Archive for the ‘Mayor Ken Gulley’ Category

>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”

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>Bessemer’s future lights up

December 21, 2010

>An indication of the good things to come in Bessemer is the announcement by Dollar General that they are building a distribution center in Bessemer, just a bit from our house.

We’ve been noticing some site work at the property on Lakeshore Drive at Highway 150. Years ago the site was cleared, something awful was found there during that work, and the property sat unused until a few weeks ago, when some access work began to be done.

Correction: the new facility is not at the site that has been prepared. I misunderstood the newspaper article, which stated “at Alabama 150 and Lakeshore.” Turns out, the Dollar General site is a little further down Lakeshore. Anyway, it’s good news for our part of Bessemer. And, inquiring minds are still curious about the previously prepared site.

The facility will bring about 550 warehouse jobs and 100 dedicated trucker jobs to Bessemer.

This development would not have taken place without the new council and mayor working together to land it. Other sites were in the running, but quick and heavy action beginning on day one of the new administration sealed the deal. Council president Jesse Matthews praised the council and mayor’s actions, saying it took the “newly elected officials to bring this center to the city.”

City attorney Shan Paden said that he had heard positive comments from county and state officials about how the council and mayor had worked together on the project. This is in contrast to the way things worked under the previous administration.

Thank you Mayor Gulley and the Bessemer City Council for working since day one to make this a better place to live. There’s a lot of work still to be done, but we are moving in the right direction and this gives us hope for the future.

Also, the Bessemer School System has fixed some problems, and won’t be losing $1.7 million in state funding as previously feared. Still, you need to return phone calls and emails!!!

Enjoy Shawn Mullins – Light You Up.

>Today’s council meeting

November 16, 2010

>Finances

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.

Hmmmm.

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 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.

>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.