A Publication of The League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham

Published February 2005

Observer Corps
Jefferson County Commission

Governor Riley declined a request to provide funding for a domed stadium in Birmingham and the Jefferson County Commission’s deadline to guarantee its commitment to the BJCC expansion expired January 31. Yet, on February 4, the Birmingham News reported that State Representative John Rogers promised all the funding will be in place in time to break ground by March. Rogers said he would introduce a bill to exempt from city or county taxes any hotel near the dome if either Jefferson County or the City of Birmingham refuses to fund the stadium.

A 34-count indictment for bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud was released February 7 charging the county’s environmental services director, Jack Swann, his top deputy and three other county employees. Roland Pugh Construction and two of its executives are charged with paying the bribes. The indictments are a result of a federal investigation into the county’s “super sewer” project. Roland Pugh Construction is still doing business with the county and was awarded a new contract late in 2004 after federal agents served search warrants at the company headquarters.

On January 18 the Commission delayed a vote on an appropriation requested by Commissioner Smoot for $180,000 to purchase exercise equipment for County employees at Camp Bessemer and Camp Ketona. After questioning Smoot’s reasoning, Langford suggested they do more study to see if the money might be better spent to subsidize YMCA memberships for county employees, as this request would benefit only road and transportation crew members.

At the February 6 meeting Commissioner Buckelew complained of a car dealership commercial touting lower sales tax in an adjoining county. Buckelew wants people to understand that sales taxes on automobiles are not paid at the time of purchase, but when the owner buys the car tag. Individuals are required by law to register the vehicle in the county of their primary residence.

Buckelew also mentioned the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” crew that built a new home in Center Point for the Harris family. She stated that the county worked hard to accommodate the breakneck pace of the project, even scheduling inspections at midnight to avoid delays.

“ I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” ... Will Rogers

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