© 1999 - 2002 League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham and
League of Women Voters of the United States

The Voter

August-September, 2002

A Publication of the League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham.
Re-formatted here for web publication with index and links added. Web Editor's navigational notes added in [bracketed italics].


September Meetings to Feature Local, State LWV Priorities

LWVGB will open the local League year with a special forum on public transportation on Sunday, September 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. On Monday, September 9, from 8:30 - 4 p.m. the Alabama Citizens Commission for Constitutional Reform (ACCR) will meet in Birmingham. Both meetings will provide citizen information on major issues in our community and state. See articles below for details.

| Top | LWVGB Home |

ACCR to Meet in Birmingham

Birmingham is the location for the second of four public information gatherings of the Citizens Commission for Constitutional Reform . The all-day meeting will be on Monday, September 9 from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Linn-Henley Research Building in the Arrington Auditorium. (See Calendar for address.)

The 23-person Commission of citizens from across the state will hear presentations from scholars on the Legislative, Judicial and Executive Articles in the morning session. The public is welcome to attend the presentations. After lunch, the public will offer testimony on constitutional reform issues, in general, and on the Articles under discussion that morning.

LWVAL President Sarah McDonald will present the LWVAL position on the three Articles. Birmingham Leaguers are urged to step to the microphone in the afternoon to support a new constitution and a citizens' convention to write it.

Leaguers can join ACCR at the website or by mailing a check to ACCR. (See the Calendar for website and mailing addresses. [See "Join ACCR" -- w.e.])

Sarah has met with ACCR's Executive Director Kathy Bowden, founding ACCR board member Bailey Thomson, and Field Director David Perry to plan ways in which the League will work with ACCR for the mutual goal of constitutional reform.

For more information on the ACCR meeting, check the ACCR website (See Calendar [See "Join ACCR" -- w.e.]) or call Sarah McDonald at 967-2829.

| Top | LWVGB Home |

Special Forum on September 8

The public is invited to join Leaguers on Sunday, September 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. for a session on area transportation and a presentation about the League. The meeting will take place at the Martin Biscuit Company Building at 2900 29th St. South, adjacent to Pepper Place. Refreshments will be served.

If you are frustrated with traffic in the Birmingham Area, attend this meeting. Steve Ortmann, Project Manager of the Alternatives Analysis Study, will be the speaker. Mr. Ortmann will talk about public transportation needs and action proposed for the Greater Birmingham Area. Come and put your two cents in. You can help shape transportation decisions.

AND, learn more about the League on September 8. Have you considered joining the League but want more information? Have you recently become a member and want to know more about the League? Join us for an informative and entertaining presentation on the League. Bring a friend.
--- Gayle England

| Top | LWVGB Home |


Please use the membership form inserted in this Voter to renew your membership or to join the League.

Would you like to receive this newsletter by email? If so, be sure to include your email address on the membership form.

| Top | LWVGB Home |

LWVGB Board of Directors 2002-2003

P.O. Box 661213
Vestavia Hills, AL 35266
Phone: (205) 824-8112

Gayle England, President
(205) 979-7102
Email: geengland@att.net

Sarah McDonald, 1st V.P.
(205) 967-2829
Email: smcdonald3357@charter.net

Ruth J. Wright, 2nd V.P.
(205) 979-0754

Jo Dobbins, Secretary
(205) 608-1866
Email: k4li@bellsouth.net

Yvonne Knowles, Treasurer
Email: yvonneknowles@mindspring.com

Nancy Ekberg, Director
(205) 967-2897
Email: nanekberg@aol.com

Diane Holmes, Director
(205) 982-3006
Email: HolmesRE@aol.com

Kathryn Kerchof, Director
(205) 802-7215 (Home)
Email: kerchoff@bellsouth.net

Sandra Smith, Director
(205) 957-7964
Email: smithsandra@juno.com

Jessie Tehranchi, Director
(205) 822-5615
Email: tehranch@bellsouth.net

| Top | LWVGB Home |

About The Voter:

The LWVGB Voter is a publication of the League of Women Voter of
Greater Birmingham

Voter Contacts:
Editor, Becky Sylvester
604 Paden Dr. Birmingham, 35226
Ph: (205) 824-1524
Email: bandbsyl@aol.com

| Top | LWVGB Home |

President's Message

As others have been vacationing, your Board of Directors has been busy. First, we moved the office to the home of the President (where else?) which has proved to be a positive step. A real person answers the phone, so information is immediately available to callers. And, we're saving money. Kathryn is busy updating "Know Your County Government." Jessie has been attending transportation meetings. Ruth has been observing County Commission meetings. The Board agreed with Ruth's recommendation that the League testify at the July 23 public hearing on the supersewer. We've had a lot of positive feedback on our comments. See the testimony below.

Diane is preparing for the membership meeting on September 8 (a new membership directory will be available) and making plans for the December Holiday Luncheon. Sarah has met with Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform to agree on the League's work with ACCR. Yvonne has been working with Jean Johnson on DNET. Nancy and Jean were appointed to attend a series of training sessions on leadership development. Nancy has been interviewing the LWV board and leaders in the community for this project. The Voter Committee is pleased to announce that you can now receive the newsletter by e-mail.

I attended the National League Convention July 15-18. All 50 states were represented. Many new and young members were present. The DNet project does not currently have a sponsor, so this wonderful voter service tool could be in jeopardy. Operating costs and the volatility of the stock market have taken a toll on the League's finances. As outgoing President Carolyn Jefferson Jenkins reminded us, the League has survived hardships before. For more on the convention (workshops, celebrations, speeches, etc.) see the LWVUS website - www.lwv.org.

Remember to renew your membership (See insert in this Voter). If you're not a member, we encourage you to join.

--- Gayle

| Top | LWVGB Home |

Testimony to JeffCo Commission on "Supersewer" Issues - July 23, 2002

LWVGB President Gayle England gave the following testimony based on League principles and positions.)

"The League of Women Voters believes that democratic government depends upon informed and active participation of its citizens and requires that governmental bodies protect the citizen's right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.

"The League is gratified that the citizens are finally being given the opportunity to learn about and express their views on the extension of the Cahaba Trunk sewer. However, several questions of process remain unanswered. For example: Was the decision to piggyback the sewer expansion on the rehabilitation program done in a regular commission meeting? If so, was it by unanimous consent or a majority vote or simply folded into the bond issue decision? And, currently, how was the assumption of this $1.4 billion debt decided and how can this Commission justify this action without knowing the impact on sewer rates? Has there been open discussion prior to this public hearing?

"Construction of the "supersewer" will steer intensive growth to this watershed. In the absence of comprehensive land use planning, should the Jefferson County community subsidize such growth, which will affect the quality of life in the entire area? Increased air pollution, traffic congestion and the threat of degradation of our water supply are real concerns. Has consideration been given to cheaper and less destructive alternatives?

"Urgency? While we must accept the time frame imposed by the rehabilitation plan, there is no mandated completion date for new construction. {LWVGB} requests that these projects and funds be decoupled from the required rehabilitation and that new construction projects be considered individually on their merits . . . . [LWVGB] will be watching this Commission on future action."

| Top | LWVGB Home |

Issues for Emphasis

The articles below continue the series on issues LWVGB will emphasize in 2002-03.

| Top | LWVGB Home |

Structure of the Jefferson County Commission: Part II

The present structure of the Jefferson County Commission derives from its previous structure as modified by the consent decree of 1985. The previous Commission consisted of three members elected at large, each having administrative responsibility for specific areas of government: Finance, Courts and Buildings (Commission President); Public Works (Associate # 1); and Public Welfare (Associate #2). As a result of a suit filed in the mid-80s alleging that at-large election was discriminatory, the legislature expanded the body to five members elected by district. The administrative responsibilities were then divided five ways by the new Commission. Each Commissioner thus has county-wide responsibility over specific areas of county government but is accountable to only one-fifth of the electorate. This anomaly has resulted over the years in turf battles, often lack of involvement of the whole Commission in plans which could affect the entire county, and a great deal of decision-making out of public view.

At this time, prior to the November 2002 elections, the administrative responsibilities of the Commission are distributed as follows:

District 1: (Jeff Germany) Health and Human Services (County Home, Cooper Green Hospital, Coroner)

District 2: (Steve Small) Environmental Services (Sewers, Landfills, etc.), Board of Registrars

District 3: (Mary Buckelew) Roads and Transportation, Information Services

District 4: (Bettye Fine Collins) Community and Economic Development, Senior Citizens Services

District 5 (Commission President Gary White) Finance and General Services. Commissioners have joint responsibility for elected officials (i.e. Sheriff, Tax Collector, Probate Court) and non-departmental entities which includes required funding (e.g. Regional Planning Commission, county-wide entities such as the Metropolitan Arts Council, Art Museum, etc.) Additionally, Commissioners are granted discretionary funds with which to help out their districts or favorite causes.

After the November election, the new Commission, which will include two, possibly three, new members, will choose a president and restructure itself, which may or may not result in the current administrative arrangement.

--- Ruth Wright, Second VP

| Top | LWVGB Home |

LWVGB's Position on Jefferson County Government - In Brief

(The position below was adopted, after study, in 1985 and revisited in 1991.)

" . . . the government of Jefferson County must fulfill certain minimal criteria, including equitable representation of the population of the county; separation of legislative and executive powers; administrative accountability to the total electorate; and efficient and cost-effective operation."

"To meet these criteria, the League supports 1. Separation of the legislative and administrative functions of county government, 2. Election of the legislative body by district, and 3. Consolidation of administrative responsibility in a single office responsible to the total electorate."

| Top | LWVGB Home |

MPOS and Transportation Planning

As a condition of financial assistance for transportation, urban areas are required by federal law to have a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The Birmingham Area MPO, made up of local, elected officials, technical staff, state officials and others, has the job of seeing that the transportation planning process is continuing, cooperative and comprehensive. All modes of transportation, including highways, transit, intermodal freight and bicycle/pedestrian facilities, must be considered; plans and programs must support community development and social goals. The result of the planning process is a 20-year long range plan and a five-year transportation improvement program (TIP).

The MPO decides which projects , in consultation with the Alabama Department of Transportation, will be funded with available local, state, and federal dollars. Computer models and town meetings are among the tools used to determine which projects are funded. The MPO is supported by a Citizens Committee, a Technical Committee (public and private administrators and specialists experienced in all aspects of transportation) anda Subcommittee that reviews plans and makes recommendations to the MPO. A full-time professional staff (provided by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham) supports these committees. Learn more about transportation issues at the September 8 meeting.

--- Jessie Tehranchi, Transportation Chair

| Top | LWVGB Home |


September 8
LWVGB Forum on Public Transit and Membership Meeting
Martin Biscuit Company Building
2900 29th St. South
(Adjacent to Pepper Place)
4 - 6 p.m
September 9
ACCR Public Information Meeting
Linn-Henley Library Research Building, Arrington
7th Ave. and 21st St. North.
Use Linn Park entrance.
8:30 a.m. -
4:00 p.m.

September 16
LWVGB Board Meeting
Office of Balch and Bingham
1710 6th Ave. North
(Old Alabama Power Building)
12 Noon
October 2
Birmingham Public Library Brown Bag Series
Downtown at 2100 Park Place
SARAH McDONALD will talk about CR and about the LWV
12 Noon
October 9
Unit Meeting: Decisions on Proposed Revisions of the LWVAL Constitutional
Southside Public Library
1814 11th Avenue South
-- Get details --
12 Noon
October 10
Unit Meeting: Decisions on Proposed Revisions of the LWVAL Constitutional
2530 Rivertrace Circle
(Located behind Colonade on Hwy 280. Call 967-2897 for further directions.)
-- Get details --
6:00 p.m.

| Top | LWVGB Home |


Birmingham League Members are encouraged to join the Alabama
Citizens for Constitutional Reform. You can do this at the ACCR website -
http://www.constitutionalreform.org - or by sending $15.00 to ACCR, P.O. Box
34, Montgomery, AL 36101.

| Top | LWVGB Home |

FastCounter by bCentral