Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens and President Pro Tem Lashunda Scales are often on opposite sides of discussions.
In Thursday’s commission meeting, they once again wound up on different sides of the fence, but their sentiments were not as far apart as they might have appeared.
Stephens pulled for separate consideration resolutions allotting $100,000 apiece to Alabama A&M and Alabama State universities. That money is to assist in the promotion of the annual Magic City Classic football game.
Scales, Sheila Tyson and Joe Knight voted for the actions. Stephens abstained and Steve Ammons was absent. Scales was bothered that the commission president didn’t join them in voting yes.
Scales said the game should be supported because it annually generates more than $22 million.
“For some reason, the president felt that it was necessary today to abstain from the vote,” she said. “There’s been a lot of negativity as relates to this particular project, which I think is unfortunate. It goes back to what I’ve said before about not just supporting UAB, but we can support other universities and colleges in our area.”
Her latter point is the same reasoning Stephens used in not supporting the allotments. He told BirminghamWatch that the funding approved today goes back to the campuses in Huntsville and Montgomery. He cited colleges and universities in Jefferson County that could have benefited from donation of that money.
“I’ll take Miles College as an example,” he said. “They would utilize that for the benefit of the citizens and that money would stay here. It would not be exported out.
“The Magic City Classic is very, very successful,” Stephens said. “I believe all the expenses have been covered with the promotion of the Classic and this is a distribution that will be returned to the schools. I would much rather see Lawson State, Jeff State, Miles receive these monies for workforce development programs, help create jobs and raise the tide here in Jefferson County to improve the employment capabilities of our young.”
In another matter, Knight asked when commissioners can expect an update on work done during the diligence phase in advance of the creation of the UAB Healthcare Authority. Chief deputy county manager Walter Jackson said commissioners can expect that update about the middle of next week.
“The county attorney received the document and our team reviewed it,” Jackson said. “We just had some concerns regarding some of the language, the way it was stated and the structure. At the request of the president, we could talk about what our particular concerns are.”
Jackson said the matter could be considered for approval at the commission’s first meeting in November.