Commission President Bettye Fine Collins today threatened to have a Birmingham Weekly columnist escorted from the building.'a0At the end of a post-commission meeting press conference, Birmingham Weekly columnist Kyle Whitmire asked Collins whether she stood by a statement she made the previous week.
"This press conference is over," Collins said.'a0
Whitmire asked the question again.'a0
"Would you like me to have you escorted out?" Collins responded.'a0
Last week Whitmire asked Collins whether the Birmingham law firm Haskell Slaughter had any involvement in securing a controversial lobbying contract between the county and the Book Hill Partners. At that time, Collins said she had no knowledge of any such involvement.'a0
"I have no knowledge of Haskell Slaughter's involvement in securing the lobbyist," Collins said last week.'a0
(See video from last week below.)
Since then, however, details have emerged that contradict Collins' claim. Last Thursday, The Birmingham News reported that Haskell Slaughter attorney Michael Choy said the firm had been involved in securing the contract and that commissioners, including Bettye Fine Collins had knowledge of this. Subsequently, Haskell Slaughter issued a statement saying that Choy's account was "uninformed." Regardless, the Haskell Slaughter's statement did say that Collins was present for one meeting in Commissioner William Bell's office. Rather, the firm characterized Collins' involvement in the meeting as brief.