After World War II, Birmingham and New Orleans were the top two leading cities in the South. Now they’re at the bottom. New Orleans had Katrina. What’s Birmingham’s excuse?
Birmingham’s centrally located in the South, is absolutely gorgeous, and has very smart, likeable people–as do other Southern cities. Why have we performed so poorly? Is there something in the water?
Our government structure is wreaking havoc. No one single person or entity has the power or authority to do anything; not the Mayor of Birmingham; not the City Council; not the County Commission; not the State Legislature. In stead, everyone is working against one another.
The political leader who represents the most people in the region is the Mayor of Birmingham and he represents only 19% of the metro area population.
According to the 2010 Census, The Birmingham-Hoover SMSA population is 1,131,070.
- Birmingham’s population is 212,237 (less than 19% of our SMSA).
- Nine City Councilors represent nine districts (2% of metro each)–only the Mayor represents Birmingham.
- Jefferson County’ population is 658,466 (58% of our SMSA)
- Five County Commissioners represents five districts. (each represents 12% of metro–no one is elected that represents the entire County)
- There are thirty-seven municipalities within Jefferson County.
- Jefferson County lacks three branches of government which allows Commissioners to make decisions that have landed many of them in jail.
The County Commission itself has limited authority because home rule is not allowed by our State Constitution. Jefferson County depends on our State Legislature to make important decisions and four local Legislators or one State Senator can make the final decision.
No one’s in charge. Everyone has conflicting interests. How can we compete?
David Sher’s goal is to create a conversation on how to fix our fragmented and dysfunctional local government.
David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Content Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).