I love to write about Mountain Brook.
People are interested in Mountain Brook and I know a lot about the subject matter–since I’ve lived much of my life and raised my children there. (I now live in Vestavia Hills)
When I write about Mountain Brook— I’m mostly talking about the three dozen municipalities that surround Birmingham—so you folks in Mountain Brook—please don’t take this personally.
I was recently talking with a good friend (which I will call ‘Bob’) from Mountain Brook.
He said, “Isn’t it awful about the Birmingham City Council? They’ve tripled their pay and they can’t find a way to show up for City Council meetings.”
He was reacting to John Archibald’s piece on al.com where John gave the Birmingham City Council the devil because there was no quorum at the last Council meeting and all city business ceased. Archibald said…
“Uber – which was on the agenda — will have to wait. Birmingham’s attempt to change ALDOT’s mind about how to reroute I-20/59 – which was on the agenda — will have to wait. Funding for the Birmingham Bowl – which was on the agenda — will have to wait…
…most importantly bonds for neighborhood and street improvements that have already been sold and must close by Dec. 3 must wait….”
So I responded to Bob as I have to others before, “If you are so unhappy with decisions by Birmingham city government–why don’t you vote for a different Counsellor next time?”
His response was what you would expect, “You know I can’t vote because I live in the City of…
He said “Mountain Brook,” but you can substitute your own city –Hoover, Homewood, or Trussville.
There are about 210,000 people living in the City of Birmingham (650,000 in the Jefferson County and over 1.1 million in Metropolitan Birmingham)—so most of you reading this piece have no say in Birmingham—and quite frankly you and I have no room to judge or complain.
Many people seem to think if we had regional governance that the new City Council would look exactly as the Birmingham City Council does now.
Think about that for minute. That’s an absurd conclusion.
If we had some form of regional governance, the elected officials would be representational of the people who elected them—and all of us would have the ability to vote for the elected officials who share our vision.
No matter where we live around Birmingham—we are impacted by Birmingham City governance–both good and bad.
The City of Birmingham and its agencies make all the major decisions concerning our transportation, our water, our air service, and our amenities—sports facilities, Railroad Park, Museum of Art, etc. Not being citizens of Birmingham, we have no leverage.
I got quite a laugh when I read that Mountain Brook passed a ridesharing ordinance to allow Uber.
I think you’ll agree that this initiative by Mountain Brook will not solve our regional transportation issues.
Maybe one day the Mountain Brook City Council’s will vote to be to build a light rail system?
Whether Mountain Brook or any other municipality passes a ridesharing ordinance or not, I promise the City of Birmingham will find a way to contract with Uber. It may be this week or maybe the next—but it will happen.
It’s just that Uber will have to pay separate license fees and be subject to rules and regulations set by 35+ municipalities. (Mt. Brook is charging $500). That doesn’t make it easy for Uber or any other business to do business in our region.
Yes, Birmingham will eventually get what other cities get—unfortunately, it will be painfully slow until we get there.
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 co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).