Testimony Resumes in Hubbard Ethics Trial, Fairfield Focuses on Fixing Finances

May 31, 2016

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard and defense attorney Bill Baxley
Credit AP

After the holiday weekend, testimony is scheduled to resume later today in the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Prosecutors say they will call a number of influential lobbyists and company owners as witnesses today. They say Hubbard asked them to either make investments in his printing company or to help him find business clients.

Hubbard is accused of using his current seat as Alabama’s House Speaker and previous position as chairman of Alabama’s Republican Party to generate $2.3 million in work and investments for his companies. Defense lawyers argue the transactions were legal and involved legitimate work. Business Council of Alabama President Billy Canary, the daughter of former Gov. Bob Riley and others are expected to testify today.

The trial is expected to last three weeks in total.

One central Alabama city is trying to turn its financial future around.

Fairfield lost a Walmart Supercenter and a U.S. Steel Works blast furnace in recent months. That cost the town sales tax revenue and jobs, leaving city leaders and officials to figure out how to revitalize their economy.

Kenneth Coachman is the mayor of Fairfield. He is remaining optimistic and says the time is now for people to invest in his city.

“We want to help those businesses who are coming in to do it correctly. We encourage people to invest in Fairfield. Money is here. People have not stopped spending. They just don’t have a place to spend it.”

City officials say they have a plan to bring 100 businesses to Fairfield in the next few years. Officials say 38 businesses have already pledged to relocate to Fairfield.

America’s roads and infrastructure are in disrepair, and the state of Alabama is one of the worst offenders.

In their 2015 infrastructure report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Alabama’s roads a D+. Road travel in Alabama has increased by around fifty percent since 1990, and funding for maintenance and repair hasn’t kept up. State bridges aren’t much better off; they say one in every six drivers in Alabama will cross a structurally deficient bridge every day.

Michael Johnson is the President and CEO of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. He says the state’s crumbling infrastructure isn’t just a safety concern – it hits residents’ pocketbooks, too.

“Driving on deficient roads costs drivers in the state of Alabama as much as $1562 per year in extra vehicle operating costs as a result of damage done to the vehicle and time stuck in traffic due to congestion.”

Some lawmakers pushed to increase the state’s gasoline tax in order to fund road and infrastructure improvements. That measure failed in this year’s legislative session.