North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

February 9, 2013

Our Views: The civil war of Rep. John Rogers

North Jefferson News

AN NJN EDITORIAL — The always talkative State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, is at it again.

Rogers has his knickers in a bunch, as our British friends would say, because the Jefferson County Commission shut down Cooper Green Mercy Hospital’s inpatient care beds, effectively closing the only indigent-care hospital in the city.

So he told — the media outlet that is still sometimes known as The Birmingham News — that “you will see a full-fledged war” against the county government.

His most interesting quote — and this comes from a guy who’s full of interesting quotes, among other things — is this: “We are going to fix it where they can’t get permission to go to the bathroom.”

Stay classy, John.

Rogers is the co-chair of Jefferson County’s delegation to the state legislature. And with our outdated, Byzantine state constitution, our hired hands on Goat Hill exert a lot of control — too much, frankly — over the way the county conducts its affairs.

It’s rather ironic that the constitutional lack of “home rule” for cities and counties stems from efforts to keep minorities from having any significant say in their own government. It was basically intended to keep blacks “in their place,” as were so many such efforts years ago. Now Rogers, an African-American, is threatening to use that power against a largely-white, largely conservative Republican population outside the Birmingham city limits.

This would all be comical, except for the fact that Jefferson County is in the midst of the largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings in the history of the nation. That’s why they shut down Cooper Green, because the hospital was draining lots of precious money away — money which legislators mandated that they get a handle on, or else. So the county needs help from the House and Senate, not a war.

Thankfully, the legislature is now solidly Republican, and Rogers’ hissy-fit stands little chance of actually causing damage.

And they wonder why people make fun of Birmingham.