Neighborhood leaders reject plans for Alaska trip

By Ashley Nix

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - All indications were the drama about the hotly contested trip to Alaska was over.  Tuesday Birmingham City Council passed a resolution for $56,000 to send 28 people on the NUSA or Neighborhoood USA Conference trip.

But then it was a complete shock when some of the members said they didn't want to go anymore.  "We respectfully reject the council's resolution to send one delegate from each of the city's 23 communities," said Darrell O'Quinn of the Citizens Advisory Board.  "We are electing to forego the NUSA conference entirely if the council will not reconsider their decision."

O'Quinn says the council "failed to respect the vote for the residents of the neighborhoods" therefore they are rejecting the plan and will not go. This comes after weeks of arguing and chaos over the trip.  The main point of contention originally was the price tag, at nearly $400,000 for about 170 neighborhood leaders to go.  Now the plan to send 28 people at a cost of $56,000 isn't sitting well with the neighborhood representation.

City Councilor Carole Smitherman says she is fed up with the issue.  "It's old," Smitherman said.  "For them to come tell us they aren't going because they don't like what we did.  Then how about this, get 28 other people who want to go, let's give them the agenda and let's send them."  Smitherman claims the jockeying back and forth is politically motivated and she says it's time to put an end to it all.  She says the drama is not good for the city and needs to cease.  "Go or don't go.  If not, we'll put the money back in the budget."

So will the neighborhood leaders go or not?  Only time will tell. The NUSA Conference begins May 25th in Alaska.

Copyright 2011 WBRC. All rights reserved.