BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The city attorney for Birmingham has announced that the resignation by Chris Rice, the former chairperson for the Birmingham Water Works Board, cannot be withdrawn despite efforts from Rice to reverse it.
Rice had sent his letter of resignation to Mayor Randall Woodfin back on Sept. 6. Less than a week later, Bruce Gordon, an attorney representing Rice sent a letter to the board that Rice had rescinded his resignation on Wednesday. Rice claimed that the resignation letter was written “under duress, undue influence and without authority.”
In the letter, Gordon also wrote that Rice had recently sent a second letter to Woodfin, announcing that he was withdrawing his resignation.
“It is my opinion that the Mayor of the City of Birmingham exceeded his authority in trying to secure Chris Rice’s resignation and, thus, for the reasons stated, as well as Mayor Woodfin being an improper participant, Chris Rice withdrew his resignation and, in my opinion, and remains Chairman of the Board,” he wrote.
Rice’s resignation came on the heels of Woodfin openly criticizing the board for its billing practices. The board, which has come under fire in recent years, is over $1 billion in debt.
During Wednesday’s BWWB meeting, Vice President William Burbage Jr. said that the board could not act on the letter, adding that it was outside their jurisdiction.
On Thursday, Nicole King, the Birmingham city attorney, issued a letter to BWWB attorney Mark Parnell saying that the resignation cannot be withdrawn due to previous rulings in similar cases.
“The Office of the City Attorney has determined that there is a compelling argument that the resignation of Chris Rice from the BWWB was appropriately tendered and was effective immediately on September 6, 2022,” the letter read.
READ THE FULL LETTER FROM THE BIRMINGHAM CITY ATTORNEY:
The letter goes on to say that Woodfin had received Rice’s resignation and it was filed to the Office of the City Clerk on Sept. 8, making the resignation effective immediately.
“We are of the opinion that the resignation tendered by Chris Rice was properly submitted to the Mayor with the intent that it be filed with the City Clerk in compliance with BWWB’s governing documents,” King wrote in the letter. “Because the resignation letter was properly tendered and was effective immediately, the resignation may not be withdrawn.”
King also stated that the BWWB should acknowledge Rice’s resignation as final and there is now a vacancy for the position. Woodfin will now appoint a replacement to the seat in the near future.