 child-care facilities in the county, including 27 family members, 10 workers and 25 students, with 381 cases of children younger than 17 still under investigation, the newspaper reported on Sept. 21.

Reopening child care centers can be done safely, according to an Aug. 28 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which that found that in Rhode Island, which reopened child care centers on June 1, there were just 52 confirmed and probable cases among staff, children and relatives across 29 centers between June 1 and July 31.

The report noted that Rhode Island at first limited centers to 12 or fewer students, required staff and students to not move between groups in centers and “universal use of masks for adults, daily symptom screening of adults and children, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection according to CDC guidelines.”

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris on March 19 issued an order closing child care centers through April 5, with exceptions for facilities that provided services to first responders and other workers deemed essential. Harris on March 27 issued a supplemental order allowing centers that cared for 11 or fewer children to reopen.

The Alabama Department of Public Health on Monday published a press release touting the number of open child care centers across Alabama. According to the department, 76 percent of all child care facilities in Alabama are open.

“Alabama is well on our way to reopening the necessary number of child care facilities to enable parents to return to work and resume a more normal schedule,” said Alabama DHR commissioner Nancy Buckner, in a statement. “This is the sixth survey we have conducted and each one has shown tremendous growth in the numbers of open facilities. We have worked hard to encourage child care providers to open by providing support in the form of grants and supplies.”

Asked whether the department is aware of the number of COVID-19 cases among children, staff or relatives associated with child care centers, a DHR spokesperson responded in a message to APR on Monday that “We don’t track that.”

While child care plays a critical role for working parents across the country, the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have put a strain on the businesses, according to a July 13 study by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which surveyed more than 5,000 child care facilities in every state.

Among the child care centers surveyed, two out of five said they would have to close without more public assistance, while half of the minority-owned centers said they have to close without more aid, according to the report. A quarter of child care workers said they’d applied for or received unemployment benefits, and 73 percent of centers said they have or will begin laying off workers and/or make pay cuts.

An Aug. 26 study by the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center found that 32 percent of parents polled said their child care centers were closed, 14 percent of them permanently, and 22 percent of the parents said they could not return to work in person without childcare.

Even when child care is available to parents, many are worried about sending their children back while COVID-19 continues to spread. Of those asked, 77 percent of parents said they were concerned that sending their kids back would increase the risk of exposing their family to COVID-19.

Continue Reading

Bill Britt

Opinion | Hubbard did the crime; he should do the time

Hubbard may not be a violent offender but his actions are a danger to society and a threat to the public.

Bill Britt

Published

on

Mike Hubbard looks toward his family after receiving sentencing on Friday, July 8, 2016, in Opelika, Ala. (Todd Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News/Pool)

Attorneys for convicted felon, former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, believe he has suffered enough, and his sentence should be reduced because six of the charges against him were overturned on appeal.

The remaining six counts against Hubbard call for a prison term of four years, 16 years probation, and substantial fines independent of the charges the upper courts set aside. Therefore, there exist no reasonable grounds under which trial Judge Jacob Walker III should lessen Hubbard’s sentence.

This action on Hubbard’s behalf is simply another attempt to subvert justice.

A Lee County jury found Hubbard guilty of twelve counts of public corruption, most notably using his office for personal gain and using state resources and personnel to enrich himself—and those counts still stand.

The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Count 5, and the Alabama Supreme Court struck down another five, which primarily dealt with the charges surrounding “principals.”

The upper-court’s finding appears more political than judicial, but most people in the state are used to jurists who bend the law for the rich and politically connected.

Of the remaining charges against Hubbard, five carry a ten-year spit sentence of two years in prison and eight years probation, and one count has a six-year split sentence with 18 months in jail with the remainder served on probation.

Public Service Announcement

Why would Judge Walker reverse his judgment since the appeals process left in place the charges that carry the very sentence he imposed?

Does Judge Walker think he erred in his sentencing? Does he now, in retrospect, believe he was unfair as Hubbard’s lawyers contend?

Hubbard’s appeal is merely more subterfuge and trickery disguised as a legal argument.

ADVERTISEMENT

Astonishingly, in their latest filing, lawyers, David McKnight and Joel Dillard, assert that Hubbard is not “a danger to society, nor a threat to the public” as a reason to let him out of prison.

Hubbard may not be a violent offender but his actions are a danger to society and a threat to the public.

Prison is not only for brutal inmates it is also for those who break a certain class of laws. Because a felon wears a thousand dollar suit doesn’t mean they deserve less jail time.

Hubbard’s crimes are some of the most heinous perpetrated against civil society.

Public corruption undermines the rule of law and the principles of good government and is an offense more potent than property theft, drug use, or other nonviolent crimes because it rips apart the very fabric of society and its trust in the foundations of the republic.

A corrupt politician’s actions subvert the very meaning of representative government.

Hubbard is not now a danger to society, or a threat to the public because he is behind bars. But make no mistake he is a menace to public good. Even before his indictment, Hubbard used every scheme at his disposal to thwart justice, entice lying and manipulate public trust. And now he wants one more shot at corrupting the system.

There are only two occasions when every individual should expect equal treatment: when they stand before a court of law and when they stand before their maker. Yes, a wealthy defendant like Hubbard can afford better legal representation, but it doesn’t mean he can purchase special justice.

Hubbard has been given preferential treatment by lawmakers, the media, and even some on the courts. All along the way, Hubbard was handled with kid gloves and given unwarranted privilege.

McKnight and Dillard argue with a straight face that letting Hubbard out of prison early will, “Preserve scarce prison bed-space for habitual offenders and others from whom society needs protection… [and] more likely result in the defendant’s rehabilitation than incarceration.”

The word rehabilitation is used several times in Hubbard’s most recent court filings as if somehow allowing him to avoid prison time will serve to rehabilitate him. To this day, Hubbard doesn’t believe he’s committed a crime, so how is rehabilitation possible?

His attorneys lastly make the most laughable argument possible by indicating Hubbard has suffered enough.

“[The] Court should consider the punishment that Hubbard has already suffered. The convictions in this case alone have resulted in a wide range of punishments which include his removal from office, the loss of his right to vote, the divestment of his business interests, and his current incarceration.”

Suffered enough?

When lawmakers break ethics laws, it upends society because it shatters trust while nullifying the social contract that binds us together in peace and safety.

State ethics laws are an attempt to force the government to rule themselves honestly.

Hubbard ignored the very ethics laws he championed and would do it all again.

He deserves punishment for his unlawful acts, and his prison sentence should stand as a reminder to others that justice doesn’t play favorites.

Hubbard did the crime, and he should serve the time.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement