WOW! The response took my breath away

Lee Thuston
Lee Thuston, Managing Partner, Burr & Forman
Ty Dodge
Ty Dodge, President & CEO, RealtySouth

I never could have predicted this would happen.

When we started talking about a better metropolitan Birmingham with an emphasis on government structure, no one took us seriously.

Now in a short 30 months, dialogue about government structure and particularly government consolidation has moved to the top of the list.

The Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) recently unveiled its list of Birmingham’s most influential executives and ran the following poll, “Which issue should Birmingham’s Most Influential Executives address?

The number one response was “Structure of local governments/regional cooperation.” 

Government consolidation/cooperation got more votes than creating more jobs, education, income inequality, population growth, and transportation.

Now, that’s truly amazing.

Ty West, the managing editor of the BBJ, wrote a follow up piece titled, “Influential execs should lead regionalism debate.”

“It’s clear the collective power of the five dozen executives we listed could significantly transform Birmingham.

But what will they choose to do with the influence they yield?

The issue even outpaced job creation, although some proponents of government consolidation have argued in the past that the two issues are closely linked.

We’ve been vocal proponents of a more regional structure for Birmingham for quite some time, but the issue has clearly gained steam in the business community in recent years.”

Here’s comments from some of these influential executives (BBJ)…

“I would like to see the business leaders commission an in-depth analysis of the local business community to demonstrate how much better it would be for the entire area to operate under one metropolitan government.  Then, we should use that study to sell the concept to Jefferson County, city of Birmingham, and the approximately 35 cities that surround Birmingham as a way to really move the entire area forward.”

                                        –Lee Thuston, Managing Partner, Burr & Foreman

“I think the fact that we’re a city center surrounded by 37 bedroom communities, all of whom want control, is going to be one of our problems until we learn how to grapple with that. Every little community wants their own community services, emergency services, school systems, and it’s got too much oversight and too much government. We really need to get to a point where we consolidate some of that, and I think we’ll see some real estate growth with that.”

                                               –Ty Dodge, President & CEO, RealtySouth

There’s no doubt people want a more progressive and visionary Birmingham—but change will come slowly and painfully.

Birmingham’s always been the city of perpetual promise.  We’ve had  twelve years of no job growth and have been left standing still by our peer cities–many who have consolidated their city and county.

This is Birmingham’s time.  Let’s keep our comeback going.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising Agency and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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5 thoughts on “WOW! The response took my breath away”

  1. Lee Thuston has exactly the right idea, and my personal belief is that such a grass roots effort by the business community is the only way to bring this issue, which is clearly the most important issue for the future of Birmingham, to the attention of those that can make it happen.  Leadership in this area could make a real difference.  Thank you David for bringing this to the attention of your readers.

  2. Thad Long, Bill Smith, David Vann, Dick Pizitz, Jim White, and others conceived – and actually drafted all of the necessary organizational and legislative documents necessary to accomplish – a very good plan meeting both sets of objectives noted in the quotes by Thuston and Dodge.  Specifically, the plan provided for preservation of some local services as well as school districts, with a possibility for individual districts to “opt-in” if they chose later, which choice would be made later, independently of the overall referendum.

    Unfortunately, the Alabama Legislature prevented us from voting to adopt it in 1971 (presumably we would have adopted, since polls of would-be constituents at the time – including polls of the 6th Congressional District – indicated majority support).

    If anyone is interested in reading the plan, as well as learning about the story behind it, you may find it printed in full in Marvin Whiting’s book “One Great City” which is available at the Linn-Henley Birmingham Library.  It may indeed be for sale at other local shops.

    Perhaps we could save considerable time and effort trying to reinvent the wheel if we dusted off the plan that is written and simply made whatever minor edits (if any) are needed to update any legal, date, code, or municipal naming references from 1970 to 2014.

  3. *Ask where these current executives where do they actually live and send their school age children to what school system out of the twelve in Jefferson County? Why not do some collaborating first across these 30 plus cities and twelve school systems first   and the one great county. Leave the consolidation to we the people.

    Peace ,George Munchus

    Profess of Management at UAB    

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