Is Steven Hoyt evil?

Councilor Steven Hoyt

Councilor Steven Hoyt

When you read some of the remarks by (I assume) white commenters on al.com, you almost have to come to the conclusion that Steven Hoyt is the devil—some kind of black racist.  Councilor Hoyt is the City Council representative from Birmingham’s District 8.

Councilor Hoyt regularly seems to be in the headlines standing up for African-American inclusion when there are economic opportunities for individuals or businesses created by the City of Birmingham.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Continue reading

Posted in Corporate community, David Sher posts, Government structure, Race relations | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Our good friends in Homewood should fund Railroad Park

Railroad Park

Railroad Park

The big controversy currently is whether the City of Birmingham should fund maintenance for Railroad Park.

I love Railroad Park as do many of you.  Almost everyone agrees it has been the catalyst for just about everything good that has happened to Birmingham since it opened.

First there was Railroad Park, then Regions Field, the Rotary Trail, and a then an unending list of announced projects.  When the modern history of Birmingham is written, it will be clear that Railroad Park changed everything. Continue reading

Posted in David Sher posts, Government structure | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Birmingham: Next David to slay Goliath

David Sher

David Sher

When I picked up Malcom Gladwell’s most recent book, I never expected to be reading about Birmingham.

David and Goliath—underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants features Birmingham as one of its primary stories.

I enjoy reading Birmingham history, but I chose David  and Goliath only because I liked some of Gladwell’s other books–The tipping point, Outliers, and Blink.

As we’ve come to expect, however, when outsiders talk about the history of Birmingham, they almost always focus on Bull Conner, fire hoses, and dogs.

Gladwell’s description of Birmingham and Bull Conner is no different…

“People told jokes about Birmingham…’A black man  in Chicago wakes up one morning and tells his wife that Jesus had come to him in a dream and told him to go to Birmingham.  She is horrified: Did Jesus say He’d go with you?  The husband replies: ‘He said he would go as far as Memphis.’

Continue reading

Posted in David Sher posts, What's great about Birmingham | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gene Hallman: 5 myths about a Birmingham dome

Gene Hallman

Gene Hallman, President and CEO of Bruno Event Team

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is Gene Hallman.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

They said no one would go to Railroad Park.

They said no one would go watch the Barons play baseball downtown.

They said downtown was dead.

Guess what?  They were wrong.

Now it’s time to talk about our biggest and most rewarding project.

The dome to some people is a foul four-letter word.  Arguably, the dome, or the multi-purpose facility, is the most hotly and widely debated project in the history of Birmingham.  More than 18 years in the making, the quest for the dome has become a very emotional issue.  Allow me to discuss some of the misconceptions surrounding this project. Continue reading

Posted in Guest blogger | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Graffiti covers up Birmingham

Teresa Thorne

Teresa Thorne Executive Director of City Action Partnership (CAP)

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is Teresa Thorne.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

2,675 pieces of graffiti were splattered all over downtown Birmingham last year–but you didn’t see any of them. That’s because our CAP officers removed them almost instantaneously.

Can you imagine what downtown Birmingham would look like if we hadn’t been removing graffiti from walls, signs, and power boxes for the past 19 years?

I’ve spent most of my adult life in Birmingham, and I feel we rarely take the time to celebrate our successes. Continue reading

Posted in Guest blogger, What's great about Birmingham | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

It must SUCK to be a Birmingham hater

Rotary Trail

Rotary Trail

It must be depressing to be a Birmingham hater.

You guys can’t seem to get a break.

You can bitch and moan about Birmingham all you want, but the tide has turned against you.

It looks like “doodoo Birmingham,” one of our regular al.com anti-Birmingham commenters is in doodoo–himself.

We have been overrun with so much good news about Birmingham, it’s difficult to keep track.

Even our crime numbers are in free fall.

Birmingham’s 2013 crime numbers lowest in 30 years

Yes, this is the “lowest (serious crime) number reported since the FBI started tracking the numbers in its Uniform Crime Reporting data almost 30 years ago.”

Birmingham haters click on the headlines below and weep:  Continue reading

Posted in David Sher posts, What's great about Birmingham | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

UAB the biggest and best hope for Birmingham

Mike Warren

Mike Warren, CEO Children’s of Alabama

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is Mike Warren.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

My name is Mike Warren.

I grew up in Auburn, attended schools there, and graduated from Auburn University.  I received my law degree from Duke and I’ve joyfully lived in Birmingham ever since.

My first Birmingham job was with a major law firm and then I joined one of its largest clients, Alabama Gas.  I eventually became Chairman and CEO of Energen, Alabama Gas’ parent company.

When I retired from Energen at the end of 2007, I became the CEO of Children’s of Alabama.

I tell you this to give you a sense of how long I’ve worked in our business community.   I’ve witnessed first-hand Birmingham’s wins and some of our biggest disappointments.  And though I love Birmingham, I join many others who feel Birmingham has never reached its full potential. Continue reading

Posted in Corporate community, Guest blogger, UAB | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

I send my daughter to Birmingham Schools—and love it

Laura Gallitz

Laura Gallitz

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is Laura Gallitz.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

David Sher’s provocative title “I’ll do anything to help B’ham schools except send my kids there,” appeared in my Facebook feed. It worked. I clicked. I read. I started reading comments, and I was compelled to comment as well. Sher wrote, “If people are serious about helping our inner city children, then they should invite those children into their school systems…Or they should send their children to Birmingham schools and then fight like hell to make them better.”

I wanted to take a moment to say that some of us are doing exactly that. Continue reading

Posted in Birmingham School System, Guest blogger | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Birmingham: Why do we continue to embarrass ourselves?

Birmingham Water Works

Some folks want me to take sides in the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) squabble, but that’s not my role.  My role as publisher of ComebackTown is to place a spotlight on why we continue to put ourselves in such embarrassing situations.

For those of you who don’t know about the controversy, some folks in our State Legislature have determined that the BWWB is broken.  They want to increase the size of the board to bring about broader regional representation, implement term limits, cap board member compensation, and require public hearings before proposed rate increases. Continue reading

Posted in David Sher posts, Government structure, Race relations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why do we apologize for Birmingham?

David Dionne

David Dionne, Executive Director of Red Mountain Park

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is David Dionne.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

I moved to Birmingham in 2008, coming from a great job in Maryland where I was building and operating parks and trails.  I was lured to Birmingham after receiving a phone call about an opportunity at Red Mountain Park in Birmingham.  My knowledge of Birmingham was pitiful so I began to confirm the information provided by the recruiter.  First, I was astounded to learn that Birmingham was in the mountains.  Then I was delighted to find a city filled with outstanding restaurants, world-class hospitals, six universities, art museums, an excellent orchestra and an overall great quality of life. Continue reading

Posted in Guest blogger, What's great about Birmingham | Tagged , , | 6 Comments