Category: City of Birmingham
Next week, Birmingham’s election commission will meet to discuss a potential citywide vote to renew a soon-to-expire ad valorem tax that provides Birmingham City Schools with approximately $27 million in yearly revenue. But that proposed election would have even wider ramifications, putting three city council seats — Districts 1, 6 and 7 — up for a vote. Read more.
Applications are now open for A Citizen’s Experience, a new initiative from the city of Birmingham designed to promote civic engagement. The free, seven-week program is slated to begin in June and is open only to Birmingham residents who are 18 years old or older. Applications are being accepted this month. Read more.
Trafford Mayor Greg Rogers wasn’t present in the Jefferson County Commission chambers this morning but the spirit of TV’s Mister Rogers was as 22 Jefferson County mayors signed the Good Neighbor Pledge.
The pact discourages poaching between cities in the county. Each city represented in the agreement pledges not to recruit business from another city within the county.
“Under the voluntary agreement, we as mayors promise we will not lure businesses away from other cities in Jefferson County through solicitation or incentives,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “I’m convinced the Good Neighbor Pledge will lay a better foundation for our cities’ future … all of us within the county.”
Woodfin said not having a pledge such as the one signed today put Birmingham at risk of losing small businesses, including shops, grocery stores and restaurants.
“When a business closes in one city and moves to a neighboring city, we’re not creating new jobs, we’re not creating opportunities,” the Birmingham mayor continued. “We’re just shuffling them around.” Read more.
The Birmingham Police Department will soon have two new high-tech crime-fighting tools at its disposal. On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council approved nearly $75,000 for two law enforcement software systems, PredPol and Assisted Patrol Bait Systems, which are designed to increase patrol efficiency and crack down on repeat offenders, respectively. Read more.
A black-and-white photo of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin — shot in profile, eyes fixed in an expression of steely determination — hovered over the stage of the Alabama School of Fine Arts’ Dorothy Jemison Day Theater on Thursday night.
But beneath that photo, seated casually in an onstage armchair, the actual Woodfin seemed comfortable ceding the spotlight to members of his team, watching quietly as they presented updates on his administration’s strategic plan — “The Big Picture,” as the evening was branded.
Woodfin initially unveiled that strategic plan, The Woodfin Way, in October; Thursday’s event served as a promised six-month check-up on its progress. Over the course of roughly 90 minutes, members of Woodfin’s administration gave short presentations on six key goals: public safety, public improvements, workforce development, economic opportunity, effective government and social justice. Read more.
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.
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.
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.
Number of counties reporting: 67 out of 67
Walt Maddox (D)
Kay Ivey (R)
Bob Vance Jr. (D)
Tom Parker (R)
Joseph Siegelman (D)
Steve Marshall (R)
Secretary of State:
Heather Milam (D)
John H. Merrill (R)
Will Boyd (D)
Will Ainsworth (R)
Public Service Commission Place 1
Cara Y. McClure (D)
Jeremy H. Oden (R)
Public Service Commission Place 2
Kari Powell (D)
Chris “Chip” Beeker Jr. (R)
Miranda Karrine Joseph (D)
Jim Ziegler (R)
John MacMillan (R)
Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries
Rick Pate (R)
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.
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.
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.