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.
A new online tool allows you to look at federal data on Alabama’s schools by system or individual school, including student proficiency in reading, math and science for the past three years, demographics and teacher credentials.
The searchable Alabama Federal Report Card dashboard, released in late December, also allows you to compare data on up to four schools at a time. You also can look up student progress by ethnicity, gender or several groupings, such as students with disabilities. The dashboard can be accessed here. Read more.
Alabama’s roads and bridges are in relatively good condition compared to other Southeastern states.
More of the state’s roads are in good condition compared to other states, fewer are in poor condition, and the percentage of its bridges that are deficient and need to be replaced is about average for the Southeast, according to the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
But in its “How Alabama Roads Compare” report, PARCA found that the state has devoted an increasingly large share of its budget to preserving existing roads, and it has a shrinking pool of money available for new projects. In fact, in recent years Alabama has borrowed more than $1.3 billion, but the authority to borrow has been exhausted. In 2018, Alabama will have about $250 million less to spend on roads than it had in 2017 because of the loss of money to borrow and an increase in the state’s debt service.
PARCA in its report notes that Alabama has not raised its 18-cents per gallon motor fuels tax in 25 years. Meanwhile, improved fuel economy of cars and trucks means less gas is being bought in Alabama, and so the tax revenues have dropped. Read the full report here.
Figuring out whether news is real or fake in today’s click-driven media landscape requires increased awareness and diligence by the public, experts concluded at a Thursday night Media Savvy forum, held in the Edge of Chaos room at UAB’s Lister Hill Library.
Media Savvy: Smart Choices in a Changing Information Age included discussion by audience members and presenters about how economics, technology and social media continue to change how Americans receive, understand and trust – or don’t trust – the news and the news media.
“Ten years ago, and it seems almost quaint now, the focus was on accuracy,” said Carol Nunnelley, veteran newspaper editor and executive director of the nonprofit Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism and its public service reporting arm, BirminghamWatch. “Today’s media have to fight for attention. It’s hard to tell who is telling us what and for what purpose.”
Electionland Wins Online Journalism Award
ProPublica and the Electionland coalition won an Online Journalism Award for planned news/events, announced at the Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet on Saturday.
A collaboration with a coalition of organizations, Electionland tracked voter experiences in the November 2016 election in real time, across thousands of polling sites.
BirminghamWatch participated in the project, monitoring and reporting on local polling places. Read more.
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