Sixty Titusville residents sat in the sweltering gymnasium of Memorial Park Recreation Center to consider giving their support for the old Trinity Steel property going to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.
“It is so hot in here,” said Greater Birmingham Humane Society President and CEO Allison Black Cornelius, “but they stayed.”
When each side had made its case, 52 residents voted for the Humane Society to move to the long idle property from its Snow Drive location in Homewood. Eight voted no. Read more.
Briarwood Presbyterian Church may soon join the ranks of the Vatican and Washington National Cathedral as a religious institution with its own police department.
Critics of the bill to allow Briarwood to establish its own police department say the move is unconstitutional. But Briarwood representatives cite the increasing rate of mass shootings at churches, schools and commercial venues as reasons for bringing police officers on staff.
Since the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee approved the legislation April 19, the Alabama House of Representatives is likely to vote this next week on whether to allow the Vestavia Hills church to establish its own police department. Read more.
The divide between state government and its people is wide, and there’s no bridge in sight.
In a recent survey conducted by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, more than two-thirds of those surveyed said state government officials don’t care what they think, and slightly less than two-thirds said they feel they have no say in what government does. Read more.
Jimmy Moore’s hometown is Bessemer but for three years, the U.S. Air Force veteran’s home was his 2007 Ford Explorer.
Moore, a 1974 McAdory High School grad, worried that his possessions might be stolen when he was homeless. He feared someone might stab him to take what he had.
“You were always having to be awake, 24-7, sleep lightly,” the 61-year-old said, “trying to figure out where you’re going next.”
But Moore can rest easy. He doesn’t fear for his safety or his possessions. He has a roof over his head, thanks to Operation Reveille, a one-day one-stop-shop that took chronically homeless veterans off the street and into their own homes. Read more.
A Jefferson County Commission member called the old Trinity Steel property in North Titusville “a hot potato.” Thursday, the commission decided on a 3-2 vote to gift the property to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. Read more.
March 23, 2017 – Sandra Little Brown called Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting at Cahaba Medical Center “a crying moment.”
The District 7 Jefferson County Commission member said she had to defend herself against false claims that she had voted to end in-patient care at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.
“We went through so much stress with the closing of in-patient care at Cooper Green,” Brown said during Thursday’s commission meeting. “So many people were against us. Now the people can say, ‘They took lemons and made lemonade.’”
Brown said she has worked since in-patient care at Cooper Green ended to create a hub-and-spoke system to take healthcare closer to where many people live.
Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens summed up an Alabama Supreme Court ruling during a press conference Friday afternoon.
“What’s it mean? It means it’s a great day for the citizens of Jefferson County, for all citizens of Jefferson County,” he said. “It enables Jefferson County to proceed in refinancing the county school tax warrants that is guaranteed by the 1 cent county sales tax.”
Commissioners sought a state law revising that county sales tax law so they could refinance the warrants at a lower price and divide the remaining money from the tax more broadly. A circuit judge struck down that law, but Friday the Alabama Supreme Court upheld it. Read more.
The newly renovated Pizitz Building sits on 19th Street North in downtown Birmingham, its pristine, wedding cake white façade belying its 94 years.
It’s the latest among dozens of historic downtown Birmingham buildings that have been renovated in recent years. But many more of them haven’t been. They stand nearby, vacant or sparsely populated, with fading signs and sagging woodwork.
Three such buildings in Birmingham – a total of seven from around the state – are on a list at the Alabama Historic Commission, waiting to see whether the Legislature will renew tax credits for historic renovation.
The tax credit expired last year because of concerns about the cost of the program to the state. But bills to overhaul and reinstate the tax credit program have pulled much more support this year – at least in theory.
The tax credit this year has 87 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 29 co-sponsors in the Senate. “It’s huge for Birmingham,’’ said Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, who introduced the bill in the Senate this year. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday to make Birmingham the first Alabama city with a Healthy Food Incentive Program, but not before a nearly hour-long debate with members of the city’s law department.
The program will cost $2 million, which will be allocated from the city’s general fund budget for fiscal 2018, and it is slated to begin Aug. 1. Essentially, the ordinance would allow qualified recipients to receive a food incentive card to be used toward the purchase of eligible foods at participating stores. The cards would have a value of up to $150 annually and take the form of either a debit card or voucher.
Before the vote, Councilor Lashunda Scales objected to the city’s law department having “gone week to week discussing the same thing,” referring to changes in the language and the proposed launch date of the program.
“We make plenty of time for economic development. When do we make the time to help the poor people?” Scales asked. Read more
A contentious presidential race drove heavy turnout at the polls Tuesday, causing long lines at some polling places and periodic glitches with voting machines and routines.
As of late Tuesday night, almost 1.9 million ballots had been tallied, with 60 of 67 counties having reported their results, according to the Alabama Secretary of State’s website. But the state had slightly higher turnout in 2008 and 2012. Almost 2.1 million people voted in each of those years.
A surge in voter registration teased election officials with the prospect of record voter turnout, but it was not to be.
Still, turnout was heavy Tuesday, and people from across the state reported having to stand in line for three hours or more to cast their ballots. Read more.
Janet Haines, lead poll official at Hoover Fire Station No. 8, said the ballots are in a locked portion of the machine and will be counted later. The machine malfunction caused a bit of a line at first, but it dissipated quickly, Haines said. The polling place now is using its one working box. This tip came originally from Electionland, a ProPublica project that will cover access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercising their right to vote during the 2016 election.”
BirminghamWatch is participating in ElectionLand, a nationwide project of the nonprofit news organization ProPublica that will cover access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from voting. To sign up to take part in this effort, text ELECTIONLAND to 69866. Then on election day you will be asked about your voting experience. If you encounter delays or other problems at the polls, you also can notify BirminghamWatch directly by emailing email@example.com or calling 205-595-2402. BirminghamWatch will be checking out reports of difficulties at the polls and posting information throughout the day.
The long-anticipated rewrite of Alabama’s tenure and job evaluation law for teachers and school administrators was introduced in the Legislature last week. It would require regular evaluations of teachers and tie part of their performance rating to student growth. But it does not include the controversial proposal to tie teacher bonuses to student test scores, which was in the first draft of the bill. Also last week, a House committee passed an Education Trust Fund budget that would give up to 4 percent raises to education workers and that includes money to hire 475 more teachers and expand the states pre-K program. The Legislature is now dealing with more than 40 education-related measures.
Political experience: Ran for Jefferson County Sheriff, 2014; executive committee member, Jefferson County Democratic Party, 2014-present; member, Jefferson County Progressive Democratic Council. Professional experience: Private practice, 2003-present; accredited veterans attorney, 2013-present; special counsel to the Mayor of Brighton, 2014-2015; general counsel, Veterans Network Community, 2014-present; general counsel and secretary, FERS Group Inc., 2014- present; educator and coach, Jefferson County and Montgomery schools, 2009-2015; judicial law clerk, 18th Judicial Circuit, 2002; police officer, Lipscomb, 2002; deputy sheriff, Jefferson County, 2000-2001 and 1988-1993; agent, Drug Enforcement Administration, 1996-1998; police officer/evidence tech, Fairfield Police Department, 1993-1996. Civic experience: Advisory board member, Village Creek Human and Environmental Justice Society, 2014-present; advisory board member, Vietnam Veterans & Associates Inc., 2015-present; Metropolitan Planning Organization-Transportation Citizens Committee member, 2016-present; member of several committees of Rev Birmingham; member, United Fellowship Breakfast Forum; National Eagle Scout Association. Education: Juris doctorate, Birmingham School of Law, 2002; teacher certification (9-12), East Carolina University, 2010; various legal training programs, 1991-1997; master’s in forensic science, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1991; bachelor’s Samford University, 1987. Top Contributors: Speed PAC, $7,500; Nathan H. Wilson, $1,500; J. Wayne Wilson, Robin A. Brungart, Church Transportation, R. Parker Griffith, Jared T. Henderson, Iron Workers Local Union No.
By CODY OWENS, WELD FOR BIRMINGHAM: The man’s phone rang. Someone on the other end wanted to buy a gram of hashish from him (hashish is a condensed product of cannabis with a high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC). The man said it’s good.
The Board is the policy-making and oversight body of AIIJ. Members are Brett Blackledge, Brant Houston, Mark Kelly, Jerome Lanning, Carol Nunnelley, Emily Jones Rushing, and Odessa Woolfolk.
Government and Investigations Editor at The Naples Daily News in Florida, won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting while working with The Birmingham News in 2007. His Pulitzer Prize-winning work detailed nepotism and cronyism in Alabama’s two-year college system. The series also earned Blackledge a national public service award from Associated Press Media Editors.
The journey to creating Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism and BirminghamWatch is a story about many things. It’s about Birmingham’s need for news that asks important questions and searches for trustworthy answers. It’s about pushing against a tide, and putting more reporters to work covering school boards, digging through data, and informing voters. It’s about working with other Birmingham news organizations that share this mission.
Today, I want to tell our story in a personal way, by introducing people behind it. AIIJ’s directors share a common passion for good journalism. They stepped up to do hard work in founding a nonprofit news organization.
The photographs throughout this initial edition of BirminghamWatch.org are the work of Walt Stricklin, generously donated by him for use on the website. BirminghamWatch and Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism gratefully acknowledge all the support and volunteer contributions during the project’s development.
Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism and BirminghamWatch recognize that the value of their work depends on commitment to journalistic values and the editorial independence of its editors and reporters. In seeking and accepting financial support, Alabama Initiative will follow practices that protect these values.
Seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, be accountable and transparent. These are the anchors of Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. Journalists working with BirminghamWatch and Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism will be guided by the SPJ Code of Ethics. Read the complete Code of Ethics here.
The Board is the policy-making and oversight body of AIIJ. Members are Brett Blackledge, Brant Houston, Mark Kelly, Jerome Lanning, Carol Nunnelley, Emily Jones Rushing, and Odessa Woolfolk. Brant Houston, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting in the department of journalism at the University of Illinois. Prior to becoming the Knight Chair in 2007, he served for more than a decade as the executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Before joining IRE, he was an award-winning investigative reporter at daily newspapers.