Jeffco Commission Gets Clean Bill Of Health After State Review Of Its Accounts

 1580840832 
1614269653

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens speaks at commission meeting Feb. 25, 2021.

Solomon Crenshaw Jr., BirminghamWatch

Jimmie Stephens ended Thursday’s meeting of the Jefferson County Commission by saying that the county had received a clean bill of health from the Alabama Examiners of Public Accounts.

“They come in and check our books, our records, to make sure that everything is done in accordance with state law,” the commission president said. “No news is good news, and this is a no-news report that we have.”

Had there been significant findings, Stephens said, the commission would have been duty-bound to report that also. The report assessed the current commission and the one immediately before it. Each included Stephens and Commissioner Joe Knight.

“We were all on a conference call, a Zoom meeting. They commended us and congratulated us on the job well done,” Stephens said. “I thought it would be good to go ahead and relay that to the public and to our employees. We have done what they elected us to do, in accordance to the law.”

During the meeting, Commissioner Sheila Tyson repeated her concern about cards her constituents received from Secretary of State John Merrill. The repeated complaint from older residents is that the text on the cards, whose purpose is a needed purge of the state voting rolls, is too small for them to read.

Tyson, who displayed one of the cards from the dais, is concerned that some seniors might accidentally return the cards, which could cause them to be inappropriately dropped from voter rolls, even though they live at the residence in question. The card in question is sent to each registered voter, with instructions to return it if the person no longer lives at that address.

“The return address is Jefferson County. That’s why they’re calling Jefferson County about the problem,” Tyson said. “You have people mailing in cards and removing themselves from the voting roster, and they are staying in the residence. That’s what I’m talking about. We don’t need to be purging people from it, and they stay in that residence because the writing’s so small they can’t read it.”

County Manager Tony Petelos pulled a card from his pocket and acknowledged that the type is very small. He said he and Barry Stephenson, chairman of the county’s board of registrars, will contact Merrill about it.

Commissioner Lashunda Scales again referenced the calls she has received from county employees who feel they should get hazardous duty pay for working during the pandemic, as some others have. County Attorney Theo Lawson is preparing a letter to clarify the rules regarding hazard pay.

“We have compassion for county employees,” Scales said. “But what we don’t want to have happen is that we violate the law [while] trying to be helpful.”

Thursday’s meeting included public hearings concerning the ad valorem tax for the Trussville Board of Education, the Midfield Board of Education and the Jefferson County School Board. Each hearing dealt with continuing the ad valorem tax at the same rate, and neither required any action by the commission.

Additionally, the meeting included virtual acknowledgment of the people and entities who earned Alabama PALS (People Against a Littered State) Awards because of their efforts to pick up trash along roadsides.

“As you can see as I go through these, this isn’t a one-person or a one-division area,” Stephens said. “This is a community-wide effort, and it takes the community to get this done.”

 

Some kids in Birmingham dodge trains and cars walking to school. More buses could help

Alabama only has to provide bus access for families that live within two miles of their school, which leaves some families having to walk in dangerous conditions. Birmingham City Schools is trying to add new routes to address these concerns.

Hoover City Schools canceled Derrick Barnes’ visit. He says it’s political

Hoover school officials say they canceled the Black children's book author's visit due to a controversial social media post. Officials never saw the post after an anonymous parent reported it.

In post-Roe Mississippi, pregnancy resource centers are becoming the last hope for maternal care

PRCs, like Life Choices in Columbus, can help expecting mothers in several ways, but experts say they're not a substitute for actual health care.

This swampy paradise is Alabama’s winter haven for sandhill cranes

As many as 25,000 sandhill cranes migrate to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge every winter, along with a handful of highly endangered whooping cranes. 

400 Alabama inmates to be released early under 2021 law

The sentencing law sends prisoners to supervised release several months before their sentences are set to end.

Residents worry about unknown health impacts of toxic landfill fumes

Officials have advised people to stay inside, seek medical care if they feel sick and relocate if necessary, a response that frustrates many residents.

More BirminghamWatch Coverage