Aug. 15, 2017 — Mayor William Bell had a Confederate monument outside Birmingham City Hall obscured by a wooden barrier Tuesday night while efforts are made to remove it.
But the state’s attorney general quickly sued the city and the mayor, saying the move violated a state law passed in the spring that says monuments more than 40 years old cannot be altered without approval from a new commission.
The topic of removing the statute was brought up during the Tuesday morning City Council meeting. Council President Johnathan Austin had called on Bell to remove the monument and others like it in Birmingham, calling them “offensive” and saying they “celebrate racism, bigotry, hate and all those things that the South has been known for. Read more.
Aug. 10, 2017 – Jay Morgan applauded as Commissioner David Carrington voiced his disapproval of an effort to get zoning in The Cotswolds subdivision amended to permit the construction of a pair of houses on land that was designated to be left undeveloped.
“He said they need to play by the rules,” said Morgan, who lives in the subdivision on Sicard Hollow Road near Liberty Park. “These developers … they were not playing by the rules. They started building the driveway and didn’t even have a building permit. That’s why we have rules and regulations.”
Carrington ultimately moved that the matter be carried over for no more than six months to allow, among other things, for all parties to be duly notified. Read more.
Extensive power over the city of Birmingham and its school system is up for grabs when city voters go to the polls Aug. 22. Residents will be selecting a mayor as well as filling all nine City Council seats and all nine city Board of Education seats. In total, 88 people have put their names on the ballot, and every seat is contested. The BirminghamWatch city Voter Guide gives you profiles on each of the candidates, their history and the issues that drove them to run, as well as campaign contributor lists, a sample ballot and resources to help you headed into election day. You’ll find all that and more in the BirminghamWatch Voter Guide.
Democratic candidate, U.S. Senate
Jefferson County will get more time to comment on proposed standards for the level of phosphorus that can be dumped into Locust Fork and Village Creek by its wastewater treatment plants.
Phosphorus levels in the two water bodies are linked to algae blooms, weeds and slimes in the water and may impair their use for such things as public drinking water, swimming and other recreational activities. Algae blooms are a nuisance primarily during the summer.
Commissioners said on June 21 that they had not been notified by the county’s Environmental Services Department in time to meet a July 10 deadline to comment on the proposal. In part, they are worried about the financial hit the rule could have on Jefferson County’s sewer costs, and its ratepayers, and wanted more time to study the situation. Read more.
Jefferson County commissioners are again wondering how to manage the creeping rise in healthcare costs for the poor.
Commissioners at a Tuesday committee meeting expressed concerns that the cost to provide in-patient care to the poor in the county has risen to an estimated $25 million a year.
Commission President Jimmie Stephens said the county had hoped it could keep the tab for indigent in-patient care, which is being provided by area hospitals, at about $15 million.
Commissioners expressed concerns that the rising costs could force the county to again dip into its general fund to foot the healthcare bill. Read more.
Former Alabama Rep. Oliver Robinson has been charged with having accepted bribes from a Birmingham lawyer and an Alabama coal company executive in exchange for advocating against EPA actions in North Birmingham, acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey announced today.
He also is charged with fraud in connection with campaign contributions made to him and contributions he solicited for events he sponsored. The final count in the information charges Robinson with tax evasion.
Robinson agreed to plead guilty to the charges and to never again seek elected office, according to a plea agreement released by prosecutors. He also agreed to pay restitution and submit to a forfeiture judgment.
Robinson, a 57-year-old Democrat, represented Alabama’s House District 58 from 1998 until he resigned Nov. 30, 2016.
“Mr. Robinson is charged with conspiracy, bribery and defrauding the people of Alabama and his constituents his honest services,” Posey said at a press conference.
“The gist of the charges is that Mr. Robinson accepted a valuable contract from a Birmingham law firm in exchange for using his position in the Alabama Legislature to advocate for the position of a coal company which was a client of the law firm.” Read more.
Alabama ranked in the bottom tier of states on each of the measures of child well-being assessed in the 2017 Kids Count Data Book. The report, released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked Alabama 44th in the country for overall child well-being, an improvement from the state’s 46th place ranking in last year’s report. Read more.
June 6, 2017 – Two matters on the Jefferson County Commission’s committee agenda Tuesday showed that the county is on better footing than it had been. Commissioners talked about reinstating agreements to provide service for through roads in some area cities and renewing a resolution for the county to again participate in the back-to-school sales tax holiday. “The county has turned the corner and we’ve established a new baseline for service within Jefferson County,” Commission President Jimmie Stephens said. Read more.
The takeover of two elementary schools by the Gardendale Board of Education will not happen in the coming academic year, after a federal judge issued a stay of her original ruling in the city’s attempt to break away from the Jefferson County Schools.
U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala agreed to motions filed by both Gardendale officials and by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which represents the original plaintiffs in the landmark Stout v. Jefferson County Board of Education case that resulted in racial desegregation of the county system in the early 1970s.
Both parties had asked Haikala to delay the ruling she issued on April 24 and amended a few days later. That order allowed Gardendale to do a partial takeover of the schools inside city limits; Snow Rogers and Gardendale elementary schools would have been under city control beginning this summer, while Gardendale High and Bragg Middle schools would have remained part of JefCoEd for at least three years, until Haikala was satisfied that Gardendale had made sufficient progress toward desegregation. Read more.
Gardendale School Board Appeals Federal Court Ruling, Asks for Full Control of All Schools in the City Right Away
What’s Next? Residents Speak out About Next Steps for Gardendale’s New School System
Judge Stands with Order: Gardendale Can Take Steps Toward Separate School System
NAACP Asks Judge to Reconsider Allowing Gardendale to Start Its Own School System
NAACP Plans to Ask Judge to Reconsider Gardendale School Order; Ruling in Case Defies Conventional Procedure
Judge Haikala Is No Stranger to the Spotlight
Federal Judge Gives Gardendale Control Over City’s Elementary Schools, Lets JeffCo Keep Middle and High Schools for Now.
Read Haikala’s May 9 order
Read Hiakala’s initial ruling.