• Jefferson County Commission

    JeffCo Approves $500K for Business That Helps Other Businesses Develop

    The Jefferson County Commission on Thursday gave $500,000 to Birmingham Business Resource Center.  

    Finance Committee Chairman Joe Knight and Commissioner Mike Bolin voted against the measure, just as they did during Tuesday’s commission committee meeting. BBRC had been on a list of entities to be considered for funds left over from the fiscal 2023 budget. At Commissioner Sheila Tyson’s request, the BBRC funding was added to the commission’s agenda to be considered separately.

    “I still voted no,” Knight said following Thursday’s session. “Had it been considered with the rest of them, I would have considered something for him. I’m not sure it’d been $500,000, but I would have considered. Read more. 

  • Environment

    Protecting Margaritaville: Jimmy Buffett, Bama and the Fight to Save the Manatee

    MOBILE — The second line started at four, but it was five o’clock somewhere.

    Hundreds of people gathered here on a September Sunday — their Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops brightening the city streets — to participate in a walking parade in remembrance of Jimmy Buffett, who spent much of his childhood in this Gulf Coast city. Buffett, a poet of paradise, died Sept. 1 at age 76.

    Though he may be more commonly associated with Florida, the late musician and environmental philanthropist was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and was raised in Mobile. In addition to his musical legacy, Buffett was a champion for environmental causes, co-founding the Save the Manatee Club with then Florida Gov. Bob Graham. Read more.

  • Public Safety

    Birmingham Sets Up New Police Advisory Committee

    Birmingham Randall Woodfin on Tuesday announced the formation of a Public Safety Advisory Committee to conduct an assessment of police operations, review community complaints, bring transparency to police operations and hold the police department accountable for its actions.

    The first meeting of the committee will be Thursday on the second floor of City Hall and is open to the public.

    The committee formation comes after the city in 2021 formed a Civilian Review Board, but it never got to the point of publicly dealing with community complaints. Read more.

  • Civil Rights

    Birmingham Residents Reflect on 60th Anniversary of Church Bombing

    At exactly 10:22 a.m. on Friday, church bells – and the shofar at Temple Beth-El synagogue – rang out across Birmingham to honor those killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. It’s the 60th anniversary of the deadly attack that killed four young girls — 11-year-old Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, all 14 — and injured dozens more.

    Inside the historic church, a crowd heard a message from Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

    Outside, small groups of people gathered all over the city to commemorate the anniversary and reflect on the violence of the past and the progress the community has made over the decades. Read more.

  • Alabama Legislature

    Federal Court Blocks Alabama’s Congressional Map, Orders New Lines Drawn

    A three-judge federal panel Tuesday ruled that a new Alabama congressional map failed to address Voting Rights Act violations and ordered a third party to draw new lines.

    In a 217-page opinion in the case, known as Allen v. Milligan, U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus and U.S. District Judges Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer sharply criticized the Alabama Legislature, writing that they were “deeply troubled” that lawmakers did not draw a map that gave Black voters in the state the chance to elect representatives of their choosing, as the judges ordered in a January 2022 ruling.

    “We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature — faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district — responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district,” the judges wrote. Read more.

  • Environment

    The Connection Is Growing Between Climate Change and Big Storms

    The connection between climate change, hurricanes and tornadoes is not so clear. But data is beginning to show some relationship. Read more.

  • Birmingham City Council

    Birmingham City Council President Dissents From Vote Pledging Financial Support for Birmingham-Southern College

    It’s not about Birmingham-Southern College; it’s about the residents of Birmingham.

    That’s what Birmingham City Council President Wardine Alexander said Tuesday in her dissent from passage of a resolution pledging city dollars to support BSC, a private college, if the institution is able to obtain additional funding from the state. Read more.

  • Birmingham City Council

    Birmingham will fund a ‘violence intervention’ program. Can it get to the heart of the problem?

    Michelle Farley remembers Rico. He was a member of the Youth Action Committee at One Roof, the Birmingham homelessness services organization where Farley serves as executive director.

    In 2019, Rico was shot, according to Farley, and remained hospitalized for weeks. He was then released, she said, “with no more resources for conflict resolution or violence prevention than when he entered.”

    Just a few weeks later, Rico was shot for a second time. He didn’t make it.

    On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council approved a pilot program to provide services to those impacted by gun violence in the Magic City. Read more.

  • Birmingham City Council

    Mayor-Council Act, Which Tilted Power Toward Mayor, Still Under Fire 7 Years After Adoption

    The Birmingham City Council approved Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year last week. It was the culmination of the city’s most contentious budgeting process in years. Since Woodfin took office in 2017, almost all of his budgets have passed without any alterations from the council, thanks mostly to state legislation from 2016 that took away their ability to do so.

    The Mayor-Council Act is the state law governing the separation of powers between the branches of Birmingham’s municipal government, but some argue that changes to the bill approved the year before Woodfin took office have shifted that balance of power too heavily toward the executive. Read more.

  • Alabama Legislature

    Rep. John Rogers Indicted on 2 Counts of Obstruction of Justice

    Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, was indicted Wednesday on two counts of obstruction of justice and obstruction of justice by bribery. Read more.

  • Redistricting

    U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Alabama’s Request to Stay Redistricting Decision

    The United States Supreme Court Tuesday denied Alabama’s request to stay a lower court decision directing a special master to draw new state congressional maps to remedy Voting Rights Act violations.

    The nation’s high court dismissed the request in two one-sentence orders Tuesday morning. No opinions were given with the decision, which could open the door to Alabama having two congressional districts with majority or near-majority Black populations. Read more.

  • Jefferson County

    JeffCo Asks Court to Release It From Its Last Consent Decree

    The Jefferson County Commission Tuesday filed a motion to be released from the 1996 consent decree over the Jefferson County Sewer System.  

    It is the next step in the county being released from all the consent decrees imposed on it.  

    “We were successful in getting out of the employment consent decree,” County Attorney Theo Lawson said. “The next consent decree was the environmental consent decree. We have made tremendous strides in ensuring that we are in compliance and beyond with federal law and continue to be committed to that because our sewer system is one of our biggest assets.   Read more.

  • Birmingham City Council

    Birmingham Council Amends Laws Affecting Predatory Towing, Plan More Changes

    The Birmingham City Council wrestled with the issue of predatory towing this week and passed two ordinances to start addressing the problems.

    Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who heads the council’s transportation committee, has worked to resolve complaints on both issues since 2017.

    After council approval of the ordinances, he called the action “a milestone because it has been a lot of effort.” Read more.

  • Birmingham City Council

    Birmingham City Council OKs $4.5M More for Rickwood Field Improvements

    The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday secured funding for improvements at Rickwood Field in preparation for the MLB coming to town next summer for a tribute game.

    Councilors approved an agreement for the city PACE Board to issue $4.5 million in bonds through PNC bank. It also during the year has approved several allocations totaling about $2.5 million for renovations at the field, and it recently approved allocations of $150,000 a year for three years to the Friends of Rickwood Field. Read more.

  • Economy

    She looked for help after her power bill doubled. But aid for utilities often falls short

    Dolabriel Curry-Hurst’s January power bill in Alabama jumped above $700 — more than twice of what she owed the previous year. Read more.

  • City of Birmingham

    In the Shadow of Brother Bryan: Homeless Living in Park Draw Ire, Sympathy

    Sometimes the tears welled up in Brother Bryan’s eyes

    The Rev. James Alexander Bryan, a Princeton-educated pastor, is known in Birmingham as an advocate for those facing homelessness.

    “They are all dying for a little bit of love, for a kind word, for a warm handshake,” Brother Bryan was quoted in the book “Religion in Shoes” as saying of those he served. “Beneath that torn coat or ragged shawl, the life may be torn, but there is a soul for whom Jesus died.”

    This week, Terrance Smith sat in a Birmingham park named after Brother Bryan. Smith is among hundreds facing unsheltered homelessness in and around Birmingham, many of whom frequent the city’s parks, including Brother Bryan in the Five Points neighborhood.

    Earlier this month, Birmingham city councilors discussed individuals facing homelessness in Brother Bryan Park after a member of the public asked that city officials do more to address what he described as a “real problem.”

    “It’s just horrifying what goes on over there,” Councilor Valerie Abbott said at the body’s meeting on Aug. 8. “There are people living in the park, and no other people will go in there.”

    On Tuesday afternoon, Smith reacted to the council’s comments, saying he felt some of the discussion was offensive. Councilors, Smith said, should “get to know their neighbors.”

    “I think they’re wrong,” Smith said, an etching of Brother Bryan on a stone facade just a stone’s throw away. “They just push us aside like we’re not people, but they forget. God created me. God created them. So what’s the difference?” Read more.