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Curtail compliance; no snow plows; and more in this week’s OTR

Off The Record: The latest rumors and rumblings in North Alabama


Curtail compliance

North Alabama is still in the midst of crippling winter weather that has closed schools and businesses, covered roadways in inches of ice and, consequently, left quite a few vehicles in the ditch. One thing we haven’t had to worry about this go around is the rolling blackouts of last winter – despite the Tennessee Valley Authority hitting an all-time demand record this week. In December 2022, high winds and single-digit temperatures forced the agency to order rolling blackouts for the first time in its history. Since that time, the TVA has invested nearly $123 million in their plant to increase reliability and resiliency. TVA did request “voluntary electric curtailment” one day this week. Do people actually curtail their energy consumption when politely asked? One unnamed official told us, “Surprisingly, yes.”

Push for plows?

Meanwhile, the near-complete shutdown of North Alabama this week due to winter weather has brought up a familiar debate this week. Should the area be better prepared to handle the extreme-for-us effects of winter conditions? “Why spend millions and millions of dollars on equipment that will be used for a few days once a year?” was the viewpoint of one county-connected individual. “Snowplows wouldn’t have even worked in this situation,” he added. “It’s all ice!” Meanwhile, a meme featuring the northern state line with a pristine Tennessee on one side and an ice-covered Alabama on the other is proving to be quite popular at the moment. 

(Facebook, 256 Today)

Life (and elections) happen fast

Just a week after a consequential special election where Marshall County voters decided to send a new State Senator straight to Montgomery without a runoff, there’s already a clear frontrunner in the race to fill a House seat vacated by the victor, Sen.-elect Wes Kitchens (R-Arab) in District 27. Former Alabama Secretary of Early Childhood Education Jeana Ross announced her campaign before her former boss, Gov. Kay Ivey, has even called a special election for the district. One day later, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said he was “all-in” for Ross to win the seat he once held, for a district he still lives in, chosen by voters he knows well. All things considered, any potential candidate still mulling over a decision to jump into the race has already missed the boat.

Bet on Britt

This week, Politico reported that among the many names in consideration as Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024 remains U.S. Sen. Katie Britt — who they described as a “play-it-safe” prospect for the GOP ticket. Alongside Britt’s mention in that category are names like Ben Carson, Tim Scott and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Speculation abounds over Trump’s impending VP pick after a demonstrable victory in Iowa this week, leading many to believe the campaign is pivoting to a general election outlook in which women and independent voters will become key targets for both parties’ bid for the White House. With plenty of other female figures in the mix for the VP slot with higher profiles and more seniority than Britt, the Trump campaign still knows she’s someone voters coast-to-coast would love to meet. If not called yet, Britt will continue to be seen as a conservative breadwinner by the people of Alabama — and someone destined for greater responsibility in the U.S. Senate by those who run it.

Round and round they go

The lawyerly version of musical chairs continues. You might remember when OTR broke the news that a mass exodus of attorneys from Maynard Cooper was breaking off to form Butler Snow … well that apparently led to Maynard Cooper poaching from Lanier Ford, leading Lanier Ford to grab quite a few notable names from Wilmer & Lee. One local magnate was recently overheard grumbling he couldn’t keep track of where his attorney was or which office to find them. OTR recommends walking in any direction in downtown Huntsville where you’ll be more likely to find an attorney than a parking space. 

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