Judge kills Hubbard's subpoenas, Selma tax audit and Civil War reenactment

May 14, 2015

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard

A judge recently stopped another effort from Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s defense to have his ethics case dismissed.

Lee County Judge Jacob Walker III granted a state motion to kill subpoenas against Governor Robert Bentley and the custodian of records for the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Hubbard’s lawyers say those subpoenas were necessary to learn about possible communication records from Governor Bentley regarding Attorney General Luther Strange recusing himself from the case and appointing chief prosecutor Van Davis.

State prosecutors argued it wouldn’t have been proper to subpoena the Governor before the trial, since he would likely be a state’s witness. Two of Hubbard’s 23 ethics violations are for lobbying Governor Bentley’s office for a fee.

Defense lawyers say the subpoena against the Ethics Commission custodian of records was intended to find complaints about a state Deputy Attorney General, as well as communication between that commission and the Attorney General’s Office.

Hubbard’s defense team has 18 other subpoenas supporting their effort to dismiss the case. He is set to stand trial on 23 counts of ethics violations starting in October.

Selma city officials are asking for a state audit to determine why the city's tax revenue during the Bloody Sunday 50th anniversary was lower than anticipated.

Mayor George Evans told the Selma Times-Journal the city's tax revenue for the month of March was roughly $16,000 more than it was in March 2014. That's despite thousands of extra visitors coming to town for the anniversary weekend.

Councilman Cecil Williamson says the anniversary event cost the city roughly $200,000, and the city has an outstanding bill of about $165,000 to pay for cleanup and transportation overtime costs.

Council President Corey Bowie says city leaders have asked the mayor to request an audit from the Alabama Department of Revenue to review tax revenue local businesses reported in March.

Civil War buffs will be gathering in Pike County this weekend to remember what may be the last fatality during the War Between the States.

Confederate soldiers ambushed Union troops on Hobdy’s Bridge 150 years ago this week. Union Corporal John Skinner was killed during the fighting.

Event organizer Bob McLendon says Skinner is unusual since he was a Confederate who wound up fighting for the Union. McLendon says it all came down to money.

“They were paid a bounty to join First Florida Cavalry Union. And in south Alabama, people were really having hard times and if you got a bounty, it could go a long way in supporting your family.”

McLendon says Skinner’s death occurred six days after a skirmish in Texas which historians say included the last fatality of the Civil War. Two reenactments of the ambush are planned on Hobdy’s Bridge this Saturday and Sunday.

A state Senate committee will vote this morning on a bill to allow a state lottery and casinos in Alabama.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee is deciding whether to approve a bill that would allow a state lottery and Las Vegas-style casinos at four existing state dog tracks in Birmingham, Mobile and Macon and Greene counties.

Houston County residents are also urging the panel to allow a fifth casino in that county.

The committee is expected to pass that bill today, but the legislation still has a long way to go before it becomes law. Three-fifths of the legislature and a majority of voters would have to approve altering the state Constitution to allow gambling.

Alabama voters passed on the idea of a state lottery in 1999.