Category: Government

Questions About Protection of the Drinking Water Supply Dominate Debate On Northeast Birmingham Zoning Plan

Sep. 19, 2017 — The Birmingham City Council approved Tuesday a measure to change zoning district lines in parts of northeast Birmingham despite criticism that some of the changes could endanger water quality in Lake Purdy and the Cahaba River, both essential drinking water sources.

City officials said they are taking steps to protect the watershed and are preparing conservation easements for that land. Read more.

U.S. Senate GOP Runoff Voter Guide

The dueling polls, on-again off-again debate plans, strategically timed endorsements and ‘He said what?’ attack ads are coming to an end Tuesday when voters go to the polls to decide whether Roy Moore or Luther Strange should carry the Republican standard going into the special election in December.

Probably not quite coming to an end will be speculation by political pundits from across the country on what the outcome of the race and the December election between the GOP winner and Democratic nominee Doug Jones say about power in the Republican Party.

The race – which was needed to fill the Senate seat left open after President Trump appointed the previous senator, Jeff Sessions, to the attorney general’s job – has attracted national attention from the start. But it’s across Alabama that the question will be decided.

Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. across the state.

In the primary race, Moore and Strange emerged as the favorites from a field of 10 candidates. Moore led in that balloting, 38.87 percent to Strange’s 32.83 percent. They are the only two candidates in the only race on the ballot.

In BirminghamWatch’s Voter Guide below, you’ll find their profiles, links to campaign contributor lists and voting information.

Candidate profiles:

Roy Moore

Luther Strange

Voter information

Research campaign financing
ID needed at the polls
Thursday is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot.
Verify your registration and polling place
Problems at the polls

Jefferson County Paying Almost $1.5 Million in Incentives for Autocar Plant

Sept. 14, 2017 – With the cat having been let out of the bag, Jefferson County commissioners made the formal announcement Thursday about incentives for the creation of jobs related to Autocar’s moving into Jefferson County.

Gov. Kay Ivy took part in an announcement Wednesday that the Indiana-based trucking company will develop a plant in Center Point and Birmingham.
The county agreed to pay Autocar $1.492 million contingent on the company beginning manufacturing and meeting agreed-upon employment goals. Read more.

JefCoEd Head Won’t Say Whether He’ll Seek Open State Superintendent’s Job

With State Supt. Michael Sentance having stepped down Wednesday after a contentious year at the helm of the state school system, the man whom Sentence originally beat out for the job is, by his own admission, playing his plans close to the vest.

Jefferson County Schools Supt. Craig Pouncey told reporters Thursday that he would not commit to seeking the state’s top education position for a third time, but he wouldn’t exactly rule it out, either. Read more.

Much Ado About a Do; Birmingham City Council Clashes Over Inauguration

Sept. 13, 2017 — After postponing its regularly scheduled meeting due to the threat of inclement weather, the Birmingham City Council convened for a special-called meeting on Wednesday. Though the rules of special-called meetings prevented the council from voting on most of the planned items on the agenda, the council found room for a spirited

Jefferson County’s 12 School Systems Getting Windfall From Bond Issue

Don’t be surprised if school board presidents and superintendents attending a luncheon with the Jefferson County Commission skip the cake or pie that follows their main course.

They’ll have a much bigger treat awaiting them.

While meeting in committee this morning, commissioners authorized the county manager to distribute the remaining unspent proceeds from the education sales and use tax, an amount totaling $69 million. Read more.

Woodfin: Bell’s Fundraising Allegations Are ‘False and Misleading’

By Robert Carter, BirminghamWatch

Birmingham Mayoral candidate Randall Woodfin called Mayor William Bell’s criticisms of his out-of-state fundraising “false and misleading.”

Bell has called out Woodfin for getting money from out-of-state donors and being supported by a national liberal agenda. Woodfin says some of that is true, but he had to go farther afield for some of his contributors because Bell during his long government career has had the backing of virtually every corporate interest. He also said there’s a fear of retribution that has to be overcome when the opponent is a long-serving, influential official. Read more.

Contributions to Bell and Woodfin Highlight Campaign Differences

Birmingham’s two remaining mayoral candidates have reported the contributions their campaigns have received since the Aug. 22 election, revealing stark contrasts between the candidates’ fundraising tactics.

Filings submitted last week show that incumbent candidate William Bell has raised $137,000 since the election, more than triple the $42,356 that challenger Randall Woodfin has raised.

But Woodfin surpasses Bell in the sheer number of individual contributors. He’s collected contributions from 327 donors since Aug. 22, with an average donation of $130, while Bell has received contributions from 59 sources, averaging $2,331 per donation.
Read more.

Former State Rep. Oliver Robinson Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe

Former state Rep. Oliver L. Robinson pleaded guilty today in federal court to accepting bribes from a Birmingham lawyer and an Alabama coal company executive in exchange for advocating against an environmental cleanup in north Birmingham.

The 57-year-old Democrat from Birmingham entered his guilty pleas before U.S. District Court Judge Abdul K. Kallon to conspiracy, bribery, honest services wire fraud and tax evasion. Robinson’s plea agreement required that he cooperate in further investigations in exchange for prosecutors’ recommending a lighter sentence, pay restitution and forfeiture in an amounts to be determined, and to never again seek elected office. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 7. Robinson is free on bond.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Robinson in June for accepting a contract between Birmingham law firm Balch & Bingham and the Oliver Robinson Foundation to use his influence to oppose the EPA’s prioritization and expansion of a north Birmingham Superfund site. Read more.