Category: Government

JeffCo Asks Court to Release It From Its Last Consent Decree

The Jefferson County Commission Tuesday filed a motion to be released from the 1996 consent decree over the Jefferson County Sewer System.  

It is the next step in the county being released from all the consent decrees imposed on it.  

“We were successful in getting out of the employment consent decree,” County Attorney Theo Lawson said. “The next consent decree was the environmental consent decree. We have made tremendous strides in ensuring that we are in compliance and beyond with federal law and continue to be committed to that because our sewer system is one of our biggest assets.   Read more.

Birmingham Sets Up New Police Advisory Committee

Birmingham Randall Woodfin on Tuesday announced the formation of a Public Safety Advisory Committee to conduct an assessment of police operations, review community complaints, bring transparency to police operations and hold the police department accountable for its actions.

The first meeting of the committee will be Thursday on the second floor of City Hall and is open to the public.

The committee formation comes after the city in 2021 formed a Civilian Review Board, but it never got to the point of publicly dealing with community complaints. Read more.

JeffCo Sets Largest Budget Ever

Angela Dixon, the chief financial officer of Jefferson County, was quick to acknowledge the help she got from the county’s budget office in delivering the county’s largest ever budget.

“These ladies are the gems of Jefferson County,” Dixon said of Lene Wormley and Marilyn Shepard. “They have gotten the distinguished budget award for four years straight, and it’s only two people in the office.”

Those few workers prepared the total of $1,264,956,131 budget passed Thursday by the County Commission. Read more.

Birmingham Council Amends Laws Affecting Predatory Towing, Plan More Changes

The Birmingham City Council wrestled with the issue of predatory towing this week and passed two ordinances to start addressing the problems.

Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who heads the council’s transportation committee, has worked to resolve complaints on both issues since 2017.

After council approval of the ordinances, he called the action “a milestone because it has been a lot of effort.” Read more.

Commission Sends $1 Billion Budget to Thursday’s Agenda

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens gave Commissioner Joe Knight a hearty handshake at the end of a nearly two-hour committee meeting of the commission, congratulating the finance chairman as the proposed 2024 fiscal budget went to the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting.

“This budget’s been a work in progress,” Knight said. “I think we’re going to be fine with it. We still gotta try to keep an eye out on the economy, where it’s going. We’ve still got the refunding coming up. There are a lot of moving parts to this.” Read more.

Birmingham City Council OKs $4.5M More for Rickwood Field Improvements

The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday secured funding for improvements at Rickwood Field in preparation for the MLB coming to town next summer for a tribute game.

Councilors approved an agreement for the city PACE Board to issue $4.5 million in bonds through PNC bank. It also during the year has approved several allocations totaling about $2.5 million for renovations at the field, and it recently approved allocations of $150,000 a year for three years to the Friends of Rickwood Field. Read more.

Federal Court Blocks Alabama’s Congressional Map, Orders New Lines Drawn

A three-judge federal panel Tuesday ruled that a new Alabama congressional map failed to address Voting Rights Act violations and ordered a third party to draw new lines.

In a 217-page opinion in the case, known as Allen v. Milligan, U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus and U.S. District Judges Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer sharply criticized the Alabama Legislature, writing that they were “deeply troubled” that lawmakers did not draw a map that gave Black voters in the state the chance to elect representatives of their choosing, as the judges ordered in a January 2022 ruling.

“We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature — faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district — responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district,” the judges wrote. Read more.

Much Obliged: JeffCo Wins New Award for Helping Autauga County After Tornado

The Roads and Transportation Department of Jefferson County received a heartfelt “thank you” Thursday for coming to the rescue of Autauga County after it was hit by a January tornado.

The county road crew became the first recipient of the first One Family Award because of its efforts in the wake of the tornado. The award was presented last week during the convention of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama. Read more.

In the Shadow of Brother Bryan: Homeless Living in Park Draw Ire, Sympathy

Sometimes the tears welled up in Brother Bryan’s eyes

The Rev. James Alexander Bryan, a Princeton-educated pastor, is known in Birmingham as an advocate for those facing homelessness.

“They are all dying for a little bit of love, for a kind word, for a warm handshake,” Brother Bryan was quoted in the book “Religion in Shoes” as saying of those he served. “Beneath that torn coat or ragged shawl, the life may be torn, but there is a soul for whom Jesus died.”

This week, Terrance Smith sat in a Birmingham park named after Brother Bryan. Smith is among hundreds facing unsheltered homelessness in and around Birmingham, many of whom frequent the city’s parks, including Brother Bryan in the Five Points neighborhood.

Earlier this month, Birmingham city councilors discussed individuals facing homelessness in Brother Bryan Park after a member of the public asked that city officials do more to address what he described as a “real problem.”

“It’s just horrifying what goes on over there,” Councilor Valerie Abbott said at the body’s meeting on Aug. 8. “There are people living in the park, and no other people will go in there.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Smith reacted to the council’s comments, saying he felt some of the discussion was offensive. Councilors, Smith said, should “get to know their neighbors.”

“I think they’re wrong,” Smith said, an etching of Brother Bryan on a stone facade just a stone’s throw away. “They just push us aside like we’re not people, but they forget. God created me. God created them. So what’s the difference?” Read more.

Birmingham City Council President Dissents From Vote Pledging Financial Support for Birmingham-Southern College

It’s not about Birmingham-Southern College; it’s about the residents of Birmingham.

That’s what Birmingham City Council President Wardine Alexander said Tuesday in her dissent from passage of a resolution pledging city dollars to support BSC, a private college, if the institution is able to obtain additional funding from the state. Read more.