Birmingham’s always been called the “city of potential promise,” but our metro area continues to struggle.
Our children are leaving. Our largest companies are abandoning us. And we’re experiencing little or no growth.
Birmingham is beautiful; we have smart and generous people; and we’re located in the heart of the South.
How can we fail?
Up until now, no one’s seemed comfortable talking about how our government structure is bringing us down.
At first ComebackTown seemed to be the only voice, but that is changing.
Last month we featured an editorial by the BBJ that said the problem with Birmingham is not poor leadership. The BBJ argues that “We don’t have the best structure and processes in place to put the best leaders for our region in a position to lead.”
Then recently Scott Vowell, retiring Presiding Judge of the Jefferson County Circuit Court, in an interview with Weld said…
“The structure of the county government has been responsible for a lot of our problems. Each of the five is elected from a separate geographical area and then appointed to oversee departments, so we haven’t had anybody in charge of the whole. That’s a built-in defect in the system. Of course, it’s there to achieve fair representation for minorities, and the districts are drawn so that we have three white Republican commissioners and two African-American Democratic commissioners. That fairly represents the racial makeup of the county, but we need to figure out how to put somebody there who’s responsible for the whole. Other communities have done it.”
Let’s continue to add voices until we get the attention of our political and corporate leaders.
Scott, thanks for your service. We should all strive to make a difference like you.
It’s time for Birmingham’s comeback.
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David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).