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Weekend Digest – July 18, 2021

1. Bill Poole named state Finance Director

  • Gov. Kay Ivey has appointed State Rep. Bill Poole as the state’s next Finance Director, her office announced early Friday morning. (Though Todd kind of broke the news the night before)
  • The appointment is effective Aug. 1.
  • Last month, current Finance Director Kelly Butler announced his retirement due to medical complications that might be associated with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
  • Poole has chaired the House Ways and Means Education Committee for the past six years, overseeing an education budget of more than $7 billion each year.
  • “Bill Poole is one of the most gifted public servants Alabama has seen in many years and his exceptional leadership qualities, and the respect he commands on both sides of the aisle in the Alabama Legislature, makes him uniquely qualified to serve as Alabama’s next finance director,” Governor Ivey said in a press release.
  • Read more from Todd HERE.


2. Alabama promoting COVID-19 vaccination in TikTok contest

  • Alabama is turning to social media to encourage more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • The Alabama Department of Public Health announced a TikTok contest to encourage young people to get vaccinated before the start of the school year. The contest is for between the ages of 13 and 29.
  • To participate, contestants should submit a TikTok video showing themselves getting vaccinated or include a creative message explaining, “This is why I got vaccinated.” All videos must tag @alcovidvaccine, #getvaccinatedAL and #ADPH.
  • Winners will be determined based on creativity, originality and popularity measured by the numbers of likes and shares. The videos should be submitted by Aug. 6.
  • Advertising professionals and department staff will select four winners who will each receive a $250 Visa gift card.
  • Read more about the contest HERE.


3. Jurors hearing differing views on Alabama sheriff on trial

  • Prosecutors on Friday told jurors that a longtime Alabama sheriff siphoned campaign donations and inmate accounts to cover personal expenses, while a defense lawyer argued no money was illegally taken and there is an explanation for the transactions.
  • Lawyers gave diverging portraits during opening statements in the corruption trial of Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, news outlets reported. Blakely faces 11 criminal counts, including using his office for personal gain, theft of campaign funds and taking money held by the sheriff’s office.
  • Blakely, 70, pleaded not guilty. While a felony conviction would result in his automatic removal from office, he has continued to work as sheriff since being indicted in 2019.
  • “Just because Mike Blakely is the sheriff, that doesn’t mean he’s above the law,” Kyle Beckman, an Alabama assistant attorney general, told jurors.
  • Read more about the trial HERE.


4. Federal court blocks future DACA applications

  • A federal judge in Texas has ruled illegal an Obama-era program that prevents the deportation of thousands of them brought into the U.S. as children.
  • U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled in favor of Texas, Alabama and seven other states that sued to halt Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which provides limited protections to about 650,000 people.
  • The ruling bars the government from approving any new applications, but leaves the program intact for existing recipients.
  • Plaintiffs have vowed to appeal the decision. Immigrants and advocates are urging Democrats and President Joe Biden to quickly act on legislation in the wake of the ruling.
  • Calling the ruling a “blaring siren” for Democrats, United We Dream Executive Director Greisa Martinez Rosas said they would be solely to blame if legislative reform doesn’t happen.
  • “Until the president and Democrats in Congress deliver on citizenship, the lives of millions will remain on the line,” Martinez Rosas said.
  • Read more about it HERE.


5. Medicaid expansion activists in Alabama court over graffiti

  • Community activists on Friday pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges over messages spray-painted messages on a street in front of the Alabama Capitol urging the state to expand Medicaid.
  • The four activists with the SaveOurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy were arrested last summer after painting “Expand Medicaid: and “Black Lives Matter.” The protest began with a mock funeral to remember people who have died from lack of medical care.
  • Two women in the group said they were strip searched at the Montgomery jail after being arrested, while the two men were not.
  • “All I am guilty of is trying to save lives by expanding Medicaid so that more people will not die needlessly or lose their health. I want people to have the health care that they need,” Karen Jones, one of the people arrested, said in a statement.
  • Faya Rose Toure, a civil rights attorney, said she and Jones were strip searched at the jail. Toure is married to former state Sen. Hank Sanders.
  • Read more about the case HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill Poole named state Finance Director
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS -Alabama promoting COVID-19 vaccination in TikTok contest
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘A blaring siren’ for Democrats after ruling halts DACA
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Medicaid expansion activists in Alabama court over graffiti
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Jurors hearing differing views on Alabama sheriff on trial
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey, advocates push for expanding summer learning
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Unemployment drops to 3.3% for June
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Brooks raises $826K in second quarter
AL.COM – John Lewis honored in tributes in the year since his death, several located in Alabama.
AL.COM – City of Huntsville hiring ‘music officer,’ with salary up to $89,211.
AL.COM – Mo Brooks gets ‘chuckle’ out of Texas Dems testing positive for COVID.
AL.COM – Colorado Springs Gazette editor Tom Roeder: Will Congress spend $1.2 billion to move Space Command to Alabama?
AL.COM – Dale Strong takes big fundraising lead in race to replace Mo Brooks.
AL.COM – Soccer, swimming, water park: Mobile official’s goals remain the same for sports tourism complex.
AL.COM – Employee info ‘may have been at risk’ from Mobile County cyberattack.
AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith: The broken piano symphony.
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: From Edwin Edwards to Donald Trump, voters are sometimes willingly blind.
AL.COM – Two more incarcerated men died in Alabama prisons this week: There have been at least eight deaths inside Alabama prisons this month.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Mo Brooks says Trump’s attack on Katie Britt was a surprise — ‘Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that he did it’.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Sen. Orr vows to bring bill allowing victims of political censorship to sue Big Tech platforms.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Hyundai reveals pricing for Alabama-built Santa Cruz ‘Sport Adventure Vehicle’ pickup.
THE HILL – Passport backlog threatens to upend travel plans for millions of Americans.
POLITICO – Strange but true: Bernie takes a ‘very pragmatic’ turn.
POLITICO – Columnist Jack Shafer: What the White House Doesn’t Get About Disinformation
AP NEWS – Alabama hospital sending COVID-19 vaccination team to Peru.
AP NEWS – Alabama promoting COVID-19 vaccination in TikTok contest.
ROANOKE TIMES – Questions arise two years after rail car manufacturer leaves Roanoke.
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: Decatur residency debate a sign of deeper problems.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Officials seeking resolution to sewer line access for ag center.
GADSDEN TIMES – Contributor John Floyd: City, county residents don’t want rendering plant — period.
OPELIKA AUBURN NEWS – ‘Light that fire for learning’: Local educator hopes to create hands-on STEM center for Lee County.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Balancing the Rain – Wiregrass peanut growers deal with wet fields.
WASHINGTON POST – In this summer of covid freedom, disease experts warn: ‘The world needs a reality check’.
WASHINGTON POST – As immigration heats up, Biden struggles for a clear plan.
 WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Daniel Epps: Major Supreme Court reform is unlikely. But these changes would be a good start.
WASHINGTON POST – Democrats are making headlines on voting rights, but little more to counter restrictive efforts by Republicans.

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