The other big story this week is Alabama's massive general fund budget shortfall, which Birmingham News writer David White says "could drop below budgeted spending this year by $75 million to $108 million or more." The hardest hit areas could be prison agencies, state troopers, and health care. An amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot would help bail out the state by using its rainy day funds. Maybe Riley's 2009 international trade trips will help. The Education Trust Fund may also be hit hard.
Speaking of education, Alabama's colleges are likely to be hurt by the nation's financial crisis, says Birmingham News writer Thomas Spencer:
The University of Alabama system was the most directly and immediately affected by market turmoil when, last week, a money market fund managed by Wachovia limited withdrawals. The UA system had $175 million in the Commonfund, which was used by 1,000 colleges nationwide.
That money was used for daily operating expenses at UA, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and UAB Hospital, according to UA spokeswoman Kellee Reinhart. The university was able to withdraw $61 million and expects to get the rest back as the underlying assets mature. In the meantime, the system raised cash from other investments.
Physicians Medical Center Carraway was seeking assistance from the city of Birmingham to avoid bankruptcy last week, and they may have been successful (for the short term anyway).
Ye gods, there is more news related to the financial crisis, but it may be good news for Jefferson County. The county is looking to get some money from the federal bailout to help with sewer debt. The county is also cutting jobs, closing satellite offices, and otherwise heading towards smaller government. Bettye Fine Collins admits "This will bring a lot of inconvenience to our citizens."
After initially strongly defending city workers in the case of the 11,760 dead endangered watercress darters, Birmingham mayor Larry Langford has softened his stance. Birmingham Weekly's own Kyle Whitmire talked a bit about this on WBHM last week. The city is possibly facing ~$294 million in fines (that's almost the city's entire operating budget), but they might be cut some slack since the kill was likely an accident (even if it was a stupid accident). Keith Rizzardi, who writes a blog on law related to the Endangered Species Act called ESAblawg told Birmingham Weekly this:
The Endangered Species Act is a very powerful statute, and intent is not necessary to find a violation of the law.'a0 Other local government entities have faced significant fines and even criminal investigations for inadvertent actions adversely impacting the environment and endangered species.
In other environmental news, the Alabama Cleans Fuels Coalition has announced that their I-65 biofuels corridor is almost complete. The Terminal has the story.
In other Langford news, the Mayor is urging donation of powdered milk, rice, and dried beans to aid Haiti disaster victims. Donations can be dropped off at Boutwell Auditorium.
There will probably be more on that in Thursday's edition of the Birmingham Weekly.
Looking to get involved in Alabama's Democratic party events? There are some good opportunities coming up:
7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 15th 'a0Presidential DebateFox & Hound at the'a0ColonnadeSponsored by Over the Mountain Democrats$25 contribution to Obama for America requested but not required.Matthews Bar & Grill 2028 Morris Avenue Birmingham, ALBirmingham Young DemocratsA voluntary donation to Alabama Young Dems appreciated.5:30-7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 16thFundraiser for: Judge Deborah Bell Paseur, candidate for Alabama'a0Supreme CourtJudge Clyde Jones, candidate for Alabama'a0Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 1Aimee Cobb Smith,'a0candidate for Alabama'a0Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2Last chance to support the most qualified candidates running for statewide judicial positions.$50'a0contribution'a0per candidate requested. 'a0Let's help them to victory!RSVP required: firstname.lastname@example.orgDemocratic Candidate Forum - Free & Open to the Public6:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 21st Birmingham Botanical GardensAll statewide and local candidates are expected to attend.Confirmed candidates at this time include Judge Deborah Bell Paseur, Judge Clyde Jones, Aimee Cobb Smith, Senator Vivian Figures, Shanta Owens, Jennifer Parsons Champion and J.T. Smallwood among others.Judge Deborah Bell Paseur's campaign for Alabama Supreme Court needs people willing to work phone banks and canvass. 'a0Just a few hours can make a huge difference.Contact email@example.com 317.5354Register voters with EmpowerAlabama.org. 'a0Check their huge Halloween event, trickorvote.org.Register voters with the Greater Birmingham League of Women Voters; contact firstname.lastname@example.org