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Doubling Down: BirminghamWatch Tapped to Benefit From News Match 2017 Fundraising Drive

BirminghamWatch has been selected to participate in News Match 2017, a $3 million program to support nonprofit and investigative news organizations.

News Match is a collaboration of the Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It is the largest grassroots fundraising campaign to support nonprofit news organizations that play a vital role informing the public and holding those in power accountable.

BirminghamWatch, the news reporting arm of the Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism, is one of 110 news organizations participating in News Match. Each of the organizations is eligible to receive up to $28,000 to match individual donations of up to $1,000 received through Dec. 31.

“At a time when trust in media is at an all-time low, nonprofit journalism organizations are directly connecting with people to understand their needs and concerns, while providing vital news and information to communities across the nation,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “This initiative will help news organizations that are imperative to our democracy build resources and widen their supporter base, just when they need it most.” Read more.

Getting Media Savvy: Judging the Difference Between Real News and Fake

Almost as if it were planned, news about fake news headlined national media coverage the same day that Alabama media experts and citizens who care about staying informed gathered for a Media Savvy discussion Thursday evening at Birmingham’s Civil Rights Institute.

Aimed at understanding and navigating today’s changing and confusing media landscape, the forum began and ended with “Real News or Fake News?” games, included tips for telling the difference, and featured open discussion by audience members and presenters with decades of news reporting experience.

The event was sponsored by BirminghamWatch and the Alabama Humanities Foundation. The conversation continues next week. Reserve your seat now. The events are free but space is limited. Read more.

Hate Is Alive and Well in America Today, Panelists Say

Uma Srivastava recalled when her sister was told at a traffic stop to “go back to your country. You don’t belong here.”
Except this is her country.

“She was born here. She went to high school here,” said Srivastava, who was representing the Indian-American community during a conference at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “This is home for us. There’s no other country to go back to.”

It is said that love is what love does and, according to panelists at the conference, hate can be defined the same way.

Representatives of seven groups answered the question, ‘What is Hate in Your Community,’ on the second day of the Hate Crimes Conference, presented by BCRI and the Birmingham Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Read more.

Confederate Monument in Linn Park Covered in Wake of Virginia Protests

Aug. 15, 2017 — Mayor William Bell had a Confederate monument outside Birmingham City Hall obscured by a wooden barrier Tuesday night while efforts are made to remove it.

But the state’s attorney general quickly sued the city and the mayor, saying the move violated a state law passed in the spring that says monuments more than 40 years old cannot be altered without approval from a new commission.

The topic of removing the statute was brought up during the Tuesday morning City Council meeting. Council President Johnathan Austin had called on Bell to remove the monument and others like it in Birmingham, calling them “offensive” and saying they “celebrate racism, bigotry, hate and all those things that the South has been known for. Read more.

JeffCo Commission Presses Pause on Cotswold Development

Aug. 10, 2017 – Jay Morgan applauded as Commissioner David Carrington voiced his disapproval of an effort to get zoning in The Cotswolds subdivision amended to permit the construction of a pair of houses on land that was designated to be left undeveloped.

“He said they need to play by the rules,” said Morgan, who lives in the subdivision on Sicard Hollow Road near Liberty Park. “These developers … they were not playing by the rules. They started building the driveway and didn’t even have a building permit. That’s why we have rules and regulations.”

Carrington ultimately moved that the matter be carried over for no more than six months to allow, among other things, for all parties to be duly notified. Read more.

Jefferson County Gets Extra Time to Comment on Rule Limiting Phosphorus in Black Warrior River Tributaries

Jefferson County will get more time to comment on proposed standards for the level of phosphorus that can be dumped into Locust Fork and Village Creek by its wastewater treatment plants.

Phosphorus levels in the two water bodies are linked to algae blooms, weeds and slimes in the water and may impair their use for such things as public drinking water, swimming and other recreational activities. Algae blooms are a nuisance primarily during the summer.

Commissioners said on June 21 that they had not been notified by the county’s Environmental Services Department in time to meet a July 10 deadline to comment on the proposal. In part, they are worried about the financial hit the rule could have on Jefferson County’s sewer costs, and its ratepayers, and wanted more time to study the situation. Read more.

Jeffco Commissioners Face Indigent Healthcare Sticker Shock – Again

Jefferson County commissioners are again wondering how to manage the creeping rise in healthcare costs for the poor.

Commissioners at a Tuesday committee meeting expressed concerns that the cost to provide in-patient care to the poor in the county has risen to an estimated $25 million a year.

Commission President Jimmie Stephens said the county had hoped it could keep the tab for indigent in-patient care, which is being provided by area hospitals, at about $15 million.

Commissioners expressed concerns that the rising costs could force the county to again dip into its general fund to foot the healthcare bill. Read more.