Category: Government

Avondale Added as the City’s Newest Entertainment District on July 1

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve creation of the “Avondale Entertainment District,” a stretch of 41st Street South where, starting July 1, it will be legal to drink alcohol in public.

It’s the fourth such area in the city, following entertainment district designations for Pepper Place, Uptown and Five Points South.

“So far, this has been very successful for the city of Birmingham,” said District 2 Councilor Hunter Williams, who chairs the council’s public safety committee.

The Avondale Entertainment District will stretch along 41st Street South between Second Avenue South and Fifth Avenue South. It’s a busy corridor of bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues including Saturn, the Avondale Common House, Post Office Pies, Saw’s Soul Kitchen, Melt, Fancy’s on Fifth, the Marble Ring, Avondale Brewing Company, 41st Street Pub and Parkside. Read more.

Gov. Ivey Has Been Quiet On COVID-19. Does It Matter?

Some governors have spent lots of time in front of the cameras talking about the coronavirus pandemic. New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has held daily press briefings. Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has been out front almost daily as well.

Meanwhile, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has been relatively quiet about COVID-19. That’s despite new cases increasing sharply around the state in June.

“I think we’ve all got to do a much better job of educating people top to bottom,” U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said in a press conference last week.

He said state leaders, not just the governor, should be talking about the pandemic. He added the message those leaders give should be based on science.
Read more.

Hundreds Gather in Birmingham to Celebrate Juneteenth

Hundreds of people gathered at Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park on Friday to commemorate Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery.

Onoyemi Williams is with the group Alabama Rally Against Injustice. She said after weeks of protests and demonstrations, today is a celebration of Black lives.

“Because when you’re at war, you must take the time for self care and celebration,” she said. “We’re celebrating where we’re at so we can prepare for where we have to go.” Read more.

Low ICU Capacity Could Affect Non-Coronavirus Patients the Most

WBHM

Alabama’s ICU capacity has fallen to 19% as coronavirus cases continued to climb steadily across the state. That amounts to about 300 ICU beds of 1,600 available statewide. Alabama confirmed 787 new cases Friday, bringing the total to 28,583. While the number of hospitalizations has fluctuated slightly, overall it has trended upward since the pandemic began. That’s concerning to Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association.

For more on the impact on hospitals, WBHM spoke with Williamson. Read more.

Black Lives Matter Message Rolls Over Downtown Birmingham Street

Shawn Fitzwater admits he had little hope of his suggestion of a “Black Lives Matter” street mural coming to fruition.
“Really,” the professional painter said today, “not at all.”

But the suggestion from Fitzwater and another individual will likely be a reality by the end of today. Work began Wednesday on the street mural, on First Avenue South between 16th and 17th Streets, where “Black Lives” has been painted in bright yellow paint.

Today, the final word of the phrase is going into place as a second coat is applied to the first two words. The aim is to complete the project in time for Juneteenth festivities in Birmingham. Read more.

Former Governor Turns Attention to Criminal Justice System Following Release From Prison

It has been three years since former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was released from prison after being convicted of federal corruption charges in 2006. One thing remains unchanged about the case: Siegelman maintains he is innocent.

A jury convicted Siegelman of bribery for soliciting a $500,000 donation from then-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy for a fund to support his education lottery campaign. Prosecutors say in exchange, Siegelman appointed Scrushy to a state hospital regulatory board. Siegelman said the prosecution was politically motivated.

In a new memoir, “Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens our Nation,” Seigelman lays out how he saw the case and trial. But paints himself as a fighter for criminal justice reform after experiencing what he believes was an improper prosecution.
Read more.

Jones Leads Senate Reading of King’s Letter From the Birmingham Jail

Sen. Doug Jones today led a bipartisan reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail on the U.S. Senate floor.This is the second year the Senate has held a reading of the famous letter, which King wrote in 1963 from the cell where he was being held for leading a series of nonviolent protests and boycotts in Birmingham. Read more.

City of Birmingham Facing ‘Economic Crisis’ Over Falling Revenue From Pandemic

Birmingham can expect an $18.3 million budgetary shortfall for the 2020 fiscal year because of the pandemic, Finance Director Lester Smith told the City Council Tuesday. And he warned that the economic impact on the city’s FY 2021 budget could be nearly four times that.

Mayor Randall Woodfin, calling the situation an “economic crisis,” said that the dip in revenue means “painful” budget cuts are likely on the way.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the city’s subsequent “shelter-in-place” order led to a significant drop in business tax revenue for the city, Smith said. That revenue, which includes sales, use and occupational taxes, typically accounts for 81.3% of the city’s overall budget. 
Read more.

UAB Treating Its Highest Number of Coronavirus Patients Since the Pandemic Began, Health Experts Say

The number of hospital patients with COVID-19 and people testing positive for the virus continues to spiral across Alabama and in Jefferson County, health experts participating in a UAB Hospital press conference said Monday.

In the past seven to 14 days, 8% of people tested for the coronavirus had been showing positive results. But in the past seven days, that proportion has risen to 13%, said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases. Seattle, once a hotspot, is now down to 1.5%, she added.

Today, UAB has 68 COVID-19 patients, which Marazzo said is the highest number ever.

Usually about half the UAB patients with COVID-19 are on ventilators. Read more.