Archive for the ‘Bessemer City Council’ Category

>Bessemer City Council antics

February 15, 2011

>The members of the Bessemer City Council selected a new municipal judge today.

See Update at end of post.

The method they used was bizarre, or unconventional, to say the least.

Here is what happened. the clerk read the item: Appointment of Municipal Judges. Council vote necessary.

Three or four council members simultaneously shouted, “Mr. President.”

The president then chose one of them and allowed them to make a motion. That person nominated one of the candidates. It was seconded. the council voted 3 – 2, for this candidate, with 2 abstentions.

The council proclaimed that candidate did not win, stating that a majority of the members present needed to vote yes for the candidate to win.

Let me quote from Robert’s Rules of Order (9th edition) right here.

Chapter XIII

Majority Vote – the Basic Requirement

As stated on page 4, the basic requirement for approval of an action or choice by a deliberative assembly…is a majority vote. The word majority means “more than half”; and when the term majority vote is used without qualification – as in the case of the basic requirement – it means more than half of the votes cast by persons legally entitled to vote, excluding blanks or abstentions, at a regular or properly called meeting at which a quorum is present.

So, the first candidate that was voted on did win.

But the council then entertained another nomination, under the assumption that the first nominee had not won the appointment.

This candidate received 4 votes, so she also won.

The council had appointed 2 persons to the Municipal Judge 1 place.

To further complicate the matter the method of voting was wrong.

According to Robert’s Rules of Order, when multiple candidates are being voted on, all the candidates should be put into nomination and the council vote.

Then if no candidate gets a majority of the votes, then they vote again, with all candidates names still on the ballot, to see if the results will be different. The lowest vote getter name is never removed from the ballot unless required by law or unless he or she drops out.

Using the method that the council used, there was no requirement that a council member who voted yes for one candidate could not vote yes on another candidate. So even though the second candidate got 4 votes, who’s to say that the third candidate, whose name was never mentioned, would not also have gotten 4 or maybe more votes? We will never know, will we.

I recommend that the council revisit this matter at the next meeting, and re-vote using proper procedures.

Update: I was told by the city attorney that by Alabama Law, election of municipal judges by city council requires a majority of the council. It does not specify anything about abstentions. Alas, this is Alabama. We have so many faults in our constitution and laws that it is not even funny. Oh well.

The new municipal judge is Lynneice Washington. Scott Roebuck retains the other position.

>2011: A Judicial Odyssey

February 2, 2011

>The Bessemer city council was to choose a new municipal judge last night to fill an empty seat. Judge Scott Roebuck is assuming all the duties for two judges right now, but he didn’t look too drawn down at the council meeting. He was to be re-appointed to his position as well.

Was to.

I used that phrase twice in the lead paragraph. I guess you have figured out by now that no judges were appointed.

The council has been working on this for nine weeks. It’s a no-brainer who the most qualified candidate is.

The council surprised the audience when one member made a motion to table the decision and another quickly seconded. After some brief discussion, which indicated to me that some members were in the know, and others were in the dark, the council voted to table the vote for two weeks.

It seems that there was some question as to the duties of the two judges and some financial issues. It also seems to me that there is now some question as to why this did not come up during the nine weeks that this has been going on?

I’m all for getting things right, and avoiding sausage making during council, but nine weeks is plenty of time.

A dog can become pregnant, and nine weeks later, her puppies will be born.

Isn’t that neat.

But I’m not going to be too critical of the council. They are still doing a good job, have not embarrassed us, are not wasting (too much of) the citizen’s time.

See you on February 15, when a new municipal judge (might) be chosen. That will be a morning meeting.

Here’s the opening of 2001 A Space Odyssey, one of the greatest movies of all time.

>Moving in a backward direction

January 19, 2011

>Federal? State? Local?


In Washington:

The House is poised to vote to repeal the Health Care Reform the country desperately needed, in spite of growing acceptance of the reforms and the realization by the public that such a vote is only for show and a complete waste of taxpayer money and legislator’s time.

House Republicans want to go back to a time when young people couldn’t be on their parent’s insurance, when pre-existing conditions would exempt you from getting coverage, and when (even more) millions of Americans were without insurance.

In Alabama:

Governor Robert Bentley is taking us back to the days of George Wallace with his inaugural statement,

“I will defend our right to govern ourselves under our own laws and to make our own decisions without federal interference”.

John Archibald reminded us of how “federal interference” has affected us.

Without “federal interference,” blacks and whites in Alabama could not dine together in restaurants, use the same libraries, attend the same schools or live in the same neighborhoods.

It is “federal interference” that returns more than $1.60 to Alabama for every dollar the state sends to Washington. It was “federal interference” that sent the state $650 million last year, allowing Alabama to put off cutting school budgets.

Without “federal interference” we would never have cleaned our air or water.

Without “federal interference” UAB would not be a research giant, NASA would not have brought jobs to Huntsville, and folks in the Tennessee Valley might still burn kerosene lamps at night.

We like our federal interference, it seems.

Governor Bentley also seems to have created controversy has created controversy with his statement that only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior are his brothers and sisters.

With any government, the sheep wonder how they will be treated. Are those who don’t ascribe to Bentley’s beliefs the black sheep of society? Or will all the sheep be treated the same? As a side note, Equality Alabama is wondering the same thing, and has requested a meeting with the governor.

Local (Fairfield):

The Fairfield City Council is considering reversing some its anti-smoking ordinance.

I don’t care what the reason is or who the exemption is for; anti-smoking ordinances save lives. And not just the lives of the smokers.

Local (Bessemer):

Bessemer is moving forward. The City Council is considering raising the city’s lodging tax and the sales tax. I don’t have all the numbers, and I don’t know when certain bond payments and other obligations come due, but here is what I would do.

Some council members want to wait until the financial audit is completed before voting on the tax increases, but that may take several months. And is the audit really going to tell us anything we don’t already know about the fact that we need money? No, it may point some fingers (and they need to be pointed), but it won’t help us with paying these bills we have today.

So, don’t delay. Pass the tax increase. Even if it were passed today, it would be several weeks before any tax money is transferred to the city, that’s just the way it works. But vendors and others who we are obligated to would see that we are making a tough move in order to meet our obligations.

Here’s an idea. I remember a local government passing a sales tax increase for a specific amount of time, and then it would either go away or have to be renewed. The council could pass a sales tax increase for one year, and during that time could review the audit and make adjustments and look for other sources of revenue and all. The people of Bessemer would respect the council (maybe) for not burdening them with a “forever” tax.

The people of Bessemer would have to realize that we must all sacrifice a bit in order to amend the wrongs to which we have been subjected. If at the end of the year it looked as though the tax would have to remain, then the council would have to pass it again. The lodging tax increase would not be a one year increase. That tax is paid by non-residents for the most part, anyway.

I am still impressed with the Bessemer council and the path they are taking trying to solve the current financial crisis.

And speaking of the council, I must recant something I said previously.

Think of Rice as a continuation of Louise Alexander.

I said that during the campaign, but Sherrina Rice has shown herself to be a thoughtful and inquisitive council member, frequently asking questions in order to gain a better understanding, and often bringing insight to issues.

And in Bessemer, that piece of property that is at the corner of Highway 150 and Lakeshore, that I mistakenly thought was where Dollar General distribution center will be located, is apparently some type of “light industrial” development. Will pass on more information when I get it.

>A Tale of Two Cities

January 5, 2011

>Actually, the governments operating in two cities.

The biggest problems facing the government are financial. Huge debts are looming. There’s talk of default, and the consequences.

There are new people in government who can rightly say that they didn’t cause this problem.

So how are these problems being handled?

It depends on which government you are referring to.

Both our local Bessemer mayor and city council and the President and Congress are facing similar issues, but their approaches to solving problems are very different.

In Washington today marks the start of a new congress, and Republican leaders in the House are ignoring the economy and the national debt and the deficit and are focusing on repealing the health care plan that, besides allowing millions of previously uninsured people to be covered, will reduce the deficit by $1,300,000,000,000 ($1.3 trillion) over the next 20 years, create 400,000 jobs a year over the next decade, and in general improve the economy.

In other words, kill jobs, increase the deficit and at the same time, deny people health care.

In Bessemer the sins of the previous administration are coming to light. At each council meeting, it seems that additional disturbing information about money the city owes vendors, or revenues that are not coming in, or important budget/financial information that was kept from the council and public, is revealed.

This finally reached a crescendo last night during the citizens participation portion of the council meeting when a member of the audience went to the podium and pretty much castrated the former mayor and council (one of whom is still on the council and was sitting right in front of him*); the former mayor for keeping information to himself and the council for not being aggressive enough. He said he might not have been “lied” to, but he certainly feels he was misled over the past few years. Misled to the point that now he doesn’t know if Bessemer will be a better place for his children.

(*there are actually 2 members of the former council still in office, but one was not present)

Based on what I heard last night from the mayor and from every council member, either in private conversation or during the council meeting, this group is committed to working together, exploring all options, operating in transparency, and solving the huge problems that lie ahead.

And I think that any vendor that is owed money by the city will appreciate their attitude and be more likely to work with the city regarding payment.

The man at the podium and others in the audience (who applauded after he spoke) expressed their approval for this mayor and this council, not because of any results they have produced, but because we recognize their determination to solve the crisis and because we have the confidence that they can do it.

So, if you want to get your blood pressure up, watch Congress this week, where hypocrisy and showmanship will be on display, and the needs of the people will be ignored.

If you want to see how government should work, and how problems can be solved, come to the Bessemer city council meetings, where the livelihoods of the citizens and their quality of life is of great concern to the members. It’s refreshing, and you don’t often hear that about government activities.

Celine Dion – “A New Day Has Come”

>Today’s council meeting

November 16, 2010


At last week’s Bessemer City Council meeting a lot of numbers were thrown out. One was that the Library account, which is funded by the 3.5 mil library bond passed by voters years ago, had a balance of $1.4 million.

Upon further investigation (get used to hearing this term), it was discovered that there was only $764,987.19 in the account.


Upon further investigation, it was determined that on September 20, 2010, that $325,000 was transferred from the account, and on October 14, 2010, $450,000 was transferred from the account.

Both of these transfers were made in order for the city to meet payroll and payroll expenses. The transfers were authorized by former mayor Ed May, but were not authorized by or known to the city council. There is some question as to the legality of the transfers, both from the standpoint of granting authority, but also as to whether the money, voted on by the citizens to be used for library purposes, can be used for other purposes.

Council President Jesse Matthews suggested that the mayor look back further to see if such transfers were made during previous years.

Mayor Ken Gulley has asked the council to meet with him in a workday session on fiscal issues. He said some “harsh decisions” will have to be considered but that he will not “sugarcoat” or “exaggerate” the situation as he informs the public.

Judges speak before council

Today is Judge Annetta Verin‘s last day as a Bessemer municipal judge, and she and Judge Scott Roebuck, Bessemer’s other municipal judge, spoke to the council about their duties, their dockets, and what the council should look for in a candidate to replace Judge Verin.

Judge Verin was recently elected to a Circuit Court position.

Judge Roebuck watches as Judge Verin speaks to the mayor and council

Judge Verin suggested that her replacement be someone who has (1) practiced law, (2) has a passion for the job, including domestic violence, (3) have certain qualities, i.e. honesty, integrity, dignity and respect. Judge Roebuck agreed and added that a judge should have a vested interest in the city and in the community. Both Judge Roebuck and Judge Verin live in the city of Bessemer.

I know some who have applied for this position, and I know who I would place in the position if I were in a position to do so. Someone who meets all those qualifications. I’ll let the council members know.

>Bessemer – Day 1

November 1, 2010

>This morning the new school board, city council and mayor were sworn in.

I sat with Judge Helen Shores Lee who is on the ballot tomorrow (one of my recommendations) and we had a good conversation about tomorrow’s election in Jefferson County and the country, and about the supposed lack of enthusiasm among Democratic voters. She’s not sure that lack of enthusiasm is real.

I spoke with Senator Priscilla Dunn who confirmed that she received an envelope full of letters regarding anti-bullying policy. Our efforts paid off.

I spoke with Judge Annetta Verin, and wished her well tomorrow. She administered the oath to all of the School board member (and twice to one of them) as well as to one of the council members.

School Board member Renna Scott neglected to say the word “solemnly” during the part of the oath where you “swear” or “affirm.” Judge Verin was not going to let a simple omission turn into a future problem, and remembering the inauguration of President Obama, she suggested a re-do.

Here is Councilman David Vance being sworn in.

Here is Councilwoman Sherrina Rice being sworn in.

Here is Councilwoman Sarah Belcher being sworn in.

Here is Councilwoman Donna Thigpen being sworn in.

Here is Councilman Ron Marshall being sworn in.

Here is Councilman Jesse Matthews being sworn in.

Here is Councilman Cleo King being sworn in.

Here is Mayor Ken Gulley being sworn in. That is his mother and his wife Yvonne standing with him as Judge Eric Fancher administers the oath of office.

Mayor Gulley gave a positive and inspiring address.

In his address he said, “I pledge to do all that I can” to move the city forward and asked the citizens of Bessemer to partner with him.

“A government that works,” is one of his objectives, and he wants to “tear down walls that divide us and build bridges to unite us.”

The crowd stood and applauded several times during the ceremony, but the biggest applause was when it was official.

No one was happier, it seemed, than Cleo King, council member from my district.

Well, other than a throng of city workers, who were the first to stand and applaud when the new mayor was sworn in.

And business owners.

And developers.

And ordinary citizens.

Over the last few weeks it seems that former mayor Ed May (that feels good…to write that) has tried to solidify his imprint on the city with some appointments and such. We will see how those things hold out.

But for now, Gulley has said (after his election) that getting the city finances in order are a priority. Let’s hope the council agrees. And let’s watch for some early signs of new Bessemer businesses.

Hold on, folks. Bessemer is on the move.

>Bessemer – 2010 style

October 14, 2010

>There were no changes in the vote totals in Bessemer after provisional ballots were counted, according to reports. That means that on November 2, the day after they are sworn in, the new mayor and council can get started. Cleo King, district 7 council person elect, has said more than once he’s “ready to make a difference,” and let’s just hope the rest of the council is, too.

The council will be as follows.

District 1 – David Vance

District 2 – Sherrina Rice

District 3 – Sarah Belcher

District 4 – Donna Thigpen

District 5 – Ron Marshall

District 6 – Jesse Matthews

District 7 – Cleo King

And of course, Mayor Ken Gulley.

This change occurs in 18 days and some very interesting things are going take place pretty quickly. Some people might want to run and hide. I’m just sayin’.

>Bessemer is not…

October 4, 2010

>…nor will we ever be, San Luis Obispo, CA.

San Luis Obispo is the happiest place in the United States, according to a 2008 Gallup-Healthways poll, which rated the city No. 1 in overall emotional health. This comes from an article in today’s Parade magazine.

But we could certainly be much happier as a city than we are now. The key is further down in this post.

Dan Buettner, who wrote The Blue Zones, has a new book coming out later this month, Thrive, in which he explores happiness.

Here are some key elements to the success of San Luis Obispo.

Support the Arts. I have written about the creative class and how embracing those and welcoming them would improve our city.

Boost Biking and Walking. I have written about bringing trails to Bessemer. Here and also here.

Create a Greenbelt. This kind of goes along with the above, as far as Bessemer goes.

Prohibit Drive-Throughs. It’s a little late for this. but in San Luis Obispo, they were forward thinking in the 1980’s, and banned drive-through restaurants. This helped to keep their obesity rate at 17.6% compared to 26.5% nationally, and God knows what in Bessemer.

Stamp out Cigarettes. San Luis Obispo has one of the lowest smoking rates in the nation, and this stated with their smoking ban in 1990. In Bessemer, there is a smoking ban in restaurants. I promoted this ban for the health of our community. We could expand the ban to our parks and other outdoor public places.

Shrink Signage. I doubt that we could pass a sign ordinance here. I’ll tell you about one sign that I saw today that is a huge waste of money. Richard Shelby’s money. He has a billboard in Bessemer, a Democratic city, on 14th Street. Lol. Anyway, Here’s a sign you need to read before Tuesday’s runoff. More on this further down on this post.

Empower the People. In San Luis Obispo’s case, the article speaks of a 1968 referendum where the people voted to close some streets and create a plaza. Mission Plaza is now a source of civic pride, a place for their farmer’s market and arts and gatherings. Hmmm.

Go back up to the Biking and Walking paragraph and click on the link there. That park involving the railroad trestle could be something the people would be proud of. It would link to Roosevelt Park, which is already popular. It’s a big dream of mine to have that park, and link it to Red Mountain Park by skirting our neighborhood along 14th street and using the overpasses already in place (there is at least one missing that would need to be replaced. But this would be a very interesting use of existing historical architecture, and believe me, it would get some attention), which is being developed. An official of the park told me years ago (during the Ed May era) they had approached the city of Bessemer and could get no response. This is another reason we need to send Ed May home on Tuesday. More about this further down on this post.

Oh, we’re there. I found a several page flyer on my gate when we returned home headlined “Ed May leading the city to the brink of destruction.” Quotes from this blog make the case on that flyer. There is also a section headlined “Bingo Deception” (Mayor May vetoed Bingo more than once, while his law firm was receiving payments for representing Bingo interests in Bessemer, according to the flyer).

Another section is headlined “Appropriated Education Funds Denied,” that explains that May’s withholding of about 8 million dollars from education (that the city owes) demonstrates gross negligence and hurts our children!

We are not a happy city. We could be much happier if we elect a mayor and council that will represent our city in a proud way. I’ve written about the candidates that the Bessemer Progressives have endorsed.

Here is what I said about city council candidates that are now in runoffs.

Chester Porter – “wants to revitalize downtown, wants to bring arts to Bessemer, wants to establish a quarterly community clean up day.” Chester is running for the seat vacated by Louise Alexander.

Ron Marshall – “Most of the questions asked this group were about economic development, and Marshall was very effective in pointing out his marketing background and how this would be an asset in promoting (or allowing other entities to promote) the city. He also has experience in managing a city department.” Ron is running in District 5, and seeks to replace Albert Soles.

Cleo King – “When asked what the number one issue facing the city is he responded “lack of communication.” He said we need to change the image of the city and the council needs to set the example. The current council person from District 7, Earl Cochran, has been a disappointment. He answered his first question talking about a failure. the failure of the city to pass his bingo initiative. He answered the second question talking about failure. The failure of the city to be accountable. he sounded too much like Larry Langford when he urged voters to choose him and only then would he reveal his secret revenue generating plan. Ms. Jones was voted out in 2006 because voters had had enough of her. We’ve still had enough.” Cleo is seeking to replace Earl Cochran, who has shown us how to embarrass the city when television cameras are rolling.

And we have endorsed Ken Gulley for mayor.

The Ken Gulley parade rolled by my house around 4 today. The Cleo King parade rolled by about a half hour later.

Do not vote for incumbents.

Vote for Ken Gulley for mayor on Tuesday

Vote for Chester Porter in district 2 on Tuesday.

Vote for Ron Marshall in district 5 on Tuesday.

Vote for Cleo King in district 7 on Tuesday.

>Election results and the runoffs

August 25, 2010

>Congratulations to all the winners and runoff candidates of yesterday’s Bessemer elections, even to those who had to dupe their constituents in order to win. You know who you are.

And a note to those who were elected (or who may still be elected): you will be held accountable these next 4 years. The council will be more functional, and citizens interest will remain higher.

As for the mayor’s race, Ken Gulley had a good showing with 2,112 votes, or 37%. He will be in a runoff with Ed May, whose 1, 312 represented only 23% of the voters who want Bessemer to continue on the path it is currently on.

Out of 5,637 people who voted in the mayor’s race 4,325 voters did not want Ed May to return to office. That doesn’t mean the runoff will be smooth sailing for Gulley, but optimism for him, and for the city, is inevitable.

Council district 1 – David Vance – winner (a positive change for the city)

Council district 2 – runoff – Chester Porter and Sherrina Rice – this will be positive change for the city if Chester Porter wins. Remember when John McCain was running for president and it his candidacy was labelled Bush’s third term? Think of Rice as a continuation of Louise Alexander.

Council district 3 – Sarah Belcher – winner – this does nothing for our city

Council district 4 – Donna Thigpen – winner – let’s just hope that she comes around on the school board money owed by the city. Other than that issue, I think she will be an upgrade to the council, and will help to return the body to civility.

Council district 5 – runoff – Ron Marshall and Albert Soles – Marshall got 7% more of the votes that the incumbent. I predict he can hold on to win the runoff. Ron Marshall has wanted to put his management skills to work for our city for a long time.

Council district 6 – Jesse Matthews – winner – the only incumbent with a recommendation from the Progressive coalition, and in part because we were frightened of his opponent, Ed May II. The voters must have felt the same way as he only got 18% of the vote. I think Ed May II’s poor showing is a direct result of how the voters feel about his father.

Council district 7 – runoff – Earl Cochran and Cleo King – Cleo has a mountain to climb to reach 50% but the voters who cast their lot for Labrenda for the most part don’t appreciate Earl, the man who beat their favorite 4 years ago. So if they come back out to vote, they may chose Cleo King. Let’s hope they do.

School Board – Hattie Aikerson retains her seat and Earlene Cochran wins the other open seat. I don’t have a lot of insight on how this will affect the board, but we can’t expect too much change with only one new member. However, is much change needed? The board, for the most part, is doing a good job.

I will be writing about the candidates who are still in the running until the runoff in October. But for the next few days, I get to take some time off from politics. For the candidates, they had better be out there today, courting voters.

>Forum 411 and endorsements

August 17, 2010

>Here are some recommendations for the Bessemer City Council and School Board races, courtesy of the Progressive Bessemer Coalition.

A few comments about the candidates follow, but I know you all want your meat before your potatoes. And I know you will be surprised at some of these recommendations, especially since I have said before that all of the council members need to be replaced. But when you compare one incumbent to their challenger, there is no contest.

City Council District 1 – David Vance

City Council District 2 – Chester Porter

City Council District 3 – Jessie Burrell

City Council District 4 – Ralph Hodge

City Council District 5 – Ron Marshall

City Council District 6 – Jesse Matthews

City Council District 7 – Cleo King

School Board District 2 – Janet Ruffin

School Board District 7 – Wanda Faye Thomas

It is very unlikely for a candidate to get an endorsement if they don’t show up for the only forum provided for voters to see and hear them. But it is not impossible, as noted in the above list of top choices.

Here’s a bit about those choices.

David Vance – strong background in law enforcement and youth counseling (YMCA), good ideas on public safety and economic development, and on being a good neighbor. Wants to “fill vacant business buildings” which to me means redevelop downtown.

Chester Porter – wants to revitalize downtown, wants to bring arts to Bessemer, wants to establish a quarterly community clean up day.

Jessie Burrell – Jessie Burrell has been involved in many aspects of improving Bessemer (and the nation) from her advocacy for an elected school board to her community organizing and marching for civil rights. She wants to provide more recreational opportunities for kids and to attract business to District 3, particularly a grocery store. The incumbent Sarah Belcher has been on the council for 16 years. Keep that in mind as you drive though district 3 and look around you.

Ralph Hodge – wants to develop downtown and wants to give the School Board the money that is owed them by the city. His opponent said she would rather “cooperate” and not ask for the money for the school board right now. (Note to Ms. Thigpen – When I voted for the school tax, I did not vote for my tax money to go to the city council. I voted for it to go to the schools. You said the school board didn’t need the money now anyway, since they have a surplus. One of the school board candidates told us how that tax money could be used to improve our education and AYP scores.)

Also, Mr. Hodge has experience running a city department and in being held accountable for the expenditures of that department.

Ron Marshall – Most of the questions asked this group were about economic development, and Marshall was very effective in pointing out his marketing background and how this would be an asset in promoting (or allowing other entities to promote) the city. He also has experience in managing a city department.

Jesse Matthews – wants to improve the infrastructure for downtown and older communities revitalization, and also wants to find funding for a rec center. His opponent, Ed May II, did not provide a photo for the brochure and did not complete the education portion of the questionnaire (neglecting to provide the names of the colleges he attended). During the forum, he left the auditorium while other candidates in other races were still speaking, and was not present for the photo op with all the participants afterward. These little things show a lack of respect for the process and for the people. He also indicated he prefers new development rather than the “buildings from the 1920’s” (paraphrase). That sounds like the same neglectful attitude toward downtown that we have seen for the last 8 years.

Cleo King – When asked what the number one issue facing the city is he responded “lack of communication.” He said we need to change the image of the city and the council needs to set the example. The current council person from District 7, Earl Cochran, has been a disappointment. He answered his first question talking about a failure. the failure of the city to pass his bingo initiative. He answered the second question talking about failure. The failure of the city to be accountable. he sounded too much like Larry Langford when he urged voters to choose him and only then would he reveal his secret revenue generating plan. Ms. Jones was voted out in 2006 because voters had had enough of her. We’ve still had enough.

Janet Ruffin – Ms. Ruffin has a strong background in student support services at Lawson State and wants to look at over the mountain school districts and see what is working for them regarding AYP scores.

Wanda Faye Thomas – has strong background in working with special needs students and residents at Partlow and Bryce plus teaching in Shelby County School System. Wants to embrace the Hispanic community because (1) all the children are our children and need to be educated and (2) helping the Hispanic students to achieve will also help the AYP scores. Also wants to acknowledge and assist bilingual and ESL students. She wants to use the tax money that the city owes the school system to improve the Pre-K opportunities and to hire or train more teachers for AP (Advanced Placement) programs.

The City of Bessemer Mayor Candidate’s forum is tonight at 6:00. I’ve already made an endorsement in that race, but the forum should be interesting nevertheless.