Hubbard Ethics Trial Delayed Again, UAH Students Protest Sessions as Speaker

Mar 29, 2016

Mike Hubbard (L) and lead defense attorney Bill Baxley (R) leave Lee County Courthouse

House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial has been postponed once again. APR’s student reporter Miranda Fulmore has more.

Hubbard’s trial was originally scheduled to begin next month, but has been postponed by Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker. Walker postponed the trial after the state’s lead prosecutor faced a knee injury and needs time to recover from surgery.

Last week, the Attorney General’s office asked for a short postponement of today’s pretrial conference and the April 11th trial. Walker says he will set a new date for the trial. Hubbard faces 23 ethics charges for using his political office to benefit his businesses. The charges claim he achieved this by legislative action, lobbying the governor’s office and soliciting new clients and investments.

Hubbard says the transactions were proper.

Some students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville aren’t too happy with the school’s choice for graduation speaker.

UAH plans for U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions to deliver the keynote address at the university’s spring graduation ceremony. An online petition to remove Sessions as speaker was started two days ago and already has nearly 450 signatures.

Protestors say Sessions’ voting record on public education including a 0% rating from the National Education Association makes him a poor candidate for speaker. Students also cited the senator’s endorsement of presidential candidate Donald Trump and his lack of support for LGBT rights.

Some students also say Sessions doesn’t measure up to the keynote speaker at December’s graduation ceremony, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Despite the backlash, UAH officials say they stand by their decision to have Sessions deliver the keynote address. They say he was the unanimous choice among a diverse selection group including administration, faculty and students.

The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center will honor veterans of the Vietnam War in a ceremony today.

The event will mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War. It will feature speeches by local veterans and musical performances. There will also be a ceremony to honor POW / MIA veterans.

Damon Stevenson is the Public Affairs Officer for the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center. He says that for many working at the center, Vietnam veterans are an inspiration for their own service.

“As a Gulf War Veteran myself, I can tell you that one reason I joined the military was the admiration I had for our Vietnam veterans. I was a young child when the war in Vietnam was drawing to an end, but it was something that always inspired me and motivated me to join the military.”

The ceremony will take place at the Sports Atrium Building at 10 am this morning.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is reopening two portions of Mobile Bay for oyster harvesting.

Health officials released a statement saying portions of areas one and three of the bay, including Heron Bay, are open for harvesting as of noon on Monday. All other portions of Mobile Bay will remain closed.

The public health department had closed all shellfish growing areas in Mobile and Baldwin counties in late February. Officials say the closure was prompted by potential bacterial contamination of oyster beds during heavy rainfall.

All of Alabama’s public oyster reefs are managed by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Oyster harvesters are asked to continue to check in with that agency regarding the latest news on reef closures.