Author: Dale Liesch

City Council election preview

The two candidates qualified for the District 6 seat on the Mobile City Council mainly discussed taxes and public safety as the Aug. 22 municipal elections draw near. Councilwoman Bess Rich, the long-serving representative of District 6, is facing a challenge from Deryl Pendleton for the seat. Both candidates feel there’s a better way for the city to earn revenue than relying upon an extension of the 20 percent “penny” tax set to expire after fiscal year 2018. Rich called the tax, which is used to fund the city’s capital improvement program, “regressive” and not business friendly. “So, right out the chute, a way to replace it is very important,” Rich said of the tax. “Also, it’s not functioning because it will have a finite round to it and because of internet shopping and people are going elsewhere. The 10 percent sales tax, one of the highest in the nation, just is not the tool to sustain what you need to do to operate.” Rich was chairwoman of an ad hoc committee tasked with evaluating different forms of taxation or revenue generation for the city. Because of the work, Rich said she backs a plan giving the city more revenue through property taxes or fees for service. “A pay-as-you-go program that’s tied to property tax that people actually know exactly what programs will be done in the four years...

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Stimpson: We resolved an IRS investigation inherited from Jones

On the first day of his administration, Mayor Sandy Stimpson says his Executive Director of Finance Paul Wesch walked into his new office to find a pile of letters from the Internal Revenue Service indicating that outgoing Mayor Sam Jones’ administration misused a tax-free bond, something that could’ve cost the city as much as $45 million. “There was about a 5-inch file with a cover letter (outlining) the allegations of malfeasance over bond allocations,” Stimpson said in a phone interview. “Mayor Jones did not spend all the money as outlined in the contracts.” Records provided by the city of...

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Housing board reverses decision on director, offers job to rejected candidate

Just more than a month after offering the executive director job to one of three final candidates , the Mobile Housing Board of Commissioners rescinded the offer and extended it to someone else. In late June, MHB awarded George Lee Byers the job of executive director, but on Wednesday the board rescinded the offer and instead offered it to Akinola Popoola. Chairwoman Kim Pettway only said the board needs to change the way it handles vetting in the future. In its offer to Byers, commissioners made it contingent upon a background and other vetting procedures, which staff said was...

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Political forums increase as municipal election draws near

The organizer of the city’s only youth political forum said Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s campaign canceled the incumbent’s appearance after the date was changed to accommodate him. Reggie Hill, founder of Success 4 the Future, a division of Mu Kappa Phi Music Organization, said he adjusted everything to allow Stimpson to attend, yet Stimpson pulled out anyway over a perceived attack from challenger Sam Jones on youth violence. “I’m unsatisfied by the response,” Hill said. “The youth want to be part of the solution.” In an email statement, Stimpson campaign manager Candace Cooksey wrote that Hill never properly coordinated with the campaign on the Friday, Aug. 4, date and there were conflicts in the mayor’s schedule. “While we did receive an invitation to the forum, we were unable to confirm the mayor’s attendance,” Cooksey wrote. “Promotional material was created without confirmation from the mayor’s campaign.” Stimpson has taken a recent focus to curb youth violence and introduced an internship program, Youth Empowered for Success, as part of the solution. Hill, for his part, said he applauds YES, although he believes more can be done. Challengers for mayor and all City Council seats joined Bess Rich, the lone incumbent, at the Aug. 4 forum at the Fuse Factory downtown. Youth members of Mu Kappa Phi not only asked questions of the candidates, but also hosted and moderated the forum. Each council...

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Mobile Fire chief claims all stations are now staffed and open

Since a new chief was sworn into office in May, the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department has stopped the practice of routinely shutting down fire stations or trucks, also known as brownouts. Chief Mark Sealy said he was able to stop the practice while maintaining the department’s budget by moving “eight or so” firefighters from administrative positions back to trucks. “I asked guys on trucks to do more with less,” he said. “We reorganized the entire department. We restructured it from the top down.” Sealy’s administration looked at everything with efficiency in mind and has consolidated some higher-level positions within the...

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