Sweet Home Politics

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017   |   Español

Author Archives: Dave Folk

  1. You’ll Never Guess Who Just Bought Half of UAB’s Football Tickets

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    Birmingham’s City Council was half of UAB’s football attendance last year.

    No lead, no joke, just this: Birmingham City Council spends close to a quarter of a million dollars each year on UAB season football tickets for city employees, neighborhood associations and youth groups. Does anyone really want to see UAB football? No, and that is counter-intuitively the reason that City Council spends $225,000 each year on 5,000 season tickets.

    UAB averaged 11,587 fans in 2013, meaning that the bloc of tickets that Birmingham bought from UAB makes up nearly half of the school’s attendance. Let that sink in, almost half of UAB’s attendance are free tickets handed out by the city council and mayor. If all those free tickets are actually taken up that means that only an average of 6,587 people bought tickets to UAB football games last year.

    There are high schools that draw a higher attendance than that (and none that are helped out by the city). The Minor League Baseball team, the Birmingham Barons, is crushing UAB’s non-city attendance, at a baseball field.

    So Birmingham is spending close to a quarter of a million dollars each year on free tickets to hand out. That is money that could be used to clear out dilapidated houses, used as grants to attract businesses downtown. That is money that is being instead spent on watching an awful football team, and it is money being spent because they are an awful football team.

    You see, the NCAA wants butts in seats. They want butts in seats because the NCAA is an oligopoly (a subject for another time). So the NCAA imposes attendance minimums on schools to make sure that the money is freely flowing into the pockets of administrators and NCAA officials. That minimum is 15,000 people per game. UAB needs help reaching that minimum because they aren’t good at football, and there are two other schools in Alabama that demand our residents’ attention on Saturdays.

    If UAB doesn’t meet that minimum they could risk losing their Division 1 FBS distinction. Losing it would cost UAB money, and gain them bad PR. It is in UAB’s vested interest to maintain that attendance minimum. It is in Birmingham’s best interest to keep UAB happy (since it owns a fair amount of property downtown).

    So to get UAB off the ticket bubble, Birmingham purchases 5,000 season tickets each year. I understand this is the second or third time I explained what is happening, but that is because I am struggling so much to understand how something so stupid could happen for so long.

    If UAB needs to get people to attend games then it is on them to invest in the team, and to market themselves better. City Council has far better things to worry about then whether Legion Field is empty on Thursday nights in the fall. That money could be spent in a thousand different ways to actually help the citizens of this town.Go Blazers!

  2. For Uber Bad Ideas, Look No Further than Birmingham’s City Council

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    Uber is a ride-sharing mobile application that matches up people seeking rides, with drivers. Uber is incredibly popular in cities that it operates in. Uber is not coming to Birmingham (probably).

    It’s not because Uber doesn’t want to be in Birmingham. No, Uber has foresight and sees a growing market… It’s because the Birmingham City Council has once-again positioned itself between Birmingham and progress. The Transportation and Communication Committee of the Birmingham City Council, headed up by Councilor Kim Rafferty, is recommending an ordinance that would regulate ride-sharing services like UberX.

    While not outright banning UberX, councilors like Kim Rafferty and Jonathan Austin have made it clear that they are against the service setting up in the Magic City. Why? Because these are not smart people we are dealing with.

    Well that, and the aforementioned geniuses tend to be against anything what is new and could help Birmingham.

     

    The Case for Uber

    It’s actually a simple one and only contains two parts. Firstly, transportation in Birmingham is awful and the current companies are horrendous. Most importantly though, Uber could make our lives safer and bring more money downtown. On to the first point.

    The current cab companies that operate in Birmingham are so bad at what they do that calling them a transportation service would be a very liberal usage of what it means to transport something. Try calling for a cab right now anywhere in Birmingham. If you wait less than thirty minutes I’ll put you on my back and take you there myself next time.

    Once, I called to schedule a cab to go from Cahaba Heights to the Loft district at 7:30 p.m. The company told me it would be anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. That is cable company level efficiency right there. I would have felt more at ease if they had told me: “We could pick you up, or you could go screw yourself. It’ll either be one or the other.” That concludes my argument as to why cab companies in Birmingham are terrible things.

    So if they are so awful why should we bring in another? Well for starters, UberX probably won’t suck. The company is just run better than traditional cab companies that tend to view their drivers as indentured servants and pay them as such. People usually have good reviews for the service and it has become popular in part because of that reputation.

    Better transportation in Birmingham will ultimately drive (puns) more people to move downtown, which will inject more money into the area, which will attract more businesses into downtown, which will result in more tax money for the city.

    Better and cheaper late night transportation in Birmingham will convince more people from the surrounding areas to seek libations downtown. Which will bring in more money to local businesses and will also make the roads safer as less people feel the need to drunkenly drive.

     

    Raffle Off Rafferty!

    Well that sure does sound swell. A company could come in to fill a need, and it could result in more tax money for the city government. So, why aren’t we doing it? Because the city council hates Birmingham. That is quite possibly the only explanation for it.

    Kim Rafferty, Birmingham Alabama Councilwoman

    Kim Rafferty is the chair of a committee that is utterly failing in Birmingham. One of the biggest digs on the city is that we have no working system of transportation. It’s something that will probably contribute to us losing out on hosting big events. Why should a couple thousand people come to Birmingham for a convention/event when the public transportation is a joke and the private transportation services emulate that? Those are some sweet restaurants we have downtown, good luck getting to them without your car.

    It’s time two things happen. One, our councilors start working to fix the problems in Birmingham, not put themselves in between us and the future. And, two; we start to care enough to get rid of the ones who are exceptionally bad, like Kim Rafferty.

  3. Will Birmingham’s Sordid Past Finally Pay Off?

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    The story blew up social media like well, a bomb. News that AMC, the station behind hits like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead; was to produce a TV series set in Birmingham. You’d think that everyone would rejoice over the spotlight finding the Magic City, but reaction was mixed. Trepidation came with good reason. After all, the show’s working title is Bombingham.

    The Birmingham Business Journal reported on the premise of the show, and I’ll give you three hints as to what it’s about: “The fragile peace in present-day Birmingham, Alabama is shattered when a murderer from 1963 is discovered and buried demons from the Civil Rights Era resurface.”

    Oh, racism. Here I thought the inner-politics of an storied defense contractor and it’s hidden past of corporate espionage were to be featured. Nope, the thing Birmingham is regrettably most known for has a chance to recapture the nation’s attention. Dead horse, prepare to be beaten.

    Is this stallion dead though? Can Birmingham’s sordid past end up molding a respectable future?

    The first, and really the only time, Birmingham comes up in schools outside of Alabama is when civil rights time comes around. Four dead angels, fire hoses and foundations built from prejudice is the introduction the majority of American children get to this fair town.

    So why are we still talking about it if everyone already knows the role Birmingham played in the war for civil rights? For starters, it’s compelling drama. Over the last few years blockbuster movies such as The Butler and 12 Years a Slave have found box office success by telling the tales of the oppressed. AMC has reason to believe that people are ready to watch TV about racial inequality, and they’re gonna strike while the iron is hot.

    Some believe that Birmingham should ignore this chapter in its history and refuse to acknowledge what happened. That thinking is naive because a lot of good can come from memorability, no matter how nefarious it is.

    All we know about the show is that it will involve racial tensions in some manner. It could be a great story about the dichotomy of the younger progressive generations, and the more entrenched older generations. It could paint a portrait of Birmingham like The Wire sketched Baltimore. It could also be filled with racist caricatures and set the city back further than even our own elected officials work to. Point being, before we decree this as awful we should give it a chance to make it’s case.

    Even if it portrays this city and its inhabitants in a terrible misguided light, it really can’t do anything but help us. I’d rather everyone know Birmingham, even if it is for a tragic past, than for people to ask, “where?”

    Heck our city motto could be: “Come for the racism, stay for the hospitality!” We could plaster it over that awful Pepsi sign.

  4. Why Are There No Black People in White Fraternities?

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    It was after midnight and I’d had about 15,000 beers, at least that’s what it would feel like the next morning when I wondered why everyone around me looked almost exactly the same. Brand name collared shirt, shorts above the knees, boat shoes laced up and whiskey on the breath. More so than dress and actions, why was everyone white?

    See, I’m a member of a fraternity at Alabama which means I am by default a racist. Well, that’s what everyone wants you to believe.

    Last fall some brave women peeled back the curtain on a generational dichotomy that was preventing integration of the University of Alabama’s greek system. According to reports, the younger and more progressive members of sororities were willing to shatter the unspoken rules that kept minorities on the outside looking in. Despite a change in culture, the more conservative advisors allegedly blocked the chapter’s wishes.

    Thankfully, a lot of people who were never involved in the situation gave their two cents and the Student Government Association passed groundbreaking legislation to require all fraternities and sororities to pledge at least one minority member each semester. Just kidding! Only the first half of that is true.

    What actually went down was a lot dumber. After the articles came out, unrelated campus groups publicly chastised those bastardly greeks and their racist selves. Groups like the Mallet Assembly emerged at the forefront of the conversation despite having nothing to do with what transpired. There was a cute march where everyone held hands and then the topic died.

    Spring rolled around and a couple of SGA senators proposed the equivalent of a Model U.N. resolution on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. The resolution didn’t pass because it was stupid, and the media came out to bash the racist greeks and their campus controlling ways.

    Now that you’re caught up I want to tell you why the SGA resolution was a farce and why there are no blacks in white fraternities.

    Model U.N.

    The Student Government Association at Alabama is an incredible organization that has introduced many initiatives that truly do assist students. An overwhelming majority of SGA executives are serving because they believe they can make their fellow students lives better. That being said they have not an inkling of authority over greek organizations.

    If the SGA passed resolutions tomorrow that banned all Kappa Alphas from having jacked up trucks, and all Phi Delts from having black lab puppies (neither would be popular) not a single thing would change. Fraternities and sororities operate under their own regulatory bodies to decide on intra-campus matters amongst themselves. Yet still, not even those aforementioned regulatory bodies could pass legislation that changed-the-game because the nature of fraternities and sororities is secretive. No one but the groups themselves can alter how they operate.

    The SGA’s failed resolution produced possibly the dumbest controversy ever. Within the resolution was nothing to solve the problem, and even if there was some genius idea it would hold no weight. They could have voted to impeach Obama and had more of an impact. Get pissed because they didn’t pass it all you want, but ultimately it didn’t matter. Change has to come from within, which is why Mallet wastes their Pokemon power-up points every time they curse the greeks.

    Y U NO LIKE BLACK PEOPLE

    So it’s after midnight, I’m drunk and surrounded by a Vineyard Vines catalog. Why is it like this, and when will the Capstone catch up to the rest of the country?

    There are indeed racists in the greek system at Alabama (hold the presses, why didn’t I lead with that bombshell), but for the most part those idiots never hold leadership positions. IFC fraternities and Panhellanic sororities at Alabama are awfully vanilla for two reasons: traditionally white greek organizations don’t specifically recruit people of color, and people of color tend not to seek out traditionally white greek organizations in nearly the same numbers that whites do.

    No greek organization is going to look for a potential member solely based on their race, there are too many other important factors that come first: is this person cool, are they smart, do they have any redeeming qualities, can they at least pay their dues, can they help our intramural team out, are they creepy, will they attract attractive people to hang out with us, are they creepy when they drink, are they winking or is that an eye-twitch? I suppose some organizations will disqualify someone based on their race, but no one is going out to actively fill a quota.

    Not enough people of color seek out to join traditionally white greek organizations. Even at open rush events the number of white kids well outnumber the persons of color in the group. If you added up the number of members in traditionally black fraternities, multi-cultural fraternities and traditionally white fraternities I’d be willing to bet that the percentage of persons of color involved in greek life mirrors the percentage of persons of color enrolled at the University of Alabama. Maybe not exactly, but fairly close.

    Ironically enough there have been — and are — members of traditionally white fraternities and sororities who are not white. None of whom have made the news because it’s just not news, as it shouldn’t be.

  5. Does Zoës Kitchen Think Birmingham Sucks?

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    “You know it’s based in Birmingham” was what I blurted out as I spotted the Mediterranean food chain sandwiched between retail facades at a newly built Philadelphia strip mall. There was an inherent sense of safety in it; I lived in Birmingham, Ala., and this inanimate corporation was founded and based there. It was recognizing a kindred spirit, right before that spirit tells you to “shove off.”

    Zoës Kitchen is the kindred spirit that has left us, abandoned its home for greener pastures. Founded in Birmingham by Zoë Cassimus, the food chain expanded to more than a dozen states beyond Alabama and was an example that corporations could succeed in the Magic City. The Mediterranean restaurant came to represent the resurgence of Birmingham, so it came as a surprise to many residents when Zoës picked up shop and moved to Plano, Texas.

    Are we really worse than Plano? PLANO??

    March roared in like a lion for Zoës when it filed papers for an $80.5 million initial public offering, but amongst those papers was also the announcement that the chain was now based in Plano according to the Birmingham Business Journal. Leadership at the company said the move was due to the travel ease of nearby Dallas, but that half-truth might shroud a far more dangerous thought.

    In the article the company’s former HR Director insinuated that the reason the upstart company moved was really because “…the talent needed for rapid growth didn’t exist in Birmingham, and people just weren’t willing to move to Birmingham.” Jeez, tell us how you really feel.

    You hear that Birminghamians? One of your own thinks you are a loser and no one wants to be near you. Zoës is now the frumpy girl from high school who got really hot in college and doesn’t want anything to do with you. She’s too good for us simple folk. The former HR director may as well had showed a clip from “The Hills Have Eyes,” and asked us to crawl back to our cave-homes.

    Ain’t no stopping us now…

    What their move could tell other companies is that your business can only be so successful in Birmingham, and you will never be able to attract talent to the city. Zoës Kitchen was a success story for this city until it became a black eye, but it doesn’t have to be.

    Birmingham’s revitalization is here, and we are better than a company that doesn’t want to stick it out. We could sit here and bemoan why we can’t have nice things, or we could enjoy a beer from Good People at Regions Field. We could boycott Zoës Kitchen for saying that no one good wants to live here, or we could toast to one of the many sources that have ranked Birmingham among the best up-and-comers in the country. We could wonder why the politicians couldn’t keep the company in town, or we could work to incubate the next Zoës Kitchen.

    I couldn’t care less what Zoës move motivation was. It’s not going to stop me from obtaining diabetes from their delicious chocolate cakes, but it will make me think about the steps it will take for Birmingham to become more than an afterthought.

    It is unfortunate that Zoës chose not to stick to its roots, but companies rarely do when untold profits are just out of sight in a field so green.

  6. Who Cares About a Pepsi Sign in Birmingham?

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    “There are so many problems with Birmingham, who cares about a sign?”

    As quickly as indignation manifested regarding the humongous Pepsi sign erected in downtown Birmingham came the excuses. “This is private matter, the city isn’t involved.” Citizens of Birmingham and surrounding areas quickly invented their excuses why the Pepsi sign isn’t a big deal. “If you hate it so much use your money to put something else up there.”

    These people did what the people of Birmingham do so well, they made excuses why this city isn’t better. Excuses why Birmingham’s government doesn’t work for its citizens. Excuses why we can tolerate mediocrity. We deserve to fail as a city, because we do nothing to demand more from ourselves and those around us.

    The Pepsi sign controversy boils down to the people of this city challenging a local business to do better. You can call the sign a thousand derivatives of ugly, but that masks what it truly is: disappointing. All that prime square footage went to waste.

    It could have been a locally designed “It’s nice to have you in Birmingham,” or any other iteration, that beamed with civic pride. Buffalo Rock could have commissioned beautiful art to adorn the tower that would have been a public relations windfall. It would have set them above every company in this city. Instead, we got a hideous blight that violates city code.

    Pepsi’s sign atop the Two-North Twentieth building should matter to the average citizen for a number of reasons, paramount amongst them that the city has yet to enforce the zoning codes that the sign violated. In my post last week, I detailed what violations occurred, but the main gist of it is that the city has ordinances in place to prevent large product advertisements from obstructing the skyline and this sign violates just about every one of them. It’s too big, it’s on top of a building and it exists in a district that requires special aesthetic consideration.

    Those 10,000 plus square feet are a matter of public concern because their appropriation breaks the law. Had Buffalo Rock gotten the approval of the Birmingham Design Review Committee for their design this would be a moot point, but they didn’t get a permit at all. In fact, the DRC had rejected previous iterations of the sign before the corporation bypassed the process.

    A precedent has been set in Birmingham that companies don’t need to follow the guidelines set forth by the elected officials. So far, members of the city council have stated that while they don’t agree with the sign there is nothing they can do about it. What power does our local government now hold if the local laws they maintain can be selectively followed?

    People will tell you that Birmingham has bigger problems, and it does. This is a trivial fight but it is a fight that has to be won. If the citizens of this city can’t get their elected officials to do something as simple as enforce the laws in place, then how can we hope to have any luck tackling the real issues we have. What hope do we have lowering crime, creating a sustainable future and attracting more people to Birmingham if we can’t even get businesses to follow simple zoning ordinances.

    If we don’t demand better from Buffalo Rock and the city council they will have no obligation to give us anything more than mediocrity. The great sign debate presents an opportunity for us to accomplish something in Birmingham that both enforces the law and promotes civic pride. We can take that momentum on to the bigger problems this city suffers from, or we could say, “It’s just a sign.”

  7. Sign of the Times: Rules Don’t Apply to Corporations in Birmingham

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    A sign arose above Birmingham last week to the chagrin of any citizen with functional eyes. Not a sign in the biblical sense, like a plague of locusts; but a sign in the literal sense — still a plague, though. Buffalo Rock hoisted up a behemoth of a sign advertising Pepsi above one of Birmingham’s tallest buildings — You may know of Pepsi as the brand that is not Coca-Cola.

    Why is this news at all? Aside from being an eye-sore — also it not being a Coke sign — the erection of said advertisement achieves newsworthy status because the city refuses to enforce the handful of codes that Pepsi’s ballyhooing violates.

    Chuck Faush, Mayor Bell’s chief of staff, said the city was blindsided by this and will need to review its regulations. But, I didn’t have trouble reviewing the city’s regulations and finding exactly what codes this sign violates.

    Specifically it violates Title 3- Article VI- Sec. 9 regarding “Sign Regulations” of the city’s zoning ordinance:

    What is It

    Pepsi’s sign should be classified as an Off-Premise sign as designated by Section 9, Subsection 2-6:

    “Any permanent sign which directs the attention of the general public to a business, service, product or activity not conducted, offered or sold as a major portion of business upon the premises where such sign is located.”

    Unless the Two-North Twentieth Building starts dripping that sweet brown nectar from its walls, or Pepsi relocates to Birmingham that’s going to make this sign an advertisement for a business or product not at the building. This distinction is necessary because it tells us which regulations will apply to the the giant blue sign.

    The Pepsi sign is 176 feet by 57 feet, two sided with a square footage per side of 10,032 square feet and rests more than 17 stories above ground. It is wrapped around former electronic signage.

    What Code Does it Violate

    Title 3, Article 6, Section 9, Subsection 6-1 a

    What it says: This ordinance states that Off-Premise signs cannot exceed a size of “… 800 square feet, with a maximum height of 20 feet and a maximum length of 50 feet.”

    How the sign violates it: The Pepsi sign is more than 10 times larger than those square footage requirements, it exceeds the height requirements by 37 feet and the length by 126 feet. Without an exemption from city council this sign cannot legally exist.

    Title 3, Article 6, Section 9, Subsection 6-4

    What it says: “The maximum height for any Off-Premise sign shall be forty feet above ground level at its base.”

    How the sign violates it: Well for starters it sits 17 stories above-ground. Heck, if this sign were placed on top of itself placed at sea-level it would violate this ordinance.

    Title 3, Article 6, Section 9, Subsection 6-5 b.

    What it says: “No Off-Premise Sign shall be permitted on top of any building or rooftop.”

    How the sign violates it: (insert picture of sign on rooftop) I’ll just leave this here.

    Title 3, Article 6, Section 9, Subsection 6-7 b.

    What it says: “No additional Off-Premise Signs shall be permitted in areas of Special Asthetic Concern…,” and “All Off-Premise Signs shall be removed from all of the named Areas of Special Aesthetic Concern.”

    How the sign violates it: It continues to exists within an Area of Special Aesthetic Concern.

    Why Buffalo Rock Thinks It’s Right

    The basic argument is that because it does not change the dimensions of the former sign above the building it must be construed as merely changing the copy (message) of the sign, which is allowed as “Maintenance.”

    The zoning ordinance defines sign maintenance as: “Any cleaning, painting, copy changes, poster panel replacement, or bulb replacement, which does not alter the basic design, structure, size or electrical service to the sign.”

    By wrapping the sign in vinyl the design of a previously electronic sign is being fundamentally altered, as the electrical service has been deemed unnecessary.

    What Birmingham Should Do

    Force it to be taken down or covered until it can be properly approved and get the exemptions it needs. Or, if the city isn’t willing to do that, residents can appeal the city’s decision to allow the sign to the zoning board.

  8. My Journey from Philly to Birmingham, and Why It Can Help This State

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    It was a little after the evening news when Alabama first became a part of my life. Boredom and due diligence combined to alter my life’s path when I was a senior in high school living outside of Philadelphia. My SAT scores, my GPA, my extracurriculars — every thing I needed to go to college — was there, except the college.

    The SAT website used to have this awful survey that would supposedly tell you which college you would be the best fit. It was essentially the only intelligent Buzzfeed quiz. So I took this 35-page quiz with questions ranging from the serious to the seemingly asinine, and out of every university/college/ponzi scheme, the only one that it recommended for me was the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Roll Tide.

    I had no real intention of moving to Alabama, which up to that point in my life I knew of solely from To Kill a Mockingbird and “Forest Gump.” Still, my father persuaded me to fly down for a campus tour during February, mostly for him to escape the frigid hell-like winters of the North. Almost immediately I fell in love with Alabama, and the Southern way of life for that matter. Within ten minutes of walking on the Quad I turned to my dad and told him where he could send his hard-earned money for the next four years. Roll Tide, Auburn sucks.

    Why My Story Matters

    None of you really care why I chose Alabama from a state with a far better state system of colleges and universities, but you should for a very simple reason: I stayed here. Ultimately that quiz I took would net the state of Alabama untold fortunes in tuition, and lead to a new resident who modestly contributes in state taxes.

    Colleges in our state have the chance to persuade out-of-state students to settle down in Alabama. This is vital to growth because attracting college graduates to live and work here will only make this state better. As of 2009 just 22 percent of Alabama’s population had a Bachelor’s degree, not shockingly below the national average.

    That undereducated population is unfortunately staying put where they came from. Over 70 percent of Alabama’s population was born in the state, above the national average of 58 percent. One of the easiest ways to better this state is to bring in well-educated outsiders and reverse the state’s brain drain.

    Yet the legislature doesn’t seem to understand what an asset the colleges are to marketing the state. Over the last four years, they have slaughtered the higher education budget, and this year looks to be on track for another reduction. Between K-12, two-year colleges and four-year universities, only four-year universities are set to lose funding this year. Montgomery is taking away funding from the only one of those three educational systems that is helping Alabama’s national perception.

    Ultimately the students of four-year universities will have to shoulder that loss of funding. As tuition prices for out-of-state students rises, the chances of attracting more of them go down.

    Alabama needs to not only attract kids to go to college here, but attract the jobs to keep those kids here once they graduate. Only then can we drastically increase the educational attainment of the state, and establish a solid foundation for its success.

  9. Every Dog Gets Its Day … at the PETA Killing Grounds

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    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals loves three things: assaulting people with paint, advocating for animals to have constitutional rights and murdering puppies. Boy, do they LOVE some puppy genocide.

    I don’t know if puppies and kittens are more or less adorable while being killed, but PETA has more than enough evidence to tell us all the answer. You see, PETA advocates for something that they are shockingly bad at: keeping animals alive.

    Since 1998 PETA has euthanized more than 30,000 animals according the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and they’ve only taken in slightly more animals than that figure.

    If you give PETA your puppy there is a 90% chance the organization is going to kill it. You would have better odds of seeing it again if you let Lenny from “Of Mice and Men” pet sit for you. Heck, I bet at the heyday of Michael Vick’s dog fighting he kept a higher percentage of his dogs alive.

    Doing anything at a 90% rate is impressive. Many consider Michael Jordan to be the best basketball player of all time (Wilt Chamberlain is [editor’s note: Nope, Michael Jordan is]) , and he didn’t even make 50% of his shots. Yet PETA kills 90% of every non-human that is donated to it.

    The organization claims that the animals it is given are in such dire shape that the only choice left is to load them up with more barbiturates than an ’80s rock band’s tour bus and wait.

    To be fair, PETA did help find homes for 66 dogs/cats/rabbits last year. With annual donations above 30 million, of course. Without taking into account paying actresses to pose near nude for publicity, that math works out to be around a half million per adopted animal. The government is more efficient with its money- note: the government is not efficient with its money.

    Seriously think about those numbers. With how publicized PETA is, it is only able to get 66 animals per year adopted. With how much money PETA takes in, in donations it is only able to get 66 animals per year adopted.

    I understand that much of PETA’s efforts go towards increasing awareness, but shouldn’t the organization lead by example. Obviously some animals are going to be given to them in such bad shape that the only humane thing to do is put the animal down. But more than 90% of the animals? I find it very hard to believe that over 90% of the animals they are given are in that shape.

    This isn’t some hidden problem either, PETA knows it looks so bad the organization has explained its puppy-killing mission on its website. How can we take moral guidance from an organization that proudly touts how many animals it kills?

    Rather than give your charitable donation to a big, popular, sexy, animal-killin’ option like PETA; why not give it to a local animal shelter where your money has a better chance of being put to good use.

  10. Birmingham City Council: A Joke, but We Aren’t Laughing

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    The Birmingham City Council has made a name for itself recently by snubbing burgeoning businesses, but it seems as though they have graduated from idiocy to corruption.

    On the outskirts of downtown sits a horrendous structure that looks like a 1970s architect’s wet dream. The building most likely sits vacant due to a combination of its ugliness and uselessness — Sarah Jessica Parker in building form, if you will. Fear not though, our favorite board of incompetence wants to turn this ugly duckling into a swan, or at least an ugly duckling worth $139 million.

    For $5.3 million per year in rent — $139 million over 29 years — the city of Birmingham hopes to give its police and fire departments a long-term temporary home. After the deal is up, the city can go back to needing a permanent structure for its police and fire departments, and the building can go back to being ugly and useless.

    Not only is this plan drenched in City Council’s characteristic stupidity, but it adds in a fun flavor of sleaze. You see, the members of city council are getting a delightful boost in their campaign war-chests from none other than the owner of the awful building they want to rent. Essentially, the building’s owner is trying to buy our city council, and it appears that it might be working.

    His attempted payoffs are just a small investment considering the money he would rake in if the deal goes through. Dineros are dumped into the council’s pockets and in return the city adds another bad investment to the long list of them. He profits, we lose. I wish this was some made-up plot line from the new season of House of Cards, but really it is too stupid for that.

    Citizens of Birmingham continually get the shaft from our elected officials. In the past I thought it was because they didn’t have the foresight to lead Birmingham out of its murky past. Now I know it is failed leadership of a different kind. The most despicable kind, the kind that lays in bed with unscrupulous individuals for personal gain.

    Councilors who support the deal should be shown the door just because of how little sense renting that building makes for the city. Those who accept money from the building’s owner and then support the deal should be shown a jail cell. It disgusts me to even think about city officials taking what amounts to a bribe in exchange for a deal that screws the city.

    How long must it be before a real leader emerges in this city? The recipe for success in the city is here, what is holding Birmingham back are those names that appear on the ballot.  Why should I stay in a city that will use my tax money to support sleazy deals that have zero upside for this city? I’m a kid who moved to Birmingham from far out of state, but what incentive is there for me to end up in this city if it is perpetually doomed.

    With the losers that we continue to elect I know the future is not bright. It is only a matter of time before the corruption becomes more evident and hurts the city even worse than it has. Our leaders need to do two things: they need to start governing like this city has a chance of becoming something more than it is, and they need to stop acting like the old political games are OK.

    Scratch that, all I want is for city council to buy me a delectable dinner at one of our fine restaurants. At this point I don’t think it’s possible for them to be the leaders I need, but if I’m going to get screwed I at least want a good meal out of it.