Category: Birmingham City Council
Wardine Alexander won’t be the newest member of the Birmingham City Council for long. She took her seat as District 7’s representative Oct. 30, following a narrow vote — and now, she’ll have a say in appointing the replacements for former councilors Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson, who vacated their seats to join the Jefferson County Commission last week.
Alexander replaced Jay Roberson, who suddenly resigned from the seat in September, citing his wife’s new job with Alabaster City Schools.
BirminghamWatch conducted an interview with Alexander about her priorities and skills, her previous roles on the city’s library board and board of education, her impression of Mayor Randall Woodfin’s administration and why she wanted to a be a councilor. Read the Q&A.
On their final day as city councilors, Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson addressed their colleagues during an otherwise uneventful council meeting, reflecting on their tenures before they move to a higher level of government.
Scales and Tyson were technically elected to the Jefferson County Commission in Nov. 6’s general election, though they were both uncontested and had been assumed to take their seats since winning their July runoff elections. Scales had been the councilor for District 1 since 2009, while Tyson had represented District 6 since 2013. Both won their bids for re-election last year, but their commission wins meant that they would have to leave their seats with three years remaining in their terms.
Their speeches at Tuesday’s council meeting highlighted the contrast in their political styles — Scales loquacious and boastful, Tyson serious and determined — and in many ways epitomized their respective terms on the council. Read more.
Mayor Randall Woodfin called for greater civility between his office and Birmingham City Council on Tuesday, following weeks of escalating tension. The tension culminated with Woodfin and most of his staff being absent from the council’s Oct. 30 meeting.
While calling for civility, Woodfin also announced plans to reduce his staff’s presence at council meetings. He said this is an effort to improve efficiency and to spend more time on community outreach.
Last week’s absence of Woodfin and his staff drew considerable criticism from councilors, some of whom called it “a slap in the face to the constituents of the 99 neighborhoods.” Read more.
After weeks of contentious discussion, it’s official: Wardine Alexander is the newest member of the Birmingham City Council, filling the District 7 seat formerly held by Jay Roberson. Her appointment, as well as the election of District 4 Councilor William Parker as president pro tempore, marks the end of a deadlock between two factions of the council.
But it also came amid an escalating feud between the council and Mayor Randall Woodfin who, along with most of his staff, was conspicuously absent from Tuesday’s meeting — prompting some councilors to say that they were “shocked” and “outraged” by what they called a display of “petty politics.”
Tensions continued through the week between a Birmingham City Council member and Mayor Randall Woodfin over the council’s Tuesday decision not to contribute $1 million over five years to the Firehouse Ministries Homeless Shelter.
That proposal is no longer on the table; the council voted it down at its Oct. 23 meeting. But Woodfin and District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt continued to trade barbs in one of the most high-profile public disagreements between the mayor and council since Woodfin took office nearly a year ago. Read more.
District 7’s vacant seat on the Birmingham City Council will remain empty for at least another week after the eight remaining councilors failed to agree on an appointment during Tuesday’s meeting.
Jay Roberson resigned from the seat on Sept. 10, citing his wife’s new job with Alabaster City Schools. The question of his replacement has loomed large over the council since he announced his departure in August — particularly since two other councilors, Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson, also will leave the council in November to take seats on the Jefferson County Commission.
Whoever is appointed to the seat will serve until the next scheduled election. Currently, that is slated for 2021, though there have been suggestions that an election may be called next year.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, the council had narrowed the initial field of 13 applicants down to five finalists — Wardine Alexander, Raymond Brooks, Charles Crockrom, Lonnie Malone and Walter Wilson. But at Tuesday’s meeting, the council’s vote was evenly split between Alexander and Malone. Read more.
Several months after taking the job, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith is expected to deliver a comprehensive plan for crime reduction to the City Council next month.
The announcement of the plan was made at Tuesday’s council meeting by Cedric D. Sparks, Mayor Randall Woodfin’s chief of staff, in response to concerns expressed by the council about increasing rates of violent crime in the city.
2018 is on track to become the city’s deadliest year in decades. As of Oct. 16, Birmingham had logged 92 homicides in 2018, slightly ahead of the 87 homicides that had been reported at this point last year. By the end of 2017, Birmingham had a reported 117 homicides, the highest rate since 1995. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to appoint attorney Carly Miller to the city’s five-member Park and Recreation Board, replacing former Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid. Kincaid had served on the board since 2011, and his second term on the board expired Oct. 8.
Miller is an associate at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP with a legal focus on construction, government contracting and energy. Her term on the Park and Recreation Board will last through Oct. 8, 2022. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council appointed two new members to the Birmingham Land Bank Authority’s board of directors during Tuesday’s meeting, but not before councilors repeated their oft-stated beliefs that the organization should make greater strides toward autonomy from the city. Read more.
Big Brother might be watching you.
That’s the intended message, at least, of a new agreement between the City of Birmingham and Alabama Power Co. that will allow for the installation of nearly 100 surveillance cameras at undisclosed points throughout the city.
The $672,000 annual contract is part of a pilot program intended to deter crime in Birmingham neighborhoods and to provide data to the Jefferson County Metro Area Crime Center, which serves as a communications hub for 16 local law enforcement agencies.
The cameras are intended to combat violent crime in the city, which has seen a marked uptick in violent crime — homicides in particular — since 2015. Read more.