The Alabama Moderate

Painting the Red State Purple.

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Newest “Vision” for Jefferson County Needs to be a Balanced Budget

Posted by ALmod on November 2, 2005

If you aren’t familiar with Alabama politics, then there’s one thing you need to know: Jefferson County Commission President Larry Langford is certifiably insane. And not just a little bit, either. He’s really crazy. And as weird as it sounds, I think that his craziness could be the very reason that people keep voting for him. His constant cries of how the people of his district are being “disenfranchised” are not only annoying, they’re inaccurate. I honestly don’t think he knows what the word means.

For example, a few months back, when Saks, Inc. decided to close a couple of their stores in Fairfield and other locations, they listed lack of sales as one of the main reasons for closing in those particular locations. It was a bad business move to remain there. They were losing money. For some reason, Langford (and buddy County Commissioner Sheila Smoot) declared war on the Birmingham-based company (for “disenfranchising” the people of their districts) by encouraging people in their district to (get this) boycott Saks, Inc. stores. Now I could be wrong, but when a store decides to close in a location due to lack of sales, further lack of sales seems hardly the way to encourage them to stay. But then, what do I know?

I’ve been to Fairfield. I worked there for five years of my life that I will never get back. And I couldn’t have left that area soon enough. It is a crime-infested, run-down part of town. It’s a miracle that I didn’t get shot or have my car stolen! During my time there, I saw elementary school kids vandalize cars and throw bricks through our building’s windows at employees, two of my coworkers (locals) were arrested on a drug-associated murder charge, and there were three drive-by shootings at surrounding gas stations, two of which ended in someone getting killed. This was less than a block away from the stores that closed. The people of that community hardly have the money to spend at a Saks, Inc. department store, and people from more affluent communities would have to be nuts to go there when the same stores are open in closer and safer locations.

And Langford was once the mayor of this fine community. His strategy for making Fairfield better? Allocating more tax dollars to law enforcement? A city park or youth center for local children? Better schools? A clean-up operation to make the city more appealing to outsiders? Nope. Larry asked surrounding cities like Hueytown and Pleasant Grove for their tax dollars so that he could build a theme park. A theme park!!! Pleasant Grove never gave in, but that didn’t stop him from building what would become the biggest bottomless pit for tax dollars that this state has ever seen. And it went bankrupt. No surprise there. Why would you go to a crappy theme park with one roller coaster in a bad neighborhood when Six Flags Over Georgia is only a few hours away? They just couldn’t compete.

Then let’s not forget that, after joining the county commission, he decided that even though there was very little support from the voters, he would pass a 1% sales tax increase to benefit Jefferson County schools. Sounds like a decent idea in theory, but when you shove it down the voters throats without even letting them, say, vote for it, you’re asking for trouble. The systems that needed the money most were too busy spending money on theme parks to reappropriate their funds toward public education, so the extra money was earmarked as “education spending only.” The problem was that most of these systems just took existing money that was appropriated for education, and spent it on general budget instead.

Then he decided to side with loonies like State Representative John Rogers in saying that Birmingham needs a domed stadium. Here we go again. Wouldn’t it be better to place a domed stadium in an area that already has a tourist base, like Tuscaloosa or Mobile? There are no, I repeat, no resort hotels or major tourist attractions in Birmingham. Thankfully, this one hasn’t passed yet.

Now, he wants a trolley in Birmingham. A trolley, folks. A public transit system would be a great idea if most of the people who worked in Birmingham actually lived there. Unfortunately, most of them live outside the city, so they would still have to drive to Birmingham and park there to actually use the system. And by the time you’re in Birmingham, you can pretty well just walk anywhere you need to go. So what exactly is a trolley going to do to benefit anyone? This isn’t exactly New York City or Chicago. I can walk the outer ring of downtown Birmingham in less than 45 minutes.

And as it goes for every Langford darling project, he needs more money to make it happen. Jefferson County already has accrued so much debt that there are questions as to whether or not it has exceeded the amount of debt allowed for an Alabama county. But then he wants to expand the Jefferson County occupational tax to pay for it, too. Nevermind that most of the people who work in Birmingham or even Jefferson County don’t live there, and therefore do not have the right to vote against the measure. How’s that for taxation without representation?

If ever there was a tax and spend Democrat, Larry Langford would be their king.


One Response to “Newest “Vision” for Jefferson County Needs to be a Balanced Budget”

  1. Adam said

    Don’t forget that the present trolly system (called the dart) is at present losing money, and is usually used by the homeless to travel from southside down to the park infront of city hall.

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