Article Comment 

Public redistricting hearing set for Monday


Garthia Elena Burnett



The issue that''s heated the supervisors'' boardroom for the past weeks goes to the public on Monday. 


Though public interest in the plan seems to be limited, there are some groups planning to attend the meeting, in objection to the redistricting plan. 


"It is my understanding that there will be a number of people there to object to the present plan," said Leroy Brooks, District 5 supervisor, who plans to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice about the plan and the procedure used to put it in place. 


"It''s also been an ongoing conversation with legal counsel," Brooks said. 


Among those planning to attend the Monday redistricting hearing is the Lowndes County chapter of the NAACP. Lavonne Harris, chapter president, said the NAACP has several concerns about the plan. She will outline those at Monday''s meeting. 


The plan moves part of the Sale voting precinct, north of Highway 182, out of District 3 and into District 1; part of the Trinity voting precinct, south of 182 and east of the Luxapalila Creek, out of District 1 and into District 5; and part of the Union Academy precinct from District 5 to District 2. District 4 is unaffected. 


Under the new plan, District 1''s voting population is 71.2-percent white; District 2 is 69.8-percent white; District 3 is 83.2-percent white; District 4 is 79.4-percent black, and District 5 is 62-percent black. Brooks wants at least a 65-percent black majority in District 5 to ensure a "strong black district." 


The motion initially passed on March 25, with a vote of 3-1. Brooks voted against, and District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith abstained from the vote. Later in the meeting, Smith changed his vote in favor of the plan. 


Oxford-based Bridge and Watson drew up the plan, which the supervisors selected from a presentation of four redistricting proposals. Bridge and Watson also has been working on redistricting plans for Lee, Monroe, DeSoto and Tunica counties. 


County lines are reviewed every 10 years, in response to the U.S. Census, to ensure the population in each district are about the same. The Justice Department evaluates the plans to assure fairness to minorities.  


The public hearing is Monday at 11 a.m. at the Lowndes County Courthouse, in the downstairs courtroom.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment mississippian commented at 4/3/2011 7:47:00 AM:

How much more racist can Brooks get? He is building an all black empire to keep in in office. Now he solicits the most racist group in the America, the NAACP to obtain his agenda, a "strong black district." When will Black Americans cease the nonsense?


Article Comment raider commented at 4/3/2011 11:26:00 PM:

When all the white district are 70+ percent white...why should Brooks not have a district that's 70+ percent black? If I didn't know better...I would say they were trying to dilute Brook's district in an attempt to defeat him. I bet if they found a way to reduced district 1 down to a 60/40 district, all hell would break loose.


Article Comment lateral caudal nidopallium commented at 4/4/2011 11:58:00 AM:

Could someone please do as many of us ask our doctors to do? Plain English please. If I understand the problem correctly, Mr. Brooks wants a larger black percentage than what the proposed plan calls for. Unless Mr. Smith is willing to lose the amount that Mr. Brooks wants, how can any of the majority white districts contribute to the number Mr. Brooks wants without raising a red flag with the Justice Department?
Lowering the black percentage of an already white majority district is something one would assume the DOJ would frown upon. What I get from the meetings is that supervisor Smith is neither willing to lose the amount needed to give Mr. Brooks the number he wants, nor is he willing to talk about the subject at all in the meetings. The numbers of black and white residents are finite numbers. They are not loaves and fishes. In order to increase one district another district has to lose part or all of that same number.


Article Comment raider commented at 4/4/2011 2:54:00 PM:

@lateral: The red flag will be raised by reducing the number of blacks in Brooks' district because it is an established black district. If you changed the white districts from 70/30 to 75/25, it will not make a difference in the represenation of the BOS (3 white/2 black). The DOJ will not be concerned with a super majority white district becoming a bigger majority. In Brooks case, reducing the number of blacks in that district could lead to a white winning the election and representing that district.
An example would be if you had a three way race between 2 black candidates and 1 white in district 5. If the votes where along racial lines and the blacks split the vote equally, the white candidate could win the election with 35-38 percent of the vote. However, if you flip that around in the current white districts with 2 white and 1 black candidate, that would not be the case because the black candidate would only get 30 percent of the vote and the 2 white candidates would get 35 percent. It would be much harder to change the race of the representive in those district.
If they adopted Leroy's plan, I believe it would make it much harder for someone white to win that district and it would satisfy the goals and intent of the DOJ.
I am not an expert on these things and this is a laymens interpretation of the argument. Any other comments on the subject would be appreciated in gaining an understanding of subject.


Article Comment lateral caudal nidopallium commented at 4/4/2011 4:00:00 PM:

I understand a little better now, but knowing the history of the DOJ on southern politics, I don't see how they can ignore any reduction in minority representation in any district, white majority districts in particular.
Still, if Mr. Brooks can indemnify the supervisors from the majority white districts for lowering black representation in their districts to achieve the numbers he wants, and as long as it doesn't overly burden the people who are moved on paper from one district or another to his, then it seems there is little argument against doing what he wants.
I have seen recently what I think is an increase in the number of black candidates running as independents. If someone believes a change is really needed in a district, maybe speaking to possible candidates and convincing more people to file and run as independents is one way to get the change people are looking for.


Article Comment june commented at 4/4/2011 6:50:00 PM:

C'mon, we can do better than that! Since apparently, we only vote according to race - blacks for blacks & whites for whites, let's make all the districts either 99 percent black or 99 percent white. Gotta leave room for Asian, Native American and other ethnicities, with those 1 percents. But what counts is black & white! Too bad we're not all color blind. Roger Larsen doesn't seem to be complaining about having a majority-black district. He's gotta get their votes to win. He knows that. He ought to win & put an end to these blacks-for-blacks whites-for-whites voting theories.


Article Comment raider commented at 4/4/2011 8:43:00 PM:

@june: I understand what you are saying but the reality in real life says that your chances of winning is greatly increased if you match the color of your district. A black person winning in a majority white district and vice-versa is abnormal. The counter to that is party politics but that usually is at the state and national level.

Mr. Larsen may not be complaining about being in a majority black district but his chances of winning that district is quite slim.


Article Comment june commented at 4/5/2011 1:52:00 AM:

You're right, raider. But it's a sad truth. MLK's dream, which was referenced a number of times at Monday's redistricting meeting, was equality, not merely by virtue of legislation, but by racial reconciliation & seeing each other as human beings, not black and white. ... Until then, what's the "right" thing to do? Give Supervisor Brooks the 70-percent black majority he wants? Someone with a better understanding of local & Southern politics than I might be able to answer that ...


Article Comment mississippian commented at 4/5/2011 6:01:00 AM:

Under Raider's scenario, 35 to 38 percent is not a majority so there would be a runnoff election. One black and one white candiadte. So it now becomes a mute point and the black candidate would win in that district. In Lowndes county black americans are the majority. Wouldn't everyone involved be better off if lines were drawn resulting in an equal 50/50 split.


Article Comment raider commented at 4/5/2011 7:37:00 AM:

good point about a run-off mississippian. Actually Lowndes county is majority white. Columbus is majority black.

Because each district must contain the same number of voters, it would probably be close to impossible to draw all districts to be 50/50. In Lowndes county the split is 56/42 in favor of whites. It would be very hard to balance that 14 point spread. Even with extreme gerrymandering, the 50/50 probably could not achieved in more than 1 or 2 districts. The other districts would probably end up more skewed than they are now.


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