21 Oct 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Sunday, October 19 Less than four months after Judy Merritt left the college she spent decades heading, Dr. Judy Merritt had died.
In 1979 Governor Fob James (then a Democrat) appointed Dr. Judy Merritt as President of Jefferson State Community College located in Center Point, Alabama. She spent 35 years as President.
On Monday, October 20 Jefferson State Community College released a statement on the passing of Dr. Merritt:
“The entire Jefferson State Community College family is mourning the loss of our longtime leader and friend, Judy M. Merritt. As the former President of the College and community leader, she devoted her entire life to the service of others. Over a career spanning more than four decades, she was a constant force as one who truly made a difference.”
State Representative Paul John DeMarco (R from Homewood) said on Facebook, “I was sad to hear about the passing of a good friend and community leader, Dr. Judy Merritt. Dr. Merritt was the longtime president of Jeff State. She was a great educator and super person. She will be missed.”
State Representative Dickie Drake (R from Leeds) said on Facebook, “I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Judy Merritt. Judy was a friend and long time president of Jefferson State. She was a great educator, a good friend and an overall great person. She will be greatly missed. RIP Judy.”
The Dean of Campus Development and campus/legal services Keith Brown said in a statement when she retired, "Judy has always believed education is an individual's pathway to achieving one's goals and dreams." "She has worked tirelessly to make education more accessible and ensure the pathway to education is clear for all."
Dr. Merritt had been associated with “Jeff State” as it is popularly called for most of her working life. With the exception of a four-year assignment at Florida International University in Miami, Florida during the 1970s Dr. Merritt has served the people of Alabama at Jefferson State and its predecessor all of her working life until her retirement at the end of June.
Jefferson State was one campus in then unincorporated Centerpoint and has since grown to include campuses in St. Clair, Shelby, and Walker Counties as well and educates 15,000 area students in a variety of career fields.
Dr. Merritt was also a past Chairman of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce in 1993 and served on the Executive Committee of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), United Way of Central Alabama, and the American Heart Association. She also served on the board at Energen and previously served on the Boards of both Southtrust and Brunos.
Merritt graduated from the University of Alabama with a B.S. in secondary education. She also had a Master’s Degree in counseling and guidance and a Ph.D. in educational administration.
There will be a service in her memory on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. in the Health Sciences Building at the Valleydale campus of Jefferson State.
21 Oct 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, October 17, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R from Alabama) released a statement that was highly critical of the President’s selection of Ron Klain to be his Ebola czar.
Senator Sessions said, “Ebola is a health crisis. Yet the President has appointed as his new Ebola czar a partisan loyalist whose expertise is politics—not health. One would think, faced with the prospect of an epidemic, the President would task an expert in epidemiology not an expert in political spin. Sound bites are not going to deter a single infection or save a single life. The American people can have zero confidence in Ron Klain’s competence to carry out this critical role.”
Ron Klain has held a number of posts in the federal government including chief of staff for both Vice President’s Joe Biden and Al Gore. He is best known to the American people as the Democrat tasked to head Al Gore’s team in the Florida recount. He was played by the actor, Kevin Spacey in the heavily fictionalized HBO movie, "Recount."
Sen. Sessions continued, “At the senior levels of this government, in positions of extraordinary responsibility, the President has surrounded himself with loyalists—individuals who were selected precisely because they are not independent, will not tell the President ‘no’, and will not have any problem in feeding bogus political spin to the media.”
Sen. Sessions said, “The President’s Director of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, was promoted after refusing to answer even those most basic financial questions from Congress during her dismal tenure at the Office of Management and Budget. Burwell, a former campaign operative, was tasked with overseeing the nation’s healthcare system despite no consequential health care experience. Secretary Jeh Johnson was chosen to head the one of the largest and most important departments of government despite being a political lawyer with no relevant background. Johnson has devoted his short tenure not to strengthening enforcement but dismantling it. Just today—as American citizens face a jobs crisis, debt crisis, border crisis, security crisis, and now a health crisis—Secretary Johnson announced actions not to restore gutted enforcement, but further steps to open our borders. DHS is now extending what amounts to a perpetual amnesty to thousands of immigrants from Honduras and Nicaragua, while expediting immigration from Haiti at a time when we can’t keep track of the millions we are already admitting.”
Sen. Sessions joined the chorus of Republicans demanding that travel visas from Ebola infected countries be stopped. Sen. Sessions said, “The danger at this moment is profound. We need to be barring visas and travel from Ebola-impacted regions. Additionally, should there be an outbreak in Latin America, General John Kelly of SOUTHCOM has warned that it would cause a ‘mass migration’ from Latin America of those seeking free medical treatment in the United States. ‘If it breaks out, it’s literally Katie bar the door,’ he warned. Does anyone believe that this Administration is prepared to protect this country from such a scenario? The Administration continues to refuse to implement even the most commonsense immigration controls to protect public health and public tax dollars. Mr. Klain’s appointment, unfortunately, suggests things will get worse—not better.”
Ebola has the potential, if it is not rapidly contained, of possibly being the largest crisis in the world since the AIDS epidemic (coincidentally another virus from out of Africa). As of October 15 there have been 8997 suspected cases of Ebola in this outbreak (including two Dallas area nurses), which is by far the largest in the know history of the illness. Of those 5006 have been confirmed as Ebola by laboratory work.
To this point, of those known cases 4493 people have died including Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who died in Dallas 12 days ago after arriving in America on commercial aviation. Nurses Amber Joy Vinson (29) and Nina Pham (26) became infected with the virus while treating Mr. Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
The policy director for the Center for Immigration Studies, Jessica Vaughan told Neil Munroe with the "Daily Caller" that up to 190,000 West Africans come to the United States every year. Vaughan said that is, “An enormous amount of people coming in and out, but the administration is insisting that it would be counterproductive to stop this flow of people.” The Center for Immigration Studies seeks a reduction in the annual inflow of one million immigrants and 700,000 guest workers that come to the United States each year.
Sen. Jeff Sessions is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a Senior Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
20 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The prosecution's witness list for the trial of Rep. Barry Moore has been released.
The prosecution's witnesses in the Rep. Barry Moore perjury case, are as follows:
Kenneth Boswell, Mayor of Enterprise Mayor
William Aaron Milner, Superintendent Saraland School
Sue Nuwien, Chair Coffee County Republican Party
Dr. Nancy Chandler, President Enterprise State Community College
Joshua Pipkin, Barry Moore's former opponent
Dr. Craig Pouncey, former Assistant State Superintendent at Alabama Department of Education
Gwendolyn Timbie, Grand Jury Court Reporter
Donald Keith Barker, a member of the Attorney General’s White Collar Crimes Unit.
Moore was indicted on two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements to the Lee County Grand Jury. The charges came from answers given regarding conversations between Moore and then-candidate for HD91 Josh Pipkin. The conversations were in relation to Speaker Mike Hubbard’s threats to withhold 100 jobs from Enterprise if Pipkin did not exit the race. In these statements, Moore allegedly said that Hubbard said that he would “rain holy hell” down on Pipkin if he did not withdraw.
20 Oct 2014
ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL W. VAN DAVIS ANNOUNCES ARREST OF SPEAKER MIKE HUBBARD FOR FELONY ETHICS VIOLATIONS
(MONTGOMERY)—Acting as Attorney General in this matter, W. Van Davis announced the arrest today of Michael Gregory Hubbard, a representative from the 79th District in the Alabama House of Representatives, Speaker of the House, and former Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, for felony ethics law violations. Speaker Hubbard, 52, of Auburn, surrendered this afternoon to special agents of the Attorney General’s Office at the Lee County Jail.
Acting Attorney General Davis is a supernumerary district attorney who was appointed by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to handle matters regarding an ongoing investigation involving potential public corruption in Alabama. Speaker Hubbard’s indictment* arises out of that matter.
Acting Attorney General Davis and attorneys with the Special Prosecutions Division presented evidence to a Lee County Special Grand Jury resulting in Speaker Hubbard’s indictment. Specifically, the indictment charges Speaker Hubbard with the following twenty- three felony Ethics Law violations:
Four counts of using of his office as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party for personal gain, in violation of Section 36-25-5(a) of the Code of Alabama (Counts 1-4);
One count of voting for legislation with a conflict of interest, in violation of Section 36-25- 5(b) of the Code of Alabama (Count 5);
Eleven counts of soliciting or receiving a thing of value from a lobbyist or principal, in violation of Section 36-25-5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama (Counts 6,10,15-23)
Two counts of using his office as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for personal gain, in violation of Section 36-25-5(a) of the Code of Alabama (Counts 7,11,);
Four Counts of lobbying an executive department or agency for a fee, in violation of Section 36-25-1.1 of the Code of Alabama (Counts 8-9, 12-13);
One count of using state equipment, materials, etc. for private gain, in violation of Section 36-25-5(c) of the Code of Alabama (Count 14).
If convicted, Speaker Hubbard faces a maximum penalty of two to twenty years imprisonment and fines of up to $30,000.00 for each count, all of which are Class B Felonies.
Acting Attorney General Davis commended those who are handling this case, noting in particular Special Prosecutions Division Chief Matt Hart, Deputy Attorney General Mike Duffy and investigators with the Special Prosecutions Division.
No further information about the investigation or about Speaker Hubbard’s alleged crimes other than stated in the indictment may be released at this time. No additional comment will be available at this time.
*An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
20 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—It’s never too early to start the next campaign. With just over two weeks before Election Day 2014, a poll is making the rounds in Alabama Republican circles this week, showing the top choices among Republicans for the Governor’s race in 2018. The poll was sponsored by the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government and conducted by Spot On Strategies Group.
The poll of 608 Republican voters included several household Republican names, including several who have run for or held statewide office. Several mayors and legislators were also added to the list. In all, 12 names were tested with an option for “Other” as a 13th option. Not surprisingly, “Unsure” led the pack four years out, with nearly a quarter of the sample registering as unsure who they will back in 2018.
The Top 3 finishers were, Luther Strange (Attorney General), Bradley Byrne (Congressman), and Tim James (Businessman), three Republicans who have run statewide within the past four years.
Luther Strange finished first with 15 percent. There is little doubt his continual presence on television for the past few months in his quest for re-election for Attorney General helped lift him to the top position.
Tim James finished second with 14 percent. James ran an extremely close third in the GOP primary for governor in 2010. He also ran a distant third in the 2002 GOP primary for governor. It is clear he still has a loyal, but small following around the State.
Bradley Byrne finished third with 12 percent. Byrne finished with a plurality of the GOP primary vote for governor in 2010, but got beat handily by Robert Bentley in the runoff. Byrne has since run a successful special election for congress in Alabama’s First Congressional District and will be elected to his first full term this November.
Those choosing “Other” took fourth place with 11 percent. This is probably not surprising four years away from 2018. However, what is surprising is that combined with “Unsure,” those unwilling or unable to select one of the twelve named participants, represented a healthy 35 percent of the sample.
The “also rans” included Sandy Stimpson (Mayor of Mobile), Greg Reed (State Senator), Arthur Orr (State Senator), Dick Brewbaker (State Senator), Del Marsh (Senate Pro Tem), Mike Hubbard (Speaker of the House), Tommy Battle (Mayor of Huntsville), Paul DeMarco (State Representative), and Martha Roby (Congressman).