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Daily News Digest – May 11, 2018

Good morning and Happy Friday! Mother’s Day is Sunday so don’t forget. My mom is the best mom, though. Here’s your Daily News for May 11.

1. Lots going on with education. 

State Superintendent contract

  • The State School Board approved a contract for new Superintendent of Schools Eric Mackey. After haggling over details for a few days, the board arrived at a competitive package worth more than $300,000 all perks included.
  • Mackey is set to take office Monday.
  • Read more from WSFA & The Montgomery Advertiser.

LEAD Academy gets good news 

  • The Alabama Supreme Court has granted LEAD Academy an expedited appeal in its attempt to overturn a lawsuit by the Alabama Education Association blocking Montgomery’s first public charter school.
  • The Court gave the same expedited status to Ed Richardson in his AEA lawsuit, and he prevailed handily. So, reading between the lines here, this might be good news for LEAD folks.
  • For what it’s worth, the school says last week’s lower court ruling was based on a technicality. From LEAD’s Ryan Cantrell:

Just to be clear, Judge Gaines’ ruling did not indicate anything wrong with the LEAD Academy or our application, but rather a technicality over the state charter commission’s voting procedure.

Read more HERE.

Deadline shmeadline.

  • The Montgomery School Board can’t even get it right when trying to stick it to the state.
  • Their attempt to basically ignore the state’s intervention and hire a new superintendent hit some snags this week when some board members didn’t take into account a legal deadline with the contract.
  • No it didn’t! Yes it did! I’m telling Mom! These are essentially the arguments from the Board of Education. Seriously, just read WSFA’s report HERE.

Teacher of the year

  • Some GOOD news to share: Zestlan Simmons was celebrated as Alabama’s Teacher of the Year this week.
  • Simmons teaches AP English at BTW Magnet High School in Montgomery. She gets a free car for a year, courtesy of ALFA.
  • Watch her refreshing interview HERE.
  • Other finalists included Meghan Allen of Minor Community School in Jefferson CountyCarol McLaughlin of Greystone Elementary in Hoover, and Blake Busbin of Auburn High School.

2. School Board dust up: Larry Lee responds.

Remember last week when Perry O. Hooper, Jr. officially challenged the ballot status of Larry Lee?

His lengthy memo to the ALGOP Executive Committee laid out why the longtime Democrat did not belong on the GOP ballotfor Montgomery School Board.

Lee had little to say in response at the time, but now he is responding in a lengthy statement of his own. Read that HERE.

A few things:

  • Lee confirms that he did vote in the 2017 Democratic Primary. He says he along with many in the district voted for eventual winner Doug Jones (true, but how many Republicans voted in the Democratic Primary?).
  • Lee specifically responds to the assertion that his contract work with the Alabama Education Association and writings in support of its positions go against Republican values.
  • He says Hooper, too, was paid by AEA back in 2014 (a pretty significant fact that many have pointed out to me since writing about this).
  • I asked Hooper about it. He said former AEA head Henry Mabry contracted him for strategic counsel on rebranding the organization to Republican voters and redirecting its objectives within the GOP supermajority in the Legislature.
  • “I gave advice to help Henry chart a more conservative path. We tried to find ways to change AEA for the better, to find common ground for them with Republicans,” Hooper told me.
  • There you have it.

3. On the campaign trail.

There is such a thing as bad publicity

  • This ex-con thing is starting to become a problem for former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb.
  • In case you missed it,’s Roy Johnson wrote a piece about Paul Littlejohn, who worked to rehabilitate his life after prison and became part of Cobb’s campaign field staff.
  • Cobb defended her staffer saying his story of rehabilitation should be an example for others.
  • Turns out he was in violation of the state’s sex offender laws and has now turned himself into authorities.
  • It’s cliche to say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But, stories with headlines like “Cobb campaign worker accused of violating sex offender law turns himself in” are pretty bad.


  • Speaking of Cobb,’s Mike Cason has a profile on her candidacy that is well worth your time this morning. Read it HERE.

Sylacauga Candidate Forum 

  • Gov. Kay Ivey and her challenger Scott Dawson shared the same air last night at a candidate forum in Sylacauga.
  • Ivey again defended herself saying questions about her health and age were “stunts.”
  • Dawson said he respects the governor for “steadying the ship” but says it is “heading in the wrong direction.”
  • View photos and video from the forum via the Sylacauga News HERE.

Supreme Court race

  •’s Mike Cason takes a look into the race for Alabama Chief Justice, specifically the candidates’ campaign funding sources.
  • It’s pretty simple, really.
  • Incumbent Lyn Stuart: industry groups like the Business Council of Alabama, Alabama Farmers Federation, the Alabama Forestry Association, Retailers, etc.
  • Tom Parker: The Alabama Association for Justice, better known as the trial lawyers.
  • They are both going to need the money, by the way. Our ADN / Leverage survey from a week ago showed neither candidate was very well known.

4. Another Bentley suit – but does this one have legs?

  • Remember a few years ago when it was suddenly revealed there was an FBI investigation into the state Finance Department, and specifically the Office of Information Technology?
  • The person implicated in that – former OIT Director James Nolin – says it was a scheme by Former Governor Robert Bentley and Rebeckah Mason to ruin his good name and cover up their alleged affair.
  • Now he is suing Bentley for “conspiracy, invasion of privacy, defamation, abuse of process, intentional interference with business relation, outrage, and negligence,” and requesting a jury trial.
  • A few well-informed folks tell me this thing might have legs.
  • WSFA’s Jenn Horton has that story with the relevant document links HERE  AL Reporter’s Josh Moon has a story on it HERE.

5. Corey Maze nominated for federal judgeship.

  • Alabama Deputy Attorney General Corey Maze has been nominated for a federal judgeship.
  • President Donald Trump is nominating Maze for the Northern District of Alabama, the White House announced yesterday.
  • It’s an honor of a lifetime for Maze and another feather in the cap for the Attorney General’s office. Remember that Solicitor General Andrew Brasher is being nominated for the Middle District Court.
  • Attorney General Steve Marshall said of Maze:

“He possesses a broad base of legal experience from the prosecution of criminal trials and appeals as an Alabama Assistant Attorney General, to arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court as former Alabama Solicitor General, to successfully representing Alabama in the landmark BP oil spill case.  An Auburn University alumnus and cum laude graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Corey Maze is a man of the highest integrity and would be a great credit to the U.S. District Court.”

  • Read the official White House announcement HERE and see the report from WSFA HERE.
  • Congratulations, Corey!

Bonus: Stokes takes a look at Jeff Sessions’ latest immigration actions.

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a lot of flack for his latest actions to curb illegal immigration.
  • His comments about “separating families” has drawn the most ire, fairly or unfairly.
  • Alabama Daily News contributor Matthew Stokes takes an honest, sober look at Sessions’ comments and actions in his latest column.
  • Go give it a read HERE.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Summit set, hostages freed, Trump sees North Korea as ‘big success.’

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Parole Board says Neely has not waived hearing.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Matthew Stokes: An honest look at Sessions’ immigration comments.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Facebook ads show Russian effort to stoke political division.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – TVA OKs fixed power fees, lower rates.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Mockingbird’ Broadway show will go on after settlement reached.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Larry Lee: responding to GOP ballot challenge.

WSFA – Andalusia warehouse ‘total loss’ after fire.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Change on tap for Montgomery? Brewery changes face of one Birmingham neighborhood.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Eggleston out as MPS CAO; Talladega superintendent tapped to replace him.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Alabama superintendent Mackey ‘well-protected’ by new contract.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Sims statue at state Capitol has to go, senator says.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Business Council of Alabama seen as ‘still effective,’ leadership speculation ‘totally false’

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Jeff Poor: The incredible shrinking legacy of the Alabama Education Association.

AL.COM – I-565 widening project on ‘fast track,’ ALDOT says.

AL.COM – Lyn Stuart holds big lead in fundraising in chief justice race.

AL.COM – Which Alabama school districts pay teachers the most?

AL.COM – Sue Bell Cobb stands by campaign field director convicted of rape in 1985.

AL.COM – Trump nominates deputy Alabama AG for federal judge spot.

AL.COM – Trump’s Iran deal decision costs Boeing, Airbus about $39 billion.

AL.COM – Alabama voters have distinct choice in chief justice race.

AL.COM – Majority of Republicans think FBI is framing Trump, poll shows.

AL.COM – Michigan plant, causing auto production slowdowns, to be rebuilt in 4 months.

AL.COM – Cliff Sims, Yellowhammer founder, named Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

DECATUR DAILY – Merrill: Morgan voters should see quicker check-in at polling places.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – For blacks and Latinos, record low jobless rate.

ANNISTON STAR – Study shows health coverage gains under ACA starting to reverse.

ANNISTON STAR – Republicans for Senate, Dems for House discuss value of experience and new faces at forum.

ANNISTON STAR – It’s Mackey’s time now with Alabama’s schools.

WASHINGTON POST – Loyalty, unease in Trump’s Midwest.

WASHINGTON POST – Ryan aims to quash GOP-led rebellion trying to force votes on immigration.

WASHINGTON POST – White House official derides McCain over Haspel opposition: ‘He’s dying anyway’.

WASHINGTON POST – What to watch for in President Trump’s long-awaited drug-price speech.

NEW YORK TIMES – Mazda Names Americas Head as CEO, as North America Expansion in Focus

Front pages (Images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)

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