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BoE appeal: No proof of discrimination against black voters in Fayette

The Fayette County Board of Education is contending that race was a primary factor in creating a majority-minority district approved by a federal court judge who imposed district voting on future BoE and county commission elections.

That, and a lack of any evidence that black voters were discriminated against, is one of the several grounds with which the BoE is hoping to overturn the court’s district voting order, which was the result of a lawsuit filed by the local, state and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

At stake is a big change in how much local control Fayette residents have to elect representatives to the school board and county commission.

Under the old at-large format, all county residents could vote on all five seats on both governing bodies. Now, voters will be restricted to voting only for one of the five seats, corresponding with the geographic district in which the voter lives.

District voting makes it impossible for a voter to initiate or sign a recall petition to remove a wayward elected official from office if that official lives in another district.

Attorneys representing the BoE filed a brief May 27 with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing in part that there is no evidence that any of the plaintiffs have ever been “exposed to segregation by the Fayette County Board of Education or any other governmental entity in Fayette County.”

“In weighing the evidence, the court ignored the fact that the lack of evidence of discrimination was not limited to the individual plaintiffs — there was no evidence of any voting discrimination or other discrimination against black residents of Fayette County,” the BoE attorneys wrote.

The new district map adopted by the court “skips over natural geographic areas — solely because they are predominantly white — and reaches out awkwardly across narrow land bridges to reach other population areas — solely because they are predominately black,” the BoE’s appeal brief stated.

“The contorted configuration that is the bizarre boundary between District 5 and the adjacent districts — Districts 1 and 2 — has no remotely close analogue in normal Fayette County redistricting,” according to the brief.

The BoE also contends that the plaintiffs should have been required to devise a map which reaches the level of 50 percent of “eligible minority voters” instead of including “non-citizens who were ineligible to vote, as well as a litany of multiracial persons with no indication that those persons were in fact “politically cohesive” with the African American population of Fayette County.

The BoE further argues that U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten erred in granting summary judgment in the case instead of allowing it to proceed to trial, in large part due to the importance of such claims and the disputed nature of the evidence submitted.

“Defendants submitted abundant evidence that the Illustrative Plan was based predominantly on race, was not compact, disregarded traditional districting criteria, and constituted a racial gerrymander,” the BoE wrote in the lawsuit.

The BoE also argues that the court improperly ruled in favor of the NAACP because the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment only sought relief against the county commission, not the BoE.

The BoE’s appeal also quoted the plaintiff’s expert demographer, William Cooper, talking in a deposition about how similar black residents are to their fellow white residents in the county.

“African-Americans in Fayette County are not that distinctively different from their white counterparts,” Cooper said in the deposition. “If you look at education, income, you know, career paths and opportunities, military service, there are an incredible number of similarities between the African-American population and the white population in Fayette County.”

The appeal also noted that unlike many areas of the south, black residents in Fayette County “are not economically disadvantaged compared to whites.”

The NAACP and individual plaintiffs, along with the Fayette County Commission, have yet to file their appeal brief with the court.

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Comments

I couldn't have said this any better myself -

?__African-Americans in Fayette County are not that distinctively different from their white counterparts,?_? Cooper said in the deposition. ?__If you look at education, income, you know, career paths and opportunities, military service, there are an incredible number of similarities between the African-American population and the white population in Fayette County.?_?

Truth. Yet an organization once known for fighting segregation now fights for segregation based off race. Pretty disturbing...

is supporting Mr. Presberg for District 5 as the <strong>candidate of their choice.</strong> He is not 'black'. The Gerrymandering? (May get a Democrat elected) I think the 'courts' will see this as not necessarily a 'race' case. To Gerrymander in order to get 'votes' is not illegal. Get a better legal team than handled this case previously.

Read the VRA - 2

I think African-Americans have a good chance to win if they have a good platform they are able to get before the public. They also need an organized campaign team willing to put forth an equal amount of effort and sign waving as the white candidates have been doing. I have not seen any cases in Fayette County where African-Americans running for county office where I noticed many of them sign waving or putting out yard signs. It may be that the African-American candidates just need to expend more effort in developing an effective campaign team, knocking on doors, shaking hands on the courthouse square and other public places.

Doing this would increase voter turnout. It was especially effective in the last commissioner's election where both candidates unseated the incumbents.

It takes lots of volunteers and work beyond registering as a candidate for office to be elected. It would also help if a debate on county issues could be arranged between the candidates. That way, the voters get a much clearer picture of where both stand.

Sign waving doesn't do a thing for me. In fact, I think its foolish for anyone to stand on the side of the road waving at me as I drive by. It's an accident waiting to happen.

I'd rather see the candidates out at the farmers market introducing themselves and giving us time to ask questions, or standing outside the library or at a park. Someplace where if I have any questions or want to know them better, I can have a quite conversation. Or better yet, have them knock on my door so I can invite them in for some coffee to discuss politics for 10 minutes.

Every time I see someone waving a sign and smiling at me, I want to give them change from my pocket to make them go away.

.

[quote]I think African-Americans have a good chance to win if they have a good platform they are able to get before the public.[/quote]

In my ten years experience, African Americans have voted based on their personal preference regarding issues and candidates. The vile attack on Mr. Presberg when he was appointed to the BOE was a wake up call that under Districtwide voting, he could be replaced - and many in Fayette County - not just African Americans - are pleased with his performance as a member of the BOE - and want to see him continue. I am African American - living in District 4. I have been pleased with the actions of our current BOE. Mr. Presberg's political affiliation has not hindered the decisions of our current BOE, IMO. I hope that the residents of District 5 elect him.

Gosh...whoda ever known?

Don't want anyone to think I'm just another 'liberal'/ LOL!

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