Pro Tem Vote Delayed, 3rd Ave. Shell Station Will Remain Open
During Tuesday’s Birmingham City Council meeting, a motion was made to nominate Councilor William Parker for the President Pro Tem position following the resignation of Jay Roberson.
What followed was a lengthy discussion about parliamentary rules and how to make the process as fair as possible. Some councilors urged the body to appoint a replacement for the vacant District 7 seat before moving forward with voting for the internal leadership position. Others believed the vote should take place immediately.
Eventually the item was delayed for three weeks, by which time a replacement is expected to be appointed by the Council to represent District 7. The deadline for the applications and resumes for the vacant seat expires at 5 p.m. on September 11.
“Every district should be represented when we are making a decision like this,” Councilor Lashunda Scales said during the prolonged debate. She urged the Council not to “hijack the process” and also encouraged her colleagues to vote on filling the vacant seat as soon as possible.
Councilor Steven Hoyt, who originally made the motion to nominate Parker for the Pro Tem position, later urged his colleagues to wait until an appointment was made. “When I read this it seems to me the Councilor vacancy should be filled by the Council at next regular meeting,” Hoyt said. “The whole purpose is to have nine city councilors to elect a President and Pro Tem. That means there are some things that are undone. We should be appointing someone and then voting for Pro Tem. It’s always been my position that we have an election.”
No discussion was had regarding holding a special-called election for the three districts that will have appointed representatives following the impending resignations of Councilors Sheila Tyson and Lashunda Scales in November when they assume their new seats at the Jefferson County Commission.
Shell Gas Station
There was also a show cause hearing for the Shell gas station where Antonio Taylor was shot and killed while on the property in June. The man who allegedly pulled the trigger is currently being charged with murder. The debate on whether or not to revoke the business license had previously come before the Public Safety Committee.
About 10 people spoke in favor of the store remaining open, while family members of Taylor, along several other residents, expressed they would like to see the City revoke the business license.
Martin Evans, an attorney representing the owners of the Shell station, said they have submitted a safety plan to the Council and plan to adhere to the standards that were proposed.
“My client has been in business for approximately 10 years,” Evans said. “This is the first time we’ve had any issue with the city. Of course it was a bad situation and a tragic death. We’re very upset that it happened at our facility and for the family that lost a loved one. I’ve passed out a safety protocol, and the current policy of the station. We plan to adhere to these agreements and we have beefed up security recently — added lighting and security cameras, a dozen no loitering signs. When parking spaces are not being used, [the owner] cones them off to deter people from parking there and loitering. Overall it’s made for a safer facility.”
Most importantly, several Councilors wanted to verify one stipulation: that the owner will hire off-duty police officers/security personnel to be on hand from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.
Residents who attended the meeting spoke about the benefits of having a gas station in the area and how the business owner should not lose his livelihood because of the tragedy that unfolded on his property.
“I’m here on behalf of 3rd Ave.,” said Angela Lomax. “I was thinking if he allowed a lot of crime on the inside it would be a different story. We have to look at how people are just trying to keep their businesses open. If it’s closed it will just be a vacant building. He’s trying to fight to keep crime away. I’ve seen the owner come outside and ask someone to stop selling drugs when I was there. He could’ve lost his life too. We’re supposed to be a community and want to keep businesses open. What business is going to come along when y’all close it down?”
After hearing from all parties and reviewing the safety plan submitted by the owner, who agreed to maintain the terms as long as his business remains open, the Council voted to let the Shell station remain open.