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Daily News Digest – April 12, 2018

 Good morning! LOTS of news today. Strap in for your Daily News on this Thursday, April 12.

1. Ryan out. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he will not seek reelection, retiring after more than 20 years in Congress.

This is very big news with far-reaching consequences. I have three main takeaways…

  1. Being Speaker is a tough job that many times is more trouble than it is worth. Ryan is honestly just tired of it and knows he can spend more time with family, make more money, and not have to deal with backbiting politicians by doing something else. Many are saying he could step into lead the American Enterprise Institute, a job Arthur Brooks just left.
  2. The Trump fatigue factor is real. Speaking from a little bit of experience, it is EXHAUSTING to be a Congressional Republican in Trump’s Washington. The tweets. The drama. The hysteria from the other side. The demand for unconditional loyalty with none given in return. Some love all that because they see it as the president shaking up the place, just as he promised. In practice, it takes a toll physically and emotionally. Trump fatigue is a real factor in why 43 House Republicans have announced they are retiring, running for another office, or have already resigned. With Ryan’s exit, expect that number to increase.
  3. House Republicans are in trouble. History isn’t on the GOP’s side. Neither is voter enthusiasm. The economy was until this tariff business started spooking everybody. Democrats need 24 seats to win the House majority. That is well within reach, and Republicans just lost their most reliable fundraiser/campaigner. If you were looking for a canary in the coal mine indicating time is running out for the GOP majority in the House, Ryan’s retirement is probably it.

I might write about this more over the weekend. Anyway, here are some good reads in case you want to go deeper…

2. Montgomery Public Schools. Boy, I don’t know. 

Statewide implications

  • Before you non-Montgomery folks skip over, understand something: this is not just a local story.
  • Much like Birmingham’s struggles recently and Huntsville’s some time back, the state intervention going on in the Capital City has big implications for the whole state.
  • That intervention – to fix systemic financial and academic problems in Alabama’s most troubled school system – isn’t going well, to say the least.

What’s happening

  • As many as 200 teachers are going to be laid off and 400 support personnel are going to be outsourced, both “unnecessary” actions taking place because of “delay tactics” by the Montgomery School Board and the Alabama Education Association, according to Interim State Superintendent Ed Richardson.
  • What’s worse: the Montgomery system is almost certain to lose its accreditation if things continue down their current course. That would have DEVASTATING consequences for local students, the Montgomery area, and the state.

Why is it happening

  • Richardson, who is leading the state’s intervention of Montgomery Public Schools, wanted to sell the Georgia Washington Middle School building to Pike Road for $9.8 million. That money would be used to allow the system to meet its state-mandated requirement to keep a month’s operating expenses in reserve.
  • The Montgomery Board voted to block the building’s sale and then AEA filed suit, arguing that Richardson has a conflict of interest because he previously served as a consultant to Pike Road schools.

What’s next

  • AEA says their lawsuit was to “protect students and employees at Georgia Washington” and other schools. That appears to have backfired, because now teachers and other employees (read: AEA members) are going to lose their jobs.
  • Oh, and Georgia Washington is closing anyway.
  • Don’t expect that to change anything, though. Based on what I saw and heard at yesterday’s press conference, not even the stark reality of several hundred layoffs are going to change any minds.
  • There are some political upshots, though. Read more about all of that in my story HERE.

Also read:

3. Democrats Debate. 

  • Democratic candidates for governor debated in Birmingham last night.
  • Former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox & former State Rep. James Fields appeared in the live forum hosted by NBC13.
  • Associated Press reporter Kim Chandler watched and you can read her story on the debate HERE.
  • You can watch the whole thing for yourself on WTVM’s website HERE.
  • Candidates seem to agree on most issues. Medicaid expansion: check. Lottery to raise money for schools and other state services: check. Republicans are crooks: check.
  • There was a dust up between the candidates over raising the state’s minimum wage. Just go read Kim’s story.

4. Governor candidate found dead.

  • Michael McCallister was found dead at his home in Pike County Wednesday.
  • McCallister qualified to run for governor as a Republican in January, but no one seems to have heard much from him since.
  • political reporter Howard Koplowitz repeatedly called McCallister and even drove to his house a few weeks back trying to reach him – all unsuccessfully.
  • Now we know why.
  • No foul play suspected, no cause of death determined.
  • It’s especially sad because he could have been dead for quite a while with no one knowing.
  • Read Howard’s story HERE.

5. Ivey bans “loaned executives.”

  • Gov. Kay Ivey issued an executive order late Wednesday banning the practice of so-called “loaned executives” in the Governor’s office and other Executive Branch agencies.
  • This is an upshot from the Bentley Grand Jury report, which said state law does not bar individuals from serving in top governmental roles while being paid by outside companies, firms or organizations. This so-called “loaned executive” practice was common throughout the Bentley administration.
  • Ivey’s executive order prohibits an executive appointee and/or staff member from soliciting a private entity to provide a loaned employee to the state or from seeking compensation from a private entity for work performed for the state.
  • The order does allow for temporary exemptions during times of natural disasters and other emergencies.
  • Interestingly, in the obligatory “whereas” section of the EO, Ivey kind of makes the argument that this was already prohibited by the state ethics code.
  • “Whereas the Ethics Commission, through Advisory Opinion 2015-16 concluded that an employee who is paid from a source other than public money but who performs all the functions of a public-sector employee cannot serve under that arrangement without violating the fundamental principles underlying the Ethics Act.” Hmm.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: What a mess: Layoffs, outsourcing next for Montgomery schools. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: Democrats mostly find agreement in Alabama governor’s debate.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: Speaker Ryan to retire, leaving big election year vacuum for GOP.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tempests buffeting White House threaten to engulf the president.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Nominee to lead State Dept.: Soft policy toward Russia ‘over’.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump plan would allow drug testing for some food stamp recipients.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: Kay Ivey: One year in, serving Alabama.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: Study: South should spend on schools, train homegrown talent.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Richardson: ‘delay tactics’ by MPS to blame for layoffs, outsourcing.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Coach Caleb Ross hoping to ‘restore the roar’ at Prattville.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – At relaunch, Kress won’t shy away from history.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Shelby takes helm of Appropriations Committee.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Sheriff: weight in boat, lack of safety precautions factors in death of fishermen.  

AL.COM – Alabama GOP gubernatorial candidate Michael McAllister dies.

AL.COM – Calhoun Community College gets $1.5 million grant for automotive center.

AL.COM – New test coming for Alabama 10th-graders?

AL.COM – Ivey signs executive order to ban ‘loaned executives’.

AL.COM – Mother’s Day drive supporting Alabama women’s shelters.

AL.COM – Evangelist Scott Dawson, GOP candidate for governor, calls for drug testing in all Alabama schools.

AL.COM – Need for missile defense great as ever, Raytheon exec says.

AL.COM – National website finds Alabama city where paycheck goes farthest.

AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire:  How to fix the internet, kill fake news and save democracy with one line of code.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – petition ties Democrat candidate for governor to Roy Moore, Jeff Sessions.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Sen. Doug Jones introduces legislation to integrate job training into addiction recovery programs.

DECATUR DAILY – No state or federal grants available for storm victims.

FLORENCE TIMES-DAILY – ABC proposes curbside pickup for beer and wine.

FLORENCE TIMES-DAILY – Treatment plant braces for lawsuit.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Democrats mostly find agreement in governor’s debate.

GADSDEN TIMES – Drug tests for some food stamp recipients?

ANNISTON STAR – Sen. Shelby at the helm.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Taxing online sales tax is fair.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump chooses impulse over strategy as crises mount.

WASHINGTON POST – Paul Ryan’s GOP swept away by a Trumpian revolution he could neither contain nor control.

WASHINGTON POST – Bannon pitches White House on plan to cripple Mueller probe and protect Trump.

NEW YORK TIMES – In Red-State Races, Democrats Seek an Edge by Defying the N.R.A.

NEW YORK TIMES – Paul Ryan Upends Republican Hopes and Plans for Midterm Elections.

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