BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The fight over the future of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital takes a turn toward allegations of racism.
Horace Huntley, the Chief of Staff of Jefferson County Commissioner George Bowman, released a letter Monday, saying, "The attack on healthcare for the poor was a first strike. White Confederate/Republican Commissioners came into office declaring they would 'right-size' government, and get the County out of the business of healthcare."
Huntley says the actions of the three white Republican commissioners appear to be racist.
"It appears we are under attack. Poor people are under attack. Black and white people and it appears the attack is coming from our officials," Huntley said.
Huntley is a former UAB history professor. He pointed out in the letter the actions of the Republican majority included selling the county owned nursing home and the move to end inpatient care at Cooper Green is "a devious version of Jim Crow."
"I'm not concerned they may be upset. I hope it will make them concerned about what they are doing," Huntley said.
Commissioner Jimmie Stephens takes exception to the racial and personal attack.
"The only color this has been mentioned is green, that of money," Stephens said.
Stephens says the Republican majority has been trying to make Cooper Green and medical care for the indigent financially responsible.
"The entire purpose of the commission is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness that their tax dollars is being used to take care of the poor of Jefferson County," Stephens said.
Bowman, who has fought efforts to end inpatient care by Dec. 1, agrees with his chief of staff.
"Their actions are clearly, clearly racist. Yes, I will second that motion," Bowman said.