Author: Dale Liesch

Housing board names pick for executive director

After a somewhat contentious and at times confusing special-called meeting Monday, June 26, the Mobile Housing Board of Commissioners offered the job of executive director to George Lee Byers. Byers, who most recently worked as director of the Bridgeport Housing Authority in Connecticut, was approved 3-1 by the board. Commissioner Melvin Clark abstained from the vote because he had not been involved in the interview process. Commissioner Reid Cummings voted against Byers after his own choice, Akinola Popoola, was voted down by the same margin. While three of four commissioners ranked Popoola higher than Byers, Popoola did not respond to supplemental questions following his face-to-face meeting with the board last week. Although the additional questionnaire was delivered June 20, Popoola reportedly didn’t receive it until Friday, June 23. His responses weren’t received by Monday morning, leaving commissioners to question whether the current head of the Opelika Housing Authority really wanted the job. “Would it have been appropriate to get some kind of confirmation he wanted the job?” Commissioner Norman Hill asked board staff members. Hill speculated Popoola may have been deterred by a one-year work test period that would be implemented for the job by the Mobile County Personnel Board. Board attorney Raymond Bell said following the test period, the executive director could be approved by the board. The salary range for the position was not discussed at the...

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Sam Jones enters mayoral race for rematch with Sandy Stimpson

In his childhood church filled with supporters, former Mobile Mayor Sam Jones made his case for why he should again be elected to the city’s top office last Saturday, ending months of speculation about whether he would run. In an announcement that was interrupted by standing ovations and chants of “all in,” Jones relied on his experience, record and identity politics to paint Mobile as a city traveling down the wrong path and himself as the only man who can move it in the right direction. With the announcement at Greater Nazaree Baptist Church in downtown Mobile, Jones becomes...

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Mobile Housing Board absorbing nonprofit positions

The Mobile Housing Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to convert positions from its troubled nonprofit, Mobile Development Enterprises, to MHB positions. The move continues a series of changes the board has made to MDE since a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General report found that, among other things, a conflict of interest existed between the nonprofit and a contractor the board used starting in 2011. MHB was already ordered to reimburse $1.2 million to HUD through its non-federalized capital funds as restitution for the conflict. HUD also made other recommendations related to the...

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Mobile Gas turns former facility into park

Mobile Gas has owned the 7-acre patch of land at the intersection of Broad Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue since Andrew Jackson was president of the United States. Friday morning, the company officially dedicated a park on the parcel called Caldwell Field, named for company founder James Henry Caldwell. “This is where we got our humble beginnings,” Project Community Liaison Keeshia Davis said. “This is where we became a good corporate citizen … ” Plans for the project have spanned 24 years and three mayors’ administrations, but culminated with the opening of the green space, complete...

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Mayor pulls ordinance designed to give police more discretion over minor charges

The Mobile City Council has cancelled a scheduled meeting of its public safety committee to discuss a proposed ordinance that would make the punishment of minor charges, like marijuana possession for personal use, similar to that of a traffic citation. In a statement released Friday morning, City Council spokeswoman Marion Steinfels wrote that the committee meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday had been cancelled upon Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s request. She wrote that Stimpson had asked the proposed ordinance be pulled from a future council agenda. The legislation, which would’ve allowed Mobile Police Department officers the discretion to write $100...

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