Archive for the ‘Birmingham’ category


May 24, 2007

Please, God, please don’t let this happen:

Jefferson County Commissioner Larry Langford has not announced his candidacy for mayor of Birmingham, but a statement he made in a meeting today caught listeners’ attention.

In response to statements from transit advocates in a meeting with commissioners, Langford said, “Birmingham has transit problems that need to be fixed, and it will be fixed in October.” The mayoral election is Oct. 9, and Langford has been widely discussed as a potential candidate.


Afternoon Updates

May 15, 2007

First, the Decatur Daily reports today:

Three former Alabama Supreme Court justices are asking the country’s highest court to hear the case of Alabama death row inmates who say they don’t have adequate legal representation, but the state is arguing the inmates’ claim is “a work of fiction.”

I explained here that Alabama does an extremely bad job of providing attorneys to convicts on death row. Basically, if those folks want an appointed attorney, they have to first convince a judge that they have a valid claim. Stating a valid claim, though, requires extensive investigation, legal research and writing; in other words, stating a valid claim requires a lawyer. So, as the Tuscaloosa News put it today:

Inmates who are condemned to die have to convince a judge that they need legal representation to protect their rights and to prove that they have a substantial claim for an appeal.

But a suit filed by six death row inmates says they can’t make those cases effectively without an attorney. There’s a circular quality to their argument. They need a lawyer to convince a judge that they need a lawyer.

So the state is just wrong when it says that Alabama provides indigent capital defendants lawyers for post-conviction proceedings. That said, the state is going to win the lawsuit. No way is Scotus going to force the state to set up some kind of indigent program for post-conviction proceedings.

Second, the B’ham City counsel – only a few weeks after several members proudly declared their ignorance and homophobia – has just voted to adopt a new version of a resolution condemning, among other things, homophobia. An official declaration that gays are something other than the cause of the end of the world? Jerry Falwell must be spinning in his grave. Or wherever he is.

Third, once a terrorist, always a terrorist:

Victims of Eric Rudolph, the anti-abortion extremist who pulled off a series of bombings across the South, say he is taunting them from deep within the nation’s most secure federal prison, and authorities say there is little they can do to stop him.

Apparently, he’s writing nasty stories and sending them to fans who publish them on the web. He’s been doing so for quite a while; here’s my post on a similar report from a few months ago. Whether or not the prison authorities can prohibit the letters, like I said in the earlier post, the letters certainly justify Rudolph’s continued stay in a SuperMax prison.

Finally, a case I mentioned here is about to climax:

The owner of an adult store in Decatur launched her final appeal Monday against a state ban on selling sex toys, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the law as an unconstitutional intrusion into the bedroom.

Getting Fleeced

April 30, 2007

Like I said, I don’t like applying the Bible’s shepherd-sheep imagery to the relationship between government and governed. But that doesn’t mean the image is wrong as a descriptive matter.

Posted Without Comment

April 11, 2007

Two things. 


State Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, this afternoon proposed a joint resolution expressing the Legislature’s profound regret for Alabama’s role in slavery.

It says in part, “We express our profound regret as a state which participated in the process of slavery, that we further atone for the involuntary servitude of Africans, and that we call for a reconciliation among all Alabamians.”

Second, a picture I took this morning in the Jefferson County Courthouse:

If you can’t read it it says:



APRIL 23 2007




Talk amongst yourselves.

Dr. No Doesn’t Know When To Say When

April 8, 2007


Birmingham City Councilman Joel L. Montgomery was arrested early Saturday for public intoxication near Five Points South but his attorney said Montgomery committed no crime.

Montgomery, 50, is in his second term on the City Council and chairs the public safety committee. He represents District 1, which includes east Birmingham including Sun Valley, Echo Highlands and parts of Huffman.

A report released Saturday by the Birmingham Police Department said an officer on routine patrol saw a man sitting in the middle of a parking lot at 14th Avenue South and Cobb Lane at 2:25 a.m. Saturday. He had lacerations on his upper torso.

Normally I would not find this funny, but Montgomery is an arrogant jacka**, so seeing him humiliated like this is too sweet. Also, I may be mistaken, but I think one of the public safety committee’s responsibilities is . . . making recommendations about liquor licenses. Anyway, here’s the mug shot:

He’s got a decent shot at beating the charge, I think. It is perfectly legal to be drunk in public; to be guilty of public intox, you have to be drunk AND a danger to yourself or someone else. Further, our appellate courts have been fairly strict about the danger requirement. If Montgomery had just been sitting in the parking lot, he would probably win the case easily. That he had already hurt himself will make it more difficult. But the question is whether he posed a current or future threat. We’ll have to wait and see.

I Agree With B’ham Councilor Roderick Royal

March 28, 2007

This is what he said yesterday in voting to reject a non-binding resolution that would have condemned discrimination on the basis of, among other things, sexual orientation:

“I’m concerned with the lobby for gay and lesbian rights that somehow or another this group insists on equating their movement with the movement for civil rights,” he said. “This is not to say that their movement is not legitimate, but it is to say that to equate it with the noble movement of civil rights does not compare.”

No it does not compare. It was never a crime to be black. Blacks could at least marry each other. And if the argument is that gay people choose to be gay, and therefore bring their problems on themselves, well, then, black people chose to remain in the segregated south and so brought their problems on themselves. Idiot.

Not just an idiot, but an ungrateful, selfish, hypocritical idiot. I am sorry, but I would much prefer an across the board bigot to a person who intones about principles of equality when his own group is being attacked, but then tosses those principles aside the minute anyone tries to apply them to a new context.

(Get more reports on the resolution here, and here.)

Update: Even though Roderick Royal, Joel Montgomery, Miriam Witherspoon, and Steven Hoyt are ignorant homophobes, and this resolution was just a non-binding statement of principles, I still think they should have supported it. Why? Two reasons.

First, Even if you think homosexuality is an “objective disorder” you cannot deny the positive impact gay people have made to communities. I know my neighborhood would not be anything close to the wonderful place it is today were it not for the large number of gay urban pioneers who began renovations during the 1990’s. No matter whether being gay is good, bad or indifferent, these folks are generally a benefit to their cities. Yet our City just told them they are second-class citizens.

Second, we all know about the so-called creative class, a group B’ham has actively tried to recruit:

The distinguishing characteristic of the creative class is that its members engage in work whose function is to “create meaningful new forms.” The super- creative core of this new class includes scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, and architects, as well as the “thought leadership” of modern society: nonfiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts, and other opinion-makers. Members of this super-creative core produce new forms or designs that are readily transferable and broadly useful—such as designing a product that can be widely made, sold and used; coming up with a theorem or strategy that can be applied in many cases; or composing music that can be performed again and again.

Beyond this core group, the creative class also includes “creative professionals” who work in a wide range of knowledge-intensive industries such as high-tech sectors, financial services, the legal and healthcare professions, and business management. These people engage in creative problem-solving, drawing on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. Doing so typically requires a high degree of formal education and thus a high level of human capital. People who do this kind of work may sometimes come up with methods or products that turn out to be widely useful, but it’s not part of the basic job description. What they are required to do regularly is think on their own. They apply or combine standard approaches in unique ways to fit the situation, exercise a great deal of judgment, perhaps try something radically new from time to time.

These are the folks who will make the money, write the books, sing the songs, and do all the other things that make a community a great place to live.

And the four juvenile a**holes on the council who rejected the resolution just told the members of this class that B’ham does not want them:

Talented people seek an environment open to differences. Many highly creative people, regardless of ethnic background or sexual orientation, grew up feeling like outsiders, different in some way from most of their schoolmates. When they are sizing up a new company and community, acceptance of diversity and of gays in particular is a sign that reads “non-standard people welcome here.”

So what does our sign now read?

Sure it was a non-binding resolution. And sure some of the councilors were scared they might have gotten AIDS if they had voted for it. But supporting it would have been a wonderful way to dissasociate Birmingham from our past and from Alabama stereotypes. It would have been a way to declare to the creative folks in the world that this is a town that values everyone, that hopes to be a place where people accept each other, that new ideas are welcome here.

Instead, we just told the world that gay folks do not matter. That’s bad enough by itself. But it also alienated a whole lot more than just gay people.

Udate II: I apologize for calling the opposing councilors “juvenile a**holes.” Most juveniles would have behaved in a much more respectful manner, and reached a much more sensible conclusion, than did Royal, Hoyt, Witherspoon and Montgomery.

Some Updates

March 21, 2007

First, the raises. Here’s the list of  legislators who voted to override the Governor’s veto and give themselves a 62% pay increase.  My local rep – Patricia Todd – is, good for her, NOT on it. Reactions? For one side of the story, see this apology; for the other, see this vow of retribution. Here’sa first hand report of the unsuccessful protest in Montgomery.

Second, on the subject of legislation the main purpose of which is benefiting sitting legislators, the Eleventh Circuit heard arguments yesterday in a case challenging Alabama’s ballot access laws.

Third, about the US Attorneys issue. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby both voted to eliminate a provision of the Patriot Act that had allowed unilateral appointment of USAs by the president. If this becomes law, things would then work as they always had prior to the patriot act – the President nominates the USAs, and the senate will confirm them. That’s good for justice, and bad for cronyism.

Fourth, and again on the USA issue. I’m having a hard time thinking of anything more ridiculous than this:

Under growing political pressure, the White House offered to allow members of Congressional committees to hold private interviews with Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser and deputy chief of staff; Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel; and two other officials. It also offered to provide access to e-mail messages and other communications about the dismissals, but not those between White House officials.

Democrats promptly rejected the offer, which specified that the officials would not testify under oath, that there would be no transcript and that Congress would not subsequently subpoena them.

Give me a break. What possible justification is there for these restrictions? If the argument is that it would somehow be unseemly or a violation of the separation of powers for these folks to have to testify before Congress, than why let them testify at all? How does giving them permission to lie solve the problem? And if the argument is that this whole investigation is nothing but, in Dubya’s words “a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants.” Then why not put it all to rest by once and for all going on the record under oath and telling us the whole truth? 

Note, please, I am not saying that only a guilty person refuses to testify. I would, for example, be very sympathetic to an argument that Harriet Myers, because she is the President’s lawyer (contra the AG and USAs), should not testify at all before Congress about her dealings with the President. What I am saying is that only a person with something to hide would offer to testify, BUT only if all procedures designed to ensure truth-telling are NOT followed during the testimony.  

Anyway, moving back to the local scene, here’s the latest on another person who refuses to answer legitimate questions:

Carol Forge Hatcher, a Birmingham consultant who said she has $1.5 billion in private money lined up to complete both an entertainment district in addition to a domed stadium and hotel, made her second appearance before the council during the meeting.

Hatcher, however, has refused to identify the source of the money, citing confidentiality agreements.

Hatcher, Roger Hoffman of the Utah-based Nexus Group and Steve Kellogg of Florida-based Aligned LLC said last week they had the money to do the entire project, but complained they were not taken seriously by the BJCC board.

Council members Tuesday told [BJCC Director Jack] Fields and BJCC lawyer Tom Stewart to put in writing a list of questions they need Hatcher to answer before they can evaluate her project. Hatcher and Kellogg spoke at last week’s BJCC board meeting, but didn’t give specific information about financing.

“We weren’t able to review enough information to move forward,” Fields said.

Council members said they want to give Hatcher every opportunity to explain her proposal, but Tuesday will be their final invitation if she again does not answer the BJCC board’s questions.

And finally, at least some folks are concerned about finding the naked truth.