Mayor's Newsletter Highlights
City Council Meeting Highlights
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Information contained here does NOT represent an official communication from the City of Mobile or any member of the City Council and should not be considered a thorough or definitive summary of meeting procedures.
The purpose is to provide clarity, context or commentary on selected issues of social and cultural significance to the citizens of Mobile, in a format that is condensed, focused and accessible.
FULL City Council Meeting Highlights can now be found on the Mobile Dialogue Page.
MOBILE CITY COUNCIL MEETING
JUNE 15, 2021
Communications from the Mayor
Mayor Stimpson commented on the continued growth and success of Art Walk and the inaugural “Saturday at the Coop” event at Cooper Riverside Park. “This is,” he said, “an indication of an effort to increase programming at city parks and recreation centers” and he congratulated the leadership of the Mobile Parks and Recreation Department on their accomplishments.
Stimpson announced that the city’s plan for using the Federal American Rescue Plan funding, which amounts to approximately $58 million, was presented to the council earlier in the morning. The city’s plan is being called “People First.” He emphasized federal restrictions on how the money is to be spent but said city officials would “engage with the city council … to impact in the City of Mobile.”
Citing again the issue of trucks ordered a year ago which had not been delivered on time, Stimpson addressed the city’s effort to catch up on trash and garbage collection. Updates are, he said, posted each night on the city’s website to inform citizens of where and when trash collection will take place and the city is determined to “catch up and stay up.”
Shonda Smith, head of Mobile’s Parks and Recreation Department was invited by the mayor to address public concerns over the summer camp programming. Beginning with the issue of senior citizens not being picked up from their homes as they have in the past, she cited the increased need for food delivery and said the department was forced to make a choice between food delivery and citizen pick up. Food delivery was prioritized for the time but she said that senior citizen pick up will resume very soon.
Smith then addressed the new structured summer camp program, initiated this year. Through community engagement meetings, the department assessed needs and requests. As an initial step, adult and youth programs were focused in specific locations. The Department then made every effort to create structured programs for children which parents could depend on during the summer. This need was balanced with the community center’s traditional public service, remaining available and accessible sites for neighborhood youth, with no required registration.
The centers have adopted a program whereby unattended youth who visit the centers during summer camp hours without registration or payment are allowed to participate in programming if they assist in some way by performing necessary tasks in the center. Center directors have informed her, she said, that no child is ever turned away.
Councilman Richardson noted complaints to the contrary. His constituents have complained that children were being turned away for lack of payment. Debate on this issue continued at length with the concern among the council that no child should ever be turned away from a Mobile community center. Councilman Manzie expressed concern that employees onsite may not fully understand or effectively implement the policy as Smith described it. He offered to use discretionary funds to help alleviate the problem at community centers in his district.
That debate ending the mayor’s communications, Councilperson Rich read a proclamation from the mayor and City Council recognizing June as “Myastenia Gravis Awareness Month,” aimed at funding research and supporting people suffering with this neuro-muscular disease. *
JENNIFER TRULY, Director of the the ”Tunnel to Tower 5K Run and Walk” requested support and assistance with the fundraiser which will take place on September 11th at Battleship Park, honoring the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Councilperson Rich asked for specific fundraising goals and Ms. Truly promised to submit further information and details to each council person.**
DANIEL HENDERSON addressed the council regarding the demolition of 1040 Dauphin Island Parkway, the Pheonix Apartment building. He agreed that some of the buildings should be demolished, but requested more communication with the city before demolition proceeds and time to restore the buildings which can still be saved.
Councilman Small, in whose district the property is located, encouraged Mr. Henderson to continue work in light of the “desperate need of affordable housing in the City of Mobile,” but added that he receives weekly comments from his constituents who are concerned about the property’s current condition.
KENNY OWEN addressed the council on the issue of public safety and traffic control, citing the ongoing problem with speeding vehicles in his neighborhood. “It’s not if a kid is going to get hurt, it’s a matter of when,” he said. He lives on Mohawk Street, which he referred to as a “cut-through” street. He communicated the problem to his council representative, Fred Richardson, who was told by the mayor that no speed bumps would be installed. Councilman Richardson confirmed that was the case, citing a recent example in which residents near the new USA medical facility on Old Shell were experiencing a great increase in traffic as a result and appealed for help. At that time, Richardson said he was told that there would be no more speed bumps. After repeated requests however, the traffic and engineering department was able to procure one speed bump. Richardson was then informed that it would be the last.
Director Battiste informed the council that there is now indeed a policy “under final review” that will determine need and regulate the implementation of traffic-calming devices. “I think you will see that coming from the administration, probably in the next month.”
Councilpersons Gregory and Rich both emphasized the need for action on this and thanked Director Battiste for his effort to implement a “standardized” policy. “I was always hopeful the city would understand the need,” Rich said. “It is something that truly does affect the residential quality of life.”
WESLEY YOUNG urged the council and administration to be proactive in funding and staffing the departments of trash and garbage collection as well as parks and recreation, stating his opinion that they are severely understaffed and overworked. “We need to look at these public service departments. They have been behind for seven and a half years. It needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed now,” he said.
REGGIE HILL requested more transparency and communication regarding the findings and planned implementation of the new Unified Development Code as well as the use of public purpose funds. He urged the council not to allow the administration to have “complete control.” The City Council, as the people’s representatives, “must be a part of this,” he said. He reminded the council that the Zoghby Act called for what is referred to as a “Strong Council” form of government. “It is unique,” he said, but “for some reason we are not implementing it properly.”
Mobile City Council Meeting
June 8, 2021
REMARKS from MAYOR STIMPSON
The mayor began his remarks by recognizing the success of “Creek Fest” at Tricentennial Park. The festival, now in its fifth year, celebrates the rehabilitation of Mobile’s Three Mile Creek and increases awareness of this natural resource available for boating, fishing and recreation. He also recognized the continued growth “Art Walk,” held the second Friday of every month in downtown Mobile and urged citizens to take part.
DANNY CORTE, Mobile Sports Authority Executive Director, reported on the success of the “Ballin’ on the Bay” basketball tournament, which “exceeded expectations,” and he said was likely the largest basketball tournament ever held in Mobile County. With teams coming to Mobile from 7 states, bringing approximately 3,000 visitors, the economic impact of these events extends to all local businesses and enlivens the community. Recovery from the pandemic is bringing a “surge” of activity to Mobile according to Corte, with ten more notable sporting events planned for the remainder of the year.
SHONDA SMITH, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, awarded Jack Greene, Youth Program Manager, Employee of the Month, who credited the support of his wife, Barbara Greene, as well as Shonda Smith for her leadership, a sentiment seconded by council persons Small and Gregory.
TOM ALBRITTON, as Director of The Alabama State Ethics Commission, is traveling to each city and county to meet with representatives in person and remind them that the Ethics Commission is an engaged and available resource whenever there are questions regarding ethics laws and propriety in city council debate. He encouraged the council to view the Ethics Commission as a "teammate," available to clarify any questions or concerns.
CHERYL HUNT addressed the council about the problem of trash in her neighborhood. She has been actively cleaning her own property but believes that her neighborhood has been neglected and that city workers have been negligent in their duties. Councilman Small requested that city check on the private property she referenced and consider fines where necessary. Councilpersons Gregory and Rich discussed the problem city workers’ responsibility in carrying out their duties but noted that litter typically flies from private property onto public land. Councilman Richardson argued that the city is simply not doing the job as it should. Rich then asked why her request 4 weeks earlier for contracted crews to be hired as a way of helping the city catch up from its recent lapse in trash collection was ignored but only now are such crews being hired. The administration’s response was that new trucks had been ordered which were expected to arrive at the end of May but had still not arrived. Cassi Calloway, the city’s new Resilience Officer, was available and consulted with Mrs. Hunt separately.
Rich cited a possible problem with the number of personnel employed. She requested more information on the number of employees in the trash and garbage collection division and was told that information would be sent to her. Councilman Richardson seconded her request, asking for a comparison of the number of employees in the past and today.
KARLOS FINLEY, Municipal Judge and President of the Dora Finley African-American Heritage Trail, having made an original proposal in February, presented the council with a more detailed plan and illustration of the proposed “Hank Aaron Loop Field of Dreams.” Casey Downing was introduced as the potential sculptor for statues that would line the commemorative route. Finley described the project as “an initiative that would encompass the entire Hank Aaron Loop, which would in essence it makes a ballfield of the entire downtown Hank Aaron Loop…The outfield would be at Broad Street. The infield would be at Claiborne. The feature of this ballfield would be Satchel Paige pitching to Hank Aaron at Water Street.” Downing’s proposal $55,000 per statue, $660,000 total. With pedestals included the total amount would be $708,000. He emphasized that “this is a cultural heritage tourism initiative. It would benefit all districts. This is something that should have happened long ago.”
REGGIE HILL focused his time on the issue of gun violence in the city. He commented that the council tends to exhaust much time and energy on the minutia of matters such as department expenditures but "we need to have the same enthusiasm," he said, for the larger issues that greatly impact all citizens. "At some point we have to take action... to eradicate the cause, not just react to the symptoms. He encouraged council members to take a more active role in seeking partnerships and effective solutions. "Until we start doing something proactive," he said, "let's not expect anything to change."
ANNOUNCEMENTS included John Williams’s appeal to council members who are elected in August to extend time limits on citizens’ comments, and limit their own comments as much as possible. “When we limit the citizens and then don’t limit ourselves, it becomes rather questionable,” he said. “I hope that the next council will consider that very seriously.”
UPCOMING COMMUNITY MEETINGS
District 1 Trinity Gardens community meeting scheduled for June 29th at 6:00 p.m. at the Dotch Community Center.
District 3 community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 22nd at 6:00 p.m. at the Riverside Baptist Church with updates on a new crime-fighting initiative as well as an update on airport development from Director Chris Curry.
District 5 community meeting scheduled for July 13th at 6:00 p.m Westminster Presbyterian Church.
MAY 18, 2021
REMARKS from the MAYOR
Mayor Stimpson began his remarks by again addressing community concern over delays in trash pickup and reiterated the location of dumpsters available at area parks. He noted that updated information is available on the city’s website.
Recognizing the success of last week’s ArtWalk, Stimpson said he hopes for another successful community celebration this Friday with the parade (6:30 p.m.) and fireworks (9:00 p.m.) in honor of the USS Mobile Commissioning. He reminded the public that “3 huge outdoor screens that will allow you to view the ceremony.” He thanked those involved in planning, noting that $350,000 had been raised to fund the celebration.
After five revision cycles, the City Council was presented with the city’s new “Unified Development Code” for review. Mayor Stimpson addressed the process. “Why did this administration take on the challenge of looking at the Unified Development Code, previously known as the ‘zoning code’?...It was an ongoing source of irritation...Many believed it didn’t do what it should do.” In the end, he said regarding all the citizens and stakeholders of Mobile, “None of them got what they wanted but everyone got something better than what they had.” He added there had been 150 community meetings and over 1000 public comments recorded . “It has all been documented...We look forward to seeing how this all plays out in the next few weeks.”
PASTOR VINCENT ROBINSON
Responding to the public hearing notice regarding rezoning of property at 1200 N. University Blvd. from R1 to B1, Pastor Vincent Robinson spoke on behalf of the Right Way Christian Center. He described plans to create “a facility that will give amazing support to the community and business ventures as well.” Councilmen Fred Richardson and C.J. Small both emphasized their support for this “vision for the future” and the plans which had been submitted in a document to the council.
Jamaica Carter introduced her company FOE, LLC.
“I have a landscape company that employs young men ages 18—25 trying to give them a different avenue and play my part in a much bigger picture. I am looking to partner with community leaders, council people and anyone who can help me and guide me so I can continue to guide our youth.”
Council President Manzie applauded her efforts saying “we need more persons with this kind of initiative in our community.”
Councilman Daves suggested the Chamber of Commerce’s business mentoring program and Gina Gregory offered to help Carter connect with others on social media.
Councilman Small asked Carter how she is reaching out to find the young men she employs. Carter described the necessity of a grassroots approach within her neighborhood “doing it by beating the streets, finding kids and helping them. If you can grab one and change one life, that’s doing something. We’re trying, we just need a little help.” *
REVERND TOMMY ALLGOOD
Representing “Faith In Action” Initiative, addressed the council seeking support for the Faith In Action ministry to implement an anti-Gun Program called “Advance Peace,” requesting $300,000 to train outreach workers in the community to work with potential violent youth.
He cited published data from other cities in the nation indicating “It has been proven to reduce homicides by 20—60 percent.” “Gun violence has reach “epidemic, or pandemic proportions,” he said. “This is not an issue we are going to police ourselves out of.”
He referred to city data as well, calculating the 46 homicides occurring in Mobile in 2020, cost the city, county and state $765,000, adding “This does not represent the family-friendly city we want.” He ended by saying “We will be back here every Tuesday with victim’s families and other ministers…”
Councilman Manzie welcomed their return but requested something in writing and offered time to review a written request.
Councilman Richardson commented that he must convince the mayor to put it on the council agenda.
Councilperson Rich recommended he ally with Project Thrive. “Their resources are unlimited as far as the talent in the community and the desire.”
Councilperson Gregory reflected on similar programs and her hope that “all these programs should work in unison...combining forces will get you further along.”
PASTOR BUFORD HALL
Pastor Buford Hall addressed the council on behalf of the St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in support of the “Advance Peace” initiative, encouraging its implementation and stating his desire to work in cooperation with the mayor and law enforcement. Expressing both his confidence in this particular program and his desire to ally with officials he said, “We want to bring about a greater change...No one person or organization can do it by themselves. Let’s all work together.”
CRAWFORD-MURPHY PARK UPGRADES
Council President Manzie commented on the funding request for new playground equipment in Crawford-Murphy Park, citing the many months of research and community engagement involved in planning. Funding was approved.
The Mobile Historical Development Commission was authorized to submit application for a Certified Local Government Grant.
Councilman Small discussed his past struggles to fund upgrades at Trimmier Park but noted that progress is underway. On Saturday, June 12 at 1:00 p.m. there will be a ribbon cutting for the playground equipment (a celebration which was delayed due to COVID restrictions). He wants citizens to know that this is only the beginning of a revival of the park. “Tremmier is coming back strong, stronger than ever,” he said.
Fred Richardson : After attending the festive opening of a new Wendy’s in District 7, Richardson is trying to lure Wendy’s to open a new branch on Old Shell Road.
Councilperson Rich announced that she will not be seeking re-election after her 19 years on the Council.
· Jamaica Carter’s goal is to find more opportunities for the young men she is employing in Mobile. What she needs are more customers, more businesses willing to hire them.
***Certified Local Government Grant
MAY 11, 2021
Remarks from the Mayor
Mayor Stimpson addressed trash pickup delays, citing challenges with maintaining older equipment . The city’s website, he noted, would be kept current with scheduled pickup day updates. To assist those who need to move trash immediately, the city has located dumpsters at four park sites: Medal of Honor Park, Seals Park, Tremmier Park and Langan Park. These sites are accepting yard “trash” only, which must be previously bagged. He also cited the success of the 3 Mile Creek Watershed Cleanup and thanked those who turned out.
— As detailed at the May 4th meeting, the mayor reminded citizens that the USS Mobile, built by Austal USA, will be commissioned for the U.S. Navy this weekend. The ceremonies will open with a parade downtown on Friday, May 21, 2021, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with a fireworks display to follow. The route, he said, would be published soon. On Saturday, the commissioning ceremony will be a ticketed event but all are welcome join the celebration at Cooper Riverside Park where a jumbo screen will broadcast events. *
— In honor of “Salvation Army Week,” Stimpson recognized the outstanding contributions and encouraged public support for Mobile’s Salvation Army.
— Casi Callaway was introduced as a new member of the mayor’s Administrative Team with the title, “Chief Resilience Officer.”
— Finally, Mayor Stimpson announced the arrival of the Carnival “Sensation” ship which docked at the Port of Mobile on Friday, May 14th. Carnival’s decision to send the “Sensation” to Mobile to have crew members receive COVID vaccinations from USA Health volunteers is a good sign that cruises will soon return to Mobile. “This is the first major step to getting the cruises back. We don’t have a date for when the first cruises will be but we are doing everything we can do the help facilitate that.”
Councilman C.J. Small asked for Casi Calloway to address the council about her vision. Acknowledging that she is still in transition and learning more about the functioning of the administration, she recognized that litter is a top priority and addressing this problem would be one of her first steps.
She described her goal to put in place streamlined and efficient practices to address the needs of the community for prevention and recovery in times of disaster.
Councilman Small asked who she would be working under and more specifics on how litter problems would be addressed. Her function will be, she said, to bring together much of the work that has already been done, noting that 8 city non-profit organizations already have work plans in place, to coordinate and expand these efforts.
Small cited his concern that penalties and enforcement need be strict enough to create real change and she agreed.
He then asked for further clarification as to what department she was employed under. She described that she is working under what is now being called the “Strategic Initiative Team,” formerly the “I" Team, and working “for the mayor, across all departments.”
“The Strategic Initiatives Team,” she explained, is located on the 5th floor of Government Plaza but her office is on the 2nd floor. **
CITY ASSISTANCE in MIDTOWN
Fred Richardson requested assistance for the Callaghan family who owns a home at Upham and Old Shell where numerous cars have either crashed or driven through their property. After placing a request with ALDOT to have a barrier constructed, ALDOT deferred to the City for this. The City offered only signage, which did not help. In the meantime, the Callaghan family built their own metal fence which has since been again destroyed. They offered to pay for a stronger barricade but were told that they could not build on city property. Richardson asked that the city step in to protect the property.
AFRICA TOWN RESEARCH and DOCUMENTARY
Following the mayor’s announcement that a design and construction team has been selected and will soon begin work on the Africa Town Welcome Center, David Clark with Visit Mobile addressed the Council about their efforts to promote the Africa Town historical site.
Clark recognized the outstanding work of ARIAN MORRISON , a history student at Harvard who worked as an intern this past semester, involved in researching the Africa Town story for a film documentary. Morrison thanked Visit Mobile and others for their support and for the resources made available to her. In a well-spoken address to the Council, she emphasized her own “commitment to the truth,” the need to present the history of this site from as many perspectives as possible by pulling together the work of historians with the voices of the community itself acting as primary story-tellers, in order to present the most authentic interpretation possible.
Councilman Small spoke for the entire Council stressing their commitment to making Africa Town a destination on par with other venues in the state which are also dedicated to historic preservation and education, such as the National Lynching Museum, which opened recently in Montgomery. Council President Manzie noted the development of Africa Town was one of his chief objectives when he first ran for office, expressing his thankfulness for the new energy that has been generated, his firm belief in the site’s national significance and his personal dedication to its success. Councilman Richardson shared his own family’s connection to the Africa town descendants and his vision that the museum should seek to recreate the harsh realities of slavery and the amazing struggles endured at the original settlement . “Give the people something they can see and feel,” he said.
REQUEST for ASSISTANCE in CRICHTON
Requesting assistance on this issue for the third time, Janice Robinson again asked that the city take some action to slow down the traffic on Josephine Street in the Crichton area. After being sent from one office to another, she had eventually been told at the traffic division that Josephine Street was designated for emergency vehicles because it leads directly to Bay Shore Ave. and this prevents the city from installing any structural speeding impediments. Yet she has lived there over 40 years and believes something should be done for the safety of her neighbors, many of whom are elderly residents and do not feel safe crossing the street. She added that the asphalt has also not been properly maintained and debris is not regularly collected.
Councilman Richardson, her representative, commented that all requests for assistance have been denied, including the suggestion that a stop sign be installed. Yet he regrets that council members can only advocate for citizens. It is up to the City administration to act, he said.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN
Reggie Hill expressed his thankfulness for improvements planned at Crawford Park but asked whether the funds were coming from the current Capital Improvement Plan budget or a previous year’s budget. Councilman Manzie responded that funds were from this year’s budget and suggested that he would see to it that Mr. Hill receive the information requested from the treasury department, also stating that spending for Crawford Park had been a community-wide decision-making process.
He also repeated his long-standing request for an inventory of city equipment so that citizens can make better assessments when new equipment purchases are before the council.
Councilman Daves responded to Mr. Hill’s request with comments on the Capital Improvement Plan spending process in order to explain that it is not particularly reasonable to look at a specific “balance” during the year, as funds may exist which have already been allocated for projects not yet completed or for project not yet begun. “The first step,” he noted, “is for city council persons is to take input from their districts.” A 5-Year Plan is created based on this input. Each council person submits requests. This is integrated with requests from each city department. Decisions are made in conference with the finance department. With a 5-Year Plan in place, adjustments are sometimes necessary from year to year. Yet he stated the difficulty of defining a specific balance because major projects and contracts take years to complete and some are held over from one cycle into the next.
Rich: CARES Act Relief funds will soon be arriving in the amount of approximately $60 million, half of which is coming in the next few weeks and she requested information on planning for these funds.
Council President Manzie supported her request, adding that the Council should directly involved in the decision-making process for these funds and not receive information for rubberstamp approval after the fact.
Richardson: Thanked those who participated in the recent cleanup at Tricentennial Park and described the beauty of the park’s unique water ways. Calling it “a jewel that a lot of people don’t know anything about,” he encouraged the public to visit the facilities and enjoy the recreational opportunities available there. ***
Celebrating The Acceptance Of The USS Mobile
(LCS 26) Into The US Navy
The act of placing a ship in commission marks her entry into active Navy service. At the moment, when the commissioning pennant is broken at the masthead, a ship becomes a Navy command in her own right, and takes her place alongside the other active ships of the fleet. This ceremony continues a tradition some three centuries old, observed by navies around the world and by our own Navy since December 1775.
Once in commission, the commanding officer and crew are entrusted with the privilege and responsibility of maintaining their ship’s readiness in peace, and of conducting successful operations at sea in time of war.