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Phone: 205- 870-9686 (Office)
205- 410-5651 (Cell)
147 Glenview Drive
Birmingham, AL 35213
Gov. Kay Ivey told an audience in Birmingham that her administration will focus its efforts on bolstering the educational system so that children will be ready to fill the jobs of tomorrow’s high-tech economy as well as rebuilding Alabama’s infrastructure.
Ivey was the keynote speaker Friday at the annual meeting of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, which met to discuss how the state is doing in its job to help both students going into the workforce and adults moving into different fields adjust to the changing needs of the state’s employers.
“Alabama is in a position to achieve greater success,” Ivey said. “And as we look to our future, more than ever before, now is the time that we must be sure that our workforce is well-equipped to face the opportunities and the jobs of tomorrow.” Read more.
The Auburn Plainsman reported Monday that a photo in the 1967 yearbook shows members of Gov. Kay Ivey’s sorority putting on a minstrel show that appears to have been taken during Rush that year.
The photo shows five young Alpha Gamma Delta members wearing black masks and shirts with caricatures of black people on the pockets. The caption on the photo reads “Alpha Gam Minstrels welcome rushees aboard their showboat.”
Ivey, who was a senior at Auburn University at the time, is not among the women in the photo. Her press secretary, Daniel Sparkman, told the Plainsman: “We talked to the governor this morning. … She knows nothing about the page in the first place, and she does not appear on that page.” Read more.
U.S. Steel Corporation will restart work on its electric arc furnace in Fairfield. The $215 million initiative will replace the former blast furnace at Fairfield Works. The project started almost four years ago, but was put on hold due to poor market demand for steel. Ty West, editor-in-chief of the Birmingham Business Journal, says this is good news. Read more.
Officials still have not released the name of the police officer who shot and killed a 21-year-old black man Thanksgiving night at the Riverchase Galleria mall in Hoover. A report from the Alabama attorney general’s office Tuesday cleared the officer of any criminal wrongdoing when he shot Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. He thought Bradford was the gunman in an active shooter situation.
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said at a press conference Tuesday withholding the officer’s identity is about fairness.
“Just as any other private citizen that is investigated and found not to have committed a crime their name is not released,” Brocato says. “That’s the same procedure that we will follow with this officer.” Read more.
Danny Carr didn’t stammer as he provided closing thoughts to a gathering Thursday night in downtown Birmingham. The Jefferson County district attorney was making a point to reduce the deaths of young African-American men and boys.
“We need to continue to engage, engage, engage,” he began. “Be involved, involved, involved.”
More than 200 persons – the vast majority black men – assembled at The Parthenon, the meeting place of the Omicron Lambda graduate chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. The gathering was a frank conversation with members of law enforcement and persons involved in criminal justice. Read more.
State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, is asking Jefferson County to “slow this train down” in its efforts to work with the University of Alabama at Birmingham in forming a health care authority.
“They have not looked at Act 201 that was passed in 2016 dealing with the Indigent Care Fund. You cannot take the Indigent Care Fund and do what you want to do with it,” Rogers said.
Rogers said he received a copy of a confidential contract between UAB and Jefferson County concerning a proposed healthcare authority. He said the agreement has problems with personnel and other matters. He called the contract “a bunch of malarkey” and said the contract calls for the authority to have a seven-member board with four members coming from UAB. Read more.
A standing-room-only crowd greeted the Jefferson County Commission as it assembled for its committee meeting today, announcing that it’s postponing a scheduled town hall meeting on sewer rate increases because of pending litigation.
State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, accused commissioners of being cowards by putting off the event that had been set for 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at Regions Field.
“The County Commission is running like scalded dogs,” Rogers said following the commission’s committee meeting. “Sewer rates are going to go up anyway and (residents) don’t know why and they’re concerned. They’ve got a right to know.”
Rogers said he may host his own town hall meeting. Read more.
Birmingham is expanding its plans for the Druid Hills neighborhood. On Tuesday, the City Council voted to amend the Druid Hills Urban Renewal Plan by 104 acres to include blighted areas such as the vacant Carraway Hospital and F.D. McArthur School campuses.
Inclusion in DHURP is intended to make the area more conducive to potential developers, Michael Ward, a senior planner at City Hall, told the council. It gives the city authority to provide incentives for projects located in urban renewal districts, such as clearing land, constructing or reconstructing streets, installing utilities, assisting with property acquisition and selling property it owns for below market value. Read more.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is “taking things day by day” as it awaits a response from civil rights icon Angela Davis to its offer to give her its highest award – an offer it made earlier then rescinded.
Meanwhile, the grassroots organization that formed after the institute rescinded its invitation to honor Davis announced its plans for her to come to town.
The Rev. Thomas Wilder, interim chairman of the BCRI board of directors, is awaiting an answer from Davis to the institute’s renewed wish to present its Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award to her.
“Right now the most immediate issue is to let Dr. Davis know how apologetic we are for whatever we’ve done that caused any disparaging remarks to her name or to her character,” Wilder said. “We think the right thing to do is to ask her to accept the award and then after that we’ll move forward.” Read more.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall fired the latest salvo in the battle over historical monuments in the state, filing a motion to stay a Jefferson County judge’s ruling that the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act is unconstitutional.
Then-Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Graffeo said in his Jan. 14 ruling that the law essentially forced a pro-Confederacy message on the city of Birmingham. Read more.
Sworn personnel of the sheriff’s department received a 5 percent cost-of-living raise when the Jefferson County Commission met in Bessemer Thursday.
The raise in the sheriff’s department is on top of the raise given to Jefferson County employees at the beginning of this fiscal year.
Sheriff Mark Pettway said the extra pay is needed to keep his department competitive with nearby law enforcement departments.
“We are losing officers, deputies, daily to surrounding agencies,” he said. “We want to maintain those that we have and bring on good people to work inside the sheriff’s department. Everybody works for money, so we want to make sure that we’re competitive.” Read more.
Tuesday marks one month for the partial federal government shutdown, and it’s not just federal workers feeling the pinch. Alabama farmers are also seeing its effects.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House and Senate last week voted for a continuing resolution that reopened federal government operations through Feb. 15.
However, there were no roll-call votes on the final version of HJ Res 28, so the votes of senators and representatives were not recorded.
The House and Senate approved the measure Jan. 25 and President Trump signed it into law the same day, ending a 35-day government shutdown.
There were votes last week on other unsuccessful bills aimed at reopening the federal government. Here’s how area members of Congress voted on those and other bills during the legislative week ending Jan. 25. Read more.
Protesters at a Walmart in Hoover chanted “no justice no peace” one night last month as they approached the entrance. There have been several similar demonstrations in the wake of the fatal police shooting of a black man at the Galleria mall on Thanksgiving. At one of those demonstrations, police arrested protest leader Carlos Chaverst. They charged him with disorderly conduct and loitering for wearing a mask. It’s one of the more antiquated laws in Alabama. Over the last decade or so there have been numerous challenges to mask laws across, and many states have added the language “intent to intimidate.” But Alabama’s law includes no such language. Read more.
By Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, WBHM
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute apologized Monday for the way it handled the decision around issuing the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. Officials canceled the award presentation to human rights activist Angela Davis after it had initially decided to give it to her.
“We acknowledge that the culmination of our decisions and actions has caused division in the community and compromised the good name of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on the world stage,” the board said in a prepared statement. “Regardless of the outcome of our vote, many have rightfully questioned our selection process, which we vow to improve.” Read more.
By Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, WBHM
Like a lot of kids, Mark Pettway wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. But as he got older, things changed. Pettway begins his job as Jefferson County sheriff today. He’s the first African American to hold that post after defeating longtime Republican Sheriff Mike Hale in November. 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.
Citing “heartbreaking stories” from Alabamians affected by an “increasingly costly federal shutdown,” U.S. Sen. Doug Jones on Thursday urged Congress to act on legislation to restart government services now and then hash out Homeland Security funding for border security after employees are back at work and getting paid.
“We need to get the government going and talk about border security in a reasonable way,” Jones, D-Alabama, said during a Thursday call with Alabama media outlets.
Alabama’s junior senator said his office has heard from many Alabamians affected by the federal shutdown.
“These are heartbreaking stories from families who are literally scared to death of losing their paychecks. These folks are not getting rich working for the government and many live paycheck to paycheck,” he said. About 5,500 federal employees are on furlough or working without pay because of the shutdown. Read more.
“Christmas in Birmingham” by Tim Hollis (History Press, 2015)
I was six or seven years old. After visiting my grandparents’ house on Pearson Avenue one December afternoon in the late 1960s, I persuaded my parents to stop by McDonald’s so I could talk to Santa Claus. Our usual Santa was at Eastwood Mall, but the McDonald’s Santa was giving away Ronald McDonald hand puppets. And I wanted one. Read more.
A name familiar in Alabama has come up in an investigation into spending from President Trump’s inaugural committee funds. The investigation also is focusing on whether some of the donors to Trump’s record-breaking $107 million inaugural fund gave the money in exchange for access to or influence over the Trump administration, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Tennessee-based developer Franklin L. Haney gave $1 million to the inaugural committee after Trump’s election, and federal prosecutors in Manhattan have asked to see documents related to that donation.
Haney, who owns the Social Security building in downtown Birmingham, also has come up in the investigation into whether the president’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has conducted lobbying activities without registering as a lobbyist since Trump took office.
Haney has been accused of offering Cohen $10 million in exchange for Cohen’s help obtaining a $5 billion federal loan to redevelop the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in north Alabama. Read more.
President Trump moved today to weaken the federal Clean Water Act by redefining the Obama administration’s Waters of the US rule, known as WOTUS, to eliminate protections for much of the nation’s waterways – a majority, in some estimates.
The action principally would remove oversight for small tributary headwaters that do not flow year-round and for wetlands not clearly connected to flowing streams.
The proposed new EPA rule is expected to be challenged and eventually work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a conservative majority now sits.
Birmingham Public Library Deputy Director Sandra Lee bid an emotional farewell to the library’s board of trustees Tuesday afternoon, praising the BPL’s “passionate” staff and emphasizing the important role that libraries play in communities. Read more.
More than a month after the Birmingham City Council rejected a five-year funding proposal for the Firehouse Ministries Homeless Shelter, it voted on the item again Tuesday — and this time, it passed.
The funding proposal hadn’t changed since it had last come before the council on Oct. 23; it still allocated $200,000 per year for five years to the Firehouse, which is building a $5.6 million facility to expand its services for the homeless.
But the council itself had changed drastically since Oct. 23, with two councilors leaving and another, District 7’s Wardine Alexander, being appointed in the interim.
The absence of former councilors Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson, who both resigned from the council in November to join the Jefferson County Commission, was likely the deciding factor in the proposal’s passage. Both had vehemently opposed the measure, citing unsubstantiated allegations that the Firehouse did not give black patrons equal treatment, and along with District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt and District 9 Councilor John Hilliard, they formed the voting bloc that had initially blocked the Firehouse’s funding.
But Hilliard was mostly silent during the discussion of the Firehouse funding Tuesday, and while Hoyt expressed at length his reservations about the funding, both ultimately voted to approve it. Alexander abstained from voting. Read more.
Jimmy Smith, an 86-year-old Collegeville retiree, held an 8×10 framed photograph of his four daughters in his hand when he stood Thursday to ask the Jefferson County Department of Health not to renew an air emissions permit for ABC Coke.
He says his oldest daughter died of cancer and another daughter gets cancer treatments twice a month. He’s also a cancer survivor and a survivor of a community he says has been plagued with pollution for years.
“Y’all can deny this permit, and I promise you they will get the message. They will clean up their act,” he says. Read more.
The CBD Store in a strip mall along Highway 280 in suburban Birmingham looks like a typical health and wellness shop. A decorative waterfall gurgles against the light blue walls. Capsules that look like vitamins, creams, drops taken orally and candies line the shelves. They’re all infused with CBD.
People seeking an alternative to pain medications or anti-anxiety drugs are increasingly turning to CBD oil. Some athletes even claim it helps with post-workout recovery. Others say it helps with chemotherapy and arthritis. Studies have shown it curbs severe epilepsy.
But there’s just one problem: CBD is derived from marijuana. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Read more.
More than 150 nonprofit newsrooms across the country, including Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism in Birmingham, will participate in this year’s NewsMatch, the largest grassroots fundraising campaign to support nonprofit news organizations. The national effort will launch Nov. 1.
In 2017 NewsMatch helped to raise more than $4.8 million from individual donors and a coalition of private funders.
Sue Cross, executive director and CEO of the Institute for Nonprofit News, which serves as one of NewsMatch’s nonprofit partners, said, “We are encouraged to see such strong growth in community support of news … NewsMatch makes it easy for communities and individuals to find and fund their local sources of trusted news.” Read more.
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