Facebook, Twitter and blogs are abuzz today with news of a showdown between Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford and local tavern owner Jerry Hartley. Langford and Hartley verbally sparred at Wednesday’s meeting of the Five Points South Merchants Association. Hartley tells WBHM’s Andrew Yeager the confrontation erupted during a conversation about regional cooperation to address the problem of “brain drain.”
The mayor’s office did not return repeated calls for an interview. Langford did tell the Birmingham News that he had no intention of fighting and that he was simply defending the city’s reputation.
One side note to this story. Hartley is active in Free the Hops, an organization pushing legislation to raise the state limit on alcohol content in beer. Last year, Free the Hops boycotted Birmingham Budweiser — the distributor where Larry Langford is director of public relations. Hartley says that issue had nothing to do with his comments to the mayor.