Langford acknowledged that Alabama has an open records law, but then after a long pause, he blasted the council for giving information to the press. He claimed that one councilor had requested a copy of Birmingham capital projects to-do list and then gave that list immediately to The Birmingham News.
This isn’t the first such accusation or outburst from the mayor. Last December, Langford said in a committee of a whole meeting that he would fire the city employee who was telling the media about renovation and redecoration of the mayor’s office.
“As soon as I find out who they are, they won’t work here anymore,” Langford said then.
The Birmingham News had put in a public information request for the renovation work orders and invoices after the repairs had become apparent to anyone visiting city hall — mainly because of the smell of wet paint and carpet glue wafting from the mayor’s office, new lighting in the halls and additional audio visual equipment in the council chambers.
Nor does the mayor have the best record with the open records law. In fact, the biggest news out of this morning’s council meeting might be that Langford knows the Alabama Open Records Law exists.
Shortly after being elected to office, the mayor distributed to the council copies of his Birmingham Economic and Community Revitalization Ordinance. The mayor’s office did not give copies to the media or the public, and the mayor’s office had written on the envelopes: “Personal and Confidential. Not for Distribution. Only Mayor May Comment on Contents.”
The mayor’s secrecy was a blatant violation of the Alabama Open Records Law, but the city council leaked the document before media lawsuits became necessary. The media leaks that Langford blasted this morning, at least once saved the city an expensive legal battle it could not possibly win.