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Daily News Digest – September 4, 2020

Good morning and Happy Friday!

Here’s your Daily News for September 4.

1. Burkette arrested, charged

  • Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall Thursday announced the arrest of former Sen. David Burkette, D-Montgomery, on charges of violating Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.
  • Marshall said in a press release that Burkette failed to properly deposit campaign contributions in the proper bank account during his run for Montgomery City Council in 2015 and 2016. The state alleges that Burkette intentionally failed to deposit $3,625 of campaign contributions into his campaign checking account and instead deposited or cashed those dollars into his personal bank account.
  • Alabama Daily News confirmed on Tuesday that Burkette was resigning because of concerns over his health and discussions with prosecutors who have been investigating potential ethics violations. Burkette said he was in discussions with prosecutors and could not discuss the details because he was bound by a confidentiality agreement.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



2. Candidates line up in SD26

  • The special election field to replace former state Sen. David Burkette, D-Montgomery, who resigned Tuesday and was arrested Thursday, will include several familiar names.
  • Candidates include former Rep. John Knight, who lost special and regular elections to Burkette in 2018, and Burkette’s wife, Linda Burkett, Alabama Daily News confirmed Thursday.
  • Senate District 26 includes most of the city of Montgomery and northeast Montgomery County.
  • A handful of others are considering a run as well.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



3. Ivey unveils prison construction plan

  • Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday announced the state’s plans to move forward with constructing three new prisons.
  • (Inside Alabama Politics subscribers got a heads up about this happening on Tuesday)
  • Ivey said Thursday that the plan calls for local construction giant BL Harbert to build a prison in Bibb County in west Alabama and CoreCivic to build prisons in Escambia County in the southern part of the state and another in Elmore County in central Alabama.
  • Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall praised Ivey for “tackling head-on the toughest issue facing our state, replacing Alabama’s aging prisons with modern facilities that will better serve to rehabilitate the inmate population while also protecting our communities.”
  • The governor said the arrangement would end expensive maintenance costs on aging prisons while providing modern security systems and safer facilities allowing more room for treatment and education programs. But the plan has run into criticism from advocacy groups and a mixed reception from state lawmakers, with some saying the leases will be costly without addressing systemic problems.
  • Rep. Chris England, a Tuscaloosa Democrat, said the leases do not make financial sense because they will plunge the state billions of dollars into debt. “We are going to spend well over two billion dollars and not own the land, or the facilities or have any control over the facilities,” England said.
  • The governor’s office did not disclose the estimated cost but said “final financial terms” will become publicly available later this year and construction would begin in 2021. Spokeswoman Gina Maiola said the developers are aware of an “affordability limit” of $88 million per year. She said the three mega prisons would collectively house a total of 10,000 male inmates— more than 3,000 per prison. The state would close, or repurpose, 11 existing prisons.
  • U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, who ruled the state’s treatment of mentally ill prisoners was “horrendously inadequate ” on Wednesday, ordered outside experts to monitor the state’s compliance with his orders to boost staffing and improve conditions.
  • “The U.S. Department of Justice has already told us twice that brick and mortar is not the answer to the conditions that the DOJ found ’routinely violate the constitutional rights of prisoners,” said a statement from Alabamians for Fair Justice.
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.


4. Battle ground election chiefs worry about uncertainty as voting nears

  • Political battles and pending court fights threaten to upend months of planning for the pandemic election, election officials are warning. In key states, they remain hamstrung with only weeks to prepare.
  • Ongoing partisan litigation could dictate dramatic last-minute changes to rules and procedures in several states. Legislatures continue debating laws that could change how votes are processed.
  • Time is short. Though Election Day is two months away, ballots are being mailed to voters on Friday in North Carolina. By the end of the month early voting will be underway in states like Minnesota, Virginia and Vermont.
  • Many election officials in states likely to decide the presidential race — the frontline planners — say they believe they will be ready. But in interviews they also warned of a worrisome uncertainty that could undermine efforts to run a safe, fair and accurate election.
  • At least 170 lawsuits have been filed across the country over voting procedures, many by groups tied to the two major political parties or by the parties themselves. Some still pending this year could have major consequences.
  • Read more HERE.



5. News Briefs


Weak earthquake occurs on Alabama-Florida line; no damage

  • BREWTON, Ala. (AP) — No damage was reported after a weak earthquake occurred along the Alabama-Florida line Thursday morning.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey reported that a magnitude 3.8 quake happened just after 10 a.m. north of Mount Carmel, Florida. The location is a mostly forested area southwest of Brewton, Alabama.
  • The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said it hadn’t gotten any calls about damage, but some area residents reported feeling it in response to a question posed by the area National Weather Service office on its Facebook page.
  • The quake occurred more than 6 miles beneath the surface, according to the Geological Survey.

Body of missing University of Alabama student found in river

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Authorities said Thursday they had located the body of a University of Alabama student who had been missing since a boating accident earlier this week.
  • News outlets reported that the body of Kirsten Jones, 20, was found Thursday morning at the spillway of Oliver Lock and Dam on the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa.
  • Crews located the body with the aid of sonar equipment.
  • Jones had been missing since Tuesday night, when a boat she was in went over the spillway. Two other people survived.
  • Jones was from Niceville, Florida.

Enterprise mayor in quarantine after positive COVID-19 test

  • ENTERPRISE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama mayor has tested positive for the coronavirus and is currently under quarantine at home.
  • Enterprise Mayor William Cooper said he was tested as a precaution after a family member tested positive for the virus earlier this week, according to a news release from the city Wednesday.
  • “I am feeling fine,” he said Wednesday. “I’m not experiencing any serious symptoms, but I do not want to run the risk of infecting anyone else, so I am staying home as the state health and safety guidelines direct.”
  • Cooper is communicating with his staff and working from home, news outlets report. He plans to be back in city hall next week.
  • Cooper will face opponent Bill Baker in an Oct. 6 runoff election for the mayor’s position.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Burkette arrested on campaign finance charges


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Candidates for empty Senate seat to include former Rep. Knight, a different Burkette


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey seeks 3 private built mega prisons, names sites


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Battle ground election chiefs worry about uncertainty as voting nears


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – CDC tells states: Be ready to distribute vaccines on Nov. 1


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey appoints Sirmon, Kennedy to ACHE


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – September 3, 2020


AL.COM – 51,154 coronavirus recoveries in Alabama, 381 new confirmed cases


AL.COM – Federal judge orders monitors in Alabama prison mental health case


AL.COM – Alabama to start paying $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits under federal program


AL.COM – Former Alabama Sen. David Burkette arrested for campaign finance violation


AL.COM – Alabama athletics faces $75 million shortfall, AD tells donors


AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey names proposed sites for 3 new prisons


AL.COM – Feds ask Alabama, other states to speed permit process for COVID vaccine distribution sites


AL.COM – Alabama lawmaker who had COVID-19 concerned about healthy carriers


AL.COM – Contributor Stephen Woerner: Completing the census for your family is just the first step


Montgomery Advertiser – Former Sen. David Burkette charged with campaign finance violation


Montgomery Advertiser – Ivey: Alabama plans to build new prisons in Bibb, Elmore and Escambia counties


Montgomery Advertiser – Federal court orders monitors for mental health care in Alabama prisons


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Former State Sen. David Burkette arrested


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Cleveland police officer killed in the line of duty on city’s West Side


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Federal task force kills Portland shooting suspect at arrest


Tuscaloosa News – Search crews locate missing boater, UA student in Black Warrior River


Tuscaloosa News – UA official says ‘nothing wrong’ with school’s COVID-19 measures


Decatur Daily – New rules to limit length of stay at Point Mallard Campground; price increases proposed there and at golf course


Decatur Daily – U.S. 31 resurfacing added to transportation program


Decatur Daily – Mayor suspends officers involved in man’s suffocation death


Times Daily – Man accused in son’s death has initial hearing


Times Daily – Franklin County officials disappointed to lose recycling service


Times Daily – Jobless claims fall to 881,000 but layoffs remain elevated


Anniston Star – Family entertainment complex, gym, new restaurants taking shape at Oxford’s Exit 185


Anniston Star – Former Montgomery senator arrested on campaign finance charges


Anniston Star – Health expert: Labor Day could set COVID-19 effort back


YellowHammer News – Great expectations for Birmingham’s recovery


YellowHammer News – Former Democratic state senator charged with campaign finance violation


YellowHammer News – Alabama National Guard network disallowed access to Fox News while allowing CNN on Thursday


Gadsden Times – ALDOT, area law enforcement urge cautions on roads during Labor Day weekend


Gadsden Times – Attalla man nominated for regional award for Southern Rock vocals


Gadsden Times – Have you seen this girl? Albertville police want to know


Dothan Eagle – Dothan Superintendent Edwards: ‘No bad blood’ with Wolfpack band boosters


Dothan Eagle – Enterprise mayor tests positive for COVID-19


Dothan Eagle – With only one month left in fiscal year, Dothan’s sales tax collection surplus exceeds $7 million


Opelika-Auburn News – Three-vehicle Interstate 85 crash claims life of 51-year-old


Opelika-Auburn News – EAMC COVID-19 positivity rate rises to over 30 percent


Opelika-Auburn News – Montgomery teens face litany of charges after breaking and entering, theft incident, vehicle pursuit


WSFA Montgomery – 18-wheeler overturns on Highway 231 at Taylor Road


WSFA Montgomery – 1 killed, 1 injured in crash with log truck in Union Springs


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery doctors: COVID-19 hospitalizations decline, Labor Day weekend might reverse trend

WAFF Huntsville – Cleveland police officer killed in the line of duty on city’s West Side


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville City School District leaders discuss new opening plan


WAFF Huntsville – Morgan Co. Investigator Brooks is coming home


WKRG Mobile – North Carolina kicks off mail voting as requests spike


WKRG Mobile – Heavy police presence on Farnell Lane near Pleasant Valley Road


WKRG Mobile – WKRG News 5 investigates: sex offenders living near MCPSS WiFi bus locations


WTVY Dothan – Voters will decide if there should be a tourist development tax in North Walton County


WTVY Dothan – North Carolina kicks off mail voting amid spike in requests


WTVY Dothan – Pharmacist facing drug charge wants $162,000 returned


WASHINGTON POST – After summer of chaos and confrontation, Portland braces again for more unrest


WASHINGTON POST – Seven police officers suspended after video shows hood placed on head of Black man who later died


WASHINGTON POST – Biden vows that America will address racism and ‘original sin’ of slavery


NEW YORK TIMES – Suspect in Fatal Portland Shooting Is Killed by Officers During Arrest


NEW YORK TIMES – 7 Police Officers Suspended as a Black Man’s Suffocation Roils Rochester


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19 Live Updates: U.S. Chief of Vaccines Thinks One Is Unlikely by Election Day


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Michael Reinoehl, Suspect in Portland Shooting, Is Killed by Law Enforcement


WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Unemployment Declined in August as Hiring Continued


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Juul Shelves Plan for Feature That Counts Puffs




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