Tag: Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Councilor Suggests Calling in the Guard If Nothing Else Curbs Crime in the City

Birmingham City Councilor Steven Hoyt called on Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin today to change his strategies for fighting crime in Birmingham, even if it means calling in the National Guard.

Woodfin quickly shot down that idea, saying, “We will not be calling the National Guard,” and emphasized that most of the city’s homicides “are not random.”

“These are interactions between people who know each other,” he said.

Hoyt’s comments were sparked after a Monday night shooting in the city’s Belview Heights neighborhood left one man dead. The victim, 27-year-old Michael James Weeks, was the 60th reported homicide in Birmingham this year; seven of those homicides have since been ruled as justified.

That’s a marked increase from last year, which by June 18 had logged 50 homicides.

“I just need a new plan,” Hoyt said to Woodfin during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, arguing that residents are being “terrorized” by violent crime.

“My mother told me if you don’t know how to do something, ask somebody. Get some help … We did a couple of (crime) studies; it ain’t working. (We) brought a new chief in here; it ain’t working. So I’m just trying to figure it out … Maybe we need to call the National Guard in here to help us control this city.” Read more.

Birmingham Councilors Replace Municipal Judge Despite Frustration on Both Sides

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to replace Municipal Court Judge Cathy E. Daniel with attorney Jermeria Moore, a move that Council President Valerie Abbott said might “politicize the court.”

Daniel’s term as judge expired in January, but the council’s decision to replace her was unusual.
“This council has never replaced a sitting judge in municipal court before,” Abbott said. “We have always allowed them to either retire, to move to another position if they get elected to another judgeship, or unfortunately, some of them pass away.” Read more.

Birmingham Council Members Spend More than $75K Traveling Near Home and Abroad on City Business

Current members of Birmingham’s City Council spent a total of $78,555 on travel between November 2017, when the bulk of councilors took office, and May 2019, a look at the council’s meeting agendas reveals.

That amount does not include trips for which a final total has not yet been approved. Estimated costs for city-funded trips are approved beforehand by the council; after the trip, the council votes again to approve the actual amount spent.

District 4 Councilor William Parker tops the list of the city’s most-traveled councilors, having spent $30,334.15 on 41 trips since November 2017. He’s followed by District 5 Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who has spent $21,554.04 on 13 trips, and District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt, who has spent $16,136.80 on five trips.

District 9 Councilor John Hilliard, with $12,719.07 for 13 trips; District 7 Councilor Wardine Alexander, with $3,174.65 for two trips; and Council President Valerie Abbott, with $346.70 for one trip round out the list.

The remaining councilors — District 1 Councilor Clinton Woods, District 2 Councilor Hunter Williams and District 6 Councilor Crystal Smitherman — each have no confirmed travel expenses since they took office, although Woods and Smitherman have each taken one trip, the expenses for which are pending final council approval. Read more.

Mr. Hoyt Goes to Australia. City-Paid Trip Takes Him to Sports Business Convention

Birmingham City Councilor Steven Hoyt and council administrator Cheryl Kidd will leave Birmingham on Wednesday to attend the Sport Accord Gold Coast 2019 Summit in Queensland, Australia.

The city will pay $8,930.07 for each of them to attend, making it the most expensive city-funded trip, per person, than any city employee has taken since at least November 2017. The trip also lasts several days longer than the convention.

Hoyt and Kidd will be part of a delegation representing the 2021 World Games, which will be held in Birmingham. Read more.

Birmingham Council Passed a Stormwater Runoff Ordinance That Complies With Federal Rules

After a protracted and often confused discussion, the Birmingham City Council passed a “post-construction stormwater ordinance” Tuesday, codifying a series of design specifications for new construction projects in the city and bringing Birmingham into compliance with Alabama Department of Environmental Management rules.

The ordinance largely centered on changes to construction practices that would bring new development projects — and the way those developments manage stormwater runoff after construction is completed — into compliance with regulations. Read more.

Councilor Smitherman Carries the Next Generation of the Family Name Into Politics

At 25 years old, Crystal Smitherman might be the youngest member of the Birmingham City Council, but she arguably started the job with the most name recognition. Her father, Rodger Smitherman, has been a member of the Alabama State Senate since 1995; and her mother, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Carole Smitherman, served on the City Council from 2001 to 2013, was council president from 2005 to 2009 and briefly served as acting mayor of Birmingham in 2009 after Larry Langford’s fraud conviction.

Crystal Smitherman was appointed to take over her mother’s old District 6 seat in January, after Sheila Tyson, who held it from 2013 to 2018, was elected to the Jefferson County Commission. Despite still being enrolled in the University of Alabama’s School of Law, Smitherman was considered a noncontroversial appointment by councilors, who voted for her unanimously. She graduates from law school in May.

“No one doubts that you have the capabilities to do this job,” said Council President Valerie Abbott after Smitherman was sworn into office in January.

Since taking office, Smitherman has worked with Council President Pro Tem William Parker to launch a “Let’s Keep Legion Field Green” recycling initiative — a project not without its challenges, she says — and has been appointed as head of the council’s public improvements committee.

Smitherman spoke with BirminghamWatch last week about how growing up in a political family prepared her to be councilor, the shape of ongoing efforts to bring an MLB Youth Academy to Birmingham and what she hopes to make priorities during her time on the council. Read more.