Topics of Note
• Changes of Councilman Devyn Keith’s roles
• Special Recognition: Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama
• City of Huntsville enters settlement agreements pertaining to opioids
City Officials Present
Tommy Battle, Mayor
City Council Members
John Meredith, President
Changes in roles for Councilman Devyn Keith
City Council President John Meredith announced that Councilman Devyn Keith’s roles and responsibilities on the Council would be changed in light of his recent arrests and misdemeanor charges. Mr. Keith was removed from his position as chair of the finance committee, and the Council denied funding for his scheduled trip to Washington, D.C., with members of the Chamber of Commerce. During discussion, there was noticeable conflict between Mr. Keith and other council members. Mr. Keith was argumentative and claimed the Council presumed him guilty before his trial, and further claimed this presumption of guilt was the reason for their disapproval of his travel costs and for the tensions between him and the other council members. Mr. Meredith announced that Councilwoman Jennie Robinson would replace Mr. Keith as finance chair. When Mr. Keith asked Mr. Meredith for an explanation for this change, Mr. Meredith declined to comment, noting that he did not want to be subpoenaed in relation to Mr. Keith’s ongoing criminal charges.
Special Recognition: Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama
A representative from the Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama shared about the organization’s sponsorship of children in organized sports, STEM activities, and drivers’ education. The City gives $110,000 yearly to the organization, which is used for operations and accounts for about 1% of the Club’s budget. Councilwoman Robinson asked how many students in the Club are held back in school, and the representative gave an indirect answer, noting that students receive considerable help so they don’t fall behind in their school work. Councilman Little asked how the Club networks with other social groups in the committee, and Councilman Keith asked about the Club’s purchase of a church building on Pulaski Pike bought from Whitesburg Baptist. The Club representative noted that the organization bought the building in order to build a presence in North Huntsville that they historically haven’t had. Council President Meredith encouraged the Club to train students on how to behave if they are pulled over by police.
City of Huntsville Enters Settlement Agreement Pertaining to Opioids
The Council voted on a resolution authorizing the City of Huntsville to join the State of Alabama and other local governments as participants in Settlement Agreements with Walmar, Teva, Allergan, CVS, and Walgreens, in future opioid settlements. The City joins a list of local governments that will participate in an opioid lawsuit against three retail pharmacy chains, claiming that CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart pharmacies did little to stop the flood of opioid pills that have led to hundreds of overdose deaths. In November, the three retail pharmacy chains each said they would pay about $5 billion total to resolve a host of lawsuits related to their dispensing of opioid drugs. This comes after years of litigation over the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the overdose crisis that has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the United States over the past two decades.
This motion carried unanimously.
Other Items in Public Comment
Former City Councilwoman Frances Akridge questioned Council by-laws, noting that at any meeting the public can attend and speak on any topic. She presented several requests:
• that Operation Green Team would organize a clean-up on Abbington Road to deal with litter along the roadway
• that Early Works would consult the with the Cook Museum for several issues
• that Mr. Keith and Mr. Kling should remove themselves from the Washington, D.C. trip, because she believes they only attend Chamber of Commerce meetings for personal gain.
Mr. Kling responded that on these trips Council members meet with Senators and other leaders to discuss matters that are important for public business.
The next Council session will be March 9, 2023.