August 3 Morning Newscast

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August 3, 2012 Morning Edition News

A Jefferson County judge is extending two temporary injunctions forbidding the Birmingham Board of Education from taking any administrative moves to fire school superintendent Craig Witherspoon (above). After two days of sometime fiery testimony, Judge Houston Brown told the school board not to take any action on Witherspoon’s contract and not to interfere with the state takeover of the school system. Tom Stewart is the attorney for the Birmingham board of Education.

On the other side of the fight, attorney David Boyd represents the State Department of Education.

If the local board doesn’t submit a balanced, approved budget to the state by September 1st, the state – legally speaking – has no choice but to withhold funding, which in itself would shut down the system. That could also trigger a loss of federal funding. Judge Brown gave both sides till next Wednesday to turn in more briefs or evidence. He could issue a ruling on permanent injunctions very soon after. Brown has tried to move things along, since school is set to start August 20. We’ve got extensive coverage of this week’s court proceedings here.

Alabama education officials say they’ll ask the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver from one provision of the No Child Left Behind law. Deputy State Superintendent Sherrill Parris says they will ask the feds to wave the provision that requires all students perform at a proficient level in math and reading by 2014. Thirty-three other states have already received waivers. Alabama’s waiver request will be based on implementing a state-developed plan that calls for all high school graduates to be prepared to get a job or pass first-year courses in a university, community college or technical school without remediation.

A judge is delaying the last sentencing in Alabama’s gambling corruption case. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins granted a request from former Country Crossing casino lobbyist Jennifer Pouncy to delay her sentencing from Aug. 29 to Sept. 26. She sought the delay to allow more time to study a presentencing report that’s due from federal probation officers by August 22. Pouncy has admitted offering bribes to legislators to support pro-gambling legislation. Country Crossing’s developer also pleaded guilty and received seven years. Another lobbyist and a state lawmakers were sentenced to five year.

The Alabama Department of Revenue says taxpayers should be on the lookout for an email scam that is using the department’s name. The emails say the taxpayer has been awarded gift cards or other prizes from the Department of Revenue. Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee says the department does not initiate communications with taxpayers through email.

Despite its lopsided loss to Alabama in last January’s BCS national title game, LSU will open the 2012 season ranked No. 1 in at least one poll. LSU sits atop the USA Today Top 25 coach’s poll released yesterday. Alabama is second and Southern California is third.


Secretary of State investigating Bessemer for potential voter fraud

While rumors of election fraud or irregularities have lingered in the city for years, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill confirmed to WBHM his office is looking into allegations of voter fraud in Bessemer this election cycle.

Local health officials plan to increase monkeypox vaccinations

Health officials will soon begin offering intradermal vaccinations, reaching more people with less vaccine.

Some 3rd graders in local schools could be held back under new law 

This is the first school year that third graders who do not read at grade level by the end of the school year must be held back in that grade, rather than passed on to fourth grade. The Alabama Literacy Act was passed several years ago, but its implementation was delayed because of the pandemic.

How one Birmingham custodian preps for the first day of school

When the kids are away, the custodial and maintenance staff in schools work all summer long. One custodian told WBHM about what it takes to keep the kids happy and healthy as they trade sunshine for fluorescent lights.

Dollar store workers are organizing for a better workplace. Just don’t call it a union.

Fired up by a labor movement that’s seen big union victories recently, dollar store workers are organizing in their own way to improve work conditions.

Bill Clark has a knack for making comebacks. Will he make one more? 

Bill Clark has had to overcome some serious hurdles during his career at UAB, as well as in his personal life. He not only resurrected a football program that had been neglected—and then out-right killed—he’s also been fighting through what he’s called a serious injury since childhood.

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