City Council Rejects Alternate Redistricting Plan By Black Leaders

Okays Plan With 3 Majority-Minority Districts, 1 Swing District

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The City Council on Tuesday night rejected a last-minute redistricting plan by black leaders and instead unanimously approved one that was tentatively agreed on last week.

Joe Rowe, NAACP leader, said the new plan would give four majority-minority districts - Districts 5, 7, 8 and 9.

He said the council's plan only included three majority-minority districts.

Mr. Rowe said the council plan may run afoul of the federal Voting Rights Act, saying it represents "retrogression" on minority representation.

Councilman Manny Rico hit the new plan, saying, "You talk about gerrymandering. To me it doesn't make sense to make it like that."

He said it would have Councilman Andrae McGary part of a district he had never represented before.

Councilman Rico said redistricting "should be a race-neutral process."

He said, "It's not fair to the people we have worked with for years."

Councilman Rico also said white people had made many overtures to help blacks. He said, "This race thing is getting out of hand, and I resent it."

Councilman Russell Gilbert disagreed, saying, "Racism is still there. We have not arrived."

Councilman Jack Benson said he was "real disappointed in what you've thrown before us. You've just gutted my district."

Councilwoman Carol Berz said, "This would take the heart out of a project that has been going on for a long time. The assumption here is that white people think alike and black people think alike - and that's an insult."

She said the new plan was "very gerrymandered."

Councilman Peter Murphy said Mr. Rowe told him earlier he wanted to keep majority-minority districts of at least 60 percent black voting age population. He said the new plan drops below that.

Mr. Rowe said redistricting should be about "building for the future, not holding onto the past."

City Attorney Mike McMahan said the council's plan is similar to one in 1990 when he said there were also three majority-minority districts and a swing district.

Absent from the meeting - on a city visit to Germany - were council members Pam Ladd and Andrae McGary.

Others attending the meeting included Rep. Tommie Brown and former school board member Sherman Matthews.


New Hiener Book Of Historic Chattanooga Photos Available At Zarzours

The new Paul Hiener Historic Chattanooga Photos book published by Chattanoogan.com is available at Zarzours Restaurant. Zarzours is located on the Southside on Rossville Avenue behind the Main Street Fire Hall #1. Mr. Hiener, a longtime Chattanooga printer and lifelong resident, collected over 3,000 historic pictures of his beloved hometown. He made some of the photos ... (click for more)

Former Nashville Councilman Announces Bid For Chair Of The Tennessee Democratic Party

Jamie D. Isabel, Sr. former Nashville City Councilman and a former member of the Tennessee Democratic executive committee, announces his intent to run for chairman of the Tennessee Democratic party.   Over the last two weeks he has contacted the 66 members of the Executive Committee for their support.   "Mr. Isabel is enthusiastically presenting his plans to rebuild ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: You Can’t Sue You

The Hamilton County School Board will convene an hour earlier tomorrow to discuss “facilities” and the question of the hour is “Which ones?” Several communities are actively studying pulling away from the county’s Department of Education and the stew is thickening by the day. Now comes the revelation that school board attorney Scott Bennett has sent an email to the town of Signal ... (click for more)

Top-Ranked Bradley Uses Fast Start To Beat Baylor

There’s no question that the Bradley Bears are ranked first in the initial state wrestling poll and they proved they deserve to be in that top spot following a 43-30 victory over the Baylor Red Raiders. Baylor is ranked fourth in that first poll and will surely be a force to be reckoned with in Division II as the season progresses, but the Bears are head and shoulders ahead after ... (click for more)

Run-And-Gun Tyner Shoots Down Red Bank 71-33

Tyner opponents better batten down the hatches if the Rams ever iron out their half-court offensive struggles. Even without that weapon showing up Tuesday night, the Rams showed they have a run-and-gun assault that can bury an opponent under an avalanche of points. And their defense is as tenacious as ever. Tyner outscored Red Bank 15-0 to start the second quarter ... (click for more)