| Birmingham -- Alabama is chock full of big news stories these days. From the April 27th tornadoes to the gambling corruption trials, the immigration law, and Jefferson County's bankruptcy. It's a lot for journalists to keep up with and a lot of great materials for columnists like Al.com and The Birmingham News' John Archibald. He discusses the city, county and state politics in forums large and small. Instead of being unplugged as he is in the newspaper, we offer him a bullhorn. Sort of.
| 2014-03-06 -- If you're a customer of the Birmingham Water Works, you might have missed a insert in a recent bill. The flyer offers coverage if there's a break in the water line between your house and the street. That's because homeowners, not the water works, are responsible if there's a problem there. As good an idea as that may sound, Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald says buyer beware.
| 2014-02-27 -- Lawmakers in Montgomery continue to debate a bill placing new restrictions on the Birmingham Water Works Board. The water works and city are fighting the measure, but a new audit doesn't do much to help their cause. The audit, paid for by the water works board, describes loose rules, poor accounting and bad communication. We talk about it with Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.
| 2014-02-20 -- Local government watchers are casting a critical eye on a proposed agreement which would have the City of Birmingham renting space in a former Social Security building for almost $140 million for 30 years. It's attracting attention because the developer gave tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to city council members as they consider this deal. But Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald discovered this story goes beyond just a potential building rental.
| 2014-02-13 -- There's a potential rental deal attracting attention around Birmingham. The city council is considering renting space in a former social security building. While the move is questionable, the situation involves a shower of campaign cash as well. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald explains.
| 2014-02-06 -- There are portions of Birmingham with significant poverty. But that pales in comparison with what some residents of Wilcox County experience -- arguably the poorest place in Alabama. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald traveled there recently and shares his thoughts.
| 2014-01-23 -- Opinion on the Affordable Care Act nowadays seems to be pretty split and there's no gray for some. Obamacare is the best thing to happen or it'll destroy the country. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald has been listening to what people think about the law and shares what he heard.
| 2014-01-16 -- Anthony Barnes has quite a task. He has to convince lawmakers in Montgomery the Birmingham Water Works Board is the best thing since sliced bread. The Birmingham City Council has hired Barnes as a lobbyist to help fight a proposed bill that would change representation on the board and bring other new restrictions. The move though leaves Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald sighing.
| 2014-01-09 -- The next session of the Alabama legislature gets underway on Tuesday and one thing lawmakers have their eyes set on is the Birmingham Water Works Board. Two Birmingham area legislators plan to introduce a bill that would expand representation on the board and put in place new restrictions. While this has been a simmering conflict, A-L (dot) com columnist John Archibald says the situation highlights hypocrisy on the part of the Birmingham City Council
| 2013-12-19 -- There was no shortage of news in Birmingham and Jefferson County in 2013. We take a look back at some of this year's notable stories with Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-12-12 -- School officials in Hoover are trying to figure out what's next now that the district has reversed a decision to end bus service for most students next school year. The Hoover School Board made the change Monday after months of harsh criticism from some parents and residents. We hear more from Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-12-05 -- What if you held an election and nobody showed up? That's practically what happened this week in a special election to fill the House District 53 seat in Birmingham. Out of almost 21,000 eligible voters turnout was just 2.6 percent. We hear more from Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-11-21 -- Jefferson County's municipal bankruptcy appears to be in its final days. County commissioners approved the sale of $1.7 billion in new sewer debt Wednesday. Meanwhile a federal bankruptcy judge began a hearing on the county's plan to exit bankruptcy. We talk about it with Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-11-14 -- Birmingham Mayor William Bell called it "a sad day for our city" when reacting to news of city council president Maxine Parker's death. She died unexpectedly Tuesday leaving colleagues in shock. But they also remembered Parker as a quiet, fierce advocate for residents of her north Birmingham district. We remember Parker with Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-11-07 -- Jefferson County commissioners are out talking to investors, pushing a revised plan which would allow the county to exit bankruptcy by the end of the year. It's a major accomplishment given that rising interest rates made a previous plan unworkable. But Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald says its too early to say "mission accomplished."
| 2013-10-31 -- After a two year legal battle, the fight over Alabama's toughest-in-the-nation illegal immigration law appears to be at an end. Tuesday, the state and a coalition of civil rights groups challenging the law announced a settlement. Alabama agrees to not enforce parts of the law, many of which had already been temporarily blocked by federal courts. But Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald says this kind of fight seems to be part of Alabama's DNA.
| 2013-10-24 -- Birmingham seated its new city council this week, as expected. But what caught many by surprise is who will lead the board. Maxine Parker is the new council president, a dark horse candidate for the position. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald offers his perspective on the new council. He also says Birmingham could learn from the game of basketball.
| 2013-10-17 -- Large utility companies often spend millions to lobby and influence public opinion. Alabama Power is no different. But the amount of money Alabama Power spends puts the company far above its peers. We hear details from Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-10-10 -- Democrats are something of an endangered species in Alabama. There are no Democrats left in statewide elected office. Republicans hold solid majorities in the state legislature. A part of the reason for that political downward spiral is Alabama Democratic Conference President Joe Reed. Thatâs according to Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-10-03 -- The federal government shutdown is now in its third day with little sign of a breakthrough between Democrats and Republicans in Washington. But Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald says we don't need a government shutdown. We need a government reboot. He also talks about what Alabama could learn from rocker John Mellencamp.
| 2013-09-26 -- The controversy involving race and sororities at the University of Alabama is subsiding. The student newspaper there detailed allegations earlier this month that sorority members were prevented from voting on accepting potential recruits because they were black. Since the dust up at least 11 black women have been granted bids. Al.com and Birmingham News Columnist John Archibald grades the parties involved. He also talks about what Hoover could learn from a famous Birmingham madame.
| 2013-09-19 -- Students, faculty and administrators at the University of Alabama are trying to figure out what's next after a march Wednesday calling for an end to racial discrimination in campus Greek organizations. The march comes after the student newspaper published a story detailing allegations of racial bias in sorority recruitment. But the bias seems to be coming from alumna not currents students. We talk about the unfolding controversy with AL.com and Birmingham News columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-09-12 -- Birmingham is in the midst of what's been dubbed "Empowerment Week," a series of panels, concerts and commemorations leading up to Sunday, the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. The blast killed four girls and severely injured a fifth. On this anniversary AL.com and Birmingham News columnist John Archibald is considering how far Birmingham has come since the civil rights era.
| 2013-09-05 -- As Birmingham prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, one unexpected observer of the commemoration is Chris McNair. His daughter was one of the four girls killed in the bombing. It's expected though because until last week McNair was in federal prison serving a sentence for corruption. AL.com and Birmingham News columnist John Archibald talks about McNair's release under a new Justice Department policy.
| 2013-08-29 -- Birmingham voters had their say this week as they went to the polls to select a mayor, city council and school board members. Many incumbents returned to office, with the exception of the Birmingham Board of Education, which will see a wave of new blood. We take a look at the post-election political scene with Al.com and Birmingham News columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-08-15 -- The split between management and workers can be a source of tension in many workplaces. But for employees of the Birmingham Water Works they seem to be particularly unhappy. AL.com and Birmingham News columnist John Archibald talks about a "no confidence" letter from employees, a sign criticism of the water works' leadership isn't just coming from the outside.
| 2013-08-01 -- The Birmingham Water Works board objects to Jefferson Countyâs plan to exit bankruptcy. Also, has being neighborly become a business? And the Birmingham City council fights over just what to name a proposed baseball museum. We talk about all this with Birmingham News columnist John Archibaldâ¦
| 2013-07-25 -- As Jefferson County works toward leaving bankruptcy, the discussion around new sewer rates sounds rather familiar. We talk about coming full circle in the county's financial saga with AL.com and Birmingham News columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-07-18 -- Government public hearings can sometimes be dry, perfunctory matters few people pay attention to. That not the case with a Wednesday hearing by Alabama's Public Service Commission. The panel is reviewing the rate structure that determines what Alabama Power charges its customers. AL.com and Birmingham News columnist John Archibald explains how contentious the process has becomes.
| 2013-07-11 -- When you turn on the tap, you probably don't give much thought to where the water comes from. For some Birmingham residents it comes from the Black Warrior River. AL.com and The Birmingham News columnist John Archibald offers an update on a planned controversial mine along the river. He also talks about "jackpot justice" in the BP oil spill claims process.
| 2013-07-04 -- Birmingham has seen a violent crime drop in recent years, but a rash of homicides has police and city leaders scrambling to respond. It's a subject that's easy to gloss over if you live in a safe neighborhood or aren't directly affected. But AL.com and Birmingham News columnist John Archibald says it's something that should prompt outrage.
| 2013-06-27 -- Republican leaders in Alabama are hailing this week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning a portion of the Voting Rights Act. Democrats say it guts the historic civil rights legislation. AL.com and The Birmingham News' John Archibald says that's the wrong reaction. He also talks about the court turning back the Defense of Marriage Act
| 2013-06-06 -- The latest chapter in the saga of Jefferson County's troubled finances appears to be on the way to a resolution. County commissioners approved a tentative deal Tuesday to end the county's $4.2 billion dollar bankruptcy, with an official plan to be filed by the end of the month. We talk about the agreement with The Birmingham News and AL.com's John Archibald.
| 2013-05-30 -- An "I'll rub your back, you rub mine" attitude may be the grease that sometimes keeps the political process going, but it can create more squeaks. The hint of such a deal between Jefferson County Commission President David Carrington and Commissioner George Bowman is raising eyebrows. We talk about the situation with AL.com and The Birmingham News columnist John Archibald.
| 2013-05-23 -- In his column this week, the Birmingham News' John Archibald writes that the just concluded legislative session was a bit like high school. Also, we discuss the new intermodal transit hub for downtown building, to be constructed on the site of one built just 14 years ago.
| 2013-05-09 -- In his column this week, John Archibald of the Birmingham News and AL.COM writes that the Jefferson County Courthouse has more drama than CSI, but that the best drama is not in the courtroom but in County Commission Chambers.
| 2013-05-02 -- There's a lot of unrest in the Jefferson County Commission these days. The commission forced out its top attorney, then convinced a state Supreme Court justice to take the job. But then, he promptly withdraws.
| 2013-04-11 -- Jefferson County spends many millions of dollars a year on legal fees. From the $4.2 billion bankruptcy case to challenges to the countyâs occupational tax, Jeffco pays a lot for the lawyers is employs. But this week it put the top in-house attorney on paid leave.
| 2013-04-04 -- It's been almost two weeks since a flight information display tipped over at Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport, killing a boy and injuring his family members. There are still many unanswered questions about the incident and new questions about possible NCAA violations in Auburn University's football program.
| 2013-03-28 -- It's been nearly a week since a large airport sign fell on a Kansas family traveling through Birmingham, killing a ten year old boy and injuring his mother and brothers. Since the accident there have been a lot of questions about why it happened, who is responsible and how authorities are responding.
| 2013-03-21 -- It's been a bloody week in the Birmingham metro area with five violent deaths yesterday and the fatal shooting of a teenager at a popular downtown park.
| 2013-03-14 -- Education was a leading topic in the courtroom and the statehouse. The Common Core seems to still be the curriculum path of choice in Alabama, despite a major effort to overturn it. Meanwhile, the Alabama Supreme Court has lifted a temporary restraining order that now paves the way for a controversial school choice bill to be signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley. John Archibald and Scott Hanley discuss how leaders came to make changes and also choose to not make a change. Is there room for reason, diplomacy, detail and unwavering decency?
| 2013-03-07 -- Republican legislators dropped a bomb last week with passage of a heavily revised School Accountability Act. Democrats pushed back with a legal challenge, and now the case may go to the State Supreme Court.
| 2013-02-28 -- If the questions that came from U.S. Supreme Court justices yesterday are any indication, thereâs a good chance Shelby County could prevail in its effort to challenge the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Thatâs just one of the stories grabbing local headlines this week.
| 2013-02-21 -- Birmingham News columnist outraged some readers with his list of Alabama's Best and Worst Cities. He's making amends by visiting some of the underdogs.
| 2013-02-14 -- Gun violence and school safety are taking center stage in Alabama this month. First, the fatal shooting of a school bus driver in Midland City; now, charges against a man accused of holding several Chelsea Middle School girls at gunpoint in a school locker room. And that's just the beginning...
| 2013-02-07 -- With the Alabama Legislature back in session, issues range from cost of living raises for teachers to no fewer than five separate bills dealing with guns. Birmingham News columnist John Archibald says Alabama has hard, weighty problems, that require thoughtful, creative minds. But fixing those problems is something the Alabama Legislature does NOT do well.
| 2013-01-31 -- What do you like about where you live? Maybe itâs your neighbors or the schools. A favorite restaurant or shop. Birmingham News columnist John Archibald has been crunching the numbers and his list of Top Ten Places to Live in Alabama.
| 2013-01-24 -- UAB is close to naming a new president. Sources tell the Birmingham News that UAB Medical School Dean Ray Watts will get the job.
| 2013-01-17 -- Jefferson County is trying desperately to exit municipal bankruptcy. Earlier this week commissioners met in closed-door sessions with their attorneys to presumably work on another plan to present to creditors. Meanwhile, sewer rates are skyrocketing in another nearby county.
| 2013-01-10 -- State officials say making schools safer is a top priority for the upcoming legislative session. More than a hundred people packed a school safety hearing Wednesday. But some communities aren't waiting for the state to take action. They're making moves of their own.
| 2013-01-03 -- We've closed out one year and are starting another. Seems like a good time to reflect on the big regional news of 2012 and look ahead to 2013. John Archibald says there's one story that could rock the core of the state GOP.
| 2012-12-20 -- In the aftermath of last week's school shooting, President Obama says it will take a national effort to address gun violence. In a press conference yesterday he mentioned several recent shootings, including the one last weekend at Birmingham's St. Vincent's Hospital.
| 2012-12-06 -- Birmingham Mayor William Bell has had a relatively low key tenure compared to his predecessor. But not last weekend. The mayor and his security detail were involved in a downtown shootout that could have been ripped from a Hollywood movie. There are still a lot of questions about the incident.
| 2012-11-29 -- Criminal defendants in Jefferson County who can't afford to hire a lawyer will have a new advocate in their corner. Birmingham Attorney Kira Fonteneau will lead the newly created Public Defender Office.
| 2012-11-15 -- After months of infighting that resulted in a state takeover, there appears to be a power shift on the Birmingham Board of Education. New board member Carole Clarke was sworn in this week and minutes after taking the oath the board elected a new president and vice president. Who they elected and how is pretty telling.
| 2012-10-25 -- The Rev. Al Sharpton will be in Birmingham Friday to attend a forum and rally against the downsizing of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. But will Sharpton's appearance pressure Jefferson County Commissioners into changing their minds? John Archibald and Tanya Ott discuss that, plus a city councilwoman's criticism of a lesbian photo exhibit, the resignation of the school board president, and demands by the county attorney for a pay raise.
| 2012-10-04 -- The Birmingham News shifted to three day a week print editions this week and public reaction has been mixed, though largely negative, on social media sites. John Archibald discusses what the change means for news reporters and consumers and addresses other thorny issues like the status of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.
| 2012-09-27 -- Jefferson County has passed a $160M balanced budget, but not without questions concerning Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.
| 2012-09-20 -- It's official. By a 2-to-1 margin, Alabama voters have approved a constitutional amendment to transfer $437 million from the Alabama Trust Fund to the General Fund Budget. The money will help pay for basic services like Medicaid, prisons and child protective services. But John Archibald says it may just be kicking the can down the road.
| 2012-09-13 -- Next week, Alabama residents go to the polls to vote on a referendum state leaders say is vital to the financial health of the state. The vote would authorize moving $437 million from the Alabama Trust Fund to shore up the stateâs general fund budget. Supporters say without the transfer critical state services will be hurt, but opponents argue the state should live within its means. John Archibald tackles that and other regional news in this week's interview.
| 2012-08-30 -- The Jefferson County Commission votes to discontinue in-patient care at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. John Archibald offers his thoughts that situation as well as the latest from the Birmingham Board of Education, and Artur Davis' political switch.
| 2012-08-23 -- The University of Alabama at Birmingham has a new interim President. Earlier this week, University of Alabama System Chancellor Robert Witt announced that longtime UAB administrator Richard Marchase would take over for outgoing president Carol Garrison. The university will now start a national search for a permanent replacement. John Archibald offers his observations on the leadership change at UAB, as well as leadership on the Jefferson County Commission.
| 2012-08-16 -- The Birmingham school board finally gets down to business; and emotions run high as county commissioners look to close inpatient care at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.
| 2012-08-02 -- Attorney alleges Birmingham school board president doesn't live in Birmingham; Former Governor Don Siegelman is likely headed back to prison; and UA gets approval for $9 million athletic facility, but what does UAB get?
| 2012-07-26 -- Details are emerging in the massive budget cuts at Birmingham City Schools. On Tuesday, the school board deadlocked over approving the state's $12 million cost cutting plan, but the state stepping in and imposed the plan anyway, firing 61 employees and cutting the salaries of many high-level administrators.
| 2012-07-19 -- The chicken fight between the Birmingham board of education and the state amped up several notches this week. The board was supposed to vote Tuesday night on a $12 million cost cutting proposal, but instead surprised everyone by voting to fire school superintendent. Now, the courts are involved.
| 2012-07-12 -- There's been lots of upheaval recently in local schools. Monday, the Trussville Board of Education terminated the contract of superintendent Suzanne Freeman. Not to be outdone, the Birmingham Board of Education is staring down a meeting on Tuesday to consider the state's financial plan for the district.
| 2012-07-05 -- Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is in Europe this week trying to drum up business for Alabama. The move comes after Airbus announced it will build its first ever U.S. manufacturing facilities in Mobile. John says Alabama is attractive to foreign businesses for a number of reasons, all of which may not be good for Alabamians.
| 2012-06-28 -- With the state of Alabama now in control of Birmingham's school system, we talk about the details and delve into the political motivations of the school board.
| 2012-06-21 -- The Birmingham Board of Education has until tomorrow to submit its list of people it's going to lay off as part of the $12 million cost cutting plan and more Alabama Educational Television Foundation members quit to protest changes at Alabama Public Television.
| 2012-06-14 -- It's been a tumultuous week for journalism in Alabama. On Tuesday, Advance Publications fired 400 people at the Birmingham News, Huntsville Times, Mobile Press-Register and their affiliate website al.com. And yesterday, news broke that Alabama Public Television fired two top executives possibly because they refused to air controversial religious programs.
| 2012-06-07 -- This week, members of the Birmingham Board of Education voted against the nearly $12 million in cost-cutting measures suggested by state investigators. The board now faces a possible takeover by the state. In his latest column, the Birmingham News' John Arcibald argues Birmingham's school system doesn't have a "money problem", but rather, a "problem with money."
| 2012-05-31 -- The face of journalism is changing in Alabama. Starting this Fall, The Birmingham News, Huntsville Times, and Mobile Press-Register will publish print copies just three days a week.
| 2012-05-17 -- The 2012 regular session of the Alabama legislature is over. Lawmakers worked late into the night â right up to midnight, actually â to hammer out a general fund budget and pass tweaks to the immigration law. They also killed many other bills, including a proposal for a Jefferson County occupational tax.
| 2012-05-10 -- When a judge ruled Jefferson County's occupational tax illegal it was clear the bankrupt county would have to find some way to replace that money. County commissioners appealed to the local legislative delegation, which responded by proposing a new tax. But with just two days left in the legislative session, the future of that bill is unclear.
| 2012-05-03 -- Time is running out for state lawmakers to address Jefferson County's financial mess. The county needs new revenues to stabilize the budget and bring it out of bankruptcy. Many have pinned their hopes on a new occupational tax, but that has to be authorized by the legislature and there are just days left in this legislative session.
| 2012-04-05 -- Jefferson County's bankruptcy talks about the unlikely possibility of dissolving the county government and down in Shelby County the sheriff's battle over jail food funding points out problems with a state law. (AUDIO NOT AVAILABLE)
| 2012-03-29 -- Birmingham City Council's sends a public message about Trayvon Martin's death and John says the case points to serious problems in Birmingham.
| 2012-03-22 -- John discusses Cooper-Green Mercy Hospital's financial troubles, the opening of a satellite court house in Center Point, and small town politics in Graysville.
| 2012-03-15 -- John dissects this week's primary election and what it might mean for the future of the Democratic party in Alabama.
| 2012-03-08 -- John explains why, despite yesterday's acquittals, the gambling corruption case may not be over. Also, hist takes on the Birmingham Water Works board members for spending $70,000 on travel last year.
| 2012-03-01 -- John explains why Jefferson County Commission president David Carrington has called for some county employees to undergo lie detectors tests after someon leaked an embarrassing internal memo to the Birmingham News.
| 2012-02-23 -- Analysis of how proposed 25% state budget cuts would affect local health care and law enforcement and how Jefferson County ended up deciding to lay off tax collectors to save money, but lost money in the process.
| 2012-02-16 -- Details on an emergency bankruptcy hearing, looming Jefferson County layoffs, a proposal to term limit the Birmingham mayor and a packed room at a public hearing on a smoking ban.
| 2012-02-09 -- John's take on the first week of the 2012 legislative session. There's already a standoff over the budget and charter schools.
| 2012-02-02 -- John previews the 2012 legislative session and controversial comments by one lawmaker who says teachers shouldn't get a pay raise, but legislators definitely needed one to keep them free from corruption.
| 2012-01-19 -- John Archibald thinks Shelby County residents share the blame for a long-time teacher who's admitted molesting young girls and why Birmingham is the kick-off of a federal campaign against pay day loan operations.
| 2012-01-12 -- Birmingham Mayor William Bell uses consent agenda to get $500M in funding for a McDonald Restaurant and Nick Saban schedules a press conference and doesn't say what it's about.
| 2012-01-05 -- Birmingham News columnist John Archibald reviews the top local news stories from 2011 and looks forward to 2012.