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Mexico isn’t paying for Trump’s border wall. Alabama is.

Josh Moon

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Looks like Mexico isn’t paying for that “big, beautiful wall” at the southern border. 

Alabama is. 

The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would be diverting more than $260 million of funds originally slated for a Navy ship building operation located in the Port of Mobile and will instead use those funds to construct a portion of Trump’s border wall. 

“I am very concerned about the impact a decision like this could have on communities like Mobile, whose ship-building workforce is second to none,” Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said. “I understand and agree we need to protect our borders, but I can’t understand for the life of me why folks in Mobile would be paying for this wall.”

The money was originally earmarked for Austal Inc., which had been selected by the Navy to build 11 Expeditionary Fast Transport ships. Those EFT ships are designed to provide the Navy with quick, shallow-water transport of both troops and equipment. 

“First and foremost, I support the President’s efforts to build the wall,” Sen. Richard Shelby said. “My strong preference is to do so through a direct appropriation, but Democrats have refused. While I am disappointed that the Department of Defense intends to target important priorities such as the Expeditionary Fast Transport, the Democrats left the President little choice in finding the funds necessary to build the wall. Ultimately, building the wall and providing for our national defense should be our highest priorities.

This is not exactly true. The 2020 Federal Budget included $1.37 billion in funding for the wall — a total agreed upon by Congress last year after tense budget negotiations. 

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To date, Trump’s wall has cost American taxpayers — who are footing the entire bill for this project, despite Trump’s promises — more than $400 million and is projected to exceed more than $11 billion at its current rate. 

Thus far, only about 110 miles of border wall has been built, and nearly all of that is replacement of the border structures that were in place. 

The goal was to erect a border wall covering the majority of an 864-mile zone that the administration deemed a priority. So far, zero miles of that zone have been completed, and the entire project has faced a number of setbacks. Most troubling is the fact that nearly half of that zone consists of privately owned lands in Texas, and the landowners have refused to sell. 

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However, the Trump administration is moving forward, continuing to push money into the project. And the search for additional funding has been almost as controversial as the project itself, with the Trump administration taking heat for pulling money from a variety of projects, including the improvement of base housing around the country. 

And now, Alabama stands to lose hundreds of millions. 

“The (transport ship) is responsible for hundreds of good-paying jobs in South Alabama, but I am even more concerned about the impact this decision has on our men and women in uniform and our national security,” Jones said. “This decision puts Alabama jobs on the line and it is going to make us less safe by denying our troops the resources they need to stay safe and fulfill their missions.”

Immigration experts also question the effectiveness of the wall on illegal immigration, and most national security experts agree that it will have little effect on the nation’s overall. 

The overwhelming majority of undocumented workers in the U.S. don’t enter through the southern border. Additionally, despite constant rhetoric from Republicans and from Trump that terrorists are crossing the Mexican border, a CATO Institute study in 2018 found that of the seven terrorism suspects apprehended in the U.S. after entering the country illegally, none crossed the southern border. Instead, they entered through Canada.

 

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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Elections

Opponents accuse Tuberville of supporting amnesty for undocumented immigrants

Brandon Moseley

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The Senate campaign is heating up as the top three candidates are all going negative. Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville has attacked Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) and former Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions of being career politicians. Both Byrne and Tuberville have attacked Sessions for not having adequately served President Donald J. Trump (R) while Attorney General. Byrne has even attacked Tuberville’s coaching abilities. The latest attacks on Tuberville accuse him of supporting amnesty for illegal aliens. Sessions even accused Tuberville of being a “tourist.”

Wednesday, Sessions announced a new television ad called “Tuberville for Amnesty.”

Byrne and Tuberville point to an August speech by Coach Tuberville when he said: “There are people coming across the border that need jobs… and we want them to come over here… Let em’ come in and become citizens like we all became citizens.”

The Tuberville campaign called the attack “fake news” on Twitter.

Sessions’ campaign manager Jon Jones said, “Tuberville is claiming that his own words are ‘fake news.’ All of them? Tommy Tuberville needs to read the transcript. It is clear that Tuberville supports immigration amnesty, and he is attempting to trick Alabama voters to believe otherwise. In contrast, Jeff Sessions has done more than just say he wants to fix the border – he has already worked alongside President Trump to stop illegal immigration.”

The new Sessions ad reads: “Tuberville is trying to trick you, hiding his support for immigration amnesty.” Then plays an audio clip of the Tuberville comment from August

Tuesday, Byrne told reporters in Trussville: “I can tell you right now this issue about Tommy Tuberville’s position on amnesty is a key issue. And so we’re going to keep telling people about his position on that and let him explain why he doesn’t think that’s amnesty.”

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“Let em’ come in and become citizens like we all became citizens,” Tuberville is quoted in the ad.

Tuberville has denied supporting amnesty and says that he supports President Trump’s immigration agenda.

The Sessions ad further charges: “And Tuberville’s not even from Alabama, he’s a tourist here. He lives, pays taxes and even votes in Florida.”

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On Tuesday, the Tuberville campaign responded with an attack ad of their own.

“The career politicians are desperate to hang on to their paychecks and power, so they have started airing negative ads full of false attacks and baseless distortions,” Tuberville said. “Our new commercial allows us to respond with some hard truths about which candidate wants to drain the D.C. swamp and is tough enough to actually help President Trump get the job done.”

The Tuberville ad has Byrne with former Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sessions with Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California) who led the impeachment effort against President Trump. The ad even connects Sessions and Byrne with Sen. Mitt Romney (the only Republican in either House of Congress who found that the President did anything wrong.)

State Representative Arnold Mooney, former Chief Justice Roy Moore, Ruth Page Nelson, and businessman Stanley Adair are also running for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones (D).

The Republican primary is March 3.

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Elections

Hasdorff calls for “out-of-touch” Mike Bloomberg to visit an Alabama Farm

Brandon Moseley

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Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Terri Hasdorff challenged billionaire Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg to come visit an Alabama farm.

Hasdorff’s comments followed the re-release of Bloomberg statements dismissing farmers as lacking the “grey matter” to do other jobs.

In a 2016 speech at Oxford University in England, the former New York City Mayor said that he “could teach anybody, even the people in this room” to be a farmer. “You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”

“I am appalled at how out-of-touch Mr. Bloomberg is about how much work goes into successful farming,” Hasdorff said. “I’m personally inviting him to Alabama’s Second District where I would be happy to take him to one of our nearly 10,000 farms and give him a tour maybe we can even get him to roll up his sleeves and put in a little bit of real work!”

Alabama has a long, storied history as an agricultural states Even now, agriculture and forestry remains the largest industry in the state of Alabama.

“Alabama’s farmers are the backbone of our state,” Hasdorff continued. “The fact that someone like Michael Bloomberg feels he is entitled to belittle their hard work is appalling – but this is what the far left really thinks of real America. This is what out of touch Democrats and coastal elites believe. Mr. Bloomberg was just the one caught on tape.”

Hasdorff is part of a crowded Republican primary field on March 3. The Alabama Democratic presidential primary is also on March 3.

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“This is why I’m running for Congress,” Hasdorff added. “We need leaders who understand the needs and struggles of hard-working Americans – farmers, manufacturers, people who keep our country fed and moving. We need real leaders who will fight for our people, not leaders who would have government replace true hard work and the American spirit.”

Hasdorff worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison in the George H.W. Bush (R) Administration. There she worked with faith leaders across the country. She worked on Capitol Hill for six years where her most meaningful assignments focused on keeping the government and Washington, D.C. elites from discriminating against churches and faith-based organizations. Hasdorff worked on the Ten Commandments Defense Act, defending the right of states to display the Ten Commandments in courthouses and public places. She served as a senior advisor on the Charitable Choice language, which put the Faith-Based initiative into law and still protects faith based organizations from discrimination when accessing federal funding. Hasdorff has worked on pro-life, pro-family legislation. Terri also worked in the George W. Bush Administration as America’s faith-based representative to the world. Hasdorff graduated from Samford University.

Second Congressional District incumbent Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is not running for another term.

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Josh Moon

How Alabama’s government stays broken

Josh Moon

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist — or even any kind of scientist — to figure out that Alabama’s state government is broken. 

I mean, really, just look around. At the poverty, the poor education, the racism, the arrested public officials, the in-your-face public corruption and the complete disregard for the welfare of the majority of the people in the state. 

But, while the overall awfulness of Alabama’s governance might be easy to diagnose, the underlying causes — the daily examples that explain just how it stays so broken — are far harder to put your finger on. Because they are mostly wrapped up in mundane occurrences that take place within the walls of the State House or the capitol or the Supreme Court chambers or some other government building. 

Things like SB117/HB140. 

Those are the official names for a bill in both the senate and house that will “clarify existing law relating to disposal of solid waste.” 

Sounds innocent enough, right? Just gonna get this minor landfill situation straightened out. No biggie. 

Ah, but see, SB117/HB140 is the prime example of Alabama’s broken government. 

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It is the prime example of how your lawmakers aren’t working for you. It is the perfect encapsulation of everything that is wrong in this state.

Basically this landfill bill would make it OK to cover existing landfills with artificial covers, instead of the six inches of earth that is currently required. 

Now, this still doesn’t sound like a big deal. And it won’t be one if you don’t mind third-world diseases, the smell of rotting meat, frequent fires, coyotes and feral dogs roaming your streets and rats. Lots and lots of rats. 

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Applying six inches of earth each day to cover the garbage dumped at landfills prevents those things, the EPA figured out long ago. And it set those parameters in the rules it recommends to states. Alabama agreed, and the state adopted that rule, along with others, into law several years ago. 

Regular landfills have to cover with six inches of earth every day. Construction landfills have to do so once per week. 

This is a simple law. 

But if you operate a landfill, it’s an expensive one. And a time consuming one. 

Ah, but luckily, those laws are environmental laws. And in Alabama, we figured out long ago that environmental laws can be cumbersome and expensive, so we set up a bit of a … let’s just call it a workaround. 

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management. 

You’ll find we do this a lot — set up an entity that lies somewhere between the laws and the enforcement of the laws whose only job it seems is to give free passes to the bigwigs and corporations who violate those specific laws. 

We do it with the Ethics Commission. With the Public Service Commission. And with ADEM. 

It’s genius, really. The laws are still on the books and no one has to overtly roll back protections that would lead to rotting garbage attracting disease carrying rodents by the thousands. 

Instead, just get ADEM to quietly stop enforcing the law. 

Which is exactly what ADEM has done in this case. It was allowing landfills all over the state to cover garbage with tarps and various other materials. The tarps and other covers inevitably got holes in them, and a Noah’s Ark-level of animals descended upon the landfills to dine and spread the garbage all over adjoining neighborhoods. 

The neighbors, tired of the smell and the disease and the roaming animals, sued, citing in their legal filing horror stories of living near these maggot farms that smelled like death. 

They sued ADEM for failing to do its job, and for essentially rewriting the law to allow businesses to do whatever they wanted to do. 

And lo and behold, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals agreed with them. In a lengthy, detailed decision entered last October, the five-judge panel noted that ADEM didn’t have the authority to rewrite the law. 

The case is now before the Alabama Supreme Court, but everyone knows that the Appeals Court judges are correct. 

But why bother with trying to win over judges when you can instead just change the laws through the crooks in the Alabama Legislature? 

And so, here we are, with a handful of lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature willing to attach their names to legislation that will allow businesses to ignore the standards imposed by the EPA, ignore the standards that are commonplace in most other states and change Alabama law to benefit a handful of landfill owners at the expense of thousands of Alabama citizens. 

And this, kids, is how Alabama’s government stays broken.

 

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Courts

U.S. Attorney Jay Town to serve as working group co-chair on presidential commission

Staff

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via WHNT

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town will serve as a Co-Chair of the Criminal Justice System Personnel Intersection Working Group on the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.  The working group will examine how police, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and correctional authorities intersect so that the system of criminal justice can enhance its ability to prevent and control crime and serve the victims of crime.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as working group Co-Chair on the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice,” Town said.  “The Criminal Justice System Personnel Intersection Working Group will address a multitude of issues seeking to broaden the relationships between every layer of law enforcement, improve relations between the community and the justice system, and find innovative ways to reduce crime as a result.  I look forward to joining my colleagues in this incredibly important and collective effort to help this Administration identify effective and systemic criminal justice reforms that will reduce and prevent crime in America.”

On October 28, 2019, President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Order No. 13896, authorizing and designating the Attorney General to create such a Commission that would explore modern issues affecting law enforcement that most impact the ability of American policing to reduce crime.  Attorney General William P. Barr announced the establishment of the Commission on January 22, 2020.

The Executive Order instructs the Commission to conduct its study by focusing on the law enforcement officers who are tasked with reducing crime on a daily basis. It also directs the Commission to research “important current issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” and recommends a variety of subjects for study, such as, but not limited to:

  • The challenges to law enforcement associated with mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse, and other social factors that influence crime and strain criminal justice resources;
  • The recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of law enforcement officers, including in rural and tribal communities;
  • Refusals by State and local prosecutors to enforce laws or prosecute categories of crimes;
  • The need to promote public confidence and respect for the law and law enforcement officers; and
  • The effects of technological innovations on law enforcement and the criminal justice system, including the challenges and opportunities presented by such innovations.

In studying these issues, the Commission will be assisted by “working groups.”  These working groups will consist of subject matter experts across the federal and state government and have a particularized focus on distinct issues the Commission will review (e.g. “Technology”).  They will assist and facilitate the Commission’s study of these issues, and provide advice and counsel on their specific subject.  The working groups, which will include our federal partners from the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and other federal agencies, will provide much needed expertise and insight on the important issues affecting law enforcement.  This Commission requires a team effort.  Such a rich variety of federal and state government participation is essential to the work at hand.  Once the Commission completes its study, it will recommend the best measures to empower American law enforcement to combat the criminal threats of our time, and to restore the utmost public confidence in our law enforcement to protect and serve.

In forming the Commission, the Department of Justice has marshaled together the expertise and experiences of all sectors of the law enforcement community—urban police departments, county sheriffs, state attorneys general and prosecutors, elected officials, United States Attorneys, and federal law enforcement agencies.  They come from distinct states, cities, counties, and towns across the country but share a common mission of safeguarding their respective communities from a variety of threats.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years

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