You know about the Birmingham haters if you read the comments on al.com, ComebackTown, or any other Birmingham media.
Who are these people?
Why are they so antagonistic towards Birmingham?
And why are they against their own city, county, or region?
It’s clear from the comments that this is mostly a racial thing. Here’s basically what the haters are saying, “White people previously governed Birmingham—then the blacks gained power and have run the city into the ground.”
I’m not talking about constructive criticism by reasonable people who want the best for Birmingham.
The haters take great joy in every Birmingham stumble and failure.
But it’s becoming much more difficult to find fault with progress in Birmingham and the haters now depend on out-of- date arguments that don’t reflect the Birmingham of today.
Birmingham has come a long way in the past 10 years
First there was Railroad Park and the skeptics were certain that no self-respecting family would visit an urban park. But Railroad Park is wildly popular– winning national awards and last year being selected the best park in Alabama by Money Magazine.
Then the Birmingham Barons moved from Hoover to Regions Field. The cynics again railed against such a frivolous idea. This year the Birmingham Barons topped Southern League attendance for the 7th year in a row.
And recently Orchestra Partners announced a massive real estate project in and around the Powell Avenue Steam Plant property nearby.
Birmingham has transitioned from a city where nothing seemed to work to success after success.
The Rotary Trail, Pizitz Food Hall, Red Mountain Park—suddenly Birmingham can do no wrong.
Birmingham’s beginning to get a grip on its most serious problems
Governance: Two years ago Randall Woodfin was elected mayor.
Prior to Mayor Woodfin, the Birmingham haters complained relentlessly about the previous mayor’s bloated security team and administrative staff. Haters gloated when the City Council and mayor got into arguments or fights.
Mayor Woodfin, upon election, cut the mayor’s staff and the relationship between the Mayor and City Council has become civil.
Education: There’s no question that education is a problem for Birmingham school children, but there are signs of hope.
Mayor Woodfin, the City Council, and the Birmingham Board of Education recently announced the Birmingham Promise Initiative. It will provide tuition assistance for Birmingham high school graduates to make college more affordable for students and to provide high-school juniors and seniors with internships at local corporations.
Public safety: Crime is still an issue, but Birmingham seems to be turning the corner.
According to Carol Robinson’s piece on al.com, “Birmingham has experienced a double digit drop in crime.”
Mayor Woodfin and Police Chief Patrick Smith…released the latest crime numbers which show a drop in every category from homicide to theft. “I have the expectation it will get safer every day, every month, every year,’’ Woodfin said… “Where we are in 2019 is nowhere near where we were in 2018, and for 2020 we have an expectation that crime will continue to decrease.”
Jobs: Unemployment has dropped drastically in Birmingham and the number of jobs has increased by 3,700 in the past two years.
Protective Stadium: We put our community on hold debating a new stadium for twenty years, but Protective Stadium is now under construction.
Finances: The city historically has been unfairly barraged with charges of financial mismanagement. I don’t know where that came from since it was Jefferson County that bankrupted–not the City of Birmingham. Actually Birmingham has operated well financially.
It’s true that Birmingham, like many government entities in America, should be concerned about its pension debt, but Mayor Woodfin and the City Council have responsibly begun to address that problem in its FY20 budget.
Birmingham’s future much improved
UAB football is back—and will prosper in the new stadium.
Birmingham will host the World Games in 2021.
Birmingham technology firms are on the rise.
We are recognized nationally for our great restaurants and food.
Birmingham haters can rant and rave all they want, but they come off looking uninformed and out of touch.
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 for free about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org