Author: Virginia Martin

JeffCo Commission Approves Extra Money for TWG Over Tyson’s Objection About Lack of Information

Sheila Tyson was determined to take her stand, even if she stood alone.

The Jefferson County Commission today approved allotting an additional $4 million to help offset the deficit incurred by organizers of The World Games. The matter passed on a 4-1 vote with Tyson casting the dissenting vote.

The District 2 commissioner said there was too much information that had not been made available to the commission or citizens.

“We don’t know who they hired, how much they paid. Nothing was brought up about how the money was spent,” Tyson said. “I just feel like the taxpayers were due this information, that the commission was due this information.” Read more.

JeffCo Commissioners to Debate Budget in Thursday’s Meeting

The Jefferson County Commission is set to consider the county’s 2023 fiscal year budget during its meeting Thursday.

The proposed budgetary appropriation for all funds is $962,149,935, with $672,306,998 in the operating budget and $289,842,937 in the capital budget. The capital budget represents 30% of the total budget and the operating budget accounts for 70%. Read more.

JeffCo Commissioners Plan to Pitch In Another $4M to Pay World Games Deficit, Continue EMS Discussions

Continuing in the spirit of participation and cooperation, the Jefferson County Commission today put things in motion for helping The World Games overcome the deficit it had from the 11-day athletic competition held in metro Birmingham in July.

Organizers of The World Games found themselves in a $14 million hole when the international event was done. Commissioners moved to the agenda of Thursday’s meeting a resolution to allot $4 million to The World Games from the American Rescue Plan Act funds. Read more.

Birmingham Renews Controversial Online Business License Renewal Service but Warns Company to Improve Customer Service

Birmingham has renewed its contract with Avenu Insights & Analytics LLC, the company in charge of the city’s online business license renewal service. The renewal came despite misgivings from officials about complaints that the company’s customer service is subpar, so the city added a 90-day termination clause to the contract.

Online business license renewal was a priority for Mayor Randall Woodfin’s first term, and a contract with Avenu was approved in 2019. While Avenu’s online service has increased licensing efficiency, Woodfin said, its customer service “has not been the smoothest.”

Talks with the company about improving its “quality control … weren’t necessarily the smoothest” either, Woodfin said, and eventually led to him having a one-on-one call with the company’s president. “I expressed on behalf of our team (that), in its current form, the service doesn’t meet our core values,” he said. “It’s not working for the small business owner. The team in the (city) finance department is not pleased, and there are some trust issues, etc.” Read more.

COVID Still Topping 2020 Numbers in Alabama, but Conditions Not as Bad as in 2021

Although many Alabamians seem to believe the pandemic is over, judging by the lack of masks being worn inside stores and other public buildings, the virus actually is affecting more Alabamians now than it did two years ago.

On Thursday, the average of new cases being reported daily in the state was 2,099, according to New York Times data. Not only is that a 4% increase from two weeks ago, it’s a 41% increase over the average number of new cases reported the week ending Sept. 1, 2020, when the average of new daily cases reported was 1,482.

But the most recent case numbers are at just less than half of what they were last year, when an average of 4,307 new cases had been reported daily in the week that ended Sept. 1. Read more.

Confrontations Between Alabama Miners, Strikebreakers a Part of a Rough Labor History

Every two weeks on the grass and gravel outside a United Mine Workers of America union hall, miners sing happy birthday to their kids, eat hot dogs and announce the names of members who have died since the last rally.

But the camaraderie in the parking lot contrasts with the tension in the small town of Brookwood, Alabama. Miners wear shirts that read “no luv for scabs” — slang for workers who have crossed the picket line — and cheer as a local union leader tells a story of threatening one of those strikebreakers at a gas station.

“I said, ‘I’m going to beat your eyes out and then blow your brains out,’” Larry Spencer said as the crowd laughed in March. “‘Because I’m tired of you taking my brothers’ and sisters’ jobs.’”

The strike at the Warrior Met Coal-owned mines in Brookwood, where hundreds of these union workers are employed, is on its 16th month and counting. During that time, the strike led to fist fights, flattened tires and shattered car windows. Now, the United Mine Workers of America union is fighting a $13.3 million dollar fine that’s, at least in part, for the property damage. The confrontations on the Warrior Met Coal picket line make up the latest chapter in a long, rough history of conflict between miners and companies that explain why some historians call the U.S. labor movement one of the bloodiest. Read more.