By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Local community officers and leaders will not have to write a report from the upcoming Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) Conference in Palm Springs, according to a City Council vote on Tuesday.
The NUSA Conference will be held May 15-18 in Palm Springs, California.
The Council voted 6-2 to amend a resolution that requires neighborhood officers to write about their experiences. Now they can make the trip without “journaling” about the conference. President Valerie Abbott and Councilor Darrell O’Quinn voted against the amended resolution. Councilor Hunter Williams stepped out before the vote.
“We have rules and one of the requirements is that you write up a report of your trip . . . if you’re not coming back and reporting to the people in your neighborhood, and the people who sent you on the trip, that’s a problem,” Abbott said.
Compiling a report had been one of the requirements for the trip. “There is no one that can say that they did not know the requirements because you have to sign off on it when you take the trip on the public’s money,” Abbott said.
Council President Pro Tempore William Parker, introduced the amended resolution “to include that the representatives shall be free to attend this year’s scheduled conference … without obligation of journaling, recording, and/or submitting their learning experiences” during the conference.
“We need to make it easier for them to travel and learn more about best practices as it relates to these neighborhood conferences,” he said.
The council last month approved sending up to 297 people, three from each of the city’s neighborhoods, to NUSA.
Councilor Steven Hoyt said he can see results from the conference without written reports.
“Our neighborhood officers do a lot just as they did this past weekend in my community, spending a good portion of their Saturday morning cleaning up Five Points West and communities and various neighborhoods in the district,” he said. “I think here we can see the tangibles that result in good neighbors and good leadership in our neighborhoods.”
In other business, the council approved $15,000 to support Build UP Ensley, which ties homeownership, workforce development and academics as part of a six-year curriculum. Students can earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree while building, repairing and maintaining homes in the neighborhoods where they live.
“Build UP Ensley is a workforce development program that trains young people how to make a living for themselves and using their hands,” said Councilor John Hilliard, who represents the district. “They’re learning to build homes and it’s exciting to see them actually develop and do things . . . the kids who complete the program will end up being investors and owning properties.”
Funding will help students with tools, tuition and other supplies, Hilliard said.
“This will help them with job placement and a lot of them will go and work in the construction industry,” he said.