Justice Dept. not yet satisfied with plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 28, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – City Attorney Rick Manley is scratching his head a lot these days.

It’s not dandruff with which he’s concerned, is a psoriasis attributed to the U.S.

Department of Justice.

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On Friday and Monday, yet another request for information from the city was made by Justice with respect to the city’s redistricting plan, still under review by the department’s Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division.

“I’m not sure what else they could want to see,” he said. “We’ve sent them everything they’ve asked for and still they call back for more.”

Manley is handling the process on the city’s behalf.

At issue seems to be city annexations in 1989, when the city annexed 248 people; the other in 1994, when 380 people were added to the city.

“(On Friday) We have faxed them the candidates’ names, addresses and work phone numbers,” Manley said.

In the latest round of requests, Justice Department investigators wanted to take a look at the election results dating back to 1980, said Mayor Austin Caldwell.

“I don’t know what other info they may need,” Caldwell said, “But we’re going ahead on the basis the plan will go forward.”

Caldwell said, with the help of the county’s Board of Registrars, a voters list has been developed under the new district lines.

“With their assistance, we have generated a list based on the new districts and I believe the list is now complete,” he said.

Manley said unless additional information is requested from Justice, the department has until Aug. 3 to rule on the plan under a 60-day review period which began June 17.

“If they ask for more information that window could be extended again,” he said.

The plan attempts to balance the actual number of people in each of the city’s five districts.

According the plan now under review, entitled “Plan G,” the ideal population for each district is 1,584 people.

District 1, along the city’s northern tier, deviates the greatest from that number with 1,648 people, or 4.04 percent. Justice guidelines allow for a deviation of 7 percent.

District two contains 1,602 people; District 3 contains 1,448 people; District 4, 1,547 people; and District 5 contains 1,555.

Districts 1 and 2 are overwhelming African-American, posting an 82.83 percent black population and 68.48 percent black population respectively.

District 3 is almost evenly split racially, with 55.81 percent white and 51.44 percent black population.

District 4 is 70.7 percent white, and District 5 is 93.5 percent white.