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Councilor Steven Hoyt’s response to Mayor Woodfin regarding the Firehouse Shelter

The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Councilor Steven Hoyt’sand do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Birmingham City Council.

Mayor Randall L. Woodfin:

Tuesday’s discussion at the Birmingham City Council meeting on funding for a new facility to house the Firehouse Shelter was never about homelessness or about race. You, as mayor of a city with a storied past of racial division and high poverty inaccurately portrayed this issue to the media, instead of providing clarity and transparency.  I am bigger than that. For the office of Mayor to insinuate a play on words is disingenuous to say the least. Tuesday‘s debate had more to do with the budget amendment – a commitment of $1 million dollars to an agency that has a history of employing discriminative practices when it come to the treatment of their employees and especially their clients.

This Birmingham City Council has a fiduciary charge to ensure that all of our citizens are indiscriminately treated with dignity and respect. As a sworn jurist who now serves as Mayor of this great city, I am sure you understand the meaning and impact of words. I find your attempt unfathomable to use words to intimidate council members elected to serve this great city.

While I do understand that lawyers employ a variety of tactics to make points in a debate, it was quite unnecessary for the Mayor to stoop to the point of falsely impugning the character of a sitting member of the council.  My comments were professional and exclusively related to the current budget and your proposal to amend it by a million dollars without discussion of the full council before hastily moving it from the Budget and Finance Committee after the presentation given by your staff member.

In those deliberations I attempted to delineate preferential treatment of one non-profit namely (the Firehouse Shelter) over other non-profits that were included in the 2018-19 budget  — Joseph’s House, Children‘s Village, Agape House, Ballard House, and Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. It is disappointing that our homeless children, persons living with aids, and culture, is not a priority with your administration.  These nonprofits are included in the budget for the ensuing Fiscal year, but they have not received their monies since the passage of the new budget in June of this year…

Some of these organizations have had to lay off their employee off because of the inaction of their budgeted allocation of funds designated for running their establishments. This means there are people hurting, even though there should be an easy approach to meeting their needs – following through on the budget that already has been submitted by the Office of the Mayor and approved by the Council. All budget allocations are accompanied with an ordinance before this council.

It is indeed unconscionable for you to deliberately mislead the public trust in your capacity as Mayor of this City. You can do better and we can do better when you effectively and intentionally communicate with this council collectively.

The real problem is your inability to communicate and maintain formidable dialogue with the council which you claim you do… These kinds of shenanigans are not examples of the solid leadership you promised for this city. Real leadership requires conversation days before an actual council meeting and not the morning of. To have a genuine relationship is more than a press conference to portray solidarity, when in fact there is little or no conversation being had with this council as we try to move this city forward.

Lastly I am far beyond the petty politics, mirrored only by Donald Trump, when you can’t have your way.

I take seriously my charge to be a fiscally responsible, servant leader with a heart for all people. I realize homelessness is a serious and important issue for our city. I also realize that populations served by nonprofits such as Children’s Village, Agape House, Joseph’s House and many others, also are an important part of the fabric or our great city. Do know that those that are homeless only hope is for our City leaders to provide permanent housing for our residents and not a bandage. This City is in need of an aggressive housing initiative that addresses chronic homelessness. This how we address homelessness and put our shelters of business and not to perpetuate the same and expecting a difference result.

It is my pleasure to serve the residents of District 8 and the City of Birmingham. It is my sincere hope that we collectively move pass the petty politics and dispense our duties with fairness and balance.

 

Steven W. Hoyt

District # 8