2006 State of the City address

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Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid's 2006 State of the City address was delivered to the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham on January 10, 2006, at the beginning of Kincaid's 7th year in office.

Achievements

Kincaid identified the following as achievements of his first six years in office:

  • Made Birmingham's government "more efficient, more accountable, more attentive and more responsive to the wants and needs of citizens throughout Birmingham."
  • Completed $70 million in capital improvments in the first phase of the $125 million 2002 Birmingham bond issue.
  • Created jobs and opportunities through economic development efforts.
  • Created "supportive atmosphere for private investment, as indicated by the ongoing record levels of new construction."
  • Completed an update to the City Center Master Plan and begun updating the Birmingham Comprehensive Plan.
  • Secured a Hope VI grant to redevelop Tuxedo Court.
  • Worked with UAB, Jefferson County and others to create the Entrepreneurial Center.
  • Began making "real progress" on regional issues by reaching out to other municipal and county governments. Evidenced by his selection as the first Mayor of Birmingham to serve as president of the Jefferson County Mayors Association.
  • Earned recognition as an "All-American City" and as a "Hot City" for entrepreneurial development, and for innovative neighborhood and community development programs and for helping establish a framework for regional planning.
  • Earned recognition from The Birmingham News as "a city on the move".

He concluded this section on achievements by saying that: "we have been able to establish a firm foundation on which we can build a future, and from which we can actualize a shared vision for achieving the best possible quality of life for all of our citizens. We have changed the very paradigm of governance in Birmingham, and having done so, stand ready to engage fully in the enactment of an Agenda for Progress."

Agenda for Progress

Economic development

Critical internal priorities for the Mayor's Office, Division of Economic Development, include:

Public safety

In 2006, Kincaid pledged to "continue the policies, programs, and initiatives which have contributed to the overall reduction in crime that has taken place over the past several years.". These include:

  • Precinct-based task forces to focus resources on "hot spots" for particular crimes, as well as ongoing anti-gang and anti-drug inititatives.
  • The lifting of his moratorium on the use of tasers by police, provided that they are equipped with "taser cams" to record their use.
  • Beginning implementation of a three-phase Federally-funded program to improve information sharing between all law enforcement agencies in Jefferson County.
  • Regarding homicide, the Mayor made this statement:
As I have indicated, our overall rate of crime in Birmingham declined during 2005; it is my sad duty today, however, to take note of the significant increase in homicides last year. It should, of course, go without saying that the loss of a single life to murder in any year is one too many. At the same time, we cannot legislate against human nature, and we lack both the power of clairvoyance, and the constitutional right to intervene in the private domiciles where the majority of murders take place. Nor, unfortunately, is it within the power of any municipal government or police department to alleviate completely the economic and societal factors that contribute to the incidence of homicide.

What we can do is what we will do in 2006 -- what we have, in fact, already begun to do: Engage in a constant review and assessment of all administrative and departmental actions which may be brought to bear on reducing the homicide rate in Birmingham.

To augment these efforts further, I formed an ad-hoc task force comprised of local ministers to advise the mayor on issues related to crime. The members who already have agreed to serve include the following: W. H. Greason, Tommy Hagler, Herron Johsnon, T. L. Lewis, Jim Lowe, Willie B. O'Neal, Don Solomon, Abraham Woods Jr, and Calvin Woods.

Other ministers and religious leaders will be added to the ad hoc task force in the process. The clergy and the faith-based community in general can play a vital role in helping to reduce crime generally, and homicides in particular. I will be calling on the members of the task force to help formulate and implement effective approaches concerning police/community relations, conflict resolution, community policing, and educational and recreational programs to enhance or complement those the city already has in place for at-risk youth.

Regardless of the events and circumstances which underlie it, our current homicide rate in birmingham is unacceptable to this mayor. I pledge to you, and to all of our citizens, that we will attack this problem from every responsible angle to reduce the number of homicides that occur in our city.
  • With regard to fire safety, the Mayor noted that Birmingham had 13 fire-related deaths in 2005 despite a program of distributing 30,000 free smoke detectors through the "Get Alarmed Birmingham" program. Beginning in 2006, Fire and Rescue personnel will give residents a waiver which, if signed, will allow them to actually install the detectors rather than just handing them out. He also pledged to inspect multi-family dwellings for compliance with fire safety regulations.

Health

Kincaid announced two programs aimed at "achieving a healthy Birmingham". The Mineral District Medical Society will lead an effort to manage and prevent obesity and also help implement the Alabama Collaboration of Cardiovascular Equality program, aimed at erasing racial disparity in cardiovascular health.

Investing in the future of Birmingham's neighborhoods

Kincaid affirmed his commitment to revitalizing and enhancing neighborhoods in balance with promoting the development of the City Center, which, he said, "is both the symbolic 'signature' of the city and the surrounding region and our economic heart."

With downtown Birmingham "up and running" on its own momentum, he pledged to turn to neighborhood needs with the following initiatives:

  • Requiring developers who receive incentives to participate in neighborhood projects.
  • Investing in infrastructure and neighborhood stabilization, including street, sidewalk and storm sewer improvements; demolition of condemned structures, and cleaning up of vacant lots and alleys.
  • Offering tow service for residents who have inoperable vehicles and can't afford to have them removed from their property.
  • Investing $5 million in accessibility, signage, and playground equipment for city parks.
  • Expanding housing options by partnering with private sector organization to overcome Federal budget cuts in community development. The city will seek to create an affordable housing trust fund through lobbying efforts. The city's contributions could then be leveraged 5-to-1 by Federal programs not currently tapped. Over a three year period beginning in 2006 the mayor pledged to "double the number of new housing opportunities across the city." Programs that would contribute to this goal include the Birmingham Homeownership Center, creation of a Community Homeownership Assurance Pilot Program to assist small, emerging housing developers, and participation in the United Way of Central Alabama's Individual Development Accounts program.
  • Stimulating the growth of neighborhood-based business and commercial districts.
  • Developing a 10-year plan to eliminate homelessness in Birmingham through "innovative and effective means of following the Biblical injunction to care for "the least of these" in the most humane way possible."

Other initiatives

Kincaid also pledged that Birmingham would continue to work with all interested parties to achieve a "world-class mass transit system" and to address transportation issues with land use planning. He also affirmed his commitment to implementation of plans for the development of the Railroad Reservation Park.

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