Considering a 'love fest' in Birmingham, Birmingham's mayor-city council might succeed in all its functions
This is a statement from my opinion.
For necessary checks and balances, there is nothing wrong with a little tension. Especially when it comes to governing. A little strain, a push-pull, and a modicum of disagreement among public officials are important. Too much collaboration, too much coziness, too much Kumbaya are all things, and things start looking shady.
A tsunami of love and light between the Birmingham mayors office and Randall Woodfin gained occupancy, and the City Council hasnt been a concern for some time. If ever.
The relationship was dragged down by conflict and discontentiousness. Which all but assured any progress, any meaningful and sustained improvement in the lives of people would be measured in fits, starts, and stumbles.
A couple of steps are taken before an inevitable reverse.
Incessant gnarling, teeth-gnashing, and arm-wrestling over disparate visions and polarizing postures were all but assured the best popcorn-worthy programming of the week.
In 2015, the brutal and belittling Brawl was named Brawl at City Hall.
Something eeriely odd is happening up there right now. Ever since late October when the new, majority-female council was elected into office
Respect. Collaboration. A collective consciousness not seen at City Hall in some time. If ever
Hunter Williams, a Birmingham City Council member, and a mayor of Birmingham Randall Woodfin were on hand as the first building was demolished on the long-awaited Banks High School campus. (Photo by Greg Garrison/AL.com)
Woodfin described it as a "love fest" when asked about the administration's relationship with the city council following his state of the City address before members of the Kiwanis Club on Tuesday. "Its refreshing," he said.
Our goal is to maintain an open line of communication between the Mayor and City Council, according to Councilor Crystal Smitherman. With the current pulse and personality of the current city council this will be sustained. The Councilors will hold the Mayor accountable while maintaining an open attitude. While we will disagree we will do it in a mature and professional manner.
The Honeymoon remains untold and as the city reaches national and public sports stages with the Squadron, USFL, and World Games, it's smart to keep any dirty laundry in the hamper.
There are certainly disagreements, and no doubt differences in perspectives abound. Council members may be breaking their lips, and issues loom that will spark heated debate
The answer is yes, too.
Those chasms have yet to make their way to the dais, but instead, theyre massaged before folks walk through the double glass door leading into council chambers.
Tuesdays are more entertaining than ever, but there's still no popcorn.
Consider the unanimous agreement of the Council in early December on how to allocate the remaining $34.7 million of the first half of the $148.8 million the city received last year from its allocation under the American Rescue Plan.
After the vote, Council President Wardine Alexander was clear to say it was preceded by a "positive and thorough discussion" with the mayor's office. Previously, reaching such an agreement over that vast bounty would have been far from positive and thoroughly entertaining.
What this new one-accord feel may foretell is that over the next four years, our city leaders will make significant and sustainable progress, bringing the lives of people in all areas of the city.
More streets are paved, less garbage is spewed, less rancor is required, and more investment in small businesses and long-neglected neighborhoods.
In our seasoned citizens. In our children. In people.
Smitherman offers that a mayor and we all have a productive partnership to clean up her neighborhood. She expressed her gratitude to the Mayor and I for making them important.
Citizens with talents and gifts to contribute might be drawn to sit boards and agencies too long intruded in by patronage and persons seeking to hold a resume.
The city council has hired a private lobbyist to represent Birmingham's interest at the state level.
Woodfin told me last year that no other city in the state has different lobbyists [for the mayor's office and city council].
Last week, the two parties revealed a one-voice agenda, with 11 things city officials want to see addressed during the legislative session in 2022.
Among these, the number of entertainment districts allowed from 5 to 15 is increased, but not limited to: tax credits for loans to small- and minority-owned businesses; increasing broadband access; increasing fines for littering, dumping, and weed abatement; increasing grant capacity to place reading coaches in grade 1-3 classrooms; increasing authority to collect parking fines; and increasing tourism funding.
Woodfin said his office and councilors came together around things we agree on during a recent council retreat.
This will be a very progressive Council, Smitherman says. I know we will move Birmingham in the right direction that will have a positive effect on future generations.
Told me up to the top of the pack.
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Roy S. Johnson has added additional comments to his comments.
Roy S. Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary and for his podcasts, Unjustifiable, co-hosted with John Archibald. His column is featured in The Birmingham News and, as well as the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Press-Register.