Washington and Montgomery playing us for suckers


Willie Chriesman

Comebacktown published by David Sher & Phyllis Neill to begin a discussion on creating a better government for our region.

Today’s guest blogger is Willie Chriesman.

It sounded like a nice offer. Gov. Robert Bentley offered to intervene in the highly-charged clash over in-patient services at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. But there was a catch. Both sides had to agree that they wanted the governor’s involvement before he stepped in. Not likely after the contentious events that have led us to where we are today.

But this isn’t the first time our metro area has been offered this bait-and-switch. Sen. Richard Shelby tells us we can get our hands on millions in federal transportation money…if local governments can agree on a plan to spend it. Gov. Bob Riley says the state would be willing to consider pitching in on a new multi-purpose facility (OK, you can call it a domed stadium) at the BJCC…if Birmingham area officials can come to a consensus. Are you seeing a pattern here?

It seems the safest bet in politics is presuming metro Birmingham cannot come together…on anything. It’s as if they say, “We can offer them the moon but as long as it’s contingent on regional cooperation we won’t have to give them a dime.” How long are we going to fall for this until we get our act together?

It’s not like it’s impossible. We figured out how to work together on the Jefferson County library system but that was decades ago and we don’t have much to show for it since. What happened to consolidating jail facilities among Birmingham and some of the suburbs? Shouldn’t we at least be discussing whether we should look at merging some of the area’s poorer performing school districts for the sake of our children (with the added benefit of cutting costs)?

There are ways to solve some of the seemingly intractable problems around here but if we wait for Washington or Montgomery to do it for us, it will be a very long wait.

Isn’t it time we get our act together?

Willie Chriesman is a Birmingham-area native and a veteran of the media industry. He works as a media consultant and writer/producer.

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