I don't live in the Birmingham city limits, but I work there, and I very much want to see the city thrive. In fact, I don't see how our community, and our state for that matter, can reach its potential without a thriving Birmingham.
The city is not thriving at the moment. Published reports indicate Birmingham is losing 5.6 percent of its population per year. And there are proposals to close a number of city schools because of a declining population. Middle and upper-class black families evidently are following their white counterparts to the suburbs.
Clearly, Birmingham needs bold and effective leadership. Newly elected Mayor Larry Langford has the bold part down pat. And it looks like he will get a chance to prove the effective part now that Jefferson County Judge Allwin Horn has ruled in Langford's favor in an election contest by runnerup Patrick Cooper.
Horn ruled that Langford met residency requirements to run for mayor. Langford still owns a home in Fairfield, Alabama, but signed a lease on a loft in downtown Birmingham in June 2007.
Cooper said he plans to file an appeal.
This case has special resonance here at Legal Schnauzer because your humble blogger has a case pending before Judge Horn--on a matter that grew from the bogus lawsuit filed against me by a neighbor in Shelby County, a lawsuit that is at the heart of this blog.
So far, I've been extremely unimpressed with Judge Horn. He is a Republican, and like every other Republican judge I've encountered in Alabama, he seems more than willing to make rulings based on politics rather than the law. I will be posting details soon about Horn's actions in my case.
But my experiences with him make me wonder about his motives in the Langford ruling. News reports say Langford and others have been interviewed as part of a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into Jefferson County sewer-bond activities. A number of local pundits have stated that it's only a matter of time before Langford is indicted.
Is it possible that Alabama's GOP henchmen want to lift Langford up, making it easier to chop him down? Is it possible that Langford, by being mayor, becomes an even more attractive target for the SEC and perhaps the Bush Justice Department? Did these political considerations play a part in Horn's ruling?
Wouldn't surprise me if they did.
One interesting note about the Langford ruling, which is available here. Horn did cite at least one statutory law and about a half dozen examples of case law. That differs from my experience with him. I've seen him make rulings, ones that don't square with the actual law, where he appears to have made no attempt to conduct any research. More on that coming soon.