It must suck to be a Birmingham hater

Rotary Trail
Rotary Trail

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.

Also, Legacy Prep, Birmingham’s first charter school, opened this fall to rave reviews and next year I3 Academy,  a second charter school, will open—giving Birmingham school children more options.

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.

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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. dsher@amsher.com

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12 thoughts on “It must suck to be a Birmingham hater”

  1. I still say Regions Field was a colossal waste of money. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Hoover Met. Plus the move by the Barons creates the problem of what to do with their former home.

    1. Patrick, moving the Barons downtown has been a home run for Birmingham and our region. The Barons were following the lead of sports teams all over America who are moving into the city from the suburbs. The proof of the validity of the decision is the large increase in attendance. Major league baseball is reorganizing its farm teams and are closing many. Chattanooga is at risk of losing its team. https://www.wrcbtv.com/story/41336396/update-could-the-chattanooga-lookouts-be-no-more. Hoover seems to be doing a good job of back filling its facility.

      1. I did and still do support Railroad Park. One of my concerns about Regions Field was that Legion of Doom Field, which is 60 years older than the Met, was not being replaced. As a result UAB football, the college football bowl game, and the Magic City Classic are stuck in this decrepit stadium while the Barons get a shiny new place. Fortunately the Blazers are now getting a new home and negotiations are under way to move the bowl game there as well. See, I can be positive.

  2. Thank you for this upbeat, positive review of where we are going. I am a transplanted Yankee (although a 50 year one) who is very proud of the progress we have made and hopeful for the progress we are encountering.

  3. Yes!! I love this article and love our Birmingham! The growth downtown is so exciting and I LOVE a great night out on the town. Hoover is such a strong city. They have done an amazing job bouncing back from the Barron’s move. The SEC Tournament is always fun to go to and I have been to many trade shows and corporate events at both the stadium and the new Finley Center event space. They have a GREAT event team there so go book an event!

  4. I am a hater… not of Birmingham but of the outsiders who want to control Birmingham. I am a hater of the “white flight” crowd and their descendants of the “us vs. them” mentality. So go on with your Over the Mountain noses in the air, acting like Birmingham is dirty and crime ridden. I will always be a hater of those who revel with every little setback in Birmingham.

    It’s easy to stand afar and point fingers. Some of us choose to stand in the fight.

    1. You’re mad that people moved to safer neighborhoods where they could make more money on their real estate investment?

      Your sour attitude about the “flight” to better livelihood is a microcosm of the whole Birmingham problem and why there are so many perceived “haters”.

      You get really offended when someone moves off and makes a better life for themselves while you have to stay.

      You see their posts on social media with their new-found career or social life in the bright lights of Nashville (or other booming metro) and it burns you with jealousy that they made it out and is doing better than had they stayed.

      This “flight” you speak of is nothing more than wise investment in family, education, and real estate.

      1. Andrew, thanks for your comments. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that I was angry some people have moved out of Birmingham. That would be hypocritical since I live in Vestavia Hills. I’m not a bit jealous of folks who’ve moved to Nashville or other cities. I absolutely love living in Birmingham and would live no where else. The point of the piece is that some people don’t like the City of Birmingham…and even though Birmingham has some serious problems, things are getting better.

      2. If a person abandons Birmingham, then you have zero right to rule or govern it. White flight wasn’t and isn’t about “investment” but rather racism. To call it anything else is a farce.

        I”ll say it again for the folks in the back…If you want to invest in Birmingham then great, bring your $$$$. If you want to help awesome, bring a good attitude. If you want to Birmingham to be governed a certain way, then move within the city limits and vote. But don’t gripe and complain about how Birmingham is governed and at the same time not put any skin in the game.

        We’ve seen it time and time again, BHM city leaders try to better the city and it’s residents only to be thwarted by the over the mountain crowd.

        If my words offend you then maybe the right nerve was touched.

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