Archive for the ‘Mayor Ed May’ Category

>Bessemer in "Dire Situation"

November 9, 2010

>We don’t let sleeping dogs lie around here, at least not anymore.

There have been rumors about Bessemer’s financial situation. The rumors weren’t helped any by the former mayor’s refusal to release financial information and his refusal to provide an audit to the council.

The council today unanimously passed a motion to allow funds to be transferred from various accounts into the general fund by the mayor, so that payroll can be met.

But payroll is not the only concern, according to mayor Ken Gulley. There are vendors whose bills are coming due and other obligations.

Obligations due on November 10 total $972,711, and there is less than that amount in the general fund account.

And then on Friday payroll taxes are due. Soon after that, Blue Cross Blue Shield will have their hand out. In all $1, 651, 606.00 is needed by November 20.

The mayor said Bessemer is in a “dire situation” and that he believes some of this was “done on purpose” by the former mayor. Ed May should have had some type of grasp on city finances, yet he hired around two dozen employees since the election in August and entered the city into several contracts within the last 2 weeks, all of which are costing the city additional money and all of which will be assessed and adjusted.

The immediate solution to the crisis is to transfer the funds as they are doing, but this is only a stop gap measure. City attorney Shan Paden said that there will have to be a reduction in work force at some point (possibly January).

After the motion to authorize fund transfers was passed, Mayor Gulley said he wanted to speak on why the motion was adopted as a matter of record. He said we will “have some challenging days ahead” and that they “will have to do some reduction in staff.”

He put out an appeal to the council to work together and to the citizens to work with the administration and with the business community to work with them to get this city back on track.

Mayor Gulley, you have the citizens behind you and the business community as well.

Fortunately the new council also understand the gravity of the situation. Council president Jesse Matthews said the previous council had a “inkling” of the days to come, and that they had been “left as blind in the dark for so long.”

New council member Ron Marshall said he is looking forward to a cooperative relationship with the mayor, and other council members seemed ready to move forward as well.

All that being said, the council and the mayor are optimistic that they can bring us out of this crisis. Sales tax and property taxes should provide a needed boost as the year ends, although some of that money will be needed for other known expenses that arise this time of year as well.

I predict that by mid 2011 Bessemer will have ironed out these misgivings and be back on the track that Gulley is suggesting we need to be on.

I guess the only question remaining will be…well, we don’t know if any laws were broken so those things will just have to wait.

If Bessemer is in such dire straits I guess I can play my favorite Dire Straits song, Sultans of Swing, live version.

>Take her with you!!!

October 20, 2010

>Update: Breaking news (around 4:30) – a Bessemer judge has dismissed the challenge to Ken Gulley’s election.


Another challenge to the election of Ken Gulley as mayor has been filed by the same person, Jessie Burrell, that filed the earlier suit that was thrown out. The election had to be certified before it could be challenged.

She lays out 20 points in a statement which according to her prove that Gulley does not live in Bessemer.

This suit was filed Friday.

The entire statement from Burrell is printed in the Western Star today.

I don’t understand statement number 1.

“1. On October 5, 2010 the City of Bessemer held an election for the office of Mayor. Ten persons, including Ms. Burrell and Mr. Gulley, declared themselves candidates for the office.”

First of all, ten people did not declare themselves candidates for mayor. There were two people on the ballot on October 5, Ken Gulley and Ed May. It was a runoff. Ms. Burrell was not on the ballot on October 5, having lost her city council bid. And she was never on the ballot in the mayor’s race. And there were never 10 people in the race.

If the wording of this statement is any indication of the inteligence behind this case, they have no chance.

I have the court documents that she filed. Here is the first page out of 5.

When you read the Western Star, what you read is actually what she wrote.

The Western Star, in their “Why?” column, says this suit is a joke. Among other things:

“Over 70 percent of the people of Bessemer have said, “May go back to Mobile or go back to Birmingham.”

Can I add, take Jessie Burrell with you?

Ms. Burrell is not asking the court to find Mr. Gulley unqualified based on legal grounds, it seems. She concludes with “wherefore, premises considered, Plaintiff prays that this court will take jurisdiction…The Plaintiff further prays that upon this declaration, that Mayor May be declared the winner of the election…”

I pray that this case will be thrown out before it makes Bessemer look even more foolish. I mean, here’s a guy that over 70% of the people want out. 4,145 people voted for Gulley, 1,543 voted for May. Yet he still has his minions fighting for him?

I notice on page 5 there was instruction to the sheriff to serve the defendant at … his Hueytown address. No, his Bessemer address. Wait, it’s f**ked up.

Kenneth D. Gulley

306 Westlake Circle SW (that’s his Bessemer address that he swore to in his affidavit)

Hueytown, AL 35023 (that’s his former city of residence, and zip code)

Will the sheriff even be able to deliver it?

Of course, legal issues are unpredictable. Bessemer Opinions will be following this.

>A New Day Dawns in Bessemer

October 6, 2010

>The sirens went off and the lights were flashing this morning in celebration, I guess, of the New Dawn of Bessemer.

The siren was, of course, the tornado siren that sounds at 10:00 the first Wednesday of every month, and the lights flashing were a test of the fire alarm system in the new Courtyard Café and Bakery in Bessemer, opening today in just a few minutes.

This blog is coming to you live from the opening.

Next week the Café will begin opening at 7:30 to serve breakfast or for those out early just to stop by and get a cup of Community Coffee.

These pasties, pies, cakes and cookies, would go well with the coffee that they serve.

Open for Lunch this week, the menu has some expected items; a variety of Deli Sandwiches and Chicken Salad and Spinach Artichoke Dip, but also some unexpected delicacies such as Chipotle Chicken Salad and a Thai Salad. There’s also a soup of the day and a soup and sandwich combination.

There will soon be wrought iron chairs on the courtyard, perfect for these crisp autumn days.

But the real New Dawn is a result of the election yesterday in which Ken Gulley tromped the incumbent mayor Ed May. May ended an interview last night with Fox 6 News with the two words we all wanted to hear, “I lost.” Gulley had 4,144 votes and Ed May had 1,543. That’s 73% of voters opting for a change.

I saw a “suggested” headline from the paper.

Probably won’t be the real headline, but nothing could be further from the truth. And some asses need kicking.

Eight years ago I celebrated when change came to Bessemer, but the change never happened. Crime rates are still up, the neighborhoods are in disarray, and city finances are a mess. Promises were made, but soon forgotten.

The new mayor and council will be sworn in on Monday, November 1, 2010. Their first council meeting will be the following day.

Other winners last night include Sherrina Rice in District 2, who had 508 votes to Chester Porter’s 477, Ron Marshall in District 5 who with 363 votes squeaked by incumbent Albert Soles who had 361 votes, and Cleo King in District 7 who beat incumbent Earl Cochran 426-405.

I spoke with business leaders last night and this morning and they all agree that Mayor-elect Gulley will be a positive change as far as the business community is concerned. Here is Courtyard Café and Bakery owner Van Sykes with Senator Priscilla Dunn and Mayor-elect Ken Gulley at Gulley headquarters last night. Not the best picture in the world, but indicative of the support Gulley had.

The vote totals are unofficial, and I was at City Hall this morning when acting City Clerk Travis Brooks wheeled them out to take them to the County office where they will be counted. The only race where this might be a problem seems to be District 5 where Marshall won by just 2 votes. In that district I saw that there are only 6 provisional ballots cast.

But in all the races the absentee ballots could be questioned. But even these probably wouldn’t change any results except Marshall’s. I spoke with Ron this morning at City Hall and he will be watching the votes and counts carefully. I’m sure his opponent will be, too.

Marshall told me that he is interested in using his management skills to bring people together. Not just the council, but the other interests like business and civic organizations. And he said he is interested in working with the new mayor to bring about a change in the perception of Bessemer.

Travis Brooks told Ron and me, and an official at Jefferson County confirmed that the results will not be confirmed and made official until Tuesday. But even though Ron’s win is not certain, we do know this: the majority of the council will be new to the body. They don’t have baggage, and as far as I can tell they all have Bessemer’s interest as their priorities.

This is a time to celebrate, and I’m starting by enjoying a Grilled Fish Sandwich at Courtyard Café and Bakery, and I’ll have one of those Peanut Butter Balls, too.

>Who’s supporting who?

September 22, 2010

>In two weeks we will wake up knowing who will lead Bessemer into the “teens,” the second decade of the 21st century.

The case has been made with certainty for Ken Gulley, (here and here), but a lot will be said and every effort will be made to de-rail his campaign before the runoff election on October 5.

Take for instance that silly lawsuit that was dismissed last week. All that did was make the Bessemer Progressives realize that maybe there is someone worse than Sarah Belcher in District 3. Unfortunately, we supported that person, pretty much only because she was the only person running against Belcher. But I’ve seen a glimmer of hope that Ms. Belcher will work with Gulley if he is elected. It never hurts to be an optimist.

I have copies of Ken Gulley’s and Ed May’s campaign finance reports.

There are no big surprises, but it is obvious where the support for each candidate is coming from.

Ken Gulley has the bulk of his money coming from individuals, with over 40 people donating to his campaign. This does not count the numerous people who donated at three fund raising events that raised a total of over $800. His other donors are primarily local small businesses. His total contributions were $21,109.

Ed May, on the other hand, had only one individual contribute and the bulk of his money came from PACS and Corporations. At least 56% ($25,240) of his contributions are from PACS associated with city attorneys, and it’s probable ,that another $14,500 did also, as it was funnelled through PACs that one of those attorneys used during the 2006 campaign. His total contributions are $44,540.

I guess what it boils down to is that the people who live in Bessemer and the people who own small businesses want a change in the leadership of our city. And those who are embedded in the city’s affairs and their special interest groups like the status quo.

Speaking of the people of Bessemer they were recently asked to voice their opinion on a poll on the mayor’s campaign web site. The Mayor asked, “Are you happy with the current growth of Bessemer?” A simple question.

The poll is no longer on the site.

But before it was removed a week ago, here were the results. 76.5% of respondents chose “No,” and only 23.5% chose “Yes.”

(You can click on the pictures to enlarge them)

Individuals, not PACS, vote in online polls. Individuals are funding and supporting the Gulley campaign, because they are not happy with the growth of Bessemer, according to the mayor’s own polling, and do not think he has addressed the issues of importance to the city, according to a poll on Bessemer Opinions that was posted just after the election in August.

While on the mayor’s campaign web site I noticed a couple of things that he or his campaign manager or web site manager should have caught. I am not the best speller, or typist, and often I hit the wrong keys and I may misspell words on this blog. But I use spell check and I have readers who alert me if something slips by, and I correct it. But May’s campaign site has been up for 6 weeks or so, and this is how the home page appears. I circled a couple of misspelled words.

If you want people to be impressed with you, you can’t have little errors and if you do you must correct them when they are found. (I had one in my book and when I found out about it, I corrected it. Some of you have “rare and valuable” imperfect early copies of Those Others.)

There are actually other errors but I don’t want to post all of his pages on here.

My annual flowers (and some of my perennials) are just drying up. It’s fall, it’s unusually hot and dry, so the changes in our gardens are inevitable. Here are a couple of zinnia flowers that were hanging on last week, but even those are gone now. This purple one has a little spider creature on it that I didn’t notice when I was taking the photograph.

This orange flower looks as if it has no stem. It just seems to be floating, like something we might see on Pandora.

>Self-pleasure and the mayor’s race

September 15, 2010

>It’s hard to imagine Ed May and masturbation would come up in the same blog post, but it happened. Right now.

Just turn off your imagination right now, though. It’s not like that.

No, I wanted to write about the primaries last night, but then this information comes out about the local mayoral candidates and something very strange is going on.

In today’s Birmingham News the finance reports of the candidates are disclosed.

The article explains that Ken Gulley outspent his rivals by a huge margin. That is no surprise.

But this is:

“Ed May did not file campaign finance disclosures for the two reporting periods
before the general election. Candidates do not have to file disclosure forms
unless they raise or spend $1,000 or more. Candidates who don’t raise or spend
more than $1,000 can instead file a waiver indicating they did not need to file
disclosure forms. May also did not file any waiver.”

My understanding is that as a candidate you must file either a form or a waiver. Ed May did neither. What does this tell us? What are the possible reasons?

1. He is hiding something. I can’t believe the hundreds of signs he has put out cost less than $1000.

2. He does not respect the process. Somebody doesn’t respect it, that’s for sure. There’s that silly lawsuit challenging Ken Gulley’s residence, but I don’t think it’s tied to the May campaign. Seems there’s another fish splashing water out of the bowl in this case.

3. He’s lazy. He said after the poor showing in the general election that he had not campaigned. That could indicate laziness, or maybe his lack of campaigning reflects one of these other possibilities.

4. He’s unorganized. Have you seen his desk?

5. He has such high regard for himself that he feels he does not have to follow the rules.

In any case, I don’t think we want a person who falls under any of the above categories to be our mayor.

Ken Gulley raised over $21,000, and the contributors listed include business leaders, realty groups, law firms, investment firms, insurance firms and numerous individuals; people who love our city, understand our city, and want our city to prosper.

Who is left to contribute to May? No one. I guess maybe that’s the reason he has no contributions. But he still needed to file a waiver.

Oh, you are wondering about the masturbation reference.

In Delaware the Republicans chose Teabagger party doll Christine O’Donnell as their candidate, a move that those who rely on statistics and advanced polling say will decrease the GOP’s chance of taking the senate from 30% to 15%. It turns a sure Republican win in November in Delaware to a probable Democrat win.

O’Donnell is known for, among other things, speaking out against masturbation.
How can that be? I mean she is a teabagger, without question, and got the Teabagger party endorsement. And teabagging leads to…oh, never mind. But she said:

“The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can’t masturbate without lust.”

Hey, I don’t make up the news, I only report it. And I’m not going to dwell on this. But do you really think that little kids, male and female, when they are exploring their body and just learning about things are full of lust? No, they are just doing what feels good with no emotional attachment at all.

And monkeys. They masturbate. Are they lusting after furry hunk they just saw swinging through the trees?

And does fantasy always equal lust? Hardly.

OK, enough of that.

I mean, it was bad enough that every candidate had to give an opinion on the proposed mosque in New York. Are we now going to examine every candidate’s view on self-pleasure? Let’s hope not.

But last night’s primaries give new hope to the Democrats for November. Independents and moderate Republicans do not want to elect radical wing nuts to congress. So they will either stay at home or vote for the Democrats in November.

So, Twitter was set to launch a new interface last night, but my twitter page looks the same. But I like what’s coming. Watch the video. Then follow me….

>The mayoral election of 2002; part 2

September 3, 2010

>Yesterday I began a two part series on the 2002 Mayoral election.

Here is part one, where I looked at what we were looking for that year as the election approached.

After the election results came in those who were hoping for change were ecstatic. I was at Ed May’s campaign headquarters, and spoke with several supporters. I wrote another letter to The Western Star, based one the promises Ed May had made during his campaign, and what I heard that night as he celebrated victory.

Here is that letter. (For some reason the letter is not appearing yet, it will later. In the meantime, click on the title and you can read it.)

Letter ToThe Western Star September 25, 2002 Mayor May

Here are some of the promises outlined in the letter, and the outcomes as I see them.

Mr. May has outlined a plan whereby he, working with the school board and
superintendent, will
improve our schools and offer our children a solid
educational foundation.

Our schools have certainly made some improvements over the last 8 years, but it is not in any way attributable to Ed May, as this administration and council has refused to address the withholding of taxpayer generated funds belonging to the school system that the city refuses to pay them.

This led a city watchdog group, Citizens for Better Schools, to sue the city in January, 2008. The city government responded by considering a repeal of the ordinance that gives a portion of sales tax to the schools. Classy.

That’s not just the mayor, but he sure didn’t do anything to assure the schools got their money.

He has pledged to revitalize our historic neighborhoods and the downtown area.

I live in a “historic neighborhood” and I visit the “downtown area” almost every day. While I am proud to say there is some revitalization in a portion of downtown, this has all occurred within the last year and a half and much of the city center is still peppered with empty storefronts and abandoned or burned out buildings. And other than the destruction of some abandoned (historic) homes in the neighborhoods, there have been no initiatives toward restoration or improvements in the areas where people live.

He believes in the rule of law, and will enforce our laws fully and fairly, and
will support our police and firefighters.

His efforts to combat crime and reduce the murder rate depend on everyone coming to Jesus and telling their neighbors about him.

And he actually said that increased police presence would not make our area safer.

In reality, his strategy has not worked, as crime in Bessemer was addressed here.

He knows that our parks and recreational facilities are a reflection of our
pride and values, and will seek to restore those facilities to top condition.

We have an improved Roosevelt Park and a new track that a diverse group of citizens enjoy. Ed May and the council may be responsible for this, but did the mayor have to lie about it?

Ed May says on his current campaign literature:

Improved and renovated City Parks – building the only outdoor fitness facility
in Jefferson County.

I remember when I was dating my partner that we would sometimes use the exercise trail at Montclair Hospital (now Trinity) near Crestwood. It was a trail through the wooded area with several fitness stations positioned around the wooded property. I called Trinity to confirm that the trail is still in place, and it is. So this “outdoor fitness facility” or any other that the mayor may be referring to is not the only such facility in the county.

He has promised to end favoritism at Bessemer Utilities and to set up a consumer
advisory board to hear complaints and make recommendations to the

If there is a “consumer advisory board” then it is the worst publicized organization in the city, because I know nothing about it. I called Bessemer Utilities and the person I spoke with had never heard of it either.

I’m sure there are other promises that have not been kept over the last eight years. But the issues addressed in my letter, especially regarding crime, education and revitalization, and the failure of the mayor to follow though, are enough for me.

>The mayoral election of 2002; part 1

September 2, 2010

>This is the first of two articles about the mayoral election of 2002, when Ed May was first elected.

Eight years ago Bessemer was at a crossroads. Of course, we say that every time an election rolls around, don’t we? But during the summer of 2002 the nation was still recovering from 9-11 and the country was more united than we are now. The people of the 7th congressional district had just elected Artur Davis in the primary to represent them. Some of us ended up being disappointed in Artur Davis. I could write about that, but he’s already moving toward the history books.

In the summer of 2002 we were entering the election season for our city offices, and Ed May was the main challenger to Mayor Quitman Mitchell. Many of us wanted change, and in a letter to the Western Star I outlined some of the problems and the solutions we were seeking.

Here is the letter I wrote:

Letter ToThe Western Star July 3 2002 Upcoming Election

An excerpt:

Our city is listed as one of the poorest in the nation. Our city core, the
downtown area and older neighborhoods are in disrepair. We need a mayor
who will work to solve these problems and restore the earning potential of our
citizens. This will involve improving our schools, improving safety,
restoring our neighborhoods and downtown. But just as important, we need a
mayor who will restore our faith in our city and in ourselves. Our self
image is dealt a blow each time we hear about how poor we are, or how unsafe we are, or how bad our schools are. We can’t be proud of our city when we
drive through it and see buildings crumbling. And we can’t expect people
to want to return to our city when they don’t feel safe here. We need a
mayor who will do things that will restore our pride and improve our quality of
life so that those who live here will have better lives and that those who don’t
live here will want to move here to enjoy what we know our city can be.

Eight years later, the problems remain.

We elected Ed May that summer. Like Artur Davis, elected that same year, he has turned out to be a disappointment. Seventy two per cent of respondents on a poll on this web site say that Ed May has not addressed the important issues of the city.

In part 2 of this series, I will outline Ed May’s promises as reflected in another letter I had published in The Western Star after his election, and how those promises have not been fulfilled.

Part 2.

>Alabama AG office responds

August 27, 2010

>If you remember, in July I attended a Town Hall meeting after being invited by mayor Ed May. And if you remember, he asked me to turn off my video camera, after telling me it wasn’t a “public meeting.” And I thought that may have been been a violation of Alabama’s Open Meetings Act. And I sent an inquiry to the Attorney General’s office.

Well I received a response today and let’s just say the mayor is being put on notice.

Mayor Ed May at another meeting held in a church.

I won’t give details, but the office of the Attorney General tells me the steps necessary to bring action against the mayor.

It included this:

In response to your correspondence regarding Alabama’s Open Meetings Act, as stated by Section 36-25A-6 of The Alabama Code, “A meeting of a governmental body, except while in executive session, may be openly recorded by any person in attendance by means of a tape recorder or any other means of sonic, photographic, or video reproduction provided the recording does not disrupt the conduct of the meeting.

Since May is so close to being voted out of office I think I will hold off on pursing anything.

But I guess all the Bessemer office holders should realize that Open Meeting Laws are to be observed.

Be sure to take part in my new poll to the left, which explores why Ed may did so poorly in the election.

>Is today "crazy day?"

August 18, 2010


Where do I start?

Dorothy Davidson?

Louise Alexander?

Ed May?

By now, everyone has seen the digitally altered photo of mayoral candidate Dorothy Davidson with Alabama football coach Nick Saban. What can I say about this except…what were you thinking?

This is a picture (from the Birmingham News) of a campaign flier put out by her campaign.

Her campaign manager takes the blame.

Morris said he told Davidson the photo of the coach and his wife, Terry, was actually of Saban and his mother. He said he told Davidson that Saban had OK’d the altering of the photograph.
“I lied,” Morris said. “She (Davidson) didn’t do anything wrong.”

I like Dorothy and she has done a world of good for our city through volunteer work and her service on the city council (although I certainly did not agree with her positions or votes, and she was the one that tabled the subject of dog abuse when the mayor (Ed May) shut me up when I pointed out that it was against the law to abuse animals and his Animal Control department was breaking the law).

Still, this just about does her campaign in, I believe.

Last night at the forum, I immediately noticed that two candidates were not on the program; Dorothy Davidson and Louise Alexander. I had walked in with Dorothy, and there was no to-do, so I figured she had just been late in paying the registration (another no – no in my book, ignoring protocol and procedure). But when Louise came marching toward the door, Chamber personnel (the event was sponsored by the Bessemer Chamber of Commerce) perked up, because she still had not registered or paid to participate.

When the forum began, she was seated at the table with the other candidates, and we heard that someone had coughed up the cash for her to participate.

Now we learn that Ms. Alexander accused the Chamber of being racist because they didn’t include her (and Davidson’s) pictures and information on the brochure. Of course, their pictures were not included because they had not registered before the programs were printed. Somewhere in this equation let me insert that Ed May’s picture was also missing from the program, but his information was in there.

Ms. Alexander called the NAACP and vented on camera to the CBS 42 guy. Of course, other than her and Ms. Davidson, there are three other black candidates and one white one. Those four followed the rules and paid their fee on time.

I think antics like this, plus, oh, former indictments and such, just about do her campaign in.

Then there is Ed May.

Much was said at the forums for city council and school board candidates about the money that the city owes the schools. Some of that money is the result of ad valorem taxes passed in 2000.

An article in the Western Star on March 15, 2000, stated that on the April 25 ballot would be a vote for two renewals of taxes, and new taxes some of which would go to the schools and some to the library.

(the article is below the fold on the front page of the issue pictured)

In that article Ed May, who was an attorney doing some legal work for the city of Bessemer, spoke in favor of the tax.

That’s kind of strange, since both the schools and the library didn’t get their money easily. In fact, the school is still fighting for theirs. But in that same paragraph is this confession:

“When I was laying on my back in a hospital in Vietnam, I was mad at my father because he wasn’t rich enough to get me a Yamaha motorcycle with saddle bags full of 30-06 shells so I could ride around and shoot white men.”

He does continue, thanking God for saving him from that, and making the point, I guess that a good education is worth paying the extra tax for. It’s kind of hard to think about what follows and what message is being broadcast after reading that.

I mean, good Lord, think before you speak, man.

(This paper can be found at the Bessemer Public Library, in the Western Star archives).

You know, this puts a whole new light on the abduction last year of a white man in Bessemer and Ed May’s assertion that the victim must have been an “associate” of the perpetrators, who were black.

Sometimes deep seated hatred that one thinks they have overcome resurfaces.

At any rate, I think the city will be much better off if we send the current mayor to the fishing hole for some R & R.

>Let’s not forget: Crime!

August 4, 2010

>I’ve not heard the mayor of Bessemer making claims about crime being down lately, but it’s probably only because I haven’t been listening to him. After what we’ve heard him say, and then looking at the facts, it’s been easy to see that he is either blind to the truth, delusional, or putting the politics of getting elected above the safety of the citizens of Bessemer.

He has said on more than one occasion that crime in Bessemer is just a “perception.” In a newspaper column last year I wrote about the “perception” statistics, from which it could be seen that the mayor is full of baloney when he says crime is down.

We have another year of statistics (provided by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center) to look at.

Remember, when looking at trends, we would like to start with the year 2002, because that is when Ed May was elected mayor. But our city did not report crime statistics to the state that year, for some unknown reason. So we go back to 2000.

Last year I also wrote about clearance rates, and showed how the clearance rates in Bessemer compared unfavorably to other cities our size. Clearance rate, you will recall, is the number of crimes cleared divided by the number of crimes recorded. A crime is considered cleared when enough evidence is gathered to charge a suspect or take one into custody.

In the report last year, for instance we saw that clearance rate for rape dropped from 38% to 15% between 2000 and 2008. In 2009, there were 24 rapes, and 6 were cleared, so the clearance rate showed an improvement – 25.

But don’t break out the champagne yet. Compared to both 2000 (when there were 5 homicides) and 2008 (6 homicides), homicide in Bessemer increased in 2009, to 10 (with only 3 cleared). Robbery is up in 2009 (209) compared to both 2000 (174) and 2008 (193). Burglary is up in 2009 (1170) compared to both 2000 (802) and 2008 (1046). Total crimes were up in 2009 (4381) compared to both 2000 (4176) and 2008 (4295).

So far in 2010 there have been at least 6 murders in Bessemer, as seen in this map of murder locations in the Birmingham area.

The clearance rate for all crimes in Bessemer is 15% and this is an improvement. The police are doing a better job of solving crimes, it seems, in the face of more crime.

And as long as we treat crime as a nebulous “perception” rather than a serious problem, it will continue to grow.

It takes more than telling your neighbors about Jesus to solve the crime problem of Bessemer. Maybe some new ideas, some new strategies, police substations that are open on weekends (seriously), police getting out of their cars and walking the neighborhoods, getting to know the folks. A new mayor.

Today’s Western Star poses a question.


They want to know why hundreds of Kenneth Gulley signs are disappearing.

I have a theory. We’ve seen people selectively taking up signs on our block. They even reached in over our fence and took a sign.

But signs, even “Re-elect Ed May” signs, do not equal votes. In my neighborhood, as I was walking to the track today, I noticed that Ed May operatives had been through. Lot’s of flyers. But, I also noticed that the people must not be too impressed because the sidewalks and yards were littered with the things where people had thrown them down, probably in disgust.

The flyers have been tossed aside, just as the mayor should be.

A lot will be said before the election on August 24. But no one can deny that crime is still a problem, not a perception, and that crime rates that are either increasing or remaining virtually the same are not acceptable and are not progress. And we want progress!