Tag: Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin

Despite Pledges, Birmingham Barely Out of Gate on Energy Efficiency, Renewables, Sustainability

This story was written as part of a collaboration among InsideClimate News and nine media outlets in the Southeast.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin promised in December to pivot toward prioritizing sustainability during the remaining two years of his term in office, moving toward fulfilling a pledge he made during his 2017 campaign.

“We’ve got a whole lot more environmental justice and sustainability issues to address within the next two years,” he said, “but we’ve laid the groundwork and foundation to address these environmental issues in our city.”

But for some, Woodfin’s administration — and Birmingham’s municipal government as a whole — has been frustratingly inert when it comes to environmental issues.

“The bottom line is, the city doesn’t have a strategy for addressing sustainability or environmental justice or climate change or anything related to those issues,” said Michael Hansen, executive director of Gasp, a Birmingham-based nonprofit focused on environmental justice advocacy. “The mayor campaigned on all of those issues, and several of the councilors talk about them from the daïs, but they don’t ever actually do anything about them.”

Birmingham’s lack of a clear sustainability plan has placed the city at a disadvantage compared to other cities nationwide. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s 2019 city clean energy scorecard, for instance, ranked Birmingham as 72nd among 75 major cities in terms of sustainability efforts, saying the city “has substantial room to improve across the board” and should push toward codifying goals for clean and renewable energy “to jump-start its efforts.” Read more.

Woodfin Takes Focus on Neighborhoods, Race and Crime in his State of the City Address

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin delivered his State of the City address to the Kiwanis Club Tuesday afternoon. His speech focused largely on his administration’s neighborhood revitalization efforts and its nascent Birmingham Promise education initiative, though he also touched on race relations in the 74% black city. Read more.

Woodfin Touts Neighborhood Revitalization Work, Cuts in Crime Rates in Update on his Administration’s Progress

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin marked the halfway point of his first term in office Tuesday evening with a presentation highlighting his administration’s accomplishments and broadly gesturing toward his plans for the next two years.

Tuesday’s event, which took place at the downtown Birmingham venue Haven, followed a similar presentation that took place in March, also titled “The Big Picture.” Both events were intended to provide an update on the Woodfin administration’s strategic initiatives. But while March’s event featured presentations from a slew of city officials, Tuesday night’s presentation centered on a half-hour speech from Woodfin. Read more.

Fired Senior Staffer for Warren Presidential Campaign Also Worked for Jones, Woodfin

UPDATED — A recently fired top staffer in the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, previously worked in the campaigns of both Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

Rich McDaniel was dismissed by the Warren campaign after an investigation into “inappropriate behavior,” according to a press release from the campaign.

The political news website Politico reported the dismissal on Saturday and quoted the press statement as saying, “Over the past two weeks, senior campaign leadership received multiple complaints regarding inappropriate behavior by Rich McDaniel. Over the same time period, the campaign retained outside counsel to conduct an investigation. Based on the results of the investigation, the campaign determined that his reported conduct was inconsistent with its values and that he could not be a part of the campaign moving forward.” Read more.

Woodfin Discusses Plan for Free College Tuition to City Graduates

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Wednesday discussed his plan to offer Birmingham City Schools graduates the chance to go to a public two-year or four-year school in Alabama tuition-free. He tweeted a reminder Tuesday of the program announced in May.

Even Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders took notice. Read more.

Woodfin Defends Proposed Cut to Education Budget

Mayor Randall Woodfin defended his plan for Birmingham’s education budget at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, arguing that shifting millions of dollars from city schools to his proposed Birmingham Promise Initiative would allow the city to invest directly in students.

Woodfin’s proposed FY 2020 operating budget would cut the city’s funding for Birmingham City Schools from $3.2 million to $1 million. It would place that $2 million into a fund for the Birmingham Promise Education Initiative, a public-private partnership that would provide juniors and seniors in Birmingham city schools with paid apprenticeships as well as dual enrollment opportunities with Lawson State and Jefferson State community colleges. The program also would offer scholarships for city school graduates to attend public colleges and universities in Alabama.

Woodfin’s proposed cut to the schools’ budget has gotten mixed reviews. The city board of education in a letter to the mayor and council expressed support for the program but asked that the $2 million cut be reconsidered in the future.

Some council members today expressed support for the program and said it would be a benefit to Birmingham’s students; others were wary and said they needed details about the plan before being asked to vote on it. Read more.

Woodfin Says Abortion Law Is Costing Birmingham Tech Business

Updated — Two IT companies have canceled or put on hold discussions about moving to Birmingham because of the abortion ban signed into law last week, according to Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

Woodfin told author Diane McWhorter about the changes for an opinion piece published Saturday on CNN.

McWhorter wrote that Woodfin “confirmed to me today that the abortion ban affected two IT companies considering moves to the city – one canceled outright, while the other ‘put the brakes on negotiations.’” Read more.

No Toys Under Birmingham’s Budget Tree Next Year, Woodfin Says

On Tuesday, Mayor Randall Woodfin will unveil his proposed FY 2020 budget to the Birmingham City Council.

It will follow this year’s $436 million budget, the city’s largest ever and the first that the Woodfin administration had overseen from the ground up. That budget implemented a new “zero-based” strategy, which meant that appropriations were based on need rather than the previous year’s budget.

In March, Woodfin compared the FY 2020 budget to a “need-only Christmas,” where socks, not toys, are the gifts. “That’s how this budget’s going to be,” he said. Read more.

Woodfin Calls on Birmingham Council to Rezone Land in the Five Points West Area to Block a Planned Concrete Plant

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said Tuesday that he opposes the proposed relocation of a concrete plant from downtown to the city’s Five Points West community, and he called for the City Council to rezone the property in question to prevent future industrial use.

Last week, the council voted to oppose Sherman Industries’ announced plans to move its concrete batch facility from its current address of 1100 Second Ave. S. to 3240 Fayette Avenue, near the Birmingham CrossPlex Village. Read more.

Birmingham Looks at Limiting Dollar Stores, Easing Restrictions on Other Food Vendors as Way to Battle Food Deserts

A new ordinance proposed by Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin looks to combat the city’s food deserts by loosening regulations on farmers markets and mobile grocers, while simultaneously limiting the spread of dollar stores in low-income neighborhoods.

The proposed ordinance would establish a “healthy food overlay district” over areas of Birmingham defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as “low-access census tracts,” which are areas where “a significant number (at least 500 people) or share (at least 33%) of the population is greater than half a mile from the nearest supermarket, supercenter, or large grocery store.”

According to that data, 69% of Birmingham residents live in a food desert — a figure often cited by members of the Woodfin administration as motivating the new healthy food ordinance.

The council is expected to vote next week to set a public hearing to discuss the ordinance. Read more.