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Fayette to appeal district voting

The Fayette County Commission has decided to pursue an appeal of a federal court ruling that stands to drastically change how representatives are elected to the county commission and the board of education.

The commission met with attorneys for more than an hour in executive (closed) session Thursday, though it did not formally vote to appeal the ruling. Instead, Commission Chairman Steve Brown announced that the commission has “authorized our counsel to pursue an appeal” on the matter. The commissioners were fairly tight-lipped on the matter following the meeting, but Commissioner David Barlow said Friday that one of his big concerns was that the district map proffered by the NAACP put him in the same district as fellow county commissioner Allen McCarty.

The May 21 ruling from U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten calls for implementation of a district voting format to replace the current at-large method of electing members to the county commission and the board of education. The ruling came as the result of a lawsuit filed by the local and national branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People along with several Fayette residents.

The NAACP contends, and the judge agreed, that at-large voting in Fayette County has made it impossible for black residents in the county to “elect a candidate of their choice.”

“Here, it is undisputed that no African-American has ever been elected to the BOC (board of commissioners or BOE (board of education) and that voting in Fayette County is racially polarized in BOC and BOE elections,” Batten wrote. The judge added that the other legal factors weighed in the plaintiffs’ favor, too. “Thus, the Court is satisfied that “under the totality of the circumstances, [African-Americans in Fayette County are] denied meaningful access to the political process on account of race or color.”

The current at-large voting method allows all Fayette residents to cast a ballot for all five seats on both the commission and the board of education. District voting, however, would restrict residents to selecting only one member to each governing body, limiting them to casting a ballot for the post depending on which geographical district they live in.

District voting would also make it impossible for any Fayette voter to either initiate a recall petition or vote in a recall election on any board member except for the one who resides in their geographical district. Under Georgia voting law, a person may not initiate a recall petition, sign a recall petition or vote in a recall election if they do not live in the geographic district of the candidate being recalled.

The 2010 census determined that 20.1 percent of all Fayette County residents are black, while the voting age figure dips down to 19.5 percent.
Batten’s order set a deadline for all parties in the case to submit proposed district maps for the next election cycle “on or before June 25, 2013.”

The NAACP submitted at least two different district voting maps to the court during the lawsuit. One, dubbed the “illustrative plan” created five districts, one of which included a majority of black residents of voting age. That district encompassed much of the area north of Fayetteville and into the Tyrone area, extending around a large land mass to pick up two thin strips of land along the very border of unincorporated northeast Fayette County.

Those thin-strip extensions were necessary to get the district’s numbers with a majority black voting age population, officials said.

According to the court order, the NAACP map has a black voting age population of 50.22 percent. That figure eclipses the required 50 percent “plus one” required of case law “by approximately 35 voters,” according to Batten’s ruling.

“To be clear,” Batten wrote, “50.22 percent is sufficient to show that the minority voting-age population is sufficiently large.”

Batten’s order also quotes a court case that says if the majority-minority district sought as relief is not “reasonably compact” the Voting Rights Act does not require it to be enacted.

“As for narrow tailoring, the Court explained, ‘If, because of the dispersion of the minority population, a reasonably compact majority-minority district cannot be created, Section 2 does not require a majority-minority district,’” Batten wrote.

Last week a handful of residents urged the commission to decline an appeal of the matter, arguing that the county has already spent too much defending the lawsuit. Through May 28, the county has paid $283,522 on the matter. The NAACP, which issued a press release several months ago criticizing that expenditure, has not publicly released how much it has racked up in attorney’s fees even though if it prevails it has a chance of having the county pick up its tab as well.



Robert W. Morgan's picture

That's what keeps me up at night on this district voting thing, wondering which Brown toadie is not going be there for him next election. Oh well, as they say, prayer will get you there.

I wonder what results the lawyer promised or predicted to get our esteemed leaders to vote to appeal this thing and get their meter running again on what could be huge fees. Might have to pay for the NAACP fees as well - you now- If you can't afford an attorney one will be appointed for you - is that the American form of justice we are experiencing here?

I also wonder what our leadership thinks the results are going to be even if we do win an appeal? Back to the old system with an apology from the NAACP? Seems unlikely. Of course if we lose the appeal then all the racist rednecks in the county who are being pandered to now will immediately become sanctimonious, condescending liberals who will sniff "How inappropriate for those commissioners to try to exclude our black friends from the county" and then vote them out of office - except for Chairman Brown who will immediately embrace district voting and run for statewide office. Stranger things have happened.

Live free or die!

Selfish. All he cares about is himself. Two bankruptcy's leaving his creditors holding the bag, and now he is going to leave the citizens of the county holding the bag because he is scared he won't get reelected if the proposed boundaries are approved. Is he selfish in every aspect of his life?

What kind of attorney will tell you they will lose? Of course they sell you on the "we're different, this situation is different, we can win this for you." Commission buys it hook, line, and sinker, because its not their money.

Wonder if Oddo would really spend this money if it came out of his pocket?

So Barlow's basis for appealing the decision is not based on whether or not its in the best interest of the citizens of Fayette County. Nor is it based on the probability of the county winning. Its based on the fact it throws him and McCarty in the same district. You know, Barlow....that ain't Monopoly money you are playing with in this situation. That would be the taxes Fayette County citizens have paid into the county coffers as a result of their hard work. But then again what should we expect from someone who walked away from his own personal fiduciary responsibilities as a result of a couple of bankruptcies. What a tool!

NUK_1's picture

What happens in regards to who is currently elected and re-drawn districts? What if there are two or more current commissioners(Barlow and McCarty in one case) in one district and maybe none in another district(s)?

Also, McCarty is up for re-election in 2014, Barlow 2016. Do all have to immediately run again in the new districts despite already having been elected at different times? I have no idea how this would work. Anybody?

mudcat's picture

Chairman Brown wil devise a test where each of two commissioners will be asked things like "How many deputies in the sheriff's office work for the county commission?" and "Where does the county get its water from?" and "How does George Wingo and Tony Parrott fill in their 6 1/2 hours every day?"

This can be administered in written fashion or in public like a quiz show. The one with the highest score over 50% wins the seat. If both are below 50% - do over after Brown designs an easier test.

An even better question is what will Chairman Brown's district look like? Most, if not all of Peachtree City? Hmmmmmm. Might have an uphill battle in that district unless all of us who were here during his reign of error die off in the next 2 years.

NUK_1's picture

That's probably about it.

What a joke.

mudcat's picture

What is that area at the top that they are keeping out of this district - the one that it wraps around. Must be near Sandy Creek but that doesn't make sense.

abeautifulday4us's picture

Why no public meeting on the appeal? Maybe we can't be heard but we need to see the vote. The attorneys fees for the appeal ($100,000?) are big and they are not budgeted.

Why was there no public meeting on this ? Is that an ethics violation ?

This map shows a gerrymandered, segregated district based on race. This district was demanded and drawn up by and for the racists that exist in Fayette county.

They have rolled back the clock by several decades in demanding a segregated district based on race. The map was drawn up by and for the racists of Fayette County.

Most of America has already moved past this, but the racists of the NAACP and northern Fayette County want to throw us back to the segragation of the 50's and 60's.

Citizen_Steve's picture

At a minimum we should get the colored people to move into a reasonably shaped district.


Ask Clayton county to annex the new 5th district. They will then feel right at home in a dysfuctional, crime ridden county.

[quote=Joe Kawfi]This map shows a gerrymandered, segregated district based on race. This district was demanded and drawn up by and for the racists that exist in Fayette county.

They have rolled back the clock by several decades in demanding a segregated district based on race. The map was drawn up by and for the racists of Fayette County.

Most of America has already moved past this, but the racists of the NAACP and northern Fayette County want to throw us back to the segragation of the 50's and 60's.[/quote]

I am afraid I must concur with Joe on this one. This has racism written all over it.

This is raced based segregation. What the NAACP is fighting for rolls us back to a pre civil rights era. Times where people of one race or ethnicity were SEGREGATED into certain areas.

Their stance is utterly indefensible.

What would happen if white folks sued, demanded, and won in court - the right to carve out a section of Clayton County that includes Lake Jodeco and that area - so that they would be more inclined to elect a WHITE representative to the Clayton County Commissioners? The NAACP would scream and gnash their teeth.

NO NO NO NO NO. Let's not give in to the racist NAALCP and stand up to them!!

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