By Xander Norris
The South is a big, complicated place. The irregular happens regularly, and many of the nation’s most important debates and happenings seem to either start or end somewhere within our borders. That’s why every Saturday morning, the Overby Center is committed to bringing you a rundown of this week’s most prominent southern news stories, all in one easily-digestible place. So grab a cup of coffee, settle into your most comfortable chair, and prepare to get caught up on what’s currently happening… Around the South.
- The City of Jackson is in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water act, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said during a press conference Monday. Lumumba said he was given the information by the Unified Command Group early Monday. “That was certainly welcome news by the EPA,” Lumumba said. “The EPA, in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Health, performed a series of tests on our drinking water over the last several months are in and revealed that our water is, in fact, safe to drink.”
- Many Texas universities don’t have early-voting locations on campus. And state laws regarding voter ID and registration make it hard to turn out younger voters, advocates say. According to a Texas Tribune analysis, only 50% of the state’s 36 public universities have an on-campus early-voting location this year. That drops to around 20% for Texas’ nine historically Black colleges and universities, with only two having voting sites before Election Day.
- Atlanta-area pastor and social justice advocate, Jamal Bryant delivered a fiery sermon Sunday, calling for action from Georgians while critiquing Donald Trump-backed Herschel Walker, the GOP nominee for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. “Y’all ain’t ready for me today,” Jamal Bryant warned the congregation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a megachurch about 17 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta. “In 2022, we don’t need a walker, we need a runner,” Bryant said in the recorded sermon ahead of next week’s midterm election.
- Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday announced he was calling lawmakers into a special session Wednesday to approve incentives for what he called the largest economic development project in state history. Reeves did not name the company, but in a release, said it includes a flat-rolled aluminum plant, “biocarbon production facilities and other industrial facilities” in the Golden Triangle area of the state, which spans from Starkville to West Point to Columbus. Sources familiar with the project say it will be a major expansion of an aluminum or steel company already located in the Columbus area. The Legislature will be asked to provide between $150 million and $160 million in incentives to help with the construction of the plant.
- Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez is urging the Legislature to create a $300 million victims compensation fund for families of Robb Elementary School students and teachers killed and wounded in the May 24 massacre. Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the Uvalde school shooting. The horrific tragedy has been made worse by frequent revelations of a lethargic law enforcement response that had dozens of state and local police on the scene for more than an hour while the shooter remained unchallenged in classrooms with dead and possibly dying children. Now Gutierrez wants legislation requiring the state of Texas to pay up in what might be the best avenue for victims’ compensation, given Texas’ laws that generally protect law enforcement from legal liability for actions in the line of duty.
- In a final push to show his support for abortion access, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke released his last ad of the campaign Monday. The one-minute ad centers on Amanda Zurawski, an Austin woman whose water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. In the ad, her partner, Josh Zurawski, says that doctors told them she was having a miscarriage. However, doctors told Amanda there was nothing they could do to help her until three days later when she became gravely ill after developing sepsis. Amanda and Josh Zurawski end the ad by endorsing O’Rourke as the right candidate to respect the rights of women to make their own decisions about their health and bodies.
- Jason Martin has spent more than two years trying to get Gov. Bill Lee’s attention in Tennessee — first, as the critical care doctor urging more action against the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, as the Democratic nominee for governor trying to knock the Republican out of office. To date, Lee has yet to acknowledge he even has a challenger in his quest for reelection. The two haven’t talked, according to Martin, and that’s unlikely to change before Election Day. Lee, riding consistently strong polls in a state that favors the GOP, is taking a calculated approach to winning a second term and has paid no attention to his Democratic opponent.
- The rapper Takeoff, best known for his work with the Grammy-nominated trio Migos, is dead after a shooting early Tuesday outside a bowling alley in Houston, Texas, a representative confirmed. He was 28. Kirsnick Khari Ball, known as Takeoff, was part of Migos along with Quavo and Offset. A representative for members of Migos who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed the death to The Associated Press.
- Auburn fired coach Bryan Harsin on Monday after less than two seasons, ending a rocky tenure in which the proud program struggled to compete in the Southeastern Conference. Harsin went 9-12 overall and 3-5 this year. Auburn has lost four straight games while struggling against Power Five opponents, including a 41-27 loss to Arkansas on Oct. 29 that proved the final straw. Auburn will owe Harsin 70% of his remaining contract — more than $15 million — and half of that must be paid within 30 days.
- The Sumner County Commission in October voted 20-4 to pass a preamble to the county’s Standing Rules and Procedures stating it should work to serve residents and exceed what Tennessee law requires. The rules and procedures are needed “in order to perfect the operation of our county government, to ensure that it is just, orderly, efficient, cost-effective and most importantly reflective of the Judeo-Christian values inherent in our nation’s founding,” according to the preamble commissioners approved. First Amendment experts and the county’s attorney say this violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.