Mobile

Myron Thompson
Alex AuBuchon / APR

A Mobile city councilman is in stable condition today after he was shot during a robbery in South Africa this weekend.

City Councilman C.J. Small owns and operates Small’s Mortuary and Cremation Services in Mobile. He was in Johannesburg attending the South African Funeral Director and Morticians Association Convention. At around noon Johannesburg time, the tour bus Small was riding was ambushed and several patrons were robbed. Small was shot in the face during the incident, and some other passengers were injured.

The Alabama Department of Education has restored funding to a reading program that educators feared was in danger at many public schools.

Earlier this week, superintendents were scrambling for funding to replace a $7.5 million cut to the Alabama Reading Initiative, which allows for reading coaches in public schools. The cuts were performance-based, and many schools with above-average reading scores were in danger of cutting out their Reading Initiative programs entirely.

The tug of war continues over the fate of Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison. An appellate court stopped tonight’s execution. That prompted the state of Alabama to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also involves part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial…

Crestmont kids animals
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Attorneys for death row inmate Vernon Madison will spend today looking for a last minute stay of execution. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also points out a part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial.

Vernon Madison is on Alabama’s death row after Mobile County Circuit Judge Ferrill McRae overrode the jury’s recommendation of life in prison. Alabama is the only state in the nation where a judge can do that.

Alabama State House
AP

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's prison construction bill failed to pass on the final night of the legislative session yesterday.

Lawmakers ended the session at midnight last night before a scaled-back version of the bill received a vote in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers attempted to craft a last-minute compromise in their effort to clear the bill through both chambers of the legislature yesterday.

UTC engine
United Technologies Corporation

Today is the last day of the 2016 legislative session, and the last chance for lawmakers to decide the fate of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's $800 million prison construction proposal.

A conference committee will meet later today to try and reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Bentley is seeking to borrow $800 million to build three new prisons for men — housing up to 4,000 inmates each — and one new women's prison. Most existing state prison facilities would close.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is not responding to the state auditor's order to testify before him.

Bentley issued the statement today, a day after State Auditor Jim Zeigler ordered Bentley to appear before him to answer questions about the use of state funds and his relationship with a former staffer.

Bentley says the appropriate legal process was through the Alabama Ethics Commission where Zeigler has already filed a complaint.  The governor said he is cooperating fully with the commission.

European aircraft maker Airbus says the inaugural test flight of its first airplane made in the United States was a success.

The A321 passenger jet took off this morning from the company's new plant in Mobile.

The three-hour flight over the Gulf of Mexico included a series of maneuvers and tests of all the airplane's operating systems.

The first Airbus produced by the company’s U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile is set to take the skies for the first time next week.

The Alabama-built A321 plane will take off from the Mobile Airport at 9:15 Monday morning barring any weather or other pre-flight test factors. The future JetBlue Airbus’s test flight is a normal step in aircraft production and takes place before the company gets the plane. 

Following the flight, the aircraft will go through a few more weeks of final delivery preparations.

A Montgomery judge says extra security is unnecessary in the case against a white police officer charged with fatally shooting a black man.

Officer Aaron Smith sat quietly between his two attorneys today as the court considered several motions.

Smith’s attorney Mickey McDermott filed a motion for extra security as a "necessary precaution" due to threats against Smith. But in court, the lawyer agreed with Judge Jimmy Pool that existing courthouse security was adequate.

Alabama jobless rate unchanged, Black Belt Region tourism

Mar 14, 2016

Alabama's unemployment rate remains unchanged even though the state added more than 8,000 jobs.

A statement from the governor's office released today says the state's unemployment rate for January was 6.2 percent, the same as the month before. Shelby County has Alabama's lowest jobless rate at 4.5 percent, and Clarke County is highest at 12.4 percent.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is taking on a new position as chairman of Don Trump's advisory committee on national security.

Trump named the Mobile Republican to the post yesterday. A release from the Trump campaign says he's honored to have Sessions as a member of his team.

The announcement comes a week after Sessions endorsed the New York businessman for the GOP nomination for president.

Alabama’s governor has signed a bill that prevents cities from setting their own minimum wage. 

Governor Robert Bentley signed the bill in to law shortly after the State Senate approved it by more than 2-to-1 vote.  The majority of the votes fell along party lines.

Republican lawmakers supported the bill that will block the Birmingham City Council, which voted to increase their city’s minimum wage to $10.10.  That minimum wage hike set to go in to effect on Monday.

Alabama lawmakers are quickly moving to block a minimum wage hike that has already been approved in Birmingham.

The Alabama Senate could vote today to give final passage to a bill stripping cities of the ability to set their own minimum wages.

Republican Rep. David Faulkner of Mountain Brook says his bill will maintain uniformity across the state. Faulkner says it would be an undue burden on businesses to allow hundreds of different minimum wages across Alabama.

A judge has rescheduled a hearing on indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard's request to dismiss ethics charges against him.  Circuit Judge Jacob Walker delayed the hearing until Feb. 16 because of a scheduling conflict.

Hubbard is alleging prosecutorial misconduct after a political consultant says he communicated often with the lead prosecutor and used the information to try to damage Hubbard politically.

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Wikimedia

More than 800 Alabamians could face eviction from public housing under a new proposal that would cut off assistance for higher-earning individuals.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced a proposal aimed at reducing the number of "over-income" tenants who live in government-assisted homes. Currently, federal law requires people to meet income requirements when they move in to government-assisted housing. But they are not forced to leave if their income grows past the threshold.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining an Alabama auto parts supplier over $170,000 for unsafe working conditions.

Daeil USA is based in Valley, Alabama and supplies parts to Hyundai and Kia. OSHA recently issued 17 citations against the company, 10 of which were classified as serious.

They’re accusing the employer of willful failure to develop procedures to prevent multiple machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing. OSHA says the unguarded machinery put workers in danger of amputations and other serious occupational hazards.

An environmental group has asked a judge to hear oral arguments in its lawsuit challenging the state of Alabama's plans to use oil spill settlement funds to build a beachfront hotel.

The Gulf Restoration Network filed the request earlier this month in federal court. The group asked for expedited arguments, citing Alabama's continued work on the project. The state is building a new 350-room beach hotel and conference center at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores.

Alabama's unemployment rate is up slightly from a month ago. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports, officials say it isn’t entirely bad news…

Labor statistics released today show the state's jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percent to 6 percent in November.

A statement from Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington says the increase isn't necessarily bad news because it indicates more people are entering the workforce.

Mobile police
Chip English / Mobile Press-Register

The city of Mobile is taking steps to offer its police force a more competitive salary.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson says the city will hire a third-party consultant to examine the salary structure and find ways to make improvements. During a city council meeting yesterday, Stimpson said wages throughout the city will be examined to see where adjustments are needed.

Tommy Bice
timesdaily.com

Alabama Department of Education Superintendent Tommy Bice says he will propose raising teacher salaries over the next three years.

Bice said yesterday his department would recommend raising teachers' salaries 5 percent in fiscal year 2017, which begins next October.

The state government will have the final word on public school spending next year. According to the department, the raise would cost $160 million.

Bice says he will seek additional raises in 2018 and 2019, with the goal of bringing teacher salaries in line with inflation.

A city-wide planning map is aiming to make Mobile more walkable.

The plan called "Map for Mobile" will go before the city council Tuesday for consideration. The plan outlines methods and approaches the city will follow starting in 2016 to implement zoning, land use, code and ordinance changes and capital improvement priorities.

The map would be the first for South Alabama's largest city in years.

It was approved by the city's planning commission Thursday following a round of mostly positive comments from people involved in the nine-month creation process.

Another Republican Presidential hopeful is coming to Alabama today.

Ohio Governor John Kasich* is meeting supporters during a campaign rally right now at Wintzell’s Oyster Bar in Mobile. The GOP contender earned the endorsement of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. Still, Kasich is behind in the polls compared to competitors like Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Bob Omainsky** owns Wintzell’s. He says the Kasich campaign approached him about using the oyster bar as the venue for today’s event…

It’s one week to go before Alabama’s new state budget goes into effect. APR’s Pat Duggins reports, big cuts might be coming despite tax increases…

Alabama lawmakers cobbled together a spending and taxation package of about one hundred and sixty six million dollars. That’s short of the two hundred million dollar budgetary shortfall Governor Robert Bentley was predicting during the budget debate.

Huntsville Federal Court
Wikimedia

Former Madison police officer Eric Parker’s defense team is expected to present their case today as his civil rights trial continues.

Parker is accused of violating the civil rights of 58 year old Indian man Sureshbhai Patel when he assaulted and partially paralyzed him during a police stop in February.

"Where Does Your Water Come From?"

Sep 2, 2015
^0 inch pipelines carry water from Big Creek Lake to water treatment plants in Mobile

All year long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking at water. Specifically, the condition of Alabama’s drinking water supply and the health of our rivers. The APR news team will present a number of stories over the coming weeks on the subject. It’s a story of politics, pollution, economics, and the obvious need that water is there when you turn on the tap. To that end, I traveled from one end of Alabama to the other to answer the question—where does your water come from?

During the next week nearly a third of the Republicans who want to be President will be in Alabama. 

Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley endorsed Ohio’s Governor John Kasich earlier this week. Tonight the G-O-P front runner, businessman Donald Trump will be in Mobile where he is expected to draw a crowd of nearly thirty thousand.

Terry Lathan is the Chairwoman of the Alabama G-O-P. She says Alabama is a key to the South…

The Birmingham City Council has passed a resolution increasing the minimum wage to over ten dollars an hour. APR’s Alex AuBuchon reports it won’t happen all at once.

The Birmingham City Council passed an ordinance during their meeting today that will eventually increase the city’s minimum wage to ten dollars and ten cents ($10.10) per hour.

The Mobile County Commission is taking steps to protect the area’s primary source of drinking water. APR’s Pat Duggins reports it’s a land purchase around Big Creek Lake…

Mobile County wants to buy 200 acres around the Big Creek Lake watershed. The county has close to $400,000 in grants from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program to pay for the property.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the County the go-ahead to make the purchase earlier this week. The goal is to protect the area around the lake, which is Mobile’s main source of water.

A.G. Gaston
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

A new report provides the specific economic impacts of decades of climate change both in Alabama and throughout the United States.

In Alabama, the largest issue is expected to be increased temperature. By 2040, the report estimates that the state will see up to 33 additional days per year above 95 degrees. That would result in a nearly 9% drop in crop yields, a 7.5% jump in energy demand, and nearly 500 additional deaths per year.

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