Alex AuBuchon

News Host / Reporter

Alex AuBuchon is APR’s Morning Edition host and also writes news and feature stories. He got his start in nonprofit radio at the University of Tennessee’s venerable WUTK-FM.

AuBuchon started as a student DJ before quickly falling in with the news team. He spent a semester on the news staff and then a year as News Director, delivering live newscasts and teaching broadcast workshops to undergraduate journalism students.

AuBuchon then switched over to commercial radio, taking a job as Operations Manager and Assistant News Director for a group of four radio stations in his hometown of Paris, Tennessee. He scheduled traffic and automation breaks and did administrative work for four stations during the week, and delivered newscasts and maintained a popular news website on the weekends.

Alex crossed back over to public radio in January 2015, moving to Alabama to wake up early and give listeners the news they need to get ready for the day.

prison overcrowding
Equal Justice Initiative

Prison officials in Alabama are investing the beating death of an inmate who was attacked by other prisoners late last week — the second deadly attack on a state prisoner within a 24 hour span.

In the most recent case, the Alabama Department of Corrections says 41-year-old David Sanders was found badly beaten and unresponsive in a dorm of the Elmore Correctional Facility on Thursday.

Sanders was flown to a Montgomery hospital, where he died of his injuries on Saturday.

Authorities say four inmates are suspected in the death.

A state senate committee has approved a bill that would require Alabama high schoolers to pass a basic civics test before graduating.

Senator Arthur Orr, the Decatur Republican that introduced the bill, says citizens right now don't know enough about their government. He cited a survey that found a third of people couldn't name the three branches of government.

Critics say Alabama schools already teach civics and call the test a waste of time.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has announced the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions won’t be held until next year.

Governor Bentley’s office issued a news release yesterday saying a special primary election would be held June 5, 2018, with a primary runoff taking place July 17 if necessary. The special general election will be held on November 6, 2018. Those dates coordinate exactly with the 2018 General Election.

Steve Marshall AG
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

Steve Marshall was sworn in as Alabama's new attorney general yesterday.

Marshall took the oath of office yesterday afternoon in Montgomery. Late last week, Gov. Robert Bentley named Marshall, the long-time district attorney of Marshall County, to the position. It had been vacant since Bentley appointed former Attorney General Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate.

At his swearing-in, Marshall said fighting public corruption and combating human trafficking would be among his top priorities.

Dance Marathon
University of Alabama

Students at the University of Alabama were dancing for children last weekend.

More than 200 students participated in the Alabama Dance Marathon on Saturday. The event is 12 hours of non-stop dancing meant to raise money for Children's of Alabama, a children’s hospital in Birmingham. Participants had to keep moving from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., and weren’t allowed to sit.

An Alabama house committee has approved a bill that would block funding for state universities that defy immigration laws.

Earlier this week, the Americans First Act bill was passed by the House Committee on State Government. It states that all public colleges in Alabama have to comply with existing state and federal laws on immigration, or risk losing all state funding.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has appointed the state’s Attorney General Luther Strange to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.

Sessions was confirmed yesterday as the 84th Attorney General of the United States, leaving a vacancy for Alabama’s representation in the Senate. Strange will begin serving in the Senate immediately and will hold the position until a special election is held during next year’s general elections. The winner of that election will serve the remainder of Sessions’ term, which ends in 2020.

Sessions
AP

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is expected to face his peers in the U.S. Senate this evening in his bid to become the next Attorney General.

Sessions is widely expected to win confirmation as Attorney General. Reports indicate he has unanimous partisan support, and at least one Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has pledged his support for Sessions.

Alabama lawmakers are back in Montgomery today to begin the 2017 legislative session.

One major priority will be redrawing legislative districts, after federal courts ruled the boundaries of 12 Alabama voting districts relied too heavily on race. Federal judges say they want new lines in place for next year’s elections, so lawmakers will need to work quickly to get a new legislative map in place.

There's going to be more than a little clowning around in the Huntsville area starting tomorrow.

The Rocket City Clown Alley is starting its latest workshop on the fine art of clowning. The eight-week course starts tomorrow. The class covers all the bases of clowning, from face painting, to juggling, to character development.

Organizer Paul Carlton goes by the clown name Dr. Curley. He says having fun is the first step to clowning.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell has officially announced his bid for re-election.

Bell is seeking his second full four-year term as mayor of Birmingham.

Al.com reports Bell won his first bid for mayor in a special election in late 2009 to replace former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, following his federal conviction on bribery charges. Bell then won re-election to a two-year term in 2011. That term was abbreviated to synchronize the mayoral and city council elections.

The fight over the legality of same-sex marriage in Alabama is finally, officially over. And as the cases wrap up, state taxpayers will be on the hook for the legal fees.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade has ordered that the state of Alabama will pay over $300,000 in legal fees to several organizations including the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama. They provided representation for litigants challenging Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Dr. Richard Streiffer
UA

The Affordable Care Act is seen as one of the defining pieces of President Obama’s legacy – and the new Republican majority has targeted it for repeal.

Leading lawmakers in both houses of Congress have begun work dismantling Obamacare – despite not having any plan in place for a replacement, and despite polling that suggests an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose its repeal without a replacement ready.

Dr. Richard Streiffer is the dean of the College of Community Health Sciences at the University of Alabama. He joins us to explain the current state of the health insurance marketplace in Alabama, what the Affordable Care Act has done for Alabama's citizens, and what it might mean for the state if the act is repealed.

A group of environmental advocates in north Alabama have announced their intent to sue utilities boards in Muscle Shoals and Tuscumbia over violations of the Clean Water Act.

The Tennessee Riverkeeper issued a press release yesterday announcing their intent to sue the Muscle Shoals Utilities Board and the City of Tuscumbia’s Department of Utilities. The Riverkeeper says the two utilities boards are responsible for over 35 sewer overflow incidents since 2012, illegally pouring over 25,000 gallons of sewage into public waterways including the Tennessee River.

Embattled Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has been forced to empty his leftover campaign funds to pay legal bills as he fights an impeachment push and fallout from a scandal.

Bentley filed his campaign finance report yesterday. The report shows the governor's campaign paid more than $320,000 in legal bills last year.

Spencer Collier
ALEA

Former Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier now has a new job title: Police Chief of Selma.

Selma Mayor Darrio Melton announced the appointment yesterday. He released a statement saying Collier's "expertise in law enforcement will benefit our city and help move us forward."

Collier and Melton served together in the House of Representatives. Collier is also a former state homeland security director and a former Alabama state trooper.

Sessions protest
NAACP

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will face a Senate confirmation vote to become the country’s next Attorney General later today, and protestors in Alabama are once again making their voices heard in opposition.

More than 100 people reportedly took part in a second sit-in at Senator Sessions’ office in Mobile. The office was closed, but demonstrators reportedly packed the building outside his office and in a second-floor lobby.

Auburn University

Auburn University is planning to build to a brand-new $28 million facility at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

According to Al.com, the Auburn University's board of trustees meeting agenda states the project for the 44,000-square foot facility will begin May and end in July 2018 if approved at a meeting this Friday.

Some of the best athletes in college football are in Mobile this week, gearing up for the annual Reese’s Senior Bowl.

The game is a chance for standout athletes to practice and play before a host of NFL scouts, before NFL teams draft their next class of players in April. A few of this year’s top prospects, including University of Alabama defenders Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster, have opted to sit out this year’s Senior Bowl. But the roster still includes four Crimson Tide players, two players from Auburn, and one athlete from the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on Senator Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as the next U.S. Attorney General earlier this week. But that vote has been delayed until next Tuesday.

Senator Sessions has faced intense criticism from the left for his conservative voting record, and civil rights advocates including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have pointed to allegations of racist behavior.

Sessions
AP

Lawsuits have been filed claiming President Donald Trump’s foreign business dealings violate the Constitution. The impending litigation could test the relationship between President Trump and his pick for U.S. Attorney General – Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

UA ROTC
University of Alabama

Several future military officers at the University of Alabama will be headed to West Point after winning an ROTC competition over the weekend.

The UA cadets competed in what’s called the Brigade Ranger Challenge – a regional tournament for the winners of similar competitions in five Southeastern states and in Puerto Rico. Events included a fitness test, timed weapon assembly, land navigation, a 6.2 mile march and more – all while wearing about 40 pounds of gear. Alabama’s team won five of the seven events involved.

Fort Rucker helicopters
U.S. Air Force

A new contract to provide helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker in southeast Alabama has been awarded to the same company that will begin fixed-wing flight training for the Army at the Dothan Regional Airport in a few weeks.

The Dothan Eagle reports CAE USA announced the full contract to provide rotary-wing flight training will be more than $50 million for the transition period and first year.

CAE built a 75,000-square-foot facility at Dothan Regional Airport for its contract there, but at Fort Rucker, the infrastructure is already in place.

Rick Burley
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

An old, defunct bowling alley in Montgomery will soon see new life as a call center.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports a $2 million renovation is already underway inside the Brunswick Woodmere Lanes bowling alley. The alley has been out of business for about five years, ever since Brunswick moved to Stratford Square in Montgomery.

The newspaper reports ASK owner Rick Burley plans to move his call center company there from its current, very cramped office building nearby. They plan to add about 300 employees once the new office is finished, nearly doubling their payroll.

Over his eight years in office, President Obama commuted the sentences of nearly 1400 federal prisoners, the most in history, and issued over 200 pardons.

But one of those pardons did not come for former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. The Department of Justice informed Siegelman’s attorneys yesterday that his application for clemency had been denied.

This week marks the beginning of a new political era – and the end of another.

Not just in Washington, either. A new administration also brings turnover at the state level. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance joins us today, on her final day as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. She announced her intent to retire last week, and spoke with us about her eight years serving as the head law enforcement official for Alabama's northern district.

Federal authorities say they're investigating threats made to Jewish centers both in Alabama and across the country.

A brief statement released by the FBI yesterday says they and the Justice Department's civil rights division are investigating "possible civil rights violations in connection with threats." The statement from the agency's Washington headquarters doesn't characterize the threats.

But the Anti-Defamation League also issued a statement yesterday citing "a series of bomb threats to Jewish community centers in at least 18 states."

stream pollution
Tom Henderson / AP

The state of Alabama has joined a lawsuit seeking to block new rules from the Obama administration that crack down on coal mining near waterways.

Thirteen states, led by Texas, filed that lawsuit in federal court yesterday. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the new “Stream Protection Rule” imposes what he calls “mandatory, one-size-fits-all” regulations that violate states’ rights.

The U.S. Department of the Interior says the new regulations will protect over 6,000 miles of America’s streams by preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby waterways.

Back Lot render
Core Hospitality Advisors

Developers constructing a new hotel in downtown Mobile area are also rolling out the red carpet for operators of food trucks.

Core Hospitality Advisors is building a Hilton Garden Inn across from Bienville Square in downtown Mobile. The developers say they wound up with some additional land upon beginning construction, and plan to add a food truck court to the property. The space will be called The Back Lot and will have parking and support for three food trucks at a time.

Adam Cowart of Core Hospitality Advisors explains the setup for the food trucks and the patrons.

Charles Todd Henderson
WBRC-TV

The incoming District Attorney for Jefferson County, Charles Todd Henderson, was scheduled to take office today. But he’s been automatically suspended due to a felony indictment.

According to the Alabama Political Reporter, Henderson was a surprise winner over incumbent District Attorney Brandon Falls. Late last week, Henderson was charged with a Class C felony for allegedly providing false information to a judge. Alabama state law dictates Henderson is suspended until the case is resolved.

Pages