Good morning! The Philadelphia Eagles have won the Super Bowl and their fans are celebrating by laying waste to their city and hurting themselves. Here’s to the City of Brotherly Love! This is your Alabama Daily News digest for Monday, February 5, 2018.
1. About that memo
- The dog finally caught the car Friday when a previously-classified memo from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence became public.
- Have you seen it? If not, you can read it here.
- Some of the information was expected, including the chilling fact that the FBI at least partly based its secret surveillance activities of Trump adviser Carter Page on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier.
- Some information was not expected, like confirmation that the FBI’s Russia investigation began with George Papadopoulos – who has since pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal authorities – months before the dossier was used for the warrants.
- The Washington Post has a thorough story to help you wrap your head around the drama.
- The big question is will President Trump now move to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstien, who authorized and oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.
- The president was asked that question by a reporter in the Oval Office Friday, to which he responded, “You figure that one out.”
- Many believe the whole #ReleaseTheMemo frenzy was a pretext to make the case for his firing – even though the FISA warrants and Mueller’s probe have nothing to do with each other.
- Some – including many conservatives – are warning that removing Rosenstein would make the situation worse for the president.
- For his part, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a point to praise Rosenstein at a recent human trafficking event.
- Rosenstien and Justice Dept. No. 3 Rachel Brand “represent the kind of quality and leadership that we want in the department,” Sessions said.
- You figure that one out.
2. Montgomery on the brink
- Two Montgomery men were shot and killed over the weekend. One had been named the River Region player of the year just a few years ago.
- That brings the total number of shooting deaths to seven in 2018.
- In less than 40 days, Montgomery has seen seven gun homicides. That puts the city on pace to far eclipse last year’s total of 44 criminal homicides.
- Montgomery’s education system is abysmal. Montgomery Public Schools got some of the lowest marks in the state on the recently-released school report cards. In fact, ALL non-magnet MPS high schools received failing grades.
- I can’t help but think that the rise in drug / gun crime and the decline in quality of education might be related.
- To his credit, Mayor Todd Strange has launched a wholesale effort to shake up the school board and transform the system top to bottom. Let’s hope it works.
- And, to his credit, Attorney General Steve Marshall has launched a violent crime initiative working with local and federal authorities to target exactly this kind of trouble in Alabama cities.
- That’s good. I’ve always wondered why we didn’t see more cooperation between the AG, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District, and the local DAs to target drug and gun crime in Montgomery. I’m told better coordination is starting this year and will begin to make a difference. Let’s hope so.
- People living and working in Montgomery have been hoping for a while now that the serious education and violence problems would be dealt with.
- Violence and failing schools are certainly not unique to Montgomery. All of Alabama’s major cities struggle with these problems.
- That can’t be an excuse for the Capital City. If anything, the “Capital of Dreams” should be setting an example for the rest of the state. Let’s do better.
3. Get caught up
Here’s what happened last week so you are caught up going into this one…
- A few more slivers of information came out about the Attorney General’s Office investigation into lawmakers’ campaign finance practices. Brian Lyman got local Montgomery lawmakers and Senate President Del Marsh on the record about the investigation.
- Sad news: John “Bubba” Trotman has passed away. A legend in the cattle industry, Mr. Trotman was the long time president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and even served as the president of the National Cattlemen’s Association. Funeral services are today at First Baptist Church, Montgomery at 1:00 p.m.
- The House GOP’s signature legislation to crack down on domestic abuse passed the House last week.
- The Senate passed legislation cracking down on human trafficking.
- Rep. Pebblin Warren’s day care safety bill passed the House, but you probably already knew that.
- The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee approved legislation aiming to clean up the state’s incentives and reporting laws. I wrote a column about how Alabama officials are hoping to avoid major potholes for economic development down the road.
4. One fun thing: Go Big Bass or go home
- Seeking to end once and for all the debate over which city holds sway as the “Big Bass Capital of the World,” Eufaula has erected a giant bass statue downtown.
- The fish’s name is Manny.
- Mayor Jack Tibbs unveiled the statue on Friday amid fanfare that included the grandfather of bass fishing and native Alabamian Ray Scott. The Eufaula Tribune has the full story here.
- It turns out the idea came from Alabama Director of Tourism Lee Sentell, who was helping local officials think about ways to promote the area as a tourist destination. That doesn’t surprise me. Lee Sentell has been finding imaginative ways to set Alabama apart for more than a decade.
- Fun stuff.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – New film: Rosa Parks was ‘sick and tired’.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Perry Hooper: The Trump Agenda is America’s agenda.
AL.COM – See how Alabama education officials reacted to school grades.
AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith: House Intel memo points to FISA oversight but smells of rank politics.
AL.COM – Columnist Dana Hall McCain: Labels fail me: Am I a feminist?
AL.COM – Roy Moore wants accuser’s lawsuit moved to new venue.
AL.COM – With Republicans in charge, state legislatures see flood of activity on abortion bills.
AL.COM – Alabama Gov. Ivey aims for reading proficiency in all third-graders by 2022.
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Alabama offering facial recognition ID for tax refunds.
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: Safety should be foremost with daycare centers.
DECATUR DAILY – Alabama labor official expects Toyota-Mazda, other jobs to recruit well.
DECATUR DAILY – Decatur elementary school winning battle with poverty.
DECATUR DAILY – Toyota’s agreement with Huntsville requires no jobs, only 10 years operation.
CULLMAN TIMES – Alex Chaney enters Alabama House race.
SELMA TIMES JOURNAL – License to wed no longer needed?
TROY MESSENGER – LEWIS DAY: City, state leaders honor John Lewis.
TROY MESSENGER – ‘STAND UP’: Lewis urges students to speak out against injustice.
TROY MESSENGER – Contributor Dan Sutter: Taxes are better than civil asset forfeiture.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Hollie’s Law heading to Alabama Senate.
ANNISTON STAR – Democrats see momentum, but may have few candidates to ride it.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Auburn given highest free speech ranking from nonprofit group.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – 2 Alabama newspapers cutting back on print editions.
LAGNIAPPE – Legislators to seek compromise on new online tax bill.
LAGNIAPPE – Columnist Rob Holbert: Big decisions ahead for BP money.
WASHINGTON POST – Inside the FBI: Anger, worry, work — and fears of lasting damage.
WASHINGTON POST – Once the party of law and order, Republicans are now challenging it.
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist Jennifer Rubin: When will the GOP muzzle Nunes?
WASHINGTON POST – The U.S. government is set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year.