Tag Archives: election

The race to mediocrity

This website has never endorsed a candidate in a political race during its nearly three-year existence.

We’re not starting today.

That said, even if we wanted to, there’s no way that either candidate would warrant an endorsement based on just how childish and asinine they’ve behaved in recent days.

Bell vs. Cooper - Bob Farley/f8PhotoThe “fresh face” has dipped down to the same level as “the elder statesman” of Birmingham municipal politics and in reality neither one of them have actually talked about the issues – or at least explained what they were actually going to do if elected.

When one campaign (or their supporters) is running photos of a candidate’s ex-wife and making accusations about that person’s sexual orientation while the other one (or its supporters) is digging up 10-year old articles that include allegations about his personal life instead of talking about the issues – the real issues – it becomes more about character assassination instead of talking about moving Alabama’s largest city (for now) forward.

We heard less about Mr. Bell’s current plans for his hometown and how electing him would be different now than previously and more about him being tied to Birmingham’s present – one that is described as a city “dying on the vine.” We heard him talk about himself in the third person (something that is incredibly annoying) and more insulting one liners than anything else, not to mention supporters talking about Birmingham becoming a colony – perhaps the only way to sustain our current population numbers right now short of fixing our educational system – even though charter schools are apparently not the answer in his eyes if it means that the city will have to pay the bill. I’d have more links for this section but the Black and White article kind of covers the good, the bad and the ugly – whether true or not.

We heard more about Mr. Cooper’s connections to Andrew Young and saw a lot of arm waving and heard less about his father’s past connections to several influential companies that conduct business in metro Birmingham that may be his key to bringing about change in the community. We heard less about the fact that the former U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica once served as the senior vice president for Volkert and Associates, an engineering firm that does a great deal of work here in the city. He is also a former member of the board of United States Steel – (see page 6) – owner of more than 200 square miles of land located within city limits, a lot of it undeveloped.

The connections that both candidates have to people are a result of them being politicians – yes, both of them. It’s something we’ve got to live with…

What disappointed me the most ties into the post I wrote back when this roller coaster ride began. I still don’t think that Birmingham needs a savior (even though they need someone to save it from this sham of an election cycle). Neither man did the one thing that would have made a decision on who to vote for a slam dunk – neither one of them called off the attacks once it became apparent that many people in the city were tired of them.

I hope that whoever wins this evening decides to actually be that leader or head coach that we need and not worry too much about getting re-elected. Then the city would truly benefit.

The only thing scarier is the issue of whose minds the mud slinging actually changed.

I encourage those of you registered in Birmingham, AL to vote today – even if you feel as though it will not mean anything. This city has been able to move forward – albeit slowly – in the past and can continue to do so regardless of who ends up in the big office on the third floor of Birmingham City Hall. But I may encourage all of you to look deep within yourselves to figure out what you can do to make Jones Valley a better place for all people – and start thinking about who can truly help us lay out a path for the future come 2011.

I’m going to have a glass of scotch and sit on the front porch at the house and hope that the calvary’s planning to appear by then…

André Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com

Photos: Bob Farley/f8Photo

The Mayoral runoff: Where to begin

Two years ago as part of our Election 2007 coverage I sat down with five of the mayoral candidates asking them questions submitted by our readers .

While we “lost” the Election site earlier this year during our server migration, we still have the audio.

It just so happens that the two candidates that will be participating in the runoff on January 19 – William Bell and Patrick Cooper – were among the folks I interviewed.

Since this special election is about completing the term that they would have started in 2007, I think it makes sense that the conversation about which one should be allowed to finish it begin with what they said when they sought the job the first time.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to sit down with the candidates again prior to January 19 to see if any of their statements have changed as well as to get their thoughts on some of the new issues facing the City of Birmingham.

By the way, I’ll be asking you to submit some new questions beginning next week.

A reminder of the ground rules that were set for this series:

All of the candidates were asked to take part. Five candidates responded and set up appointments. The ten (10) questions were forwarded to them, with the candidates given two (2) minutes to answer each question. During the interviews, I gave extended time for some questions if they had not used their full allotment earlier.

The list of questions is available in PDF format and I’ll post each one above the embedded audio files. Something else to keep in mind as you listen to the answers – none of the candidates knew how any of the other candidates had responded to the questions as they were all posted at once.

Patrick Cooper was the second candidate interviewed in 2007, with William Bell being the next to last candidate to participate.

I know that some of you will wonder why I’m posting answers to the question pertaining to droughts given the rain totals this year. I think that it will still be a possible issue that the incoming mayor may have to deal with.

I hope that you enjoy this – the same way that I hope you will bear with us just a little bit longer as we deal with some upcoming changes for this site come January.

Enjoy the ride!

André Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com.

Popularity or purpose?

Today people will visit the polls throughout Birmingham, AL to determine whether or not nine individuals that currently serve us as city councilors should be re-elected for another term or if new leaders are required. As reported yesterday on WBHM, it can be a little confusing when you see so many different signs lining the streets… but should that be the only measure of a candidate?

There has been extensive coverage of all of the candidates from numerous mainstream and alternative outlets. We’ve even had folks tell us we should or should not vote for. The idea of letting someone else decide for me seems a little insane, especially if all you’re going to do later on is complain about how it wasn’t your choice. Being the type of city that we are, while we may not know about a candidate’s position, we’re ready to have an excuse to party so we can start preparing for four years from now.

While bhamterminal.com probably did not help you decide who you need to vote for (as it’s never been our policy, despite some thinking and hoping otherwise), wouldn’t it make more sense to stop for a moment and decide whether or not you’re going to vote for a candidate because of what they believe and what you think they can do instead of whether or not you know them or just because you know their name? Can they speak on an issue that you believe in passionately or do they get confused between green building and green grocers? Do they try to ride one project to a re-election or do they give you new ideas about how their city can change for the better and what they’re willing to advocate for to help it get there?

Every election is described as the most important one ever, regardless of where you live and what’s at stake. I’d challenge you to watch or listen to today’s City Council meeting (or check it out later after it’s been archived). I’d challenge you do check out what you don’t like about any issues and think about just how it could be changed. When the polls close this evening at 7 p.m., I’d hope that a quick look at who currently represents you and their opponents just may move you to head to the polls.

Is it really about how many signs you have up along the streets, the number of folks who know your name or the capability of representing a city that desperately needs to lose its apathetic attitude when it comes to matters of importance or its future? Today will be yet another chapter in Birmingham’s search to find out which one they are more comfortable with.

André Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com.