Category: Birmingham City Council
The Birmingham City Council has approved its first official travel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. During a virtual meeting Tuesday, the council approved last-minute funding for Council President William Parker to take a two-day trip to Montgomery to meet with Alabama legislators. Read more.
Updated Feb. 28, 2021 — Six months before Birmingham’s municipal elections, the pool of candidates for City Council is beginning to take shape. Though official qualifying won’t be open until June 25, social media campaigns are underway for several Birmingham residents looking to claim a spot on the nine-member council. For now, some races are looking more crowded than others.
Former Birmingham Mayor William Bell has signaled his intention to enter this year’s mayoral race, challenging incumbent Mayor Randall Woodfin, who unseated him in 2017. Paperwork filed with Jefferson County’s probate court Monday shows that Bell has formed a principal campaign committee — of which he is the sole member — for a 2021 mayoral run. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council has approved a $940,030 construction bid for the city’s long-planned real-time crime center, though the identity of the bidder remains confidential.
The development of a real-time crime center was first announced by Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith in 2019 as a technological hub that would give police “a very clear picture of what’s going on throughout the city.” He said information could be transmitted directly to on-beat officers “so they know exactly what they’re looking for and who they’re looking for.”
The crime center will employ policing technology such as ShotSpotter and PredPol, as well as recently approved Motorola surveillance software that drew controversy last year for its facial recognition capabilities. Mayor Randall Woodfin has maintained that the BPD cannot use those capabilities without approval from the City Council.
The Birmingham City Council hired its own lobbyist and legal consultant Tuesday, a move granting the council greater independence from the mayor’s office.
The council approved two $45,000 contracts during its virtual meeting — one with lobbying firm Miller Development Group and one with law firm Campbell Partners, LLC. The council cited the opacity of Mayor Randall Woodfin’s legislative agenda and the need for a “council-focused” legal consultant outside of the city’s law department, which reports to the mayor. The Mayor’s Office retains its own lobbyist.
“This council needs help, and we need our own help, because the city’s help is not ours,” said District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott. “They don’t report to us, they don’t answer to us, they don’t do what we want.” Read more.
Although still recovering from COVID-19-related pneumonia, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced three major political appointments Tuesday morning, including a new director of innovation and economic opportunity and two members of the Birmingham Water Works Board. Read more.
On Tuesday, for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Birmingham City Council opted for an all-virtual council meeting — though, at least initially, that format kept them from accomplishing much. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin remains hospitalized with COVID-related pneumonia. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council approved four appointments to the Birmingham Water Works Board on Tuesday, with terms set to stretch through 2024. The council appoints six of the BWWB’s nine members; the other three seats are appointed by the Jefferson County Mayor’s Association, the Shelby County Commission and the Blount County Commission. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council approved an economic incentives package for the long-awaited redevelopment of the former Carraway Hospital property. Northside Redevelopment, the company overseeing the mixed-use development project, will receive an aggregate of $13.2 million in incentives, the council decided Tuesday. Read more.
Birmingham’s finances appear to be holding steady despite COVID-19’s impact on city revenues, finance director Lester Smith told city councilors Tuesday afternoon — though he warned that a clear picture of the city’s financial health won’t be visible until March. Read more.