Alabama executes Michael Land: The state of Alabama used its highest power last Thursday to put a man to death. Michael Land, 41, spent 17 years on death row after being convicted of the 1992 murder of Candace Brown. He is the 47th person executed in Alabama. Land shot Brown, a 30-year-old mother of a toddler, after kidnapping her from her house during a robbery. He dumped her body in a quarry at Ruffner Mountain. Gov. Bob Riley denied a clemency request from Land last Wednesday. The execution by lethal injection took place at Holman Prison in Atmore at 6 p.m., and Land was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m., the Birmingham News reported. When asked if he had any last words, Land said “No. Thank you though.” The state executed Tommy Whisenhant and John Parker earlier this year, and is set to execute Holly Wood on Sept. 2.
County reaches occupational tax settlement: The Jefferson County Commission approved a resolution Tuesday morning that may bring an end to a three-yearlong lawsuit over the county’s occupational tax. The resolution, which was brought before the commission with unanimous consent, was in regards to a $37.8 million refund pool. The Birmingham News reported that $7 million of that pool will be returned to the county; the remaining money will be refunded to taxpayers and used to pay the attorneys representing taxpayers. Those attorneys are requesting a 35 percent fee, amounting to $10.8 million dollars. However, Judge David Rains, who is presiding over the case, could reduce that amount. The commission’s settlement also does away with a plan to retroactively reinstate the tax.
Alabama big spender on judicial elections: Candidates hoping to be elected to judicial positions in Alabama spent nearly $20 million more on their campaigns than candidates in any other state between 2000 and 2009, according to a new study by the Justice at Stake Campaign, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and the National Institute of Money in State Politics. Alabama judicial candidates raised almost $41 million dollars in that decade; candidates in Pennsylvania, the second biggest spender, raised $21.3 million. Candidates in all states raised a total of $206.9 million, a figure that has more than doubled since 1990-1999. Most of that money ($153.8 million) was raised in partisan Supreme Court elections, like Alabama has. Some worry that campaign donations could undermine the impartiality of the courts. The fascinating study, “The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2000-2009: Decade of Change,” is available at www.brennancenter.org.
Good news for city budget: It looks like the measures Birmingham Mayor William Bell has implemented to shore up Birmingham’s budget are paying off. The city of Birmingham’s monthly financial report—referred to as a “blue book”—for the month of June was released Monday, and it showed that there was $86 million in the city’s savings account, known as fund balance. That’s $13 million more that the $73 million that was expected, the Birmingham News reported. The city has a policy to keep three months worth of operating expenses in fund balance for emergencies, and to reassure the city’s creditors that the city is in good financial shape—an important point, considering the city is going to the bond market to fund a number of capital projects in several months.