Fox6 asks Gov. Ivey about her tough comments on Birmingham

Kay Ivey, Governor or Alabama
Kay Ivey, Governor or Alabama

Why do Alabama governors seem not to care about Jefferson County?

Often our governors, our legislature and even some state departments–either ignore or abuse us.

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, Governor Ivey was asked how Birmingham might improve its economic development efforts after she concluded a speech in Birmingham.  She accused Birmingham of having a history of corruption rather than be helpful.

This was startling since the only reason Gov. Ivey holds office is because of corruption.

But even more mystifying is that she insulted her hosts when you would assume her goal would be to make friends, get votes, and raise money.

One of my political savvy friends told me he wasn’t surprised by her answer because Jefferson County is Democratic and Governor Ivey, a Republican, doesn’t need Jefferson County to win.

Another scoffed that in the State of Alabama it is considered okay for white public officials to be corrupt—but not blacks.

One thing that is clear, however, is our region has historically been treated badly by our state.

When I was growing up, Jefferson County did not support George Wallace for governor and he made sure we were the last major city in America to complete our interstate system.

This fall the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) will tear down and close I-20/59 through downtown Birmingham for about 14 months. This would not be acceptable to any major city in America. Can you imagine Atlanta closing its downtown interstate?

Many of us will suffer when much of that traffic is rerouted onto I-459.

Why Jefferson County is a whipping boy

In 2002 I accompanied a group of business leaders to Montgomery to meet with Gov. Bob Riley to discuss the possibility of funding a Birmingham football stadium. Gov. Riley showed some interest, but when he called around to the various Jefferson County political leaders, many didn’t support the idea.

Sixteen years later we may be getting our stadium—but with no funding from the state.

There’s no coordination or common vision for our region.

Our Jefferson County legislative delegation is often divided.

Our mayors historically are only concerned with their own municipalities—and certainly not about our region.

Our Jefferson County Commission could play a leadership role by developing a broad–inclusive– visionary plan for our region–but has not done so.

We consider each other the competition.

Metro Birmingham could be a powerhouse

The Birmingham-Hoover metro is the economic engine of our state.

Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington reminds me that almost 1/3rd of the goods and services generated in Alabama are produced in metropolitan Birmingham–more than Huntsville, Montgomery, and Mobile combined.

We could be a major political force in Alabama but because we work against one another, no one has to pay attention to us.

Heck, I don’t think we’ve had a governor from Jefferson County in my lifetime.

Gov. Ivey’s response

WBRC FOX6 tried to follow up with Gov. Ivey about her tough comments about Birmingham when she spoke in town last week.

Here’s her reaction…

Fox6: “Good morning Governor Ivey, we have just one quick question.”

Gov. Ivey: “Sorry we have to run.”

Governor Ivey, go ahead and run—you have nothing to fear from our Birmingham region.

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-Founder 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).

Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com

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5 thoughts on “Fox6 asks Gov. Ivey about her tough comments on Birmingham”

  1. David: I won’t call the elephant in the room “racism.” It is more complicated than that. Let’s just call it “otherness.” That is, BHM is not like Governor Ivey’s Alabama and her hometown of Camden. JeffCo has a higher concentration of African Americans, of non-Christians, of liberals, of those who value a woman’s right to choose and of Democrats. Could there be a more troubling combination for a state dominated by Conservatives? The fact that BHM is the economic engine of the state rarely matters to those who take comfort in a horse and buggy world.

  2. I would love to see Birmingham be the economic power base that it very well could be if the whole political structure of Jefferson county was changed to accommodate honesty and cooperation for the benefit of the whole metropolitan region of Birmingham which includes many of its surrounding counties. Too much corruption and petty differences among elected officials are holding back much of the potential progress of this beautiful city and it is very frustrating and needs to stop or we will continue to see the same old same. Gov. Ivey should try to work with the leaders in all of Jefferson county to promote harmony and to find solutions rather than shunning this area because of political differences. She needs Birmingham. We all need Birmingham and it is time to work to make it the very best it can be!

  3. I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised or upset of the Gov telling the truth. Maybe our local blogger and TV station have forgotten that Jefferson County is at its core corrupt. Think back to the fairly recent event of county bankruptcy. Because of decades of corruption and neglect the county had to enter into a consent decree to make massive improvements to the sewer system. The original estimate was $1.5 billion but climbed to $3.0 billion and sewer rates quadrupled over 4 years. Then a couple years later the FBI and convicts 21 folks of bribery (contractors, jeffco employees, and county commissioners. Amazingly the bribery and corruption didn’t disappear with those convictions, rather it just cleared the way for new “players”. In walks JP Morgan, Gardnyr Michael, ABI Capital, Goldman Sachs, Blount Parrish, Rice Financial, Al LaPierre, and Colonial Bank….what did JeffCo get, a swap of debt that was 95% fixed interest rate to (after all the bribes) to 93% variable (high) interest rates. Soon after the bonds were in default and a receivership. The county went into bankruptcy in 2011. At the time it was the largest municipal banckruptcy in the US.

    Jefferson County….Birmingham….the region is known for fleecing the public through corruption. Anyone that takes offense to this surely glib.

    1. John, Jefferson County’s background is checkered for sure. But the State of Alabama is right in there with us. Our top three state public officials either resigned or were forced out of office. Some of our State Legislators are having problem currently. So it’s pretty disingenuous for our governor to dump on Birmingham for corruption. It would have been much more productive for our Governor to give insight into what Mobile and Huntsville have done to be successful.

  4. Why shut my mouf…fiddle-dee-dee. Gov. Ivey may be a fine woman, but she seems like and sounds like the residual antebellum attitudes that ruled (and perhaps still rules) Mont’gom’ry. She may play like a 21st Century progressive, but acts more like an early 20th Century Wallace proponent.

    It is looking like Huntsville/Birmingham and Montgomery/Mobile (look beneath the industrial veneer) are as politically/socially separate as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

    I think we Alabamians should consider new talent for our Governor. Can Bob Riley run again?

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