BMLL may have to turn in his suits for prison stripes if he’s convicted on charges of accepting cash and clothes in exchange for preferential treatment in awarding Jefferson County contracts. The charges stem from Langford’s stint on the County Commission, but after nearly bankrupting Fairfield with the Visionland boondoggle and his grandiose pipedreams of a domed stadium and Olympic venue, these latest accusations should come as no surprise. And given the already grim financial situation facing Jefferson County, this latest revelation is only going to add to the mess and possible largest municipal bankruptcy in history.
I guess it’s a little too late to send the letter I’ve been intending to write, based on my experiences in helping to organize the Birmingham Folk Festival, asking for an online guide to holding events on city property in Birmingham. There is currently no event planning guide (on or offline). Instead, any group that wants to use city property for an event has to jump into the byzantine maze that is Birmingham bureaucracy. Instead of domes, fountain, Olympics—the “idea” du jour, BMLL could have focused on streamlining the process by putting a guide online and eliminating or reducing some of the steps and fees involved. To be fair, the Mayor’s Office was quite receptive to our event and none of the city bureaucrats were ever anything but polite, but no one knew exactly what steps needed to be followed to hold an event. Instead, everyone was focused on their own bailiwick, making sure the rules and regs in their little corner were followed rather than looking at the big picture of helping to bring a new annual cultural event to Birmingham. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for special privileges or an insider advantage, just a simple guide and process for holding an event here. Rather than pushing for radical change and new taxes, there are many very small things that the city could do to accomplish genuine progress in Birmingham. Most of these, like the proposal above, involve the city getting out of the way of average folks trying to do good rather than expensive, sweeping changes like a domed stadium. Birmingham is full of creative individuals and organizations with great ideas. Rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, the city would do well to allow creativity to flourish by making local government transparent and eliminating undue hindrances to progress like fees and red tape. If BMLL is convicted and imprisoned, perhaps a new mayor will focus on the baby steps needed for honest change and get the local bureaucracy out of the way.
Maybe I should propose the idea to the new city parks consultant, Raven Hatcher, who was just awarded a $10,000 consulting contract despite being only 13 years old. Sometimes boldness isn’t a sign of strength; after all, fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
For more creative solutions to common municipal problems, all city leaders (and everyone else for that matter) should pick up a copy of The Voluntary City today.
Btw, sorry for the long bloghiatus. Perhaps I should change my subheading to: ” the occasional rantings of a madman in the South:)