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Daily News Digest – June 18, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, June 18.


1. Reed orders mask usage in public

  • A day after the Montgomery City Council voted down an ordinance mandating residents use protective face masks in public, Mayor Steven Reed took unilateral action to require it by executive order.
  • The order, which goes into effect Friday, requires people two years old or older to wear face coverings in indoor and outdoor public places when there are 10 or more people present. Masks are not required when walking, jogging or otherwise exercising outside. The fine for violating the order is $25.
  • There are questions as to the mayor’s legal authority to issue such an order, especially after the council voted down the policy.
  • However, if another vote is required of the council, the ordinance would likely pass. That’s because Councilman Glen Pruitt, who voted against the ordinance Tuesday night, says he has changed his mind and was wrong to have gone against the advice of the medical community. At a news conference with Reed, Pruitt said he’d vote yes if a new vote is called.
  • Also, according to the Advertiser’s Brad Harper, Councilman Tracy Larkin could not cast what likely would have been the deciding vote due to missing the meeting with a respiratory illness, but he spoke in favor of the policy.
  • Read more from the Advertiser’s Kristen Fiscus HERE and watch coverage from WSFA’s Jenn Horton HERE.


2. Report: Alabama law enforcement seized $4.8M in 2019; lawmaker wants more information

  • Alabama law enforcement agencies seized at least $4.8 million from those accused of criminal activity in fiscal year 2019, at least $2.4 million of which had been forfeited through civil court rulings. About $25,500 was returned to its owner in circuit court.
  • That information comes from a new report given to lawmakers this month and required under a 2019 law.
  • However, those behind the inaugural report admit some data is lacking. The report does not include information on how much of that forfeited money, or other property, was taken from people who were not charged or convicted of crimes – data that is required under the law.
  • Barry Matson, executive director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association and the state Office of Prosecution Services, told Alabama Daily News the information in the first report was limited because law enforcement started collecting it prior to the 2019 reporting law using PDF documents. In a few weeks, they’ll begin training on a digital system developed with the University of Alabama, he said.
  • Some lawmakers want more information soon. Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, sponsored the legislation that became law. His original bill would have stopped forfeitures without convictions. Law enforcement, including prosecutors, opposed that. As passed, the law requires the collection of about 12 data points on seized property.
  • Meanwhile, advocacy groups like the the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center are still pushing for more reforms to the system.
  • “There is strong support, across political ideologies in Alabama, for ending civil asset forfeiture,” said Shay Farley, SPLC’s interim deputy policy officer for the Southeast.
  • Read the full story, including the report itself, from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


3. Alabama Policy Institute poll shows support for ‘RESTORE’ plan

  • The Alabama Policy Institute recently conducted polling that indicates state voters support a slate of proposed legislative items aimed at helping Alabama rebound from the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Last month, the Birmingham-based conservative think tank released a multi-faceted proposal called the “RESTORE Alabama Plan” that included six recommended policy initiatives, from protecting businesses from coronavirus lawsuits and renewing Alabama’s job recruitment statutes to reforming the process for state public health orders and expanding school choice.
  • According to polling API conducted through survey research firm Cygnal, each plank of their plan is popular among state voters.
  • Also, when asked if Gov. Kay Ivey should call a special session specifically to address coronavirus-related issues, a solid majority said they supported the move.
  • Read more and see the poll results HERE.


4. Port project gets final go-ahead

  • An agreement to deepen and widen the Mobile Harbor was finalized Wednesday and work to modernize and improve Alabama’s seaport is expected to begin this fall.
  • The project will consist of deepening the bar, bay and river channels to a depth of 50 feet and widening the bay channel from 400 feet to 500 feet from the mouth of Mobile Bay northward for three nautical miles. This is to provide a two-way traffic area for ships passing.
  • The construction is anticipated to occur over six phases, with a target completion date by late 2024 or early 2025. The total estimated cost of the project is $365 million.
  • The project is financed by a split of 75% federal funds and 25% state-sponsored funds. The Mobile Harbor modernization program received full federal funding in February upon passage of the Energy & Water Development and Related Agencies Act. Under the act, about $377.6 million is available to qualifying projects in Alabama and two other U.S. Gulf states.
  • The project also received funding support from the state when the Alabama legislature passed the Rebuild Alabama Act in 2019 which allocates a portion of state fuel tax revenue to support approximately $150 million in bonds to meet the federal cost-share requirements for the project.
  • “Today’s signing of the Mobile Harbor Project agreement is yet another milestone in the process of the deepening and widening the Port of Mobile,” U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said. “The completion of this historic project will transform Alabama, expanding economic opportunities throughout our state and the region.”
  • The Mobile Bay shipping channel project has been a priority for Shelby for several years.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


5. Bolton book claims stir Washington, Trump calls him a ‘liar’

  • You just knew this John Bolton situation was going to blow up at some point.
  • President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser is out with a new book detailing his accounts of several sensitive foreign policy meetings that show the president in a negative light.
  • Bolton, fired by the president last September, writes that Trump “pleaded” with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a 2019 summit to help his reelection prospects. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Bolton wrote.
  • Deeply critical of the president and much of his senior team, Bolton wrote that because staff had served him so poorly, Trump “saw conspiracies behind rocks, and remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government.”
  • The book includes embarrassing claims that Trump thought Finland was part of Russia, didn’t know that the United Kingdom was a nuclear power and called reporters “scumbags” who should be “executed.”
  • The White House worked furiously to block the book, asking a federal court for an emergency temporary restraining order Wednesday against its release.
  • Trump was asked about the book Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity,” and the president accused Bolton of violating the law by releasing the book. “He broke the law. Very simple. I mean, as much as it’s going to be broken,” Trump said. “It’s highly classified information, and he did not have approval.”
  • He tweeted early Thursday that the book “is made up of lies & fake stories” by a “disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war.”
  • In the Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir will be released Tuesday.
  • Read more HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Report: Alabama law enforcement seized $4.8M in 2019; lawmaker wants more information


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mobile Harbor modernization project gets final agreement; construction to begin in the fall


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Policy Institute poll shows support for ‘RESTORE’ plan


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In new book, Bolton claims Trump asked China to help him get reelected


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Birmingham drops charge against ‘Funnymaine’ after Floyd rally


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Super PAC forms to help Carl in AL-1 runoff


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Campus free speech bill goes into effect July 1, no action required until 2021


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump signs order on police reform


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate GOP to propose policing changes in ‘Justice Act’


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Cheap drug is first shown to improve COVID-19 survival


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – June 17, 2020


AL.COM  – Alabama seeks to block federal judge’s order allowing curbside voting, relaxing absentee ballot rules


AL.COM  – As coronavirus cases level off in Mobile County, officials urge social distancing and face coverings


AL.COM  – Decatur store owner punched by police releases security video, wants body cam video released


AL.COM  – Montgomery mayor signs order mandating masks after city council rejection


AL.COM  – Sessions and Jones battle over Confederate symbols


AL.COM  – Black Lives Matter: Birmingham activists, volunteers make their mark


AL.COM  – Dozens of people arrested during Birmingham protests will not be prosecuted, city says


Montgomery Advertiser – Mayor Steven Reed bypasses City Council vote, mandates masks with executive order


Montgomery Advertiser – At 18, she leads. Grace Jackson seeks truth, change during Black Lives Matter movement


Montgomery Advertiser – Tracy Larkin, who missed mask vote, has respiratory illness. He says mask issue is ‘common sense’


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama Arise pushing for Medicaid expansion in Alabama


WRBC Fox 6 Birmingham – NASCAR driver Cole Custer talks Talladega,COVID-19 and Confederate Flag


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Tuscaloosa Co. Schools seeking more bus drivers


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa County schools to hold graduation ceremonies


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa Public Library offers curbside pickup


Tuscaloosa News – Report documents nearly 2,000 Reconstruction-era lynchings


Decatur Daily – Chief identifies Decatur officer who punched store owner; administrative duty began June 8


Decatur Daily – Decatur ‘Best and Brightest’ program to get state funds


Decatur Daily – Affidavit: Blood found on murder suspect’s pants


Times Daily – Campus free speech bill goes into effect July 1, no action required until 2021


Times Daily – Council approves 41 grants to assist businesses, agencies


Times Daily – Huguley seeking Muscle Shoals Place 4 council seat


Anniston Star – State money going to bring ‘Best and Brightest’ to Decatur, Marengo County


Anniston Star – Alabama’s campus free speech bill goes into effect July 1, no action required until 2021


Anniston Star – Busy Cheaha indicative of state parks’ popularity, parks supervisor says


YellowHammer News – Blood supply suffers as coronavirus pandemic continues


YellowHammer News – Alabama State Port Authority, Army Corps of Engineers sign formal agreement for ‘historic’ Port of Mobile expansion project


YellowHammer News – State of Alabama appeals Obama appointee’s ruling striking down safeguards against voter fraud


Dothan Eagle – UPDATE: Search for missing man on Chattahoochee to resume Thursday


Dothan Eagle – Dothan downtown merchants organize ‘Sidewalk Stroll’ with workshops, music, and special deals


Dothan Eagle – Dothan Diamond Classic Senior Send Off doubleheader, Home Run Derby set for Thursday


Gadsden Times – Complaints made about local restaurant compliance with COVID-19 guidelines


Gadsden Times – July’s First Friday, Summer Concert Series event canceled


Gadsden Times – Gadsden receives $1 million in transportation funding


Troy Messenger – Leadership Pike class supports shelter


Troy Messenger – State sees drop in reported cases


Troy Messenger – Council OKs election workers


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn OKs $1.1 million contract; food court property


Opelika-Auburn News – Two robbed at gunpoint in Opelika


Opelika-Auburn News – OPD talks policies, procedures with council


Daily Mountain Eagle – Birmingham drops charge against man after Floyd rally


Daily Mountain Eagle – City employees offered diversity training classes


Daily Mountain Eagle – Neuendorf: Walker Baptist now seeing COVID-19 surge


Trussville Tribune – Request to attend baby shower denied for man charged in Riverchase Galleria Shooting


Trussville Tribune – Georgia Bureau of Investigation unaware of charges filed against Atlanta officer


Trussville Tribune – UPDATE: Birmingham Police identify multiple suspects arrested in connection to riots on June 1


Athens News Courier – Arrest made in hit-and-run accident


Athens News Courier – JOINING TOGETHER: About 150 people attend prayer and unity event


Athens News Courier – COUNTY COMMISSION: Public shares views on Confederate monument


Sand Mountain Reporter – Audit report reveals $34 million in assets for Boaz


Sand Mountain Reporter – CDC, USDOL offer tips for decreasing COVID-19 spread among agriculture workers


Sand Mountain Reporter – Residents urged to complete COVID-19 Agriculture Impact Survey


WSFA Montgomery – Church members hold memorial for George Floyd, launch ‘Blood Crying Out’ movement


WSFA Montgomery – Man injured in Montgomery shooting Wednesday evening


WSFA Montgomery – Union Springs judge resigns after 3 years with city


WAFF Huntsville – 3 athletes from Albertville High School test positive for COVID-19


WAFF Huntsville – Lawmakers say to expect proposal to change confederate memorial law


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville City Council member wants Citizen Advisory Council to investigate protests


WKRG Mobile – Breaking down COVID-19 case data in Mobile and Baldwin counties


WKRG Mobile – Man sentenced to life for sex crimes against Stapleton Elementary student


WKRG Mobile – Montgomery mayor issues executive order for masks to be worn in public at all times


WTVY Dothan – Jason Campbell, man missing in Chattahoochee River


WTVY Dothan – State looks for local leaders to take action while weighing options for COVID-19 next steps


WTVY Dothan – Wiregrass weekend events to celebrate the end of slavery


WASHINGTON POST  – As Trump warns of leftist violence, a dangerous threat emerges from the right-wing boogaloo movement


WASHINGTON POST  – Contributor Chuck Grassley: Chuck Grassley: Why I’m introducing a bill to help protect inspectors general.


WASHINGTON POST  – Justice Department seeks emergency order to block publication of Bolton’s book.


WASHINGTON POST  – Hundreds of health-care workers lost their lives battling the coronavirus.


NEW YORK TIMES  – Five Takeaways From John Bolton’s Memoir


NEW YORK TIMES  – Jobless Claims Expected to Show Another Million Filings


NEW YORK TIMES  – Justice Dept. Escalates Legal Fight With Bolton Over Book


NEW YORK TIMES – Does Trump Want to Fight for a Second Term? His Self-Sabotage Worries Aides



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