Author: Virginia Martin

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Alabama Elections Chief Sued for Blocking People on Twitter (Associated Press)

Judge Puts Hold on Alabama Prison System Contempt Hearings (AL.com)

Gardendale City Council Re-Purposes Millions Once Designated for New School System (WBRC)

Doug Jones Criticizes ‘Artificial Deadline’ for Kavanaugh Confirmation (Montgomery Advertiser)

Trump Rips Sessions: ‘I Don’t Have an Attorney General’ (New York Times)

FEMA Chief Considered Quitting as Feud With Homeland Security Secretary Boiled Over (Washington Post)

SPLC Calls on Court to Hold Alabama Prison System in Contempt

The Southern Poverty Law Center wants the state prison system held in contempt for failing to fill mental health positions. Contempt hearings began Tuesday in U.S. District Court involving the Alabama Department of Corrections and lawyers representing inmates.

The issue comes a year after a judge ruled mental health care in Alabama prisons was “horrendously inadequate.” A federal court ordered the Department of Corrections to have more than 260 mental health workers on staff by July 1. The state failed to meet that and previous deadlines. Read More.

$25 Million Alabama Futures Fund: ‘This state is open for business for startups.’

Alabama’s startup scene grabbed eyeballs last year when Target bought Birmingham-based Shipt for $550 million. The city’s entrepreneurial community wants to keep that momentum going. One new effort is the Alabama Futures Fund. The $25 million fund will provide venture capital to new companies either in Alabama or to those willing to relocate here. WBHM’s Andrew Yeager spoke with Matt Hottle of Redhawk Advisory.
Read more.

NAACP Suspends Birmingham President Hezekiah Jackson

WBHM
The national office of the NAACP has suspended the organization’s local Birmingham president, Hezekiah Jackson IV.

The NAACP issued a statement Wednesday evening saying it is investigating whether Jackson advised residents not to have their soil tested for potentially damaging toxins and whether he received payment for those activities.

Jackson, who has been president of the NAACP, Metro Birmingham Branch for about 20 years, says he has done nothing wrong and will be exonerated by the investigation. Read more.

Amazon Breaks Ground Oct. 2, Laying Path for Western-Area Development

The official groundbreaking on the new Amazon development in Bessemer will be Oct. 2, Jefferson County commissioners said Thursday.

“Amazon is a game-changer,” Commission President Jimmie Stephens said. “It’s going to open up the western Jefferson County corridor to much more development and opportunity for our citizens.”

Amazon and other developments in western Jefferson County already are starting to have an effect. West Jefferson Mayor Charles Nix told the commission his town is ready to grow with a new garden home subdivision on more than 23 acres being annexed at 6700 Quinton Road.

“We don’t think there’s a better place than the town of West Jefferson to start that growth,” Nix said while asking for the property to be rezoned for the homes. Commissioners approved his request.
Read more.

County Could Decide on Balanced Budget, Revamped Money for Distressed Cities Thursday

The Jefferson County Commission put a balanced budget on its Thursday agenda as it assembled in committee on Tuesday, putting a framework in place that could result in more road and infrastructure work in distressed cities.

The budget would continue to provide each commissioner with $250,000 in grants to go to their districts. In the new budget, $150,000 would be set aside for each to use on infrastructure and roads within his or her district. A city receiving aid would pay an as yet undetermined percentage of the project; an 80-20 match is among the ideas under consideration.

The remainder of the money, $100,000 per commissioner, would be earmarked for use on 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Read more.

Birmingham Library Board Back in Executive Session Addressing Complaint Against Employee

The Birmingham Public Library board of trustees met in executive session Tuesday evening to address a complaint against an employee governed by the board. No action was taken following the 45-minute executive session, which was called for by the board’s attorney, who said the grievance involved an alleged violation of Alabama ethics law.

Assistant Birmingham city attorney Veronica Merritt said the formal, written complaint discussed in private by the board accused an employee of violating a state law that prohibits public employees from receiving or soliciting anything for the purpose “of corruptly influencing official action.”

Tuesday night’s session is the latest in a series of closed door executive sessions for the library board since April. Earlier executive sessions were held after employee complaints about library Executive Director Floyd Council were made public. Read more.

Ensley Shell Station May Remain Open Despite Killings, Council Decides

After nearly two months of debate, an Ensley gas station where three homicides have taken place will remain open, the Birmingham City Council decided Tuesday.

Antonio Jerrell Taylor was fatally shot at the Shell at 800 Third Ave. W. on June 10. Taylor was the third person to be killed there since 2015, leading the council to consider revoking its business license.

The List Is In: 13 Apply to Fill Roberson’s Seat on the Birmingham Council

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.

Birmingham Council Delays Selecting New Pro Tem After Roberson’s Departure

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.