© 1999 - 2007 League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham and
League of Women Voters of the United States
A Publication of the League
of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham.
A Different Option for County Government
At the LWVGB January meeting, Shelby County Commissioner Ted Crockett and Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock discussed the governing organization that helps manage the fastest growing county in Alabama.
The nine Shelby County Commissioners serve as a board of directors to set policy, oversee county finances and make appointments. Reporting to the Commission are the County Attorney, County Engineer and the County Manager, who functions as the county’s chief executive officer.
The position of County Manager was made possible when the Alabama State Legislature approved a measure allowing Shelby County limited home rule. Alex Dudchock, who was already employed as the county's personnel director, assumed the position in 1993. Since instituting this form of management, Shelby County has paid off its debts and eliminated the one-cent sales tax used to finance the repayment.
With an estimated 171,465 residents in 2005, Shelby County has approximately 26% of the population of Jefferson County; however, for the five year period from 2000 to 2005, the Shelby County population growth rate was 20% higher than Jefferson County. (Jefferson County census estimates showed a population decline of -0.7% for that period.)
The LWVGB has supported instituting a county manager form of government in Jefferson County since 1985. Before the November 2005 election, the three Republicans on the Commission (Bettye Fine Collins, Jim Carns and Bobby Humphryes) supported changing to a county manager form of government in their campaigns. The Birmingham News has published numerous articles, both from citizens and News editorial staff, calling for a county manager. In his column of January 28 headlined "Big changes must begin with power," local news reporter John Archibald wrote about the LWVGB meeting on this topic.
It is important for us to make clear to our elected officials that we expect action to bring about the organizational change necessary to hire a county manager for Jefferson County. Inside this issue of The Voter, you will find an open letter to our Jefferson County Commissioners. To make our collective voice heard, we ask that each League member living in Jefferson County contact the County Commissioner for your district and Bettye Fine Collins, as Commission President, about this issue. Contact information for each commissioner is included in this issue. We can all stand together to make a difference for Jefferson County!
An Open Letter to the Jefferson County Commission
February 21, 2007
Dear Commissioners Collins, Langford, Smoot, Carns and Humphryes:
The League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham has supported instituting a county manager form of government for Jefferson County since 1985. We were encouraged when Commissioners Collins, Carns and Humphryes made hiring a county manager part of their campaigns for the November 2006 elections.
Last spring Commissioner Carns, while serving in the state legislature, sponsored a bill that would require Jefferson County to hire a county manager. He told The Birmingham News in January 2006, “I represent Jefferson and Shelby County as a state legislator. I watch both county commissions work. I see the benefits of the Shelby County manager versus the lack of those benefits for Jefferson County.” We understand that Commissioner Carns is supporting a similar bill in this legislative session.
We agree with Commissioner Carns’ assessment. Since hiring a county manager to oversee routine county functions, Shelby County has paid off debt and made major infrastructure improvements without borrowing. This month the Shelby County Commission approved comprehensive measures to govern its growth. Conversely, Jefferson County’s debt load balloons, developers exert undue influence over zoning decisions and our county operations are under scrutiny of federal investigations into bribery and corruption. We believe the county manager form of government is a better way of protecting the people’s interest.
We thank you for your service to Jefferson County and seek your input on how we can assist in bringing about this change to our county government structure. We look forward to working with you to benefit this great county and its citizens.
Contact Your Jefferson County Commissioner
The open letter from Yvonne Brakefield, LWVGB president will be sent to each Jefferson County Commissioner. If you are a resident of Jefferson County, please support this effort by contacting Bettye Fine Collins, Commission President, and the representative for your district, if different. Note that you are contacting them as a voting constituent (not as a member of LWVGB) and want to inform them of your personal desire to improve our county government by hiring a county manager. “Talking points” are included in "A Different Option for County Government" and "An Open Letter to the Jefferson County Commission" in this newsletter. A map of commission districts is available at www.jeffcointouch.com
Global Climate Change
Thursday, February 22, 6:00 PM
climate change, a topic of much discussion, and some controversy, will
be the subject of the LWVGB monthly meeting on February 22nd.
Joyce Lanning, Ph.D. (pictured at right), will discuss the conditions
of global climate change and suggest ways individuals, businesses,
schools, and other organizations can be a part of the solution to the
growing crisis of global warming. Dr. Lanning is a retired Professor of
Public Health at UAB, where she taught in the Masters Program in Health
Care Organization and Policy. We encourage you to attend this timely
meeting and to bring a friend or colleague.
Nancy Ekberg is representing our League in the planning committee which includes more than thirty organizations and governmental units. Montgomery’s “Envision 2020” is coordinating the event. The Jefferson County Commission and The Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce are sponsors.
Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform, Birmingham Region
Wednesday, February 28, 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Alagasco Midtown Center, 20 South 20th Street, Birmingham
The meeting agenda includes a review of ACCR’s accomplishments and plans for the upcoming state legislative session. Participants will have opportunities to exchange ideas and talk with legislators. Lunch provided for $5. Contact Nancy Ekberg at email@example.com or call 205 967-2897 if you plan to attend.
LWVGB Program Recommendations
The local League board is preparing its recommendations to the Annual Business Meeting that will take place April 19th. One area of preparation is recommendations we will make on the LWVGB program. The LWVGB program includes the existing positions taken on issues after study and member consensus, study (existing or new study) and issues for emphasis. We invite you to advise the board of your program recommendations by completing the LWVGB Program Recommendations Form (available in .pdf or .doc format) which describes the current LWVGB program, including a list of the titles of existing program positions.
Contact Yvonne Brakefield on 205-516-8235 if you need the most recent copy of the LWVGB program positions or view online at www.lwvgb.org/about.html#positions.
Your input is requested by February 28th. Please send your program recommendations form to Yvonne Brakefield, 3451 Cliff Rd., Birmingham, AL 35205.
LWVGB Program Study Committee
LWVGB Board of
League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham
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