BirminghamWatch

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.

Woodfin Highlights “Moral Obligations” of Proposed 2020 Budget

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin says his proposed FY 2020 operating budget represents a “fundamental shift” in how the city thinks about spending, with an increased focus on fulfilling his administration’s “moral obligations” — prioritizing city employees and neighborhood revitalization.

County Officials Field Questions About Sewer Rates From Hundreds of Jefferson County Residents

The Jefferson County Commission held a town hall-style meeting Monday to discuss the county’s 2011 bankruptcy and its long-term effects.

54% of support comes from members

Jones and Byrne Have Stacked Up Millions to Lead Fundraising in the US Senate Race

Incumbent Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Bradley Byrne already have millions of dollars in their campaign accounts as the field begins to form for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

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 mobile grocers and farmers markets, while simultaneously limiting the spread of dollar stores in low-income neighborhoods.

Referendum on Renewing Property Tax for Birmingham Schools Possible, Up for Discussion Next Week

Next week, Birmingham’s election commission will meet to discuss a potential citywide vote to renew a soon-to-expire ad valorem tax that provides Birmingham City Schools with approximately $27 million in yearly revenue.

PARCA Survey Says Alabamians Want Fewer Non-Violent Criminals in Prison, More Money for Education

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama in a new survey said Alabamians favor supervising non-violent criminals in the community and giving them more rehabilitation opportunities rather than sending them to prison.

Birmingham Launches A Citizen’s Experience to Connect Residents to City Hall

Applications are now open for A Citizen’s Experience, a new initiative from the city of Birmingham designed to promote civic engagement. The free, seven-week program is slated to begin in June and is open only to Birmingham residents who are 18 years old or older.

Percentage of College Freshmen Who Need Remedial Courses Drops

A smaller portion of new high school graduates is having to take remedial classes when they first go to college, according to a PARCA report on data from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

Birmingham Iron’s Season Ends Early, as Alliance of American Football Suspends Operations

Even quicker than it came to life, the Alliance of American Football — and with it, the Birmingham Iron — has gone on life support.

Birmingham PD Adds High-Tech Tools To Its Crime-Fighting Arsenal

The Birmingham Police Department will soon have two new high-tech crime-fighting tools at its disposal.

The Big Picture: Woodfin’s Team Updates Residents About Progress on Public Safety, Economic Opportunities and Other Initiatives

A black-and-white photo of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin — shot in profile, eyes fixed in an expression of steely determination — hovered over the stage of the Alabama School of Fine Arts’ Dorothy Jemison Day Theater on Thursday night.

Another Pro Football League Takes the Field in Birmingham. Will This One Stay Afloat?

It’s almost become a tradition for football fans in the Magic City. Every few years, yet another professional football league comes to Legion Field, with aspirations to bring some semblance of high-level gridiron action to The Old Gray Lady on Graymont.

175 Down; 3,701 to Go. Jefferson County Starts Chipping Away at Rape Kit Testing Backlog

With the help of a federal grant program, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office has begun to chip away at the county’s massive backlog of untested sexual assault kits.

MLB Youth Foundation Reassessing Plans for Youth Academy at George Ward Park

  Update – March 6, 2019  The City of Birmingham later provided to WBHM the mayor’s full comment, a portion of which appeared in the BirminghamWatch story below. “I’ll try to make this short. I received a lot of emails and calls and texts and I think I saw the word ‘my,’ ‘our’ more than […]

Judge Delays Decision on Whether Ed May Remains Fairfield’s Mayor, Orders May to Include Council in His Lawsuit

The question of who is Fairfield’s rightful mayor won’t be answered definitively any time soon, as Circuit Court Judge Pat Ballard ordered Ed May II, who was elected mayor, to add members of the City Council to his suit against the Jefferson County Personnel Board.

Behind Teacher Shortage: Fewer New Educators Graduating From Alabama Schools

The number of new teachers coming out of education colleges and programs in Alabama fell by about 40 percent comparing 2010-2011 and 2015-2016, according to the latest available federal data. The decrease could be worse nearly three years later.

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54% of support comes from members

Plant Gorgas Latest Coal Giant to Fall as Power Companies Turn Toward Natural Gas, Renewables

By Hank Black The Alabama Power Co. announcement that it will retire its three coal-fired units at the William Crawford Gorgas Electric Generating Plant on April 15 is just the latest blow to coal power as economic realities pile up on the industry. In the past four years, Alabama Power has reduced its coal-fired units […]

PowerSouth CEO Blames ‘Extremist Environmental Ideology’ for Shuttering a Coal-Fired Plant in South Alabama

One of Alabama’s oldest coal-fired power plants will close next year. PowerSouth Energy Cooperative’s chief executive blamed the closure on “extremist environmental ideologies” and “environmental activists” in announcing that the Charles R. Lowman electrical generation plant on the Tombigbee River would be shuttered.

African-American Men and Law Enforcement Discuss Lowering Crime and Saving Young Men

Danny Carr didn’t stammer as he provided closing thoughts to a gathering Thursday night in downtown Birmingham. The Jefferson County district attorney was making a point to reduce the deaths of young African-American men and boys.

Fairfield Council Gives Mayor the Boot, but Ed May II Isn’t Backing Down

The long-running feud between Fairfield Mayor Ed May II and the City Council has reached a boiling point, as the council voted to remove May from office because he was continually absent from council meetings.

Auburn Yearbook Photo Shows Ivey’s Sorority Sisters in Minstrel Show; Governor Is Not in the Picture

The Auburn Plainsman reported Monday that a photo in the 1967 yearbook shows members of Gov. Kay Ivey’s sorority putting on a minstrel show that appears to have been taken during Rush that year.

Birmingham Council Supports Renaming CrossPlex for Langford, Question Parker’s Bid to Bring Oakland Raiders to Legion Field

Mayor Randall Woodfin and members of the Birmingham City Council announced Tuesday that they would support changing the name of the Birmingham CrossPlex to honor former Mayor Larry Langford, who died last month.

Drummond to Pay $775,000 Penalty to EPA, Jefferson County Health Department

Drummond Company has agreed to pay a $775,000 civil penalty as part of a settlement contained in a consent decree relating to alleged violations of environmental laws at its ABC Coke Plant in Tarrant.

Alabama’s Teacher Shortages Reach ‘Crisis’ Level

Alabama’s teacher shortages are reaching crisis level, education leaders say.

Alabama Lawmakers’ Pay up 4% in 2019

Alabamians’ median household income increased in 2017, which means Alabama lawmakers received a corresponding 4.03 percent pay increase this year. Their annual salary is now $48,123. This is the third raise for lawmakers since 2014, when their pay was tied to household incomes through a voter-approved constitutional amendment.

Jefferson County Commission Plans Town Hall Meeting to Explain Sewer Rate Increases

Jefferson County Commissioners had a lengthy discussion during their committee meeting Tuesday about setting a town hall meeting to focus on rising sewer rates as a result of the county’s bankruptcy.

Scales Opens the Windows of the County’s Committee Meeting Room

Citizens of Jefferson County could only imagine the discussion and debate that happened when commissioners assembled for their committee meetings.

One-Third of Alabama’s Failing Schools Are in the Birmingham Metro Area

The Alabama State Department of Education has posted its list of the state’s failing public schools, and 25 Birmingham metro-area public schools are on it. Statewide, 76 public schools are on the list.