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Daily News Digest – November 6, 2019

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, November 6.


1. Diplomat changes testimony in latest impeachment flap

  • U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified before a closed-door House Intelligence Committee meeting Tuesday and revised his previous testimony saying he now recalls American military assistance being tied to Ukraine’s willingness to announced they were investigating a company tied to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
  • The ambassador initially testified on Oct. 17 that he did not “recall taking part in any effort to encourage an investigation into the Bidens.” He told investigators he didn’t know that the Ukraine firm Burisma was linked to Hunter Biden.
  • Sondland testified Tuesday that statements from fellow diplomats had refreshed his memory and that he presumed the aid to Ukraine was being held up because of the Trump administration’s desire for them to investigate corruption.
  • He also testified that President Trump himself countered that presumption on a phone call in September. Sondland also told investigators Trump was in a “bad mood” and nearly hung up on him when the ambassador asked what it was he wanted from Ukraine.
  • “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo,” Trump said, according to Sondland. “I want Zelensky to do the right thing.”
  • Democrats were emboldened by Sondland’s testimony, calling it proof of a “quid pro quo” from Trump.
  • Pushing back, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement saying the transcripts “show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought.”
  • Read more including the original testimony and Sondland’s addendum from yesterday HERE.


2. As state battles opioid addiction, real-time data needed

  • The Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council is meeting today in the State Capitol.
  • As they do, new reporting from ADN’s Mary Sell shows the state’s battle with opioids, particularly fentanyl, is far from over.
  • In the one-year period between Aug. 22, 2018 and Aug. 22, 2019, at least 540 Alabamians died of opioid drug overdoses, according to information from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office.
  • What began as a prescription drug problem in Alabama, an overprescribing of painkillers, is now largely an illegal drug problem as the state cracks down on prescribing practices.
  • ”The general trend in our opioid overdose deaths has been moving away from individuals abusing the prescription medications, and moving to overdosing on illicit drugs, like heroin.” ADFS Director Angelo Della Manna told Alabama Daily News.
  • As that fight continues, collecting more data on opioids’ impact on the state is a priority.
  • Read Mary’s full report HERE.


3. County jail ‘dips’ and ‘dunks’ complicate prison reform debate

  • While Alabama’s 2020 legislative session will include prison-sentencing reform efforts, county officials want a change to a 2015 law that they say is putting too many state inmates in their jails and costing them money.
  • The 2015 reform meant to ease state prison crowding and save money allowed for “dips” and “dunks” in jail and prison for Alabama Department of Corrections’ probation and parole violators with technical violations such as missed payments on court fees or missed meetings with parole officers.
  • “There’s a lag in the transportation from the jails to ADOC,” Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, told Alabama Daily News. “The counties are getting stuck with an unfunded mandate.”
  • Ward is the Senate’s lead lawmaker on prison reform and sponsored the 2015 bill. The “dips” are working as intended, he said. But the “dunks” are a problem and inmates are spending too much time in county jails.
  • From 2014 to 2018, counties’ jail operations and law enforcement costs increased more than $64 million, said Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.
  • “I’m not attributing all of that to the prison reforms of 2015, but it is part of it,” Brasfield said.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell and Caroline Beck HERE.


4. Van Smith wins big

  • Van Smith is the newest member of the Alabama Legislature. The Autauga County Republican won the special election for House District 42 last night with almost 88% of the vote over Democrat Kenneth Allison, Sr.
  • The election was called to fill the vacancy created when State Rep. Jimmy Martin passed away in March after a battle with cancer.
  • The district includes the northern part of Autauga County and much of Chilton County, including Clanton.
  • After his victory, Smith discussed rural economic development as among his top priorities.
  • Read more from the Advertiser’s Marty Roney HERE.


5. New economic development projects

  • Gov. Kay Ivey and state officials announced two new economic development projects Tuesday.
  • Carvana, the nation’s fastest growing car dealer, plans to build a $40 million distribution hub in Bessemer, creating as many as 450 jobs.
  • Carvana’s planned Bessemer hub will handle fulfillment for Alabama and surrounding states, as well as housing inspection and maintenance operations.
  • “We have been working hard to position Alabama as a prime destination for fast-growing e-commerce companies needing a first-class infrastructure network for their distribution operations,” Ivey said.
  • Read more from’w William Thorton HERE.
  • Also, Koch Foods is expanding its operations in Etowah County with a new $50 million feed mill.
  • The project will add 28 jobs and a $1 million payroll from a company that already has a significant presence in the state, Ivey said.
  • “This project adds a robust new dimension to the industrial sector in the state and permits us to strengthen our longstanding relationship with a major employer.”
  • Read more from the Gadsden Times HERE.


News Briefs


Judge issues gag order in girl’s disappearance, slaying

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A judge is ordering lawyers to quit talking to the news media about the case of a 3-year-old Alabama girl who authorities say was kidnapped and killed.
  • Jefferson County Circuit Judge Clyde Jones issued a gag order Tuesday in the cases against two people charged in the death of Kamille McKinney, known as “Cupcake” to her family.
  • The judge says he wants to limit publicity to ensure a fair trial.
  • Authorities say 39-year-old Patrick Devone Stallworth and his girlfriend, 29-year-old Derick Irisha Brown, are charged with capital murder in the slaying. The two are jailed without bond and defense lawyers have said they’re innocent.
  • The child disappeared from a birthday party last month, and her remains were found in garbage 10 days later.
  • A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 10.

Police capture teen accused in Halloween threat

  • MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Police say they’ve recaptured a juvenile accused of threatening to shoot up schools around Mobile as a prank on Halloween.
  • A statement from Mobile police says the juvenile was arrested Tuesday, five days after he ran away while being taken to a detention center.
  • Police say the 17-year-old is charged with escape, theft, violating probation and making a terrorist threat.
  • Mobile County’s public school system says the youth was arrested last week for allegedly creating fake social media accounts and making threats toward four schools. A statement says the posts included a clown image and were meant as a Halloween prank.
  • The youth got away from officers who were taking him to a detention center. Authorities haven’t released his name or details on how he was arrested.

Auburn eagle Nova could be in heart failure

  • AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn University says its famed golden eagle Nova, also known as War Eagle VII, could be in the early stages of heart failure.
  • The university made the announcement Tuesday in a news release.
  • The 20-year-old male eagle soared above the crowd at university football games for more than a decade. He was sidelined from the pregame tradition after a 2017 diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease of the heart.
  • Dr. Seth Oster, faculty avian veterinarian for the college’s Southeastern Raptor Center, said a recent exam indicated the eagle could be in the early stages of heart failure. Veterinarians are adjusting medication dosages to try to treat the condition.
  • Aurea, a 5-year-old female golden eagle, and Spirit, a 23-year-old female bald eagle, have made pregame flights this season.

Lawyer: Widow of man shot by police adamant he wasn’t armed

  • MADISON, Ala. (AP) — The wife of a black man who was shot to death by Alabama police while she and their daughter were just feet away is adamant that the man wasn’t armed despite police claims to the contrary, her lawyer said Tuesday.
  • Attorney Ben Crump, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said Cherelle Fletcher is “absolutely” certain husband Dana Fletcher didn’t have a gun when he was killed last month.
  • Crump said authorities should be “fully transparent” about the shooting and release video of the confrontation. The Madison County sheriff’s office, which is investigating the shooting by police in the city of Madison, has refused to make it public.
  • While refusing to release details of the investigation, Sheriff Kevin Turner told the crowd he had seen police video that clearly showed a weapon before officers shot Fletcher.
  • “Whether you want to believe it or you don’t, there was a weapon involved,” he said.
  • Read more HERE.

Morgan County Commissioner pleads guilty to misusing campaign funds

  • DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama county commissioner who pleaded guilty to charges he spent campaign contributions on personal expenses will remain on the commission.
  • News outlets report state prosecutors initially charged Morgan County District 3 Commissioner Don Stisher with a felony for violating the state ethics law. A Morgan County grand jury indicted Stisher last month, but his charge was reduced to a misdemeanor because he says it wasn’t intentional.
  • Stisher’s attorney acknowledged he accepted the donations and deposited the money into his personal account rather than his 2016 campaign account. Records show Stisher took $1,000 each from two donors in 2015. He called the deposits an “oversight.”
  • On Monday he was fined $2,000 and given a year of probation.
  • reports he said he has qualified to run for reelection in 2020.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – As state battles opioid addiction, real-time data needed


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Counties want change to 2015 state prison reform they says costs jails money, space


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Diplomat changes testimony in latest impeachment flap


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dana Beyerle: Looking back on Iran in 1979


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – As parole hearings resume, Graddick says release is not a right


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Daily News Digest -November 5, 2019


INSIDE ALABAMA POLITICS – The Jeff Sessions question (with polling and whatnot); A whole new ballgame in the AL-2 race; Who’s after Montgomery Probate Judge job; The next big legislative special election; Latest unaccompanied minors numbers; What’s happening in the Tyson fish kill case; The Medical Marijuana issue could get interesting; On prison reform, county jails could complicate matters; A court battle in the making.


AL.COM  – Alabama parole board resumes hearings, turns down 17 of 18 offenders


AL.COM  – Carvana to build $40 million Bessemer distribution center, to hire 450


AL.COM  – Koch Foods to build $55 million Attalla grain mill, to employ 30


AL.COM  – West Nile Virus detected using sentinel chickens in Mobile County


AL.COM  – Alabama GOP selling ‘Roll Trump Roll’ and ‘War Damn Trump’ shirts


AL.COM  – Don’t want to get pregnant? Alabama’s here for you


AL.COM  – Coastal Alabama water: Center stage in courts and Congress


AL.COM  – Here’s a look at Alabama’s ‘failing’ public schools


AL.COM  – Clotilda find can inspire new generation of scientists, says researcher


AL.COM  – Man charged with ‘upskirting’ at Mountain Brook businesses under state’s new voyeurism law


AL.COM  – Did boos at other sports events drive Trump to Alabama’s expected cheers?


Montgomery Advertiser – Van Smith takes Alabama House 42 election over Kenneth Allison


Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Ringleader’ grandmother pleads guilty after naked child was chained, put in dog crate, malnourished


Montgomery Advertiser – A collage manifested: Tennessee commit James Robinson paints the picture people don’t see


YellowHammer News – LSU QB on Trump attending Bama game: ‘Regardless of your political views, that’s pretty cool’


YellowHammer News – Almost two years in, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin reflects on biggest initiatives


YellowHammer News – When President Trump visits Nick Saban: What a fly on the wall might hear


Dothan Eagle – Chase involving two Florida women ends in Geneva County


Dothan Eagle – Fight breaks out between three women; vehicle stolen


Dothan Eagle – Veterans can eat free on Nov. 11


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa cemetery vandalized, tombstones damaged


Tuscaloosa News – Lawyers argue details as Tuscaloosa man accused of causing teen’s death


Tuscaloosa News – Jurors hear 911 call after fatal shooting


Decatur Daily – District 1 supporters criticize Lawrence superintendent superintendent, school board


Decatur Daily – AG: Blakely indictment involves gambling


Decatur Daily – Lawyer: Widow of man shot by police adamant he wasn’t armed


Times Daily – TVA brings archaeological site stewardship program to the Shoals


Times Daily – Florence terminates Crossroads Community contract


Times Daily – Family still mourns a year after convictions


Gadsden Times – Koch breaks ground on $55 million Attalla project


Gadsden Times – Ellison chosen as new Etowah Co. CAO


Gadsden Times – Albertville Council annexes, rezones properties


Anniston Star – Anniston council takes federal money back from Housing Authority


Anniston Star – Victims testify in trial of pharmacy robbery defendant


Anniston Star – JSU earns nod in Broadway play, Netflix adaptation despite location confusion


Troy Messenger – Man charged with bringing marijuana into Pike County Jail


Troy Messenger – COMING TOGETHER: City, school board join to discuss actions to improve education


Troy Messenger – Terry remembered for 100 years well lived


Opelika-Auburn News – Smiths Station woman dead, son recovering after Friday crash


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn eagle Nova could be in heart failure


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn council to consider new student housing


Daily Mountain Eagle – Postal holiday deadlines already coming up


Daily Mountain Eagle – Sisters volunteer together at Backyard Blessings


Daily Mountain Eagle – Commission OKs new county website


Trussville Tribune – Clay-Chalkville High School students host “Burritos for Broadcasting”


Trussville Tribune – Fatal explosion in East Lake under investigation


Trussville Tribune – Judge issues gag order in Kamille McKinney trial


Athens News Courier – BLAKELY DEFENSE: State attacks ‘vagueness’ assertion


Athens News Courier – U.S. teen vaping numbers climb, fueled by Juul & mint flavor


Athens News Courier – Toney man charged with attempted murder


Sand Mountain Reporter – Mountain Valley Arts Council hosts Heather Baumbach in November | Reception to meet artist Thursday, Nov. 7


Sand Mountain Reporter – MVAC Holiday Art Market


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery City Council votes down amendment to controversial panhandling ordinance


WSFA Montgomery – TROY Montgomery campus gets in on homecoming festivities


WSFA Montgomery – Young women in East Alabama increase safety precautions after Aniah Blanchard’s disappearance


Fox 6 Birmingham – Heightened security at Alabama-LSU game ahead of possible presidential visit


Fox 6 Birmingham – Remote start vehicles present carbon monoxide danger


Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham elementary school teacher killed in Sunday shooting


WAFF Huntsville – State attacks Limestone County sheriff’s case dismissal request


WAFF Huntsville – Lawyer: Widow of man shot by police adamant he wasn’t armed


WAFF Huntsville – Local veteran honored for long career of dangerous missions


WKRG Mobile – Coast Guard assisting in search for airman missing after falling from plane near Santa Rosa Island


WKRG Mobile – Fatal accident involving a motorcycle on Baldwin Beach Express


WKRG Mobile – Mother of baby run over by car on West Cervantes gives emotional testimony


WTVY Dothan – Missing Dothan Woman located


WTVY Dothan – Dothan ranks #1 small city for doctors to work in according to new study


WTVY Dothan – Dothan City Commission Passes Brunch Bill


WASHINGTON POST  – With revised statement, Sondland adds to testimony linking aid to Ukraine investigations that Trump sought


WASHINGTON POST  – Kentucky outcome embarrasses Trump and worries many Republicans ahead of 2020


WASHINGTON POST  – Democrats flip Virginia Senate and House, taking control of state government for the first time in a generation


WASHINGTON POST  – After a summer of panic, fears of a U.S. recession ease a bit


NEW YORK TIMES  – Biden Attacks Warren as a ‘My Way or the Highway’ Elitist



NEW YORK TIMES  – House Investigators Summon Mick Mulvaney to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry

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