It took a while, but I finally found a news report that details yesterday’s Birmingham City Council re-vote on the Malcolm Pirnie contract. I think Sansou was right; the Trinity announcement was a great diversion that kept this story off the evening news.
The measure, redesigned so it wouldn’t require a super-majority, passed 4-3-2. Councilors Smitherman, Witherspoon, Royal, and Montgomery voted yes. Duncan, Abbott, and Hoyt voted no. Parker abstained, as did Bell (appropriately, as he is a former Malcolm Pirnie employee).
The good news is that the Malcolm Pirnie contract is just for one year. The bad news is that the Malcolm Pirnie contract is just for one year. What happens in one year is that MP gets to build a case for why they should provide the services formerly provided by SWMA. What happens in one year is that SWMA will probably not have the capacity to provide alternative data. In other words, we’re sunk. I am willing to go on talk radio, write op-eds, sit-down at restaurants (never mind, that’s been done) to expose this stuff. What is going to be key is to document their performance way in advance of the October, ’09 Birmingham Council races and make them known.
SWMA was the singular best case for regional, multi-jurisdictional cooperation. We must resurrect it if our communities are to survive with the prospects of sharing community rather than dividing community.
SWMA worked. it cost a whopping $5 per year per household served. (An attempt to raise the rate to $12, the first increase in ten years, brought about a lawsuit by the Business Alliance for “Responsible” Development, which was just horrified at this exorbitant rate hike. BARD has done everything it can to hobble effective regulation — see here and here, for instance.) I’d call that a bargain.
Not to worry, though. I’m sure Malcolm Pirnie will do a much better job. Or at least it will appear that way; Malcolm Pirnie Vice President Scott Phillips is Chair of the Board of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the agency charged with evaluating Birmingham’s storm water management efforts. As for water quality, just remember: caveat emptor.