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Daily News Digest – September 10, 2019

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, September 10.

1. Ivey removes Elliott from ATRIP II panel.

  • Two weeks after local officials effectively killed the state’s proposed Mobile Bridge and Bayway project, Gov. Kay Ivey has replaced a Baldwin County state senator on a key transportation board.
  • State Sen. Chris Elliott, a Republican from Daphne, was appointed by Ivey earlier this year to serve on the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program II Committee, a new panel created by the gas tax and infrastructure legislation to evaluate local road and bridge projects.
  • Ivey on Monday removed Elliott from the committee and replaced him with Mobile State Sen. Vivian Figures, a Democrat.
  • “Serving on ATRIP II is a privilege, not an entitlement,” Ivey said in a statement to Alabama Daily News.
  • Elliott had been a critic of the state’s plan to toll the Bayway project and publicly sought funding alternatives to avoid tolls.
  • Elliott, a former county commissioner, told Alabama Daily News he was involved in and supported the bridge project for several years until recently when he decided the current proposal from ALDOT was “flawed.”
  • “But I get it, this is how politics works,” he said. “I will remain a supporter for a solution for the I-10 corridor, but not one that places a burden on the backs of folks that I represent.”
  • Ivey noted that Figures is the most senior member of the Mobile-area legislative delegation and said she has a “proven track record” of pursuing progress and seeking common ground. Figures was one of six senators who voted against the gas tax and infrastructure plan during the last legislative session.
  • Read the full story from Mary Sell and me HERE.


2. DNC withholding funds from AlaDems.

  • The Democratic National Committee is withholding at least $10,000 in monthly “party building” funds from the Alabama Democratic Party for “falling short of its basic obligations.”
  • In a letter, DNC Chairman Tom Perez delivered harsh criticisms of the state party’s direction and leadership, including calling out Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Vice Chair Randy Kelley by name.
  • The letter was in response to Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairman Richard Mauk, who wrote Perez asking for a status update.
  • It’s the latest in the ongoing leadership struggle inside the Alabama Democratic Party, and it comes on the heels of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones -Alabama’s lone statewide elected Democrat – announcing his reelection bid this week.
  • Those party building funds could be key to setting up a GOTV infrastructure, though Jones and outside groups had no trouble building their own without the state party’s help in 2020.
  • Read the full story, including the Perez letter, from Kim Chandler HERE.
  • Also read Brian Lyman HERE and Mike Cason HERE.


3. ‘Dark store’ fight continues in Alabama.

  • Ever heard of “dark store theory?” If you’re a mayor or city councilman, I bet you have.
  • That’s when the owners of large, operating commercial properties argue they should be appraised, valued, and taxed as if they are vacant or “dark.” Retailers say their stores are built for a specific purpose and have less value when empty.
  • Media reports from several states show that when their argument is successful, it costs local communities millions of dollars.
  • The Alabama Department of Revenue is continuing to pay for legal help for Alabama communities in property tax disputes with big-box stores who want to pay less in property taxes under “dark store theory.”
  • In 2016, the home improvement store Lowe’s had appealed the valuation of its properties in more than 20 counties, the Alabama Department of Revenue had previously said.
  • The Department now has allies in this legal fight. The Alabama Policy Institute and the Association of County Commissions are among the organizations engaged in helping communities avoid getting fleeced.
  • ADN’s Mary Sell spoke to all of them for her story on the subject.
  • It’s worth a read HERE.


4. Corps signs off on Port widening, deepening.

  • The Army Corps of Engineers has signed off on plans to deepen and widen the Port of Mobile, a long-sought project that will increase Alabama’s seaport capacity and spur economic growth.
  • The Record of Decision for the Mobile Harbor General Reevaluation Report is a critical step in the process for getting the project started. Now, the Corps and the Alabama State Port Authority will work on pre-construction, engineering, and design.
  • According to the Port Authority, the project could begin construction as soon as late 2020.
  • Port Authority Director and CEO Jimmy Lyons said his team has been working to expand port capacity shoreside to be ready for the channel improvements.
  • “As demand dictates, we’re positioned to respond quickly to further expansion,” Lyons said.
  • U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, who has long championed the port improvement project, called the news “incredible.”
  • “We’re one step closer to transforming the entire state of Alabama,” Shelby said.
  • Read the full story from Mary Sell HERE.

5. Graddick: Hearings won’t resume for weeks.

  • New Alabama of Board Pardons and Paroles director Charlie Graddick said it will take weeks for the board to resume parole hearings after they were postponed last week amid the revelation that prior leadership was not complying with victim notification standards.
  • A spokesman for pardons and paroles said the victim-notification problems may be just “the tip of the iceberg” for issues with previous leadership and that the victim notification standards are still trying to be understood by new leadership.
  • “There are tweaks and nuances that have yet to be addressed and it’s more of an overall fabric of bringing the whole agency in compliance with the new law,” Skip Tucker, the agency’s news director, told Alabama Daily News.
  • According to an emailed statement, the agency must notify victims 30-days prior to parole hearings in accordance with the new law signed in June.
  • “The Board of Operations division is unable to assure me that the docket complies with the law,” Graddick said in the statement. “Last week we had to postpone 113 hearings. We’ll resume parole hearings as soon as we’re sure legal requirements have been met.”
  • Tucker said that the agency is currently trying to figure out how expansive the problem of victim notification has been within the agency.
  • “The main thing is to ensure that these victims are notified,” Tucker said. “There could be hundreds of questionable situations where we are unsure of who knows what and who’s been notified. We’re just trying to get a grip on it right now.”
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


News Briefs.

Alabama investigates 5 cases of lung disease tied to vaping
  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Department of Public Health says it is investigating five reports of potentially severe lung disease associated with electronic cigarettes or vaping.
  • The department told news outlets it is evaluating the reports and will release information as it becomes available.
  • “Too many young people believe that vaping is a safer alternative to traditional tobacco products, but the fact is, some of these devices can deliver as much nicotine in a single cartridge as in a pack of cigarettes. We want people to understand the dangers of tobacco use and pursue a healthy, tobacco-free lifestyle,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said.
  • A department statement says the group is joining other state health departments in requesting information from health care providers on any cases of suspected respiratory illness among patients who vape.
  • It says most cases are among young adults and adolescents. Symptoms include chest pain and vomiting.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as of Sept. 6 there are over 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of vaping in more than 33 states.
  • It says five deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon.
  • Meanwhile, federal health authorities on Monday blasted vaping company Juul for illegally pitching its electronic cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking and ordered the company to stop making unproven claims for its products.
  • Full story HERE.
Man dies in balcony fall after shootout with police
  • GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) — Alabama investigators say a Nevada man died Monday in a fall from a balcony after a 4 a.m. shootout with officers.
  • Sgt. Jason Woodruff says 38-year-old Russell Mallette of Sparks, Nevada, fled to a condominium after a traffic stop.
  • Police said Mallette attacked an officer in the building, grabbed his gun and shot it. That officer took cover and was not hurt. Other officers arrived and shot at Mallette, who ran.
  • Woodruff says officers were setting up a perimeter around the building when Mallette went over an eighth or ninth floor balcony. Investigators said they don’t know if he jumped or accidentally fell.
  • An unrelated officer-involved shooting occurred about 4:30 a.m. in Calhoun County, about 265 miles north.
Sheriff: Dog led officers to wanted man who ran over deputy
  • OHATCHEE, Ala. (AP) — Authorities in Alabama say a wanted man ran over a sheriff’s deputy, prompting law enforcement to shoot him multiple times.
  • News outlets report a dog led two Calhoun County sheriff’s deputies and an Ohatchee police officer into the woods where they found Fred Barksdale inside his truck Monday morning. The officials were looking for Barksdale to serve three outstanding warrants.
  • Sheriff Matthew Wade says Barksdale ran over two trees and then a deputy in an attempt to evade arrest. Wade says both deputies and the officer opened fire, shooting Barksdale multiple times.
  • Wade says the deputy suffered injuries to his leg, foot and back. Barksdale was taken to a Birmingham hospital for treatment. Wade says a woman with a protective order against Barksdale was in his vehicle but wasn’t hurt.
Alabama AD, president bemoan those hot September day games
  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama officials have found an opponent they can’t beat: The September heat.
  • University President Stuart R. Bell and athletic director Greg Byrne issued a joint statement Monday complaining that the Southern Miss game on Sept. 21 has been set for 11 a.m. Central. The Crimson Tide just held a sparsely attended game against New Mexico State with a mid-afternoon kickoff and temperatures of about 95 degrees.
  • The statement says Alabama has played more nonconference day games at home in September since 2014 than any other SEC team. Byrne and Bell say they’ve “had a number of conversations with” Southeastern Conference officials.
  • The game is set to be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.
  • Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said earlier Monday he hopes the administration will keep trying to get such games scheduled at different times.
Fred’s files for bankruptcy, closing retail stores
  • MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Discount retail and pharmacy chain Fred’s Inc. is filing for bankruptcy and closing its stores over the next two months.
  • The Memphis, Tennessee-based company said in a statement Monday that it has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and has begun liquidation sales at all of its retail locations.
  • The company said it expects to continue fulfilling prescriptions at most of its pharmacy locations, while pursuing the sale of its pharmacies.
  • Fred’s has filed a motion with U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking up to $35 million for a financing agreement with certain lenders. Chief Executive Officer Joe Anto said despite the company’s best efforts, “we were not able to avoid this outcome.”
  • Fred’s started in 1947. Fred’s said earlier this year it was closing more than 280 underperforming stores in 13 states.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey replaces Elliott on transportation board, appoints Figures
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama investigates 5 cases of lung disease tied to vaping
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – DNC: Alabama Democratic Party hasn’t met basic obligations
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Graddick says resuming parole hearings may take weeks
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Dark store’ fight continuing in Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Channel expansion for Port of Mobile approved
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Report: Alabama 44th in nation for educational opportunities and performance
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS- Sen. Doug Jones kicks off 2020 reelection bid
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivanka Trump visits Alabama robotics park Tuesday
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Congress returns to McConnell’s legislative ‘graveyard’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS- Daily News Digest – September 9, 2019
AL.COM  – DNC withholds funds from Alabama Democratic Party
AL.COM  – 5 cases of lung disease tied to vaping under investigation in Alabama
AL.COM  – No such thing as medical marijuana, Alabama cannabis commission told
AL.COM  – Plan to enlarge Mobile Ship Channel cleared to proceed
AL.COM  – GOP senator suggests Ivey retaliated for I-10 opposition
AL.COM  – University of Alabama, Culverhouse agree to disagree
AL.COM  – Alabama, California only states not joining Google antitrust probe
AL.COM  – Alabama weather service right to contradict Trump on Dorian, NWS chief says
AL.COM  – NOAA investigating response to Trump’s Alabama Dorian comments
AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Here we go again: Troy King is running for Congress
Montgomery Advertiser – They’re alive! Rescuers free all 4 crew members from capsized cargo ship off Georgia
Montgomery Advertiser – Burglars hit Prattville home in broad daylight, take almost $6K in property
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery woman arrested in fatal stabbing
YellowHammer News – Port of Mobile receives federal authorization to deepen, widen harbor channel
YellowHammer News – Ivey replaces Chris Elliot with Vivian Davis Figures on ATRIP-II Committee
YellowHammer News – Tuskegee seeks to expand tourism with October conference
Dothan Eagle – Abbeville’s Dan Capps inducted into the Dixie Boys Baseball Hall of Fame
Dothan Eagle – Trial date rescheduled for woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend to death
Dothan Eagle – Traffic stop leads to arrest of Bonifay, Florida, duo
Tuscaloosa News – Man dies in balcony fall at Gulf Shores after shootout with police
Tuscaloosa News – DNC: Alabama Democratic Party hasn’t met basic obligations
Tuscaloosa News – Northport to reimburse developer for sewer work
Decatur Daily – From New York teacher to Decatur doctor: Reyes part of OB-GYN team at Decatur Morgan Women’s Healthcare
Decatur Daily – Morgan County seeks law that would allow first redistricting in 60 years
Decatur Daily – Point Mallard ice rink fate explored
Times Daily – Museum to host Chickasaw entertainer Thursday
Times Daily – Girl Scouts earn Alabama Music Hall of Fame patches
Times Daily – HOSA group packs kits for the homeless
Gadsden Times – Man in custody in fatal Albertville shooting
Gadsden Times – Ohatchee man shot by officers after running down deputy
Gadsden Times – Boaz police arrest sex offender, two others for attempt to conceal ID
Anniston Star – Sheriff: Man runs over deputy with truck, is shot by officers
Anniston Star – Three charged with felonies in Anniston
Anniston Star – Jacksonville City Council discusses skate park rename, police position
Troy Messenger – Latty pleads guilty to robbery, assault in kidnapping case
Andalusia Star News – Pensacola woman dead after high-speed chase
Andalusia Star News – SHS senior to represent Covington County on Alabama Bicentennial Advisory Committee
Andalusia Star News – Rainfall totals still down compared to last year
Opelika-Auburn News – New historical-marker trail honors Tuskegee-area history-makers
Opelika-Auburn News – ONE YEAR LATER: Downtown Auburn shooting one year later
Daily Mountain Eagle – Happy Meal box used to conceal jail contraband
Daily Mountain Eagle – 12 heat-related incidents reported at Foothills Festival
Daily Mountain Eagle – Aderholt assures Census is safe
Trussville Tribune – Man from northeast Jefferson County wanted on domestic violence charge
Trussville Tribune – Trial date set for former Trussville fire chief Russell Ledbetter
Trussville Tribune – DNC: Alabama Democratic Party hasn’t met basic obligations
Athens News Courier – Athens Boys & Girls Club: New director grew up just down the road
Athens News Courier – City schools budget Holladay: ‘We got it all done and still came out on top’
Athens News Courier – Limestone’s other judges fill in for Patterson
Sand Mountain Reporter – Boaz Harvest Festival to host first cornhole tournament | Friday night also to feature Country Case
Sand Mountain Reporter – Boaz police upgrade patrol cars | First time Dodge Chargers driven by department
Sand Mountain Reporter – Kennamer Construction named REMODELING 2019 Big50 Class of America’s Top Remodelers
WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery church to help with recovery efforts in Bahamas
WSFA Montgomery – Doctors offer advanced screenings to combat leading cause of death in Ala.
WSFA Montgomery – Enterprise city clerk resigns, councilors start budget talks
Fox 6 Birmingham – Mother and boyfriend facing new charges after 18-month-old Blount County boy passes away
Fox 6 Birmingham – Tuscaloosa PD investigating shooting death at apartment complex
Fox 6 Birmingham – Inmate has escaped from work release in Jefferson Co.
WAFF Huntsville – Scorched playground in Huntsville under investigation
WAFF Huntsville – Sheffield residents concerned about the air following chemical spill
WAFF Huntsville – Athens police looking for two suspects after armed robbery at GameStop
WKRG Mobile – Toll opponents want to remind ALDOT they’re still here
WKRG Mobile – Mobile Police announces Coffee with a Cop dates
WKRG Mobile – FDA issues warning letter to JUUL, inspires local lawmaker to improve legislation
WTVY Dothan – Woman arrested for leaving baby in hot car
WTVY Dothan – Student with medical disorder bullied at Selma Street School
WTVY Dothan – Houston County School Board hears proposal for new cyber security after malware attack
WASHINGTON POST  – For the first time ever, most new working-age hires in the U.S. are people of color
WASHINGTON POST  – Judge reimposes nationwide injunction against Trump’s asylum rules
WASHINGTON POST  – Back in Washington, Democrats press Trump, McConnell for action on guns
WASHINGTON POST  – As billions flow to farmers, Trump administration faces internal concerns over unprecedented bailout
NEW YORK TIMES  – Republican Gerrymander Whiz Had Wider Influence Than Was Known
NEW YORK TIMES  – Southern U.S. States Have Closed 1,200 Polling Places in Recent Years: Rights Group

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