Birmingham and Jefferson County are getting some extra help fighting crime. About 100 taxi drivers in Jefferson County have been trained to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. If they see something, they can call police and report it immediately. Yellow Cab announced the new "TOP" or Taxis on Patrol program Monday in front of Birmingham City Hall. The taxis will be equipped with GPS technology that can send and receive information. They will also have security cameras that will be able to help police during investigations.
The City of Birmingham has lost the court fight to keep the Cooper Green Mercy hospital open for the poor. The city was unable to force Jefferson County in the latest round in court Wednesday to keep hospital open and operating as usual. Lawsuits against the county are effectively frozen in place until the county emerges from bankruptcy under Chapter 9. The city asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Bennett to lift a stay so the city could sue the county in state court. The county commission voted in August to close the inpatient unit and emergency room at the county owned hospital.
New payday loan businesses won't be allowed to open in Birmingham until at least next June. The city council on Tuesday extended a ban on the businesses until June 19, 2013. Officials picked that date because it comes after the end of the Legislature's regular session. They want lawmakers to address the number of payday loan businesses in their city and across Alabama during the session. An industry lobbyist criticized the move. Max Woods of Borrow Smart America said the decision hurts customers and small businesses. He also said it doesn't address problems with banks.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is holding a public hearing about crackdowns on illegal immigration in Alabama and other states. The panel will meet in Birmingham on Friday to hear from both supporters and opponents of the laws. Speakers include Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who's pushed for such measures nationwide, and Republican state Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, a sponsor of Alabama's law. Critics of the measures are on the agenda, but they're complaining that members of what they call hate groups are being allowed to participate.
Commissioners in bankrupt Jefferson County have delayed a decision on whether to close its charity hospital serving the poor. Commission President David Carrington recessed a meeting indefinitely Tuesday after chaos erupted in the packed commission chamber. Demonstrators yelling and singing civil rights protest songs prevented members from discussing the future of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. The hospital is costing the county millions of dollars annually, and supporters of the shutdown say the county can't afford it.
A job fair featuring more than 100 employers drew an estimated 5,000 people seeking work in Birmingham. People began lining up three hours before the event began Wednesday at the city's convention center. The job fair was put together by the office of Rep. Terri Sewell, whose district includes part of metro Birmingham and much of the state's impoverished Black Belt region. Sewell says the unemployment rate in her district is 18.8 percent, or more than 10 percentage points above the national level.
Leaders in bankrupt Jefferson County are nearing a decision on whether to quit admitting patients to the county's charity hospital as a cost-saving move. The Jefferson County Commission will vote next Tuesday on whether to cease in-patient care at Cooper Green Hospital in Birmingham. The hospital would continue seeing patients at its emergency room, but it would quit admitting patients. Opponents of the proposed closing say they'll stage protests if the commission decides to end hospital admissions.
Birmingham's mayor has commissioned a study to determine whether the city could be home to sports teams displaced by hurricanes and other natural disasters. The Birmingham News reports that Bravis Building Solutions was hired partly to research whether Birmingham has the capacity to serve as an evacuation city for pro teams when natural disasters strike their home cities. The study also explored the possibility of Birmingham hosting National Football League summer training camps. Recruiting some type of professional team to Birmingham has been among Mayor William Bell's goals.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A Jefferson County Circuit judge postponed an injunction hearing on the lawsuits against Birmingham school officials by the city and state superintendents. The Birmingham News reports that the postponements made Friday will give the school board a chance to decide whether to keep fight the lawsuits or settle. Circuit Judge Houston Brown says the injunction hearing will be postponed until Aug. 1. Brown agreed to delay the hearing that had been set for Monday.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has scheduled a fundraising reception Aug. 15 in Birmingham.
A letter from the Romney campaign said the event will be at The Club. People contributing $5,000 can get their photo taken with the former Massachusetts governor at 5:30 p.m. A general reception, costing $1,000 per person, is at 6 p.m. Then a private dinner starts at 7 p.m. for those contributing $25,000 or more.
A Birmingham law firm has filed an initial complaint concerning the decision to fire the former executive director of Alabama Public Television and another top executive.
Attorneys Mark White and Augusta Dowd of the firm White, Arnold and Dowd said in a statement Thursday that they filed the complaint for their client Alan Pizzato, who was fired by the Alabama Educational Television Commission. The complaint was filed in the Jefferson County Circuit Court.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Attorney General Luther Strange and the Alabama Board of Education have filed a lawsuit against the Birmingham's school board and its members.
Strange, the state school board and State Superintendent of Education Thomas Bice filed the lawsuit Friday.
The lawsuit claims Birmingham's school board is in a state of financial and political crisis. The lawsuit asks the court to affirm that Bice and the state school board have complete authority and the responsibility to manage the financial operation for Birmingham's school board.
State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice says he intends for the state takeover of the Birmingham school system to end its reputation for being top heavy with administrators, and he will do that with or without with cooperation of the Birmingham school board.
The state Department of Education took over the system Wednesday after the Birmingham board failed to agree on a cost-cutting plan. The state Board of Education met Thursday to implement Bice's management plan.
Montgomery, AL – Two more leaders have quit Alabama Public Television following last week's firings of two top executives with the network.
Montgomery attorney and former federal judge Vanzetta McPherson has resigned from the Alabama Educational Television Foundation Authority, which lost three members last week. Also, Blue Cross Blue Shield President Terry Kellogg has resigned from the board of the APT foundation.