Would it be appropriate to assume all CFO’s in the Birmingham area are crooked?
I think we can agree there was something in the corporate culture or structure at HealthSouth that created such blatant fraud.
As we’re painfully aware, four of our Jefferson County Commissioners were found or pleaded guilty to bribery, conspiracy or obstruction of justice.
Is it then reasonable to assume all politicians in the Birmingham area are dishonest? Are our local politicians more corrupt than other municipalities?
If that were true then we would have the opportunity to convict hundreds of politicians. After all we have 37 municipalities in Jefferson County. There must be a couple hundred Mayors, City Councilors, and other government officials at risk of being dishonest. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
So there must be something uniquely unhealthy about Jefferson County’s form of government.
At the time our county commissioners were convicted Jefferson County didn’t have the usual balance of power required by most government entities. There was no executive, legislative, and judicial branch. All the power and authority rested with each of the county commissioners in their area of control.
Therefore each could operate without constraint. When an individual has the authority and opportunity to take advantage of the system, we are all at risk.
Since then, the State Legislature has forced Jefferson County to hire a County Manager.
I asked David Carrington, the President of our County Commission how this works and he said, “Each Commissioner chairs a committee, but none have line responsibility. (This gives us) material improvement, consistent management style, and policy across all county departments.”
This appears to be a step in the right direction, but doesn’t get us where we need to be. The County Manager works directly for the County Commissioners and they can hire and fire him at will.
And there’s still no single Commissioner who answers to our entire county. None are elected at large and therefore are only accountable to the constituents in their individual districts.
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).