Author: Virginia Martin

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.

Birmingham Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day With Marches, History, Service Projects

Martin Luther King Jr. holds a special place in the history of Birmingham. It was here that he wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail after being arrested during a civil rights march.

King, in conjunction with local civil rights activists, organized the Birmingham campaign, which led to a brutal crackdown by law enforcement, captured the nation’s attention and contributed to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That history will be commemorated Monday with a list of events marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

At the King statue in Kelly Ingram Park – near sculptures depicting the lunging, snarling dogs released on civil rights marchers praying ministers, children who took part in the protests and many others – a wreath-laying ceremony will be held at 10 a.m.

A march in tribute to King follows at 11 a.m., beginning at the park. Read more.

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.

Birmingham Schools Brings in Young Voices With the First Student Advisory Council

Introduction of the first Birmingham city school superintendent’s Student Advisory Council and approval of an ACT preparation course for 11th-graders highlighted Tuesday night’s meeting of the Birmingham Board of Education.

Superintendent Lisa Herring introduced eighth- through 12th-grade students whose video applications earned them a place on the council to advise her.

“The voices of students are one of the most important voices we need to hear as we lead the school system,” Herring said.

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.