Calera’s lessons learned

Published 11:39 am Thursday, April 2, 2009

After the Justice Department’s latest rejection of the newly drawn Calera voting districts, Calera officials have decided to plead their case directly to department officials in Washington, D.C.

Here’s hoping this approach to ending this seven-month-ordeal is successful. However, we have to ask: How did this happen in the first place?

We don’t understand why the newly drawn voting districts were not approved prior to holding last fall’s elections. We don’t know if the blame for that goes to the Justice Department, to the city of Calera itself or elsewhere.

However, it’s clear that since Calera didn’t have direct approval from the Justice Department, it would have been smarter to hold off on implementing the new voting districts.

No doubt, Calera’s voting districts needed to be redrawn. The city’s population has grown by more than 7,000 since the old voting districts were drawn, and the districts were dramatically uneven in population.

But the possible loss of a minority-majority district with the new lines should have given Calera officials pause. The narrow loss of Councilmember Ernest Montgomery places an exclamation point on the concerns anyone might have had that the newly drawn voting districts were not fair and just.

We hope Calera officials find a resolution to this situation soon and that in short order, this chapter in city history can be closed. But the lessons of this situation should not be soon forgotten.