Where were Birmingham’s City Councilors Tuesday morning?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Tuesday’s weekly City Council meeting had a full agenda, with items ranging from weed abatement, approval of $200,000 for the upcoming Birmingham Bowl and a highly anticipated vote on an ordinance that would have allowed Uber to operate in the city.

In order to hold a vote, five councilors must be present.

Only four showed up Tuesday.

Councilors Steven Hoyt, Sheila Tyson, Marcus Lundy and Lashunda Scales were not at the meeting.

Council President Johnathan Austin also didn’t show.

This comes exactly one week after Austin addressed the public at a special called committee meeting. He said the City Council would vote on a proposed transportation ordinance that would have allowed Uber and other ridesharing companies to operate in Birmingham.

“Worst case scenario is we won’t pass it next week. We’ll pass it the following week,” Austin said.

Austin and Trevor Theunissen, a representative for Uber, both said that night it would be reasonable to expect Uber to be in Birmingham by Christmas.

Timothy Alexander said he sat in City Council chambers for more than an hour Tuesday morning, waiting for the meeting that never took place.

Alexander was going to address the council on his concerns with Uber’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“They’re working for us. They’re working for this great state,” Alexander said. “I understand emergencies do happen and things do come up, but at least you can have respect for the ones that are fighting for you and voted you in to let us know, ‘Hey, there’s not going to be a meeting today.'”

Councilor Kim Rafferty said she was just as shocked by Tuesday’s lack of attendance.

“When I walked out of here last night at 5:30, almost 6:00, the last person I spoke to was Councilor Austin, and he said, ‘See you tomorrow,'” Rafferty said. “This has never happened before, where you’re caught by surprise when you don’t have a quorum. Usually you know going in if there’s a scheduling conflict for a majority of the council.”

Rafferty said Tyson was on a scheduled vacation, and that Hoyt gave advanced notice that he would be out of town on business.

Rafferty could not account for Scales or Lundy.
In a brief phone call Tuesday afternoon, Austin told reporter Jamie Ostroff that he was not in Birmingham, and agreed to an interview when he returned later in the evening.

After that conversation, Austin did not answer his phone or return messages.

“We are interested in moving the City forward and we will continue to do so. We need to focus on doing the people’s business,” said Mayor William Bell in a written statement.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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