Category: City of Birmingham

Judge Tosses Memorial Protection Law in Case Over Birmingham Confederate Monument

Updated: A Jefferson County judge has voided a state law that protected historical monuments.

Ruling in a case over the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Birmingham’s Linn Park, then-Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Graffeo said that the law essentially forced a pro-Confederacy message on the city of Birmingham.

“Just as the state could not force any particular citizen to post a pro-Confederacy sign in his or her front lawn, so too can the state not commandeer the city’s property for the state’s preferred message.” Read more.

Woodfin Mournful but Optimistic in His Second State of the Community Address

Following a tragic week for Birmingham, Mayor Randall Woodfin delivered his second State of the Community address Monday night. His speech was equal parts elegiac and hopeful, addressing the death of former Mayor Larry Langford and the murder of Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter while casting an optimistic eye toward the future.

“This evening, I come before you in a state of mourning,” he said during his speech. “We’re a city with a broken heart.”

But resilience, Woodfin argued, “is in our DNA,” and after a lengthy prayer from local pastor Terry Drake, he shifted his focus to the accomplishments of his administration’s first year at City Hall. The city, he said is, “writing another chapter in our grand legacy.” Read more.

Birmingham Police Chief Urges Residents to Become More Active in Crime Prevention, Describes New Approach to Policing

In a presentation to neighborhood officers, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith laid out a new strategy for the department and urged residents to be proactive in addressing crime in their communities.

“We have to get real about it,” he said. “We cannot do things the way we always did.”

Thursday’s meeting, which took place after a swearing-in ceremony for newly elected neighborhood officers, was one of the first major presentations of Smith’s strategy since he took the job in June. Smith described his first six months on the job as playing “catch-up” with a department that had fallen “behind the curve” in its approach to fighting crime.

“When I took over, I did an analysis of the department,” he said. “Over time, from 2014 to 2018, crime has doubled … We have to do a lot to bring this police department back to where it needs to be.” Read more.

Election Night in Alabama: Unofficial Statewide Results in 10 Top Races

Number of counties reporting: 67 out of 67

Governor: 
Walt Maddox (D)
40.36%
Kay Ivey (R)
59.49%

Chief Justice:
Bob Vance Jr. (D)
42.52%
Tom Parker (R)
57.42%

Attorney General: 
Joseph Siegelman (D)
41.11%
Steve Marshall (R)
58.82%

Secretary of State:
Heather Milam (D)
38.89%
John H. Merrill (R)
61.05%

Lt. Governor: 
Will Boyd (D)
38.65%
Will Ainsworth (R)
61.29%

Public Service Commission Place 1
Cara Y. McClure (D)
39.48%
Jeremy H. Oden (R)
60.46%

Public Service Commission Place 2
Kari Powell (D)
39.85%
Chris “Chip” Beeker Jr. (R)
60.09%

Auditor
Miranda Karrine Joseph (D)
39.46%
Jim Ziegler (R)
60.46%

State Treasurer
John MacMillan (R)
97.15%
Write-in
2.85%

Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries
Rick Pate (R)
97.20%
Write-in
2.80%

All of Alabama’s Republicans in the House of Representatives won re-election: Rep. Bradley Byrne is at 63.24%, Rep. Martha Roby is at 61.43%, Rep. Mike Rogers is at 63.74%, Rep. Robert Aderholt is at 79.798%, Rep. Mo Brooks is at 61.06%, and Rep. Gary Palmer is at 69.22%. Democrat Terri Sewell was unopposed and got 97.80%.

Check out more results at AlabamaVotes.Gov. 

Can Cooperation Combat Crime? Birmingham-Area Agencies Teaming up on Problem

Despite the city’s rising homicide rate and a recent rash of highly publicized violent crimes, Birmingham-area law enforcement officials say they are optimistic about the city’s long-term crime-fighting prospects, due in part to an array of government agencies working together.

After a violent start to September, which saw seven homicides in its first eight days, Birmingham is on track to have its deadliest year in decades. As of Sept. 20, there have been 86 reported homicides this year, compared to the 79 counted at this point last year, which was the deadliest year for the city since 1994.

“It’s too high for sure,” said Jay Town, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, which is centered in Birmingham. “It makes you wonder if we weren’t putting all of this effort … I shudder to think where those numbers might be.”

Town, who has been on the job for roughly 13 months, said he has worked to develop a “vertical” model of law enforcement that includes federal, state, county and local departments. It’s a model, he said, that can serve as a crime-fighting method going forward.

“The only promise I can make is that we are establishing long-term processes, and it takes time,” he said. “As much as we would like in the Magic City to have crime disappear overnight, we are taking the painstaking efforts to make sure that there are systems and methods and processes in place that are going to last a lot longer than any of us.” Read more.

A Deadly Week: September Homicides Could Foreshadow Record Year in Birmingham

Six homicides happened in Birmingham during the first week of September, putting the city firmly on track for its most violent year in more than two decades and pressuring city leaders to improve their strategies for responding to such incidents and to focus on preventing them.

The first homicide of the month was the highly publicized death of 16-year-old Woodlawn High School student Will Edwards, who was killed in his North East Lake home just after midnight Sept. 1. The following evening, seven teenagers were shot during a gunfight at the downtown music venue WorkPlay, though none were killed.

Mayor Randall Woodfin described the weekend’s incidents of youth violence as a “devastating blow to our community.”

By the end of the first week, five more homicides had been reported by the Birmingham Police Department, four of which happened within a 24-hour period. Just minutes after the week ended, the city already had logged its first homicide of week two. It wasn’t the most homicides that have taken place in a single week this year — that would be an eight-homicide stretch between July 29 and August 4 — but it has placed Birmingham firmly on track to have its deadliest year in recent memory.
Read more.

A Deadly Week: September Homicides Could Foreshadow Record Year in Birmingham

Six homicides happened in Birmingham during the first week of September, putting the city firmly on track for its most violent year in more than two decades and pressuring city leaders to improve their strategies for responding to such incidents and to focus on preventing them.

The first homicide of the month was the highly publicized death of 16-year-old Woodlawn High School student Will Edwards, who was killed in his North East Lake home just after midnight Sept. 1. The following evening, seven teenagers were shot during a gunfight at the downtown music venue WorkPlay, though none were killed.

Mayor Randall Woodfin described the weekend’s incidents of youth violence as a “devastating blow to our community.”

By the end of the first week, five more homicides had been reported by the Birmingham Police Department, four of which happened within a 24-hour period. Fifty-year-old Antonio Pettaway was stabbed to death in his North Birmingham home Sept. 1 and his girlfriend was taken into custody. The remaining four homicides all took place Sept. 5: 26-year-old Briana Young was shot to death while driving in South Pratt; an unidentified male was found shot to death behind the wheel of a car in Roosevelt; 24-year-old Tarrell Antone Watson was also found dead behind the wheel of a car in North Pratt, ruled a homicide by police; and 30-year-old Preston Lemar Robinson was found shot to death in Green Acres.

Just minutes after the week ended, the city already had logged its first homicide of week two. Marqueze Green, 21, died at UAB Hospital after being shot while sitting in a car on Steiner Court S.W. Another victim also was shot but is expected to recover.

It wasn’t the most homicides that have taken place in a single week this year — that would be an eight-homicide stretch between July 29 and August 4 — but it has placed Birmingham firmly on track to have its deadliest year in recent memory. Read more.

Birmingham Offers Help to Renovate Homes in Blighted Neighborhoods

Two big economic development projects in Birmingham may pay off for city neighborhoods. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced a program Wednesday to spend $1 million on home renovations in blighted neighborhoods.

The program will improve 100 homes in 100 days. Woodfin said the money comes from the sale of two city properties: a downtown parking deck after the grocery delivery company Shipt expanded, and the site of a new data center planned near Sixth Avenue South in North Titusville. Read more.

New Police Chief Smith Talks About Building Bridges With Communities to Reduce Crime in Q&A

Earlier this month, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced that, after a six-month, nationwide search, he had selected a new chief for Birmingham’s police department. Patrick D. Smith, a commander with the Los Angeles Police Department, was selected to succeed A.C. Roper, who announced the day after Woodfin took office that he would be stepping down as chief.

Smith officially started as chief on June 25. He still has a “to-do list” for getting settled in to the job, including meeting with Sheriff Mike Hale and other nearby law enforcement leaders. But he’s already begun to implement some of his priorities for the job, such as hiring more officers and placing emphasis on the first 72 hours of investigations. Smith recently spoke with BirminghamWatch about what initially drew him to Birmingham and his plans for addressing some of the city’s biggest obstacles. Read more.

‘That is Crazy:’ 17 Steps to Cutting Checks for Birmingham Neighborhood Projects 

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin addressed concerns about his proposed FY 2018 budget’s funding for neighborhoods during a press conference Thursday, arguing that his administration was actively working to address neighborhood associations’ complaints about bureaucratic red tape.

Earlier this month, Woodfin announced that he would be moving the $500,000 typically allocated to neighborhood associations “to directly invest in revitalization,” saying that neighborhoods already have unspent funds “sitting here” in their accounts.

“We challenge the neighborhood associations to work with us with the existing funds they have to address weed abatement, demolition and other neighborhood improvements,” he said then.

But during May 14’s budget hearing, neighborhood officers argued that they had been unable to spend their money for years due to a lengthy and often interminable approval process. “[Woodfin] never asked us why we have so much money in our accounts,” Central Park Neighborhood Association President Susan Palmer told a sympathetic city council.
Read more.

Woodfin to present city budget with changes in funding for pensions, infrastructure, transit

Mayor Randall Woodfin will present his proposed FY 2019 operating budget to the Birmingham City Council during its regular meeting Tuesday morning. Though Woodfin had provided some input on the FY 2018 budget, which was passed last December after months of delays, this will be the first budget that his administration has overseen from the ground up.

Due to the city’s new “zero-based” budgeting strategy, the proposed budget will be built on the Woodfin administration’s assessment of the city’s budgetary needs rather than the previous year’s budget. Among other things, the proposed budget will feature changes to the city’s funding for pensions, infrastructure, and transit.
Read more.