Justice Department wants more information

Published 10:28 pm Thursday, November 20, 2008

The U.S. Justice Department is not yet satisfied with Calera’s new voting districts.

At a City Council work session Thursday, attorney Frank “Butch” Ellis said the Justice Department wants more information about the city’s racial demographics.

In a lawsuit filed last month, the Justice Department alleged the voting districts used in the Aug. 26 general election eliminated the city’s only majority-minority district.

Calera’s newly elected officials will not assume office until the districts are approved.

“The demographic data we have presented does not convince them that there’s not some way we could draw a minority district that would preserve the racial balance that’s been in District 2,” Ellis said.

The Justice Department also claimed the city failed to consider alternative voting methods. But according to Ellis, “the city doesn’t have the authority to do that.”

Ellis added Justice Department officials hinted at the prospect of a special census, which would cost the city time and money. He informed the council that a special census would be a foolish undertaking, considering the regular census occurs in 2010.

Ellis plans to meet with the city’s demographer and legal team on Monday, and resubmit more comprehensive data to the Justice Department on Tuesday.

”I’m confident we’ll work through it,” Ellis said. “They’ve set the rules and we have the burden to convince them.”