September 12, 2012, Morning News


90.3 WBHM A new analysis of U.S. Census data finds that Alabama has one of the largest gender wage gapes in the country. In 2011, the typical working woman in Alabama was paid 74.2 cents for every dollar the average man made. The gap was widest in the Huntsville area, where women made just 66 cents on a man's dollar. Fatima Goss Graves is the Vice President of Education and Employment with the National Women's Law Center, which did the analysis. She says the nearly 50 year old Equal Pay Act forbids employers from paying men and women different salaries for the same work, but several loopholes don't guarantee compliance. The Paycheck Fairness Act would close those loopholes, but was blocked by a procedural vote in Congress in June. Click here to see a state-by-state analysis of the gender wage gape and here to see that data broken down by congressional district.


The Birmingham Board of Education says it’s "fully committed" to educating the 24,500 students in the district and will comply with accreditation standards. The Birmingham News reports that the board passed a resolution yesterday affirming its commitment to those standards. The vote came in response to concerns by the accrediting agency over financial mismanagement and infighting by school board members. AdvancEd, the accrediting arm of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accrediting agency, had asked for an outline of the steps the Birmingham school board plans to take to fix the governance problems. The Birmingham News reports yesterday’s resolution includes a promise to work with the Alabama Association of School boards to address governance issues and approve future phases of the district’s financial recovery plan. The school board is under state control after violating a state law that requires districts to keep at least one month worth of operating expenses in reserves. If Birmingham City Schools were to lose its accreditation it would make it very hard for students to get into college.


Birmingham City council members will meet with Mayor William Bell's senior staff today to discuss the October 9th referendum on a proposed $150 million bond initiative. The Birmingham News reports that on Monday council members grilled the mayor’s finance director for more information on the bonds, including how the city would spend the money and repay the debt. Details on the plan have been vague. The News quotes Mayor Bell as saying the voters understand the bond would pay for major infrastructure needs in the city.


Gadsden has new budget for next fiscal year. The Gadsden Times reports the mayor and city council passed a $46.6 million budget. It’s the first time in three years they haven’t used reserve funds to balance the budget. Under the new plan, all full-time city employees a 2.5 percent raise. Some lower paid employees will get even more. The city of Trussville also approved its $31.7 million budget for fiscal year 2012-2013.


The Selma City Council is stopping construction on a new monument to honor a Civil War general who was also an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. The council voted last night to stop all work on the monument to General Nathan Bedford Forrest until the courts decide whether the city or a Confederate heritage group owns the cemetery property where the monument would be located. The vote came after a group of protesters marched on City Hall yesterday.


A casino lobbyist who admitted offering bribes to state legislators will be sentenced in federal court in Montgomery today. Jennifer Pouncey is seeking probation, but prosecutors are recommending two years in prison. She faces a maximum of five years for her conspiracy plea. The former Country Crossings Casino lobbyist admits to one senator $2 million and another senator $100,000 for their support of pro-gambling legislation. She testified against the senators, but they were acquitted at trial.


The North American division of the German company ThyssenKrupp says it plans to build a new facility in Woodstock in Bibb County. The company says it will spend $13 million to build a new materials processing and distribution center. The company anticipates that the new 100,000-square-foot facility will create up to 45 new jobs. In July, Bibb County had a 9.5 percent unemployment rate, one percentage point higher than the state average.


Chinese and Alabama officials are bridging the gap between the two nations at a two-day symposium that kicks off today in Monroeville. Speakers will address global issues including U.S. expansion for Chinese companies, investment policies and geopolitical issues. Alabama’s main exports to Hong Kong include food, computer and electronics and non-machinery products.


If you’re planning to drive on I-65 South in Fultondale this morning, be prepared for some delays. The Alabama Department of Transportation plans to temporarily stop traffic at 9:30 to remove part of an overhead bridge that was damaged in an accident that killed two people last night.

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