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Mayor Randall Woodfin, Surpassing 100 days in office, Gets First Committee Reports

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By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times

Surpassing 100 days in office this month Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin marked the March 8 milestone with reports from team members during an event Thursday at the Alabama Theatre.

Woodfin introduced his transition team and findings from five committees he established on how to improve the city.

Transition team co-chairs Gen. Charles Krulak and Bobbie Knight introduced each of the committees and its leaders.

Herschell Hamilton and Det. Ralph Patterson, chairs of the Neighborhood Revitalization and Public Safety committee, said roughly 1,700 homes had been demolished and only 400 structures been built over the past 10 years.

“That’s not sustainable,” Hamilton said. “Our committee agreed that we need to look at stabilization in neighborhoods first and then plan for revitalization.”

The key for stabilization is public safety and housing production, he said, and that means addressing crime.

“Public safety is usually viewed as responsibilities of the police and fire departments,” Patterson said. “Without a comprehensive approach it becomes virtually impossible to design and implement a long term and sustainable public safety approach.”

For public safety to succeed there must be a “commitment to community involvement, a commitment from the department’s management, community support, collaborative problem solving, actionable intelligence, clear goals, transparency and accountability,” he said.

The committee also suggested the establishment of The Mayor’s Office of Community Revitalization and the Citizen’s Advisory Council.

Education

The Education and Workforce committee was made up of Birmingham schools superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring, former AT&T Alabama President Fred McCallum and Dr. Perry Ward, president of Lawson State Community College.

“We have a unique responsibility to ensure that not just in the beginning, but also [as students] prepare for graduation that we provide for our city of Birmingham work-ready students who have the options to choose between college and career,” Herring said.

Economic Development

The Entrepreneurship and Economic Development committee was spearheaded by Dr. Josh Carpenter and Tracey Morant Adams.

Recommendations from the committee included:

  • Clearly state the vision for economic development
  • Adequately resource the vision for the Opportunity Agenda by focusing organizational structures in the Office of Economic Development and distributing resources to execute key initiatives.
  • Birmingham should focus on becoming a case study for sustainable, effective public-private partnerships.
  • Align economic growth packages, including incentives, with a strategy that puts people first.

Transparency

Transparent and Efficient Government committee leaders were Annie Allen and Daniel Coleman.

Challenges, obstacles, barriers, best practices and recommendations were broken down by departments including human resources, technology, finances, legal, mobile equipment and communications.

One finding, said Coleman was that since 2002, “we’ve been underfunding [the employee pension plan] for 10 years.”

“That’s the bad news,” Coleman said. “The good news is these holes aren’t so big that they can’t be filled up.”

Recommendations included engaging with the rating agencies to ensure that steps are taken to keep capital markets open to Birmingham at competitive rates.

Social Justice

The Social Justice committee, led by Richard Rice and Nancy Dunlap, received input from more than 250 people.

Subcommittees included health disparities, human and civil rights, poverty reduction, arts and environmental justice and sustainability.

Woodfin said he will create The Mayor’s Office of Social Justice.

“It’s important that I do that within the next 100 days,” he said. “This is not just talk, we have to be very intentional… we know at a certain point we have to be a beacon of hope in social justice.”

The mayor said the reports provide a set of recommendations and best practices that should serve as a catalyst for continued discussions on city government and ways to serve the people of the city.

“’Putting People First’ is more than a theme. It’s a strategy,” he said.