BirminghamWatch

PSC Hears Arguments for Raising or Abolishing Alabama Power’s Fees for Solar Users

Spectators – many wearing ‘Let It Shine’ stickers – packed a Public Service Commission hearing room this morning to hear testimony about the fees Alabama Power Company charges residents to use solar panels or other alternative means of power generation.

Walter Gonsoulin Named New JefCoEd Superintendent, Its First African American Leader

Walter Gonsoulin, who has served as interim superintendent of the Jefferson County Schools since the departure past month of Craig Pouncey, now holds the position for good.

Alexander Retains Seat in Birmingham City Council District 7 Runoff

Despite strong opposition from challenger Ray Brooks, incumbent District 7 City Councilor Wardine Alexander appears to have retained her seat on the Birmingham City Council.

Jefferson County Clears Hurdle to Working out an Agreement With UAB for a Health Care Authority

The Jefferson County Commission voted 3-2 for a resolution that executes an amended master agreement to establish the framework for UAB to form an authority to operate Cooper Green Mercy Health System.

Report: State Improved in Several Child Health Indicators but Still Struggles With Poverty, Racial Disparity

Alabama has made significant progress in infant mortality rates, teen pregnancies and child safety, but poverty and a racial disparity in indicators of wellbeing remain a problem for children in the state, according to a report released today.

Changing Climate: Many in Coastal Alabama Act Now to Rebuild Shorelines, Prepare for Storms

Some Alabamians and the politicians they elect traditionally have denied global warming. But many people in coastal Alabama are preparing now for what they fear will be inevitable consequences of increased warming of the air and oceans.

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Changing Climate: In Pursuit of the Disappearing Alabama Oyster. Will They Ever Return?

Oysters, one of the vital signs of the health of Alabama’s coastal waters, were once a jewel of the state’s economy and a local delicacy. Now, wild oysters from the Mobile Bay area have almost entirely disappeared. With few exceptions, the oysters most of us now enjoy originate elsewhere.

Birmingham Council Chips in on East Lake Grocery Revamp as Part of Battle Against Food Deserts

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve a slate of economic incentives for one East Lake grocery store, continuing the Woodfin administration’s pledge to work toward eliminating food deserts in the city.

Cloudy Future for Dauphin Island, a Canary in the Coal Mine of Climate Change

Dauphin is one of perhaps 2,200 barrier islands that make up 10% to 12% of the globe’s coastline. They help absorb the blows of nature and suffer greatly for it, either eroding dramatically from catastrophic hurricane forces or gradually, almost imperceptibly, from constant wave action.

The Partisan Divide Isn’t That Wide Between Alabama’s Two US Senators, Though It Still Is a Canyon Among House Members

Although they differ on many high-profile issues, Alabama’s two U.S. senators voted together about half the time on key issues during 2019.

Jefferson County Is on the Brink of Shedding Personnel Consent Decree

U.S. District Court Judge Lynwood Smith wished Tony Petelos a happy Halloween, one in which he would get more treats than tricks.

Most Birmingham-Area Schools Improve From Last Year in Latest Report Card, But Work Still Needed

Two Birmingham-area school systems scored better than last year on the 2018-2019 annual Education Report Card issued by the Alabama State Department of Education.

Changing Climate: Alabama Sees Heat, Storms, Drought and Turtles

Alabama’s a long way from the South Pole, but Jim McClintock knows the places are connected. For decades, the UAB researcher has been witnessing effects of climate change on the polar region. He sees that his state is starting to feel the impacts, as well, and predicts greater changes ahead.

One Birmingham City Council Seat Goes to a Runoff; Two Incumbents Returned to the Council

One Birmingham City Council seat will be up for a runoff after none of the candidates won more than 50 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s balloting.

Several Birmingham Special Election Results on Hold Until Wednesday

Special elections for three Birmingham City Council seats, plus renewals for three ad valorem taxes, will not have results declared until Wednesday morning because of an error in the handling of electronic machine memory cards at three different precincts.

Voter Guide: Birmingham Voters to Decide School Taxes, Three Council Seats Tuesday

Voters in Birmingham will head to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of three property taxes for schools and three seats on the City Council.

Birmingham Voters Head to Polls Oct. 8 to Pick 3 Council Members, Decide on School Taxes

Birmingham is one month away from a citywide election that will not only determine the future of funding for city schools but also whether up to one-third of City Council seats change hands.

#DougMeetsMiles: Jones Takes Questions Via Twitter at Forum With College Students

Sen. Doug Jones told an audience of students from Miles College that when he went to Washington, D.C. he didn’t realize that he was going to be a part of a government that functioned according to what someone says on Twitter — an oblique reference to President Donald Trump’s penchant for tweets that make the nation’s capital go topsy-turvy.

Group Protests Detention of Two Immigrants

Nearly three dozen people attended a press conference Tuesday at the Adelante Alabama Worker Center to support two of their own who were detained by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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Jefferson County Owes Medicare and Medicaid More Than $1 Million for Overpayments to Cooper Green Hospital

Jefferson County Commissioners learned during their committee meeting Monday that the county is on the hook for more than $1 million in back payments for Medicare and Medicaid that was overpaid when Cooper Green was a hospital.

Birmingham Councilor Says City Has Increased Its Dedication to Public Transit

Despite looming service reductions from the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, District 5 Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn emphasized Tuesday that the city has increased its dedication to public transit.

All Quiet on Alabama Immigrant Front in Face of ICE Raids in Neighboring Mississippi

It may have been an uneasy quiet for the large number of Hispanics among the 86,000 people employed in the Alabama poultry industry, but it has been quiet here since the 680 workers at Mississippi plants were arrested Wednesday by immigration authorities.

Jefferson County Commission Approves $700 Million Budget

The Jefferson County Commission recently passed a budget of more than $700 million for fiscal 2020.

Birmingham Budget Passes After Debates Over School, Discretionary Funding

The Birmingham City Council passed Mayor Randall Woodfin's fiscal 2020 budget. Woodfin said his proposed $451 million budget was "as lean as they come."

Birmingham School Officials Say Schools Can Work Around Woodfin’s Proposed Budget Cut

Birmingham school officials say it's unclear how they'll make up a proposed $2 million funding gap from the city, but it won't put a huge burden on the school system.

Frustration With Health Department Intensifies as Environmental Groups Seek to Overturn ABC Coke’s Air Permit Renewal

Environmental groups say ABC Coke’s air permit renewal issued in April is flawed and are appealing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to agree that it does not comply with requirements of the federal Clean Air Act.

Jones, Byrne Lead in Fundraising Among Candidates in 2020 US Senate Race

Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones raised $1.8 million for his election campaign during the past three months, outpacing the still-forming field of candidates for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate elections.

Neighborhoods Want Trust Fund Set Up From Proposed ABC Coke’s Benzene Pollution Case

The North Birmingham community made clear this week that it wants money from an ABC Coke pollution penalty to be used to create a trust fund to benefit residents in the surrounding area.

Birmingham City Council Approves Healthy Food Overlay District

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to establish a “healthy food overlay district,” designed to make healthy food options more accessible for the approximately two-thirds of the city’s population that lives within food deserts.

Scales Says Jefferson County Commissioners Should Be Kept More in the Loop on Indigent Health Care Plans

After two months of waiting, Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales wanted some answers Tuesday concerning the health care authority being designed by UAB Health System and Jefferson County and expressed concern that commissioners are not more involved in the process.

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 to change his strategies for fighting crime in Birmingham, even if it means calling in the National Guard.