A Publication of The League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham

Published March 2005

Observer Corps
Jefferson County Commission

Although Roland Pugh Construction, Inc. is under indictment for bribing county employees, the Jefferson County Commission continues to accept bids from the company. On February 22, Roland Pugh Construction was the second lowest bidder on contracts for sewer work on Shades Creek and Valley Creek. Commission President Larry Langford said that legal counsel advised the county to conduct “business as usual” with the company until the charges are adjudicated. In response to the indictments, commissioners told reporters that they were out of the loop when it came to decisions made by the county department that awarded sewer contracts. Commissioner Gary White said, “We were told on a need-to-know basis.” The commission voted to address this problem by awarding a Birmingham environmental consultant a contract of up to $500,000 to reorganize the department. Commissioner Collins voted against the contract, bringing up the consulting work already done by BE&K ($2.5 million), Burk Kleinpeter ($1.75 million) and Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services ($592,000). Langford said the prior studies did not address how the department should be organized. Commissioner Buckelew accused Collins of grandstanding, “acting as the county’s only savior and the only one trying to save tax dollars.”

Commissioners Langford and Buckelew showed displeasure at the March 1 meeting when Commissioner Smoot previewed a presentation by Volkert and Associates on road department operations. Buckelew was over the road department from 1998 to 2002. She walked out of the meeting after Smoot said the commissioners would be “shocked by the way the department was run.”

Good news came in the form of additional reimbursement for Hurricane Ivan cleanup. Cities that joined with the county in cleanup will be reimbursed 90% of the cost rather than the 85% anticipated. Mountain Brook will receive $251,000 and Vestavia Hills will get back $183,000. Fairfield’s $8,000 bill, which has not been paid, will be forgiven.

“Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn't block traffic....Dan Rather

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