Off The Record: The latest rumors and rumblings in North Alabama
Savory seafood on deck!
Big news on the development scene as reports circulate that Chuck’s Fish will soon announce a location at Clift Farm in Madison County. Chuck’s Fish is known for its fresh seafood sourced to their own Harbor Docks Seafood market in Destin. There are five locations across Alabama, Florida and Georgia each featuring gulf seafood, cut in-house steaks and an award-winning sushi bar. The Clift Farm location is expected to open in fall 2024.
Lost in Space Command
This week’s announcement by the Biden Administration that Space Command Headquarters would remain in Colorado Springs is not the end of the story, according to local observers. U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, had already begun an investigation into the delay of the announcement. Reporting on the decision-making process will give the committee plenty of ammunition as it contradicts earlier statements about who would make the final call. The Department of Defense has said the decision rested with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and would not involve the White House. Reports this week said Kendall and Air Force leadership were in favor of moving the headquarters to Huntsville. However, instead of honoring that decision, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin presented the recommendation for Huntsville along with Space Command Commander Gen. James Dickinson’s recommendation the headquarters remain in Colorado to President Biden for the final decision. Interestingly, in June, Dickinson – who led the Space and Missile Defense Command at Redstone Arsenal a few years ago – told Sens. Katie Britt and Tommy Tuberville and Rep. Dale Strong that Space Command “belongs on Redstone Arsenal.”
Business of government
The Business Council of Alabama is kicking off is Government Affairs Conference next week and we hear it will be the highest attended, yet. With August recess underway, you might expect to see a few of Alabama’s federally elected officials in attendance as well. BCA is also reportedly looking for a new governmental affairs leader, it’s not public yet, but there will be a few change-ups before legislators head back to the State House next session.
Childcare accessibility continues to bring challenges for working parents, including those relocating to the North Alabama area. Sources tell us FBI leadership has reached out to local officials, repeatedly stressing the need for additional childcare solutions as more of the bureau’s workforce relocates to Redstone Arsenal. One arsenal-adjacent daycare reportedly has a two-year waiting list.
Showdown at high noon
There is a showdown between the Madison Public Library and Moms for Liberty. After the library canceled a scheduled event featuring Brave Books and actor Kirk Cameron citing capacity concerns, a law firm representing the groups has threatened a lawsuit if the event is not reinstated by noon today. We are hearing that library and city officials have no plans to budge, their decision is final. If it does change, trust a lot of scrambling has taken place in the past few hours. Instead of cancelling, however, it would make sense to admit people “first come, first served” until the capacity is reached.
$270 million for opioid treatment
Huntsville’s Rep. Rex Reynolds is chairman of the newly created Opioid Settlement Oversight Committee which is tasked with dispersing the $270 million the state received in opioid settlement money. With that amount of money up for grabs, you can expect quite a few hands out. A series of public hearings are planned as the disbursement discussions get underway, while Reynolds seems keen to steer funding toward opioid-addiction treatment programs.
Courtroom yesterday, Alabama today
Former President Donald Trump is in Alabama today to headline the sold-out Alabama Republican Party’s Summer Dinner in Montgomery. On Thursday, Trump appeared in federal court in Washington, D.C., to plead not guilty to charges he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. OTR sources attending tonight’s dinner say they are expecting an especially fired-up Trump to take the stage, likening it to the Seinfeld-famous “Festivus” and the accompanying “Airing of Grievances.” No word if “Feats of Strength” are also expected.