© 1999 - 2003 League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham and
League of Women Voters of the United States

The Voter

January - February, 2003

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].


Regional Transit Deadline Nearing. $87 Million Set Aside Is at Stake.

To meet the FTA May deadline for the funding submission for a new regional transit system, enabling legislation must pass the Legislature in the upcoming session. If successful, the $87 million set aside by Senator Shelby will be available.

The Alliance for Transportation Alternatives, a committee selected by the Regional Planning Commission (government), the Chamber of Commerce (business), and Region 2020 (citizens), finalized its recommendations for the structure and funding of a regional transit system January 13. The proposed structure is modeled on the earlier BARTA Plan, with representation on the governing board based on population, rather than, as now, controlled by Birmingham. Recommended funding is a combination of a 0.5 percent rise in the occupational tax plus an increase in the gas tax. This should provide the $80 million per year required for the federal match. Enabling legislation is now being written. Citizen pressure will be required to achieve passage in the March session.

-- Ruth Wright, LWVGB 2nd V.P.

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LWVAL Joins Tax Reform Group

The state League has joined a coalition of non-profit organizations to work for tax reform. Spearheaded by Alabama Arise and Voices for Alabama's Children, the coalition has met several times in Montgomery to educate representatives on tax policy and to plan its advocacy campaign. The Statement of Agreement to which all member organizations have agreed is the following: "We support tax reform in Alabama that is fair, efficient, reliable, simple, transparent, adequate and revenue-positive." The state Board feels that this statement agrees with League position. The Board will continue to work for comprehensive constitutional reform which includes tax reform. However, the Board believes that working with this coalition is the best use of League resources in this area of program. To help with this effort, call Sarah at 967-2829. Sarah McDonald, LWVAL President

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Help us grow - Get a new member today!

Welcome to new members Regina Ammon, Linda Coleman, Carol Eugenia Lambeth, Suzanne Oparil, and Kathern Sheffield.

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Leagues to Review State Program

The LWVAL convention is scheduled for April 26-27 (Mobile is the site) which means that local Leagues over the state will review existing state program to advise the state Board on program positions. The review will result in recommendations to the Board to keep, drop, or update existing positions. Local Leagues may also recommend new studies. State Program Chair, Ruth Wright of Auburn, has asked local League to respond by February 17. LWVGB members will meet Sunday, February 9, at 2 p.m. at the Vestavia Public Library meeting room to do the review. For an outline version of the current state program see the state League web site (http://www.lwval.org).

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Free Workshop on Pedestrian and Bicycle Program Management

A free workshop on pedestrian and bicycle program management will be held on the Birmingham-Southern campus Monday, February 10, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Michael Ronkin of the Oregon DOT, an expert on street design for pedestrians and cyclists, is the presenter.

You can register to attend by sending your name, address and contact information to Tom Maxwell (email: tmaxwell@brpc-al.org) of the Regional Planning Commission before Jan. 31.

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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: yvonnebrakefield@yahoo.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@balch.com

    Sandra Smith, Director
    (205) 957-7964
    Email: vshome@bellsouth.net

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

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About the Voter:

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

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

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President's Message

I gave League testimony before the newly sworn-in Jefferson County Commission on November 12, 2002, to address three major points: 1) the flawed organizational structure of some of the departments and services Commissioners oversee; 2) Interaction with the public through public hearings, press conferences, press releases and the County's web site; and 3) doing away with the discretionary funds.

I am happy to report that the new Commission is listening. The Commission adopted a Resolution of Organization that is detailed on page 3 of this Voter. The new organization is a major improvement as is the change in the process for discretionary funding. Now, requests for discretionary funding must be submitted to the County's Finance Department and then passed on to the Commission's Finance Committee - after the viability of the group or agency has been verified. Then, the Committee makes its recommendations to the full Commission.

These changes are the beginning of new and improved county government, but we still need to observe the meetings to encourage continuous improvement . Thanks to Ruth Wright for her dedication to observing county government. Without Ruth, the League would not have put the issues before the Commission. This is one great example of the League at work

In December, I met with Orville Eiffell, County Public Relations Officer, and Wayne Cree, Chief Information Officer for the County, to offer ideas on the Jefferson County web site. I agreed to help get the word out about the site, so please tell all about the County's improved web site. See the article on page 3 of this Voter (see JeffCo's New Web Site) for more information.

-- Gayle England

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LWVGB, A Major Contributor to DOI Tour

By the time you receive this Voter, the Declaration of Independence Tour will be off to another city. During the 10 days the document was on display at the Civil Rights Institute, LWVGB volunteers registered 264 people statewide. The organizers of the Tour said that this was the most voter registrations that have been done to date on the Tour. The event was great visibility for the League with over 10,000 people visiting the Civil Rights Institute. Thanks to Sharon Sedley, Diane Holmes, Yvonne Brakefield, and Jessie Tehranchi for helping with voter registration. Just another example of the League at work.

-- Gayle England

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Holiday Luncheon A Success

Comments on how wonderful the luncheon was are still coming in. This time we met at Riverchase Country Club. The facility, the friendly staff, the great food and Speaker, David Sher, all contributed to a good time. Mr. Sher sent a thank you note for the opportunity to speak and for the work the League does. Thanks to Diane Holmes for making the arrangements and organizing our annual December luncheon.

-- Gayle England

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JeffCo Commission Reorganizes

On November 12, 2002, the new County Commission adopted a Resolution of Organization that distributed the powers and duties among the Commissioners. The Commissioner assigned to each of the five county departments is the head of that department and will supervise and control its operation subject to the authority of the Commission as a whole. The Commission made the following assignments:

    1. Department of Finance and General Services- President Larry Langford

    2. Department of Roads and Transportation Shelia Smoot

    3. Department of Environmental Services- Gary White

    4. Department of Health and Human Services- Betty Fine Collins

    5. Department of Development ­ Mary M. Buckelew.

The resolution also established five Commission Committees, one for each of the five departments. Each Committee is made up of three Commissioners. The Commissioner assigned as the head of each department is the chair of that department's Commission Committee. The committees and Commissioners assigned are:

    1. Finance and General Services ­ Larry Langford, Chair; Gary Whitee; Mary Buckelew

    2. Roads and Transportation ­ Shelia Smoot, Chair; Larry Langford;; Betty Fine Collins

    3. Environmental Services ­ Gary White, Chair; Shelia Smoot; Larry Langford

    4. Health and Human Services ­ Betty Fine Collins, Chair; Gary Whiite; Mary Buckelew

    5. Development ­ Mary Buckelew, Chair; Betty Fine Collins; Shellia Smoot.The JeffCo Commission organization chart and the chart showing the divisions of each department can be viewed on the Jefferson County website at www.JeffCoInTouch.com.

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JeffCo's New Web Site

New equipment for Jefferson County's site is expected to be in place by the end of January. Once in operation, each department will manage its content and provide links to other sites.

The site will include an opportunity for the public to renew car tags and interact with individual Commissioners. (Information in this column provided by Commission documents, Bill Cook, and Gayle England.)

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LWVGB Members: Action Needed on CR

Now is the time to let legislators know we expect them to act on reforming the Alabama Constitution in the upcoming MARCH SESSION. Write to your legislators and urge your neighbors, relatives, and friends to do the same.

Tell legislators why you think we need reform. Remind them that voters have approved a constitutional amendment that assures voters will approve/reject a constitution written by a citizens' convention. Write your letter as a private citizen ­ not as a Leaguer.

Address your letters to your Representative or Senator at State House Office or State Senate Office. The mailing address for both is 11 South Union, Montgomery, AL. 36130. House and Senate districts in our area are:

House of Representatives Districts:

  • 15 Bobby Humphryes
  • 40 Lea Fite
  • 41 Mike Hill
  • 43 Mary Sue McClurkin
  • 44 Arthur Payne
  • 45 Albert Morton
  • 46 Mark Gaines
  • 47 John Hawkins
  • 48 Jim Carns
  • 50 Jim McClenden
  • 51 Scott Beason
  • 52 John W. Rogers, Jr.
  • 53 Demetrius Newton
  • 54 George Perdue
  • 55 Eric Major
  • 56 Priscilla Dunn
  • 57 Merika Coleman
  • 58 Oliver Robinson
  • 60 Linda Coleman.

Senate Districts:

  • 5 Curt Lee
  • 15 Steve French
  • 16 "Jabo" Waggoner
  • 17 Jack Biddle, III
  • 18 Rodger Smitherman
  • 19 Cliff Walker
  • 20 Sandra Escott.

-- Nancy Ekberg

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Formation of Watershed CAC Imminent

Jurisdictions in the Upper Cahaba Watershed have formed a Consortium to produce a guide for future development and protection of the river. A Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) will advise the Consortium of 10 Mayors* and a commissioner from Jefferson and Shelby Counties on land use, development standards, protection of the Cahaba River, and the public involvement process.
(* Mayors of Birmingham, Clay, Homewood, Hoover, Irondale, Leeds, Mountain Brook, Pelham, Trussville, Vestavia Hills are Consortium members.)

To be a CAC member, you must be nominated by 1) a mayor or commissioner who is a member of the Consortium or 2) Ann Florie of Region 2020 or 3) Dave Adkisson of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce. Nomination does not ensure selection. The CAC is expected to have 35 ­ 40 members. If you are interested in being nominated, contact Tom Maxwell, Regional Planning Commission, who is coordinating the nomination process, at 251-8139 or tmaxwell@brpc-al.org for a nomination form and more information. Nominations are due February 3.

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January 31
Registration Deadline for Non-motorized Facility Design Workshop -
See article, page 1

February 3
Citizen Advisory Committee Nominations Due.
See article, page 3

February 9
State Program Review. Board Meeting immediately following.
Vestavia Hills Library,
2nd Floor Meeting Room 1112
Montgomery Highway (Highway 31)
2 p.m.
February 10
Non-motorized Facility Design Workshop - Designing Street for Pedestrians & Bicyclists.
Birmingham-Southern College,
Norton Campus Center.
Register before January 31.
See article, page 1

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
February 12
Jefferson County Commission Public Hearing on Proposed Fees and Tax Increase,
County Court House, Rm. 3730

5 p.m.
February 14
LWV's 83rd Birthday

February 17
Presidents' Day

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