published Sunday, December 4th, 2011

NAACP warns of challenge to redistricting


by Cliff Hightower

For the first time, Chattanooga has included Hispanics in redistricting efforts to create a majority-minority district, triggering opposition from the local NAACP.

District 7 in South Chattanooga "started out as an African-American district, and it should be an African-American district," said Joe Rowe, Chattanooga NAACP vice president. "To me, that's retrogression."

He warned that the council could face a challenge under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and said he will discuss the next steps with plaintiffs from the lawsuit in the 1980s that overturned Chattanooga's commission form of government.

But City Attorney Mike McMahan said the final proposed redistricting plan, which could be voted on in two weeks, should be considered fair by the courts.

"The plan under consideration could withstand challenges," he said.

District 7, which includes St. Elmo, is represented by Councilman Manny Rico.

Political districts are redrawn every 10 years after the national census to ensure proportional representation. The council began working on the new lines about a month ago.

Since the mayor-council government was established 22 years ago, the city has maintained three majority-black districts and a swing district.

But because of shifts in population, the city for the first time had to consider including Hispanics to keep District 7 as a swing district, where about half the voters are majority and about half are minority.

City records show the new District 7 as drawn would be 47.79 percent black, 40.79 percent white and 9.5 percent Hispanic.

The majority-minority districts would be District 5, at 66 percent black; District 8, at 64 percent black; and District 9, at 65 percent black.

Councilman Peter Murphy, chairman of the Legal and Legislative Committee, led the council's redistricting committee. He said he knows there are people "who would like for things to be different," but he said changes in the community make such wishes impossible.

Murphy said he also will meet with plaintiffs in the 1980s case, Brown v. Board of Commissioners of the city of Chattanooga, to express his views on the redistricting process. But he said he does not see a potential lawsuit changing what could be finalized.

"I certainly don't believe there are any actionable grounds," he said.

Rico said the council did what it had to do to get the majority-minority districts. In this case, it meant adding the Hispanic population into the mix in District 7.

Rico said things have changed since the last redistricting.

"It was just a black and white thing," he said. "Ten years ago, there wasn't a lot of Hispanics."

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larwilb60 said...

How about we ONLY consider LEGAL Hispanics in all of this calculating? That would eliminate about 1/2 of East Lake right there! How about this? Draw up the districts by the number of PEOPLE (doesnt matter what color-we have a Black President now and we didnt have to REDISTRICT the country to achieve that!)...and STOP all the whining in Chattanooga about having to prove WHO you are to vote! We've been doing it in Georgia for years and it works just fine! There is nothing RACIAL about it! Older White people have to get the ID just like Black people do...So get over it! Pull up your saggy pants and stop asking for special treatment NAACP!

December 4, 2011 at 7:58 a.m.
joetheplumber said...

This is BS. NAACP please don't waste time, money and efforts on such as this. Use the same to work in your neighborhood to get a grip on important issues such as drugs, murder, repeated teenage pregnancy, men fathering mulitple kids with multiple women and women with kids of multiple fathers.

Mapped voting districts is just another form of handout. The NAACP is simply a mondern day KKK. Most whites neither fear or support either and realize that both organizations are a strain on social issues - neither group cares about solveing problems but sure as hell causes them.

December 4, 2011 at 8:34 a.m.
MasterChefLen said...

It's funny how the shoe is on the other foot now. The NAACP thinks they are the only true minority. They should not be allowed to dictate policy any more. Instead of sitting around complaining about how bad things are, collecting checks and food stamps from the government (paid for by WORKING TAX PAYING PEOPLE, having a sense of entitlement (an agenda the NAACP promotes) the hispanics by and large are doing the jobs other people DON'T WANT TO DO or WILL NOT DO, that is why they are successful.

December 4, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.
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