Category: BirminghamWatch

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Ivey Signs Law Allowing Church to Hire Police Force (Associated Press)

Roy Moore Lashes out at Sen. Richard Shelby, Blames Him for 2017 Loss (AL.com)

Birmingham Named One of Nation’s Best Cities for Jobseekers (Birmingham Business Journal)

Amid Urgent Climate Warnings, EPA Gives Coal a Reprieve (Associated Press)

Dr. George T. French Resigns as Miles College President to Assume Same Role at Clark Atlanta University (AL.com)

Should We Hear the Lies and the Hate?

Whenever White House adviser Kellyanne Conway appears on a TV news or talk show, I switch the channel to more useful programming, such as the Home Shopping Network selling something in which I have no interest. Conway, who traffics in distortion and lies, is among the media circuit regulars who has spawned industry debate as to whether some people deserve an interview and appearance ban. A combative December appearance by Conway on Chris Cuomo’s CNN news talk show, for instance, produced a live, long and lively argument between Cuomo and CNN news anchor Don Lemon.

 A more recent repeat of the same issue, but involving a more offensive individual, occurred two weeks ago when conservative commentator and author Ben Shapiro, who could less politely be described as a hateful troll, was aggressively questioned by an interviewer on a BBC politics show. Shapiro, who unlike Conway does not advise a national decision maker (but who is popular enough that he filled the lecture room at a February appearance at the University of Alabama), abruptly walked out of the interview on live TV. Nesrine Malik, a columnist for The Guardian, wrote: “No matter how much those with regressive, prejudiced or simply dishonest views are challenged, it is pointless if they are constantly provided a venue. It is the platform that legitimizes them, not how they perform when they are on that platform.”

Read more.

Huntsville Area Leads the State in Population Growth

The Birmingham-Hoover MSA grew by just 2,116 people in 2017-2018. The area ranked 251th out of 383 MSAs in terms of population growth rate, according to an analysis of census data conducted by the Public Research Council of Alabama.

The Huntsville MSA led the state in percentage of population growth, ranking it 64th in the country. It added 6,952 people to its ranks in the period.

Other large metros in the state fell below Birmingham-Hoover in terms of growth, with Mobile ranked 324th and Montgomery 327th. However, those two areas lost population in 2017-2018, as did some other metro areas in the U.S. Read more.

Reactions to Alabama’s New Abortion Ban

The Alabama Legislature’s passage of a law to make almost all abortions in the state illegal drew attention across the country. Here are a few of the angles being addressed by the press:

Alabama Aims Squarely at Roe, but the Supreme Court May Prefer Glancing Blows (New York Times)

Televangelist Pat Robertson: Alabama’s Abortion Ban Is ‘Extreme’ and Has ‘Gone Too Far’ (Washington Post)

Alabama’s Extremist Abortion Bill Ruins John Roberts’ Roe Plan: SCOTUS was all teed up to quietly gut America’s abortion rights. Then Alabama happened. (Slate)

What Alabama’s Abortion Legislation Could Mean for the Rest of the Country (Video) (Washington Post)

23 Ways Anti-Abortion Activists Are Attempting to Erode Roe v. Wade Without Repealing It (Business Insider)

Abortion Laws Are Changing Across US. Here’s a State-by-State Guide and What It Means (Miami Herald)

What the Alabama Abortion Bill Really Aims to Do (CNN)

Alabama’s Lawmakers Want to Challenge Roe v. Wade (The Economist)

Read more.

Hank Black Inducted Into UA Student Media’s Wall of Fame for His Service in Journalism

BirminghamWatch’s Hank Black was inducted into the Wall of Fame for the University of Alabama’s Office of Student Media during an event April 26.

Black, who covers the environment for BW, was honored for his role as editor in chief of the Crimson White during one of the most turbulent years in the university’s history. Black was editor in 1963, when Vivian Malone and James Hood became the first two black students to successfully enroll at UA, following Gov. George Wallace’s infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.” Read more.

Doug Jones’ story about the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and the prosecution of the Klansmen who did it, provides perspective on the past and present.

“Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights” by Doug Jones with Greg Truman (St. Martin’s Press, 2019)

“Maxine McNair’s screams were primal,” Doug Jones writes in Bending Toward Justice. As McNair searched for her daughter Denise in the rubble of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church she knew, the way a mother would know, that the unthinkable had finally happened.

The 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing that killed Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins happened because white Americans were angry. Birmingham’s public schools were integrated the week before the bombing, and as whites saw dents and cracks appearing in the wall that separated them from black Americans they became resentful and afraid. And a few whites, bitter losers clinging to the bottom rung of the white racial hierarchy, were willing to do more than just gripe about it. They were willing to commit murder.

“Bending Toward Justice” accomplishes what good history should accomplish. The book helps readers understand the past and the present. And the events of 1963 are relevant now because sometimes history does backflips. That’s not to say that history repeats itself, because it doesn’t really. But occasionally, without looking where we’re going, we jump back to a spot we thought we had left behind. And then we have to retrace our steps to see how it all turns out this time.

Read more.

Traffic Tie-Ups, New Sports Teams and an Anti-Crime Plan Create Challenges, Opportunities for Birmingham in 2019

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

Economy Likely to Be the Topic of the Year for Jefferson County Commission


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.

By Land, Water or Air, Pollution Will Be a Controversial Topic Throughout the Year


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.

Gas Tax Is a Top Priority in 2019 Legislative Session


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.