Donald V. Watkins
Mayor, Council Majoring in Minors
By Donald V. Watkins ©Copyrighted and Published on April 24, 2019
Having blown a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to partner with Major League Baseball (MLB), Birmingham, Alabama's mayor and council are back to doing what they do best -- majoring in minors.
At Tuesday’s weekly council meeting, Birmingham city officials were focused Councilor Darrell O’Quinn’s proposed ordinance that would ban retail businesses in the city from providing plastic bags and other single-use containers to their customers. The ordinance, while environmentally-friendly, will not create a single new job in the city and will not generate a dollar in new revenues for city services to residents.
In the aftermath of the MLB debacle, O’Quinn’s ordinance is an example of how city officials perpetually majors in minors. The MLB partnership would have created a lot of new jobs, constructed four full-size baseball fields and a Youth Baseball Academy at George Ward Park, and promoted a positive profile of Birmingham around the world. This partnership would have been a major league deal.
The blown MLB project has shown us that Birmingham’s mayor and 8 of the city’s council members are political dwarfs who cannot do anything but major in minors. The only effective and strong leader in city government is Council President Valerie Abbott. She outthinks, outworks and out maneuvers all of the other city officials combined.
What is worse, the other city officials have an inferiority complex when dealing with Valerie Abbott on matters of importance to her. She opposed the MLB project and single-handedly killed it. The other city officials accepted this embarrassing outcome and bowed out of a political fight with Abbott over this matter.
Additionally, the mayor and male council members have been psychologically and politically castrated. Apart from Abbott, the females on the council are neophytes who appear to be incapable of challenging Abbott's authority. This is why the mayor and council are talking about plastic bags rather than their collective failure to consummate the MLB partnership.
The MLB deal evidences one huge lost opportunity where the mayor and council cannot use white racism as an excuse to explain their failure to exercise strong and effective leadership. The council voted 8-1 to get the MLB deal done. Yet, they did not have the intestinal fortitude or political acumen to override Valerie Abbott’s staunch opposition to the MLB project.
Birmingham has third-string city officials who pretend they are municipal government all-stars. Valerie Abbott is an all-star, but the others are not.
Now that the mayor and council members have shown us who they really are, we should believe them. I suggest that those of us who pay taxes in Birmingham simply adjust our expectation down several notches and allow these city officials to focus on (a) banning plastic bags, (b) fixing potholes in the streets, (c) repairing broken sidewalks, (d) cutting ribbons at ceremonial events, (e) passing resolutions that honor distinguished citizens, and (f) cutting grass on vacant city lots. These are non-controversial tasks that should not overwhelm them.
My God, how did we get here?
PHOTO: Birmingham City Council member Darrell O'Quinn represents District 5. He is leading the effort to ban city businesses from using plastic bags. O'Quinn voted for the MLB project but was powerless to consummate the deal.