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Daily News Digest – April 13, 2018

Good morning and good luck to you on this Friday the 13th! Spooky.  Education first, then politics in your Daily News.

1. Who wants to be the next state superintendent? 

Happening today

  • The State School Board is in the last stages of choosing Alabama’s next State Superintendent of Schools.
  • The board will continue its work session today and discuss finalists selected by the Ray & Associates search firm.
  • It’s a huge decision with big consequences.
  • Who will it ultimately be? The members themselves don’t know that.
  • I have some informed guesses on who the finalists could be.
  • Read my rundown on what candidates are likely to make the final cut HERE.

Also read:

  • Trish Powell Crain’s report for HERE.
  • Mary Sell’s report for the Decatur Daily HERE.
  • Samantha Day’s report for WSFA HERE.

Sentance Salty 

  • As the board was meeting yesterday, former State Superintendent Michael Sentance blasted out this tweet that seems to argue the state’s test scores haven’t been as stagnant as most thought.
  • It was Sentance’s first tweet since being run off from the superintendent post several months ago.
  • His numbers check out. There have been some gains, though he was only in the job for a year of that time.

2. LEAD Academy has a campus. 

  • The state’s newest charter school made a big move yesterday announcing their new campus plans.
  • The Algeron-Blair building, an impressive facility in East Montgomery, will be the future home of LEAD Academy.
  • It’s the building on the corner of Eastern Boulevard and Vaughn Road in Montgomery that used to be a headquarters for Southtrust Bank. Two buildings, actually, and a lake.
  • Seriously, go right now to read Andrew Yawn’s story and look at Mickey Welsh’s photos from the event. Some small colleges aren’t this nice. I would think students would be pretty psyched to go to school here.
  • Of course, there’s one small problem. The Alabama Education Association is suing to keep the school from opening.
  • LEAD Academy has the proper approvals from the State Charter School Commission and plans to open its doors this fall, but the lawsuit could delay that.
  • I wrote a little bit yesterday about how AEA’s entry into the struggle for Montgomery Public Schools has political risks. My basic point was that, with so many problems going on in Montgomery schools, standing in the way of those trying to fix the problems looks pretty bad. I think those political/public relations risks for AEA just went up with this announcement.

3. Trump says go on TPP.

Okay then

What’s TPP

  • Back in 2008, President George W. Bush announced the United States’ intent to join and begin to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement among 11 nations surrounding the Pacific Ocean.
  • The idea was to form mutually-beneficial trade relationships with countries from South America to Asia, all while blocking out China from further growing its manufacturing and agricultural influence.
  • After years of negotiations, the United States left Japan, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand and all the other TPP countries at the altar. Fear-monger politics put the proposal on life support in Congress, and then President Trump delivered the final death knell last year by officially withdrawing our country’s participation.

Why it matters

  • This is about China. Sure, a trade agreement with Pacific Rim countries is good for a lot of reasons: it helps agriculture, we could crack down on intellectual theft, etc.
  • But joining and leading TPP would allow the U.S. to put enormous pressure on China to act right WITHOUT having to levy tariffs that also hurt American businesses and consumers.
  • Instead of going head-to-head with China in a trade war, we could leverage the economic influence of 11 other nations China wants to do business with to bring the Chinese to heel.
  • Better late than never, I suppose. Let’s just hope the other member countries don’t act like jilted would-be brides.
  • Read more in the New York Times.

4. GOP Governor candidates debate in Birmingham.

  • GOP candidates for governor debated in Birmingham Thursday.
  • Except the actual governor, that is, who high-hatted the event and went to throw out the first pitch at the Baron’s opening day. (Great photo, by the way)
  • Gov. Ivey’s absence from the event was the biggest topic, according to Associated Press reporter Kim Chandler. Read her story HERE.
  •’s Leada Gore had a similar takeaway, and also seemed to be impressed with Scott Dawson’s performance. Read her story HERE.
  • When you have a big lead – and Ivey does – it is politically foolish to schedule a bunch of debates. It’s mostly risk without much chance at reward.
  • The question for Team Ivey will be whether their avoidance of debates goes beyond the chatter of political insiders and becomes kitchen table and coffee shop talk among the electorate.
  • Calculating if and when that point of diminishing returns comes is tricky.

5. New ads. 

  • New campaign ads are up!
  • Attorney General candidate Chess Bedsole has a new ad on cable in Birmingham and Huntsville markets. It touts his relationships with / support of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions.
  • A Super PAC called Conservative Leadership Alliance is up today in Montgomery and Dothan markets with a new ad in support of U.S. Rep. Martha Roby. It promotes her support of the Trump agenda and asks voters to “thank her” for supporting the tax cuts (That makes it an “issue” ad to comply with federal rules).
  • Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh has a new ad running on broadcast and cable in  Birmingham/Anniston. It has the look and feel of a statewide campaign ad. Never too early, right?
  • Go watch all these on the updated ad rundown post HERE.
  • Reminder: if you’re a candidate or campaign who has an ad up on TV or radio, send it on.  I might not see it if you don’t send it!


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: Who will be the next state superintendent?

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: UPDATED: Candidates air campaign ads. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: Challenger criticize Ivey as governor skips debate.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey signs “executive loan” ban.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump flips on trade pact, weighs rejoining Pacific Rim deal.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Inspectors head to suspected gas attack in Syria.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: In new book, Comey calls Trump untruthful, “ego driven.”

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: Former Alabama judge sentenced for child pornography.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: API’s Parker Snider: A guide to fake news. 


MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Montgomery’s Kress building opens with tears, applause.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Artur Davis: Montgomery’s public schools are a political battleground.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Dothan City Schools is one of six sites in nation testing a new computer-based curriculum.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Farley Nuclear gets high marks for safety in 2017.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Roby highlights visit to Fort Rucker on House floor.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Two Republicans express distrust about the party’s fiscal direction.

AL.COM – Republican, Democrat candidates for governor mix it up – gently.

AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey blasted by GOP rivals for skipping debate.

AL.COM – Alabama GOP gubernatorial debate: Who won?

AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald:  Gov. Ivey will pitch a ball, but not her qualifications.

AL.COM – In interview Gov. Ivey says, “I’m wonderfully well”.

AL.COM – Alabama school board to pick next superintendent from list of 7.

AL.COM – What does having Richard Shelby as Senate Appropriations chairman mean for Alabama?

AL.COM – Death row inmate re-sentenced, asks for the death penalty again.

AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey seeks FEMA assistance for March tornadoes.

AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey’s approval rating among nation’s highest.

AL.COM – Kimberly-Clark to invest $100 million in Mobile mill.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Poll: One-third of adults in Alabama would vote for a Democrat in 2018 midterms.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Columnist Josh Moon:  Why is the state takeover of Montgomery’s schools so shady?

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Columnist Joey Kennedy:  Hot buttons worth pressing.

DECATUR DAILY – 39 positions cut at State Department of Education.

DECATUR DAILY – State to require on short notice new test of Alabama 10th-graders.

ANNISTON STAR – A different speaker of the U.S. House.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump’s allies worry that federal investigators may have seized recordings made by his attorney.

WASHINGTON POST – Speaker Ryan resists calls to step aside for quicker transition to new GOP House leader.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump orders review of Postal Service’s business model.

WASHINGTON POST – GOP proposes stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients, a step toward a major overhaul of the social safety net.

WASHINGTON POST – Federal employees lag behind private sector workers in salaries by 32 percent on average, report says.

NEW YORK TIMES – As Deficits Mount, Amendment to Require Balanced Budgets Fails in House

NEW YORK TIMES – Justice Dept. Can’t Tie Police Funding to Help on Immigration, Judge Rules

NEW YORK TIMES – Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis.

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