Morning news update

Jeffco Sheriff and County Commission at odds again

The budget battle between Jefferson County commissioners and Sherriff Mike Hale takes center stage once again. They will go before Judge Joseph Boohaker for a progress report on Wednesday. Today's meeting comes as commissioners look to now cut the sheriff's budget by more than four million dollars. This is a battle that has been going on for the last month. It was several weeks ago when a judge blocked the commission from cutting the sheriff's budget by five million dollars. Last week, Sheriff Hale offered to reduce his budget by almost three million dollars, but Commission President Bettye Fine Collins claims it is not enough. Sheriff Hale believes county commissioners could be held in contempt of court after voting again to cut his budget by four million dollars. Sheriff Hale said he has tried twice to meet with the commission since their last negotiation session on Thursday and has been denied twice. He says that lack of communication could be considered contempt of court because of a judge's order for the two sides to negotiate on any cuts. The county commission's argument is that they do not have enough money and need to make the cuts. They say they may not even be able to make payroll this Friday.

Birmingham to cover election expenses due to Jeffco finance trouble

Jefferson County's financial woes will now keep the county from providing voting machines sites for next month's elections in Birmingham. The county says there will not be enough county workers to operate them. That means, Birmingham will now have to go through a vendor to get the scanning machines and will also have to hire its own poll workers. On Tuesday, the council voted to allocate an additional 150-thousand dollars to cover the extra expenses, but Carole Smitherman says if more money is needed, it will be provided. The elections are Tuesday, August 25th.

Langford refuses to attend budget meetings

Completing a 2010 budget for the city of Birmingham will now be done without the mayor. Mayor Larry Langford says he is "budgeted out" and has refused to go to anymore budget meetings. The latest amended version of the budget cuts non-profits by 20-percent and fully funds all city departments.

Delay denied for Langford trial

Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford goes on trial for alleged corruption in a month. On Tuesday, a federal judge refused another delay. The Mayor, along with banker Bill Blount and lobbyist Al Lapierre are charged in a 101-count indictment. The accusations include conspiracy, bribery, fraud, and false tax returns.

Auburn University student missing while on overseas trip

An Auburn University student has been reported missing while on a trip overseas. Michael Griffin Harrie was last seen in Thailand July 14th and was reported missing two days later. He was participating in a "study abroad program" at a Japanese University and took a sightseeing trip to Bangkok. Auburn representatives have traveled to Tokyo to help Harrie's family.

PACT Program may have a fighting chance

An official of Alabama's pension program says the state can likely save the financially ailing prepaid college tuition plan, but it is going to take a lot of cooperation between the Governor, lawmakers and education leaders. The Retirement Systems' Deputy Director says he will present a study of the pact plan to the Governor before making it public. The Legislature asked the Retirement Systems to study the tuition plan because the plan's assets are not enough to cover future tuition obligations.