Two Birmingham Water Board Leaders Reappointed, Two New Members Named

Birmingham Water Works Facebook Page

The Birmingham City Council approved four appointments to the Birmingham Water Works Board on Tuesday, with terms set to stretch through 2024.

The council appoints six of the BWWB’s nine members; the other three seats are appointed by the Jefferson County Mayor’s Association, the Shelby County Commission and the Blount County Commission.

Two members — Ronald Mims and George Munchus — were reappointed to the BWWB. Mims, an area pastor and former BWWB employee appointed to the board in 2015, is currently the board’s chairman and president. Munchus, a UAB business professor appointed in 2012, currently serves as chair of the board’s business and economic development committee.

Tereshia Huffman was appointed to replace outgoing board member Brenda Dickerson. Huffman is a former executive administrator for REV Birmingham who also previously served as a government affairs project manager and community outreach specialist for the city of Atlanta.

Larry Ward, former head of the Birmingham Parking Authority, was appointed to replace William Muhammad on the board. Muhammad’s appointment in 2016 was described as a “shot heard ‘round the political world” by columnist John Archibald, who cited Muhammad’s outspoken activism and desire to fight the Alabama Legislature for control of BWWB assets.

Ward was head of the public finance division at brokerage firm Morgan Keegan & Co. before it was absorbed by Raymond James in 2012. In 2007, Ward was the subject of an ethics complaint alleging that he’d used his position to improperly benefit Morgan Keegan, which had received $1.38 million in fees for handling a city bond deal that paid for downtown parking decks. An investigation by the state Ethics Commission cleared Ward, stating that “it did not appear there had been a violation of the law.”

All four terms will expire Dec. 31, 2024.

The head of one of the groups calling on the city to appoint BWWB members who would halt water shutoffs for customers behind on their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, said his organization was “disappointed” by the appointments.

Rob Burton, executive director of Sweet Alabama, noted that Dickerson and Muhammad had been the two board members most receptive to extending the moratorium on cutoffs, enacting a moratorium on reconnection fees and instating 12-month payment plans for struggling customers. The board halted shutoffs in March but resumed them in October; at that point, there were more than 12,000 overdue accounts.

“Unfortunately today the Birmingham City Council voted to reappoint two BWWB members who failed to work with community residents over the last few months to find solutions for those struggling in the midst of this global health and economic crisis, while voting to replace the only two BWWB members who actively worked with community leaders to support solutions,” Burton said.

More BirminghamWatch Coverage

Erasing The Stain: 15,000 Pardoned Of Marijuana Possession Convictions

Mayor Randall Woodfin plans to pardon more than 15,000 Birmingham residents convicted of marijuana possession.

Jefferson County Nears Deal For New Humane Society

The plan is for Jefferson County to purchase lots one and two of the property, which would remain under county ownership. The Greater Birmingham Humane Society would purchase lot three and build an animal hospital and adoption control facility there.

Derek Chauvin Found Guilty Of George Floyd’s Murder

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, has been found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Past And Present Collide As Community Health Centers Strive To Close Rural Care Gaps In The Pandemic

Many rural health leaders believe community health centers, which were born in the 60s to reach low-income communities of color, were a missing piece in achieving equity in the vaccine rollout.

Birmingham Sets Up Civilian Board to Review Police Misconduct

The five-member board will have the authority to investigate citizen complaints and will have some subpoena powers to aid those investigations.

Big Union Loss At Amazon Warehouse Casts Shadow Over Labor Movement

Last week's overwhelming vote against forming a union at Amazon's Bessemer warehouse was the latest in a string of disappointments for labor unions. Now Amazon employees and union backers are trying to find a way forward.

More BirminghamWatch Coverage