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Weekend Digest – September 6, 2020

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday!
Here’s your Daily News for September 6.

1. Labor Day events pose risk of worsening virus in Alabama

  • With Labor Day events meant to attract crowds planned from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee Valley, health officials fear Alabama’s coronavirus outbreak, which is worsening after weeks of improvement, could be exacerbated by gatherings over the long holiday weekend.
  • Secondary schools, college classes and high school football all resumed statewide around the same time last month, so health officials said it’s unclear exactly what is causing an uptick in COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
  • “I am concerned that we are seeing some upward trends over the past week,” said Dr. Scott Harris, the head of the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • But the trend — coming as thousands of people will go to beaches, lakes and backyard cookouts for the holiday — has experts worried any increase in cases could be worse than the one which followed the July 4 holiday. They are urging people to wear face masks and keep their distance from others.
  • Read more HERE.


2. Agritourism businesses hopeful for a boost this fall season

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many entertainment venues and typical family activities to be canceled this year and Alabama’s agritourism industry is no exception. But as students and parents continue to be stuck inside their homes for school and work, farmers are optimistic for this year’s fall season.
  • “People are going to be hesitant to think about where they should go, but I can’t think of a more safe, wholesome and educational opportunity than going out to an agritourism operation in the state,” Hunter McBrayer told ADN.
  • McBrayer is the director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Bee and Honey and Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Division and is involved with promoting Alabama’s agritourism industry.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state guidance say conducting activities outside is a safer option than indoor venues, and agritourism businesses are hoping to turn that into an advantage during this year’s pumpkin and apple picking season.
  • I spoke to a few farmers on what their experience has been like this season and what they are looking forward to for the fall months. Read more from me HERE.


3. Special election set for seat of lawmaker arrested last week

  • A special election is set for the position of an Alabama state senator who resigned this week before being arrested on a misdemeanor campaign finance charge.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey’s office said Friday the primary to fill the District 26 seat representing part of Montgomery County is set for Nov. 17. A runoff will be held Dec. 15 if needed, and the general election will be March 2.
  • David Burkette was arrested Thursday on charges linked to his run for Montgomery City Council five years ago. Burkette put about $3,600 in campaign contributions into a personal checking account or cashed the checks, the attorney general’s office said.
  • The deadline for qualifying with major political parties will be Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Read more, including what candidates are lining up to run from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


4. Alabama Supreme Court rules PSC hearing not a public meeting

  • A two-hour public hearing where members of Alabama’s utility-regulating agency heard testimony about solar energy fees wasn’t a public meeting under state law, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday in rejecting a challenge by an audience member who was ejected for recording the gathering.
  • The all-Republican court upheld a lower court ruling that said the all-Republican Alabama Public Service Commission had a right to remove Laura Casey, a Democrat who was running for a seat on the PSC, for recording the proceeding last year.
  • Casey did not have rights under the state’s open meetings law because commissioners only listened passively to evidence rather than talking among themselves or “deliberating,” Associate Justice Will Sellers wrote. The lack of interaction meant the hearing wasn’t a meeting legally, the opinion said.
  • Read more about the decision HERE.


5. Summer of protest: Chance for change, but obstacles exposed

  • Memorial Day brought the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, prompting hundreds of thousands of Americans to take to the streets in protest. President Donald Trump called Floyd’s death a “disgrace” and momentum built around policing reform.
  • But by Labor Day, the prospects for federal legislation have evaporated. And Trump is seeking to leverage the violence that has erupted around some of the protests to scare white, suburban voters and encourage them to back his reelection campaign.
  • The three-month stretch between the symbolic kickoff and close of America’s summer has both galvanized broad public support for the racial justice movement and exposed the obstacles to turning that support into concrete political and policy changes.
  • It has also clarified the choice for voters in the presidential race between Trump, who rarely mentions Floyd or other Black Americans killed by police anymore, and Democrat Joe Biden, who argues that the summer of protests can become a catalyst for tackling systemic racism.
  • Read more HERE.


Week in Good News

City won’t waste John Oliver’s donation, on 1 condition
  • A Connecticut city won’t waste an opportunity to get a sizeable donation from comedian John Oliver about a weeks-long joke pertaining to the name of a sewage plant in the area.
  • Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said on WTNH-TV that he would accept Oliver’s challenge to name the city’s sewage plant after him following Oliver’s offer to donate $55,000 to local charities.
  • But Boughton said there was one stipulation to the facility’s renaming. “We do have one very specific condition. You must come here to Danbury and be physically present when we cut the ribbon,” he said in a Facebook video posted Sunday.
  • The announcement was the latest volley in a war of words between the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and Boughton after Oliver first bashed Danbury on an Aug. 16 during a segment on racial disparities in jury selection.
  • Its a funny story and looks like it has turned out well for both parties? Read the whole report HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Agritourism businesses hopeful for a bump in attendance this fall
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Summer of protest: Chance for change, but obstacles exposed
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Labor Day events pose risk of worsening virus in Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Candidates for empty Senate seat to include former Rep. Knight, a different Burkette
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Special election set for seat of lawmaker arrested last week
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Supreme Court rules PSC hearing not a public meeting
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – September 4, 2020
AL.COM – New COVID cases in Alabama climb above 1,000 even as hospitalizations fall
AL.COM – Why Irondale’s first Black mayor will take a $73,000 pay cut
AL.COM – Alabama posts third highest weekly coronavirus death total ahead of Labor Day: Week in review
AL.COM – UAB expert says rushed COVID vaccine is pushing scientists into ’data-free zone’
AL.COM – Alabama K-12 schools: one month in, here’s what’s happening
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: When the minimum wage is $7.25, it hurts you and me
AL.COM – Columnist Amanda Walker: Late summer melancholy
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – GuideSafe may be secret weapon against COVID-19 for Alabama to get back to normal
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Sen. Scofield: Special session needed to resolve ‘extremely important issues’ for people of Alabama, small businesses
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Sen. Elliott on Ivey prison proposal: ‘I think that’s a mistake — I think it’s a bad deal for the taxpayer’
DECATUR DAILY – Newly elected teen councilman facing complaint, numerous traffic citations
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: School transparency on COVID-19 essential
TIMES DAILY – New Colbert County mayors face a variety of challenges
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – ALDOT: I-20/59 bridge arch over McFarland Boulevard to be replaced
ANNISTON STAR – Effort expands to get those with mental illnesses out of jails
OPELIKA AUBURN NEWS – Labor Day weekend choices to directly impact healthcare system, EAMC says
DOTHAN EAGLE – Area superintendents ready for classes to resume in COVID era
WASHINGTON POST – Trump fixates on the promise of a vaccine — real or not — as key to reelection bid
WASHINGTON POST – Ahmaud Arbery’s killing was met with silence. His high school football coach vowed to find justice
WASHINGTON POST – Big Oil just isn’t as big as it once was
NEW YORK TIMES – Colleges Using COVID Dorms, Quarantines to Keep Virus at Bay
NEW YORK TIMES – Columnist Nicholas Kristof: ‘I Keep My Promises,’ Trump Said. Let’s Check.
NEW YORK TIMES – America at Hunger’s Edge

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