New state GOP chair, Gardendale school separation and AEA executive fired

Feb 23, 2015

Terry Lathan, newly elected Alabama GOP chair

The Alabama Republican Party has a new leader. Voters elected Terry Lathan of Mobile as chairwoman of the state party.

Lathan is a former schoolteacher and has worked 35 years in various leadership positions in the Mobile County GOP and the state executive committee. She defeated former state representative Mary Sue McClurkin.

Lathan is entering the leadership role with Alabama's Republican party at a historical high point. The GOP holds every statewide office, supermajorities in the legislature and controls the state appeals courts.

Lathan, an anti-tax advocate, is also taking the helm just as Gov. Robert Bentley pitches a tax hike that many GOP activists oppose.

The public school system in Gardendale is awaiting a decision on its own future.

Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice will make his final ruling today whether or not to separate Gardendale schools from the Jefferson County. The city school system is dealing with issues like paying more than $8 million in state sales tax revenue to the county board to build Gardendale High School.

Dr. Patrick Martin is the Gardendale Schools' Superintendent. He says there are plenty of benefits for Gardendale to separate from Jefferson County’s school system.

“Well, one would be local control. If you look at a system there in the community of Gardendale, the voice of parents, students and community members in setting the direction of their own school system would be viewed as advantageous.”

Dr. Martin adds he is confident that Dr. Bice will rule in favor of separating the schools.

The Alabama Education Association is moving to fire its executive secretary, Henry Mabry.

The board of the teacher's lobby announced the action Saturday morning. Their decision comes after a financial audit raised concerns about Mabry's financial management of the organization.

AEA President Anita Gibson said their decision was difficult, but it was necessary to put the organization on a sound footing.

The organization's longtime leader, Paul Hubbert, first raised the alarm about AEA's finances in a letter to board members last year. Hubbert passed away last year.

Henry Mabry has not yet commented on the board's decision.

It's not yet clear who will lead the Alabama Education Association once Mabry is removed.

If you’re looking for a healthy place to live, a new study says Birmingham might not be it.

BetterDoctors.com is a website that helps patients find physicians. The group did a study that ranked U.S. cities from the healthiest to the least healthy. It examined the accessibility and quality of healthcare in cities as well as the number of residents with health coverage.

BetterDoctors.com spokeswoman Sylvia Raghavan says many southern states were at the bottom of the list due to things like income.

“It’s a lot easier to be at a healthier weight when you have more money, you can afford to go to the gym; you have more free time if you’re only working one job.”

Almost twelve percent of the doctors in Birmingham rated highly. That's much higher than Boston and Minneapolis, which are ranked as the top two healthiest cities.