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Thirteen people have applied to fill the seat of former Birmingham City Councilor Jay Roberson, who announced his resignation last month. The lineup includes a former board of education president, a handful of candidates who previously ran for the District 7 seat, and a current member of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, among others. Read more.
The eight members of the Birmingham City Council spent much of Tuesday morning’s meeting focused on the daïs’ sole empty chair, stuck on the question of how to replace former President Pro Tempore Jay Roberson.
Roberson, who had represented District 7 on the council since 2009, announced his resignation last month, citing his wife’s new job with Alabaster City Schools. He officially left office Monday, meaning that Tuesday’s meeting was the first in which the remaining members of the council could vote on his replacement.
They didn’t, though. The deadline for applications to fill Roberson’s seat had been extended to Tuesday afternoon. Council President Valerie Abbott attempted unsuccessfully to hold a vote for Roberson’s replacement as president pro tem. Read more.
Birmingham City Councilor Jay Roberson announced his resignation from the council on Thursday, a decision that left many of his colleagues “shocked” and that will further shake up a council already facing significant membership changes.
During a press conference held at Lawson State Community College, Roberson confirmed that he would be stepping down as District 7’s councilor effective Sept.10.
Roberson said his wife has taken a new “dream job” with Alabaster City Schools, which will require his family to move.
“My wife’s wholehearted support allowed me to have this opportunity (as councilor),” he said in a press release. “Now is a time for me to support her professional aspirations and do what’s right for my family.” Read more.
Oct. 24, 2017 — Shortly after being sworn into office for the 2017-2021 term, the Birmingham City Council elected Councilor Valerie Abbott to serve as president and Councilor Jay Roberson as president pro tempore. The two will serve in the leadership roles through 2019.
Abbott defeated Councilor Steven Hoyt for the president’s position on a 5-4 vote, drawing support from Councilors Darrell O’Quinn, William Parker, Jay Roberson, and Hunter Williams. This will be her first term as council president; she has served as a council member since 2001. Abbott succeeds former Councilor Johnathan Austin in the position after his loss in the Oct. 3 runoff election.
Roberson was elected president pro tem, also by 5-4 vote. He defeated fellow nominee Sheila Tyson, with votes from O’Quinn, Parker, Williams, and Abbott. Roberson has been a councilor since 2009 and served as president pro tem from 2013 to 2016.
“The commitment that I make to all of you is that I’m going to be fair, and we’re going to follow our own rules to the best of our abilities,” Abbott said. “I appreciate the confidence my colleagues have shown in me. I know this is a big and very unusual thing for the city of Birmingham, so I am honored.” Read more.
The long-running feud between Fairfield Mayor Ed May II and the City Council has reached a boiling point, as the council voted to remove May from office because he was continually absent from council meetings.
Claiming that state law required May’s ouster because he had missed meetings for more than 90 days, the council voted to remove May in January. During a special meeting Tuesday, Council President Eddie Penny was sworn in as May’s replacement.
It’s the latest battle in a war between May and the council that has lasted since shortly after May was elected to replace Kenneth Coachman in 2016. The battle began last year when the council voted to hire then-City Clerk Mary Roberson as a city manager — a position Fairfield has never filled before. The council then stripped May of many of his duties as mayor, including hiring and firing personnel, and gave those duties to Roberson. Read more.
Several major changes are headed to Birmingham in 2019, although some will be more apparent than others. They range from the bureaucratic – such as new members on the Birmingham City Council, ongoing personnel shake-ups at the Birmingham Public Library and calls for a comprehensive public safety plan – to the physical – including a major interstate closure and construction of a new open-air stadium at the BJCC.
Read about what the year ahead looks like for the Magic City.
More What to Watch in 2019
Economic development is likely to be a primary focus for Jefferson County and the County Commission during 2019. The county hit a mother lode, or at least the offshoot of one, during 2018 with Amazon and DC Blox announcing they are establishing operations in Bessemer and North Titusville, respectively. Look for Jefferson County to continue prospecting for more golden nuggets in 2019. Read more.
Environmental issues have made headlines throughout 2018, and 2019 promises to be no different.
Decisions will be made that affect the cleanliness of the state’s waters, air and land. Issues that will affect recycling, coal mining and solar, nuclear and hydropower generation also are looming on the horizon. Here are a few of the issues to watch in 2019.
A gasoline tax increase to fund road improvements is expected to be a major topic of the 2019 Alabama legislative session. Legislators also are expecting several hundred million more dollars to spend in the education budget and will be debating raises, a child literacy program and other education improvements. Other issues include funding improvements in prisons and a possible lottery proposal. Read more.
Months after testifying in the North Birmingham bribery trial, the state’s top environmental regulator is firing back at watchdog groups calling for his dismissal or resignation.
Lance LeFleur, director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, accuses environmental advocates of seeking media headlines as a means of raising money to keep their organizations financially afloat.
“ADEM is their target to keeping (them) operating,” LeFleur told BirminghamWatch.
The accusation echoes statements that have become more common from industries that are regulated by ADEM and that say they are bedeviled by negative media coverage. Alabama Power Co., for example, recently stated that “certain organizations continue to push out information intended to scare Alabamians.”
State regulators and advocacy citizens groups have long had their differences, but testimony in a federal pollution trial earlier this year turned it into a full-fledged war.
Thirty-two people have applied to fill two vacant seats on the Birmingham City Council, and they will all get the chance to publicly make their cases to the council later this week.
During a special-called meeting on Thursday, Dec. 13, applicants will be given one minute each to give “elevator speeches” on their qualifications, Council President Valerie Abbott said during Tuesday’s regular council meeting.
“They are going to show us their skills at concisely telling us why they are the best candidates for the positions,” she said.
The former head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s southeastern operations faces six state felony charges, and the former chairman of the Alabama Environmental Management Commission faces three felony charges related to a federal investigation into efforts to stop a cleanup of toxic industrial waste in North Birmingham.
Trey Glenn, who resigned from his EPA post earlier this week, was indicted by a Birmingham grand jury on six felony counts of using his position for personal gain and 14 misdemeanor ethics charges.
Scott Phillips, the former AMEC chair who also was a partner with Glenn in a consulting firm during his tenure with the commission was indicted on three felony counts of using his position for personal gain and 13 misdemeanors.
The indictments were handed down Nov. 9, but the number of charges and their nature was not confirmed until the documents were made available Wednesday in the Alacourt online reporting system.
All the charges relate to soliciting money from Drummond Company, which operates the ABC Coke facility in Tarrant, and contracting with the Balch and Bingham law firm in Birmingham as part of the scheme. Read more.