Category: Government

Birmingham’s Future “an Open Question,” Woodfin Says in First State of the Community Address

Jan. 15, 2018 — Mayor Randall Woodfin shared a cautiously optimistic vision for Birmingham’s future during Monday night’s State of the Community address, highlighting several of his administration’s planned initiatives while also calling on citizens to take action themselves.

“The state of our community is an open question that only you and I can answer together,” he said. “I believe that we, as a city, can do great things — if we do the right things.”

Woodfin’s remarks the full text of which can be read here, reflected the collaborative tone of his Nov. 28 inauguration speech, emphasizing the importance of his relationship with the City Council and his focus on addressing education, poverty and crime, which he described as intrinsically interrelated. Read more.

What to Watch in 2018

2018 promises to be an interesting time, as the Chinese blessing (or curse) goes. Alabama and Birmingham, specifically, will be tackling many issues involving education and school management, jobs and the economy, the environment, crime and, of course, party politics and political leadership, to name a few.

BirminghamWatch asked community leaders and contributors for insight on important issues that are likely to be demanding attention this year. Read what they had to say. Read more.

What news are you watching for in 2018? Visit our Facebook post and tell us in a comment, or send us an email at editor@birminghamwatch.org, and and we might watch it, too. We always want to know what’s important to people in the community.

Alabama Representatives Will Get Sexual Harassment Training, Matching National Trend

Alabama’s House of Representatives members will be getting mandatory sexual harassment training beginning in 2019, even though House and Senate officials say neither body has had a sexual harassment complaint filed in decades or longer.

The House also posts detailed sexual harassment policies online for open viewing.

These moves put Alabama lawmakers and staff in solid company. The majority of the nation’s legislative chambers are intensifying efforts to prevent sexual harassment after a wave of sexual harassment claims made against prominent figures gained momentum in the fall, the Associated Press found in a 50-state review.released Thursday.

AP found that more than three-fourths of the states have at least one legislative chamber that has updated its sexual harassment policy during the past several months, developed specific proposals to do so or undertaken a review of whether changes are needed. Read more.

Ensley’s Ramsay-McCormack Building Getting Repairs, But Its Future is Still in Doubt

UPDATED, Jan. 15, 2018 — Despite recent approval for $83,500 in repairs, the future of the Ramsay-McCormack building in Ensley remains uncertain.

The property was one of several for which the Birmingham City Council approved repairs during Tuesday’s meeting, along with Rickwood Field, the Southern Museum of Flight, Boutwell Auditorium and the Birmingham Museum of Art.

But the council did not discuss long-range plans for the Ramsay-McCormack, leaving the building’s much-debated future still in doubt. Read more.

Steadying the Ship of State: Ivey Claims Victory in Her First State of the State

Gov. Kay Ivey began her first State of the State address by claiming victory in the primary focus of her brief governorship: getting state government in order after the resignation of her predecessor, Robert Bentley.

Speaking in the old House Chamber of the state capitol, Ivey made the most of her moment, raising her hands as she told legislators she had achieved the promise she made to voters in her short-notice swearing in in April.

“Our ship of state was adrift,” Ivey said. “It’s my pleasure to report that we have successfully steadied the ship of state, and I declare that the state of the state is strong, and our future is as bright as the sun over the Gulf.” Read more.

JeffCo Commission Discusses Its $30 Million Commitment for a Stadium Downtown

The Jefferson County Commission today took the first step toward the construction of an open-air stadium near the Uptown Entertainment District with a commitment of $30 million over 30 years for that project.

“Our commitment has been solid for a long, long time,” said Commission President Jimmie Stephens, who also sits on the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Authority. “It’s now time to bring that money forward and begin the process of aligning the finances. Read more.

Elections, Monuments and Schools, Oh My! Legislature Returns to Piles of Controversy

Jan. 8, 2018 – Alabama’s state Legislature begins its 2018 regular session Tuesday, but legislators already have prefiled a slate of bills to be considered, some of which will likely attract significant debate.

Some of 2017’s most controversial stories — the 2017 election of Democratic U.S Sen. Doug Jones and the debate over Confederate monuments, for example — will continue on into the new year. Read more.

Alcohol OK’d on Pedal Buses in Birmingham

Jan. 3, 2018 — During its first meeting of the year, the Birmingham City Council approved an ordinance allowing passengers of pedal buses to possess and consume alcoholic beverages.

It was the only item to receive significant discussion during the relatively short meeting, which was marked by the absence of several councilors due to illness and Mayor Randall Woodfin, who was in Washington attending the swearing-in of Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.

Doug Jones Sworn-In to U.S. Senate, Becomes First Alabama Democrat in the Senate Since ’94

WASHINGTON – Doug Jones took the oath of office as Alabama’s first Democratic U.S. senator in a quarter-century Wednesday, narrowing the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49.

“I am humbled and honored to stand here today, chosen by the people of Alabama to represent our state in this historic institution,” Jones said. “I will work every day to make sure I hear their voices and that their voices are heard in Washington. It is time to come together and rebuild the trust we need to find common ground and expand opportunity for all.”

Jones is widely seen as a Democrat who will challenge President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans in their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, fight increases in the minimum wage and oppose abortion rights.
With Jones in the Senate, GOP success in repealing Obamacare becomes much less likely, and if just two Republicans vote with Democrats, Trump nominees or budget measures would be defeated. Read more.