Calera delegation headed to Washington, D.C. Monday

Published 10:18 pm Thursday, April 9, 2009

A small delegation of two attorneys and one Calera city councilman will leave for Washington, D.C. Monday to meet with U.S. Department of Justice officials to discuss the rejection of the city’s 2008 election results.

Attorneys Eason Mitchell and Dan Head, and District Two Councilman Ernest Montgomery will meet with the Justice Department Tuesday morning, said Head, a partner of law firm Wallace, Ellis, Fowler and Head. Mitchell, a Calera native and former city attorney, said he will primarily serve as a community spokesman.

“The plan is to go up there, talk to these folks and see what it’s gonna take,” Mitchell said Thursday during the city council’s work session. “We have to have faith everything’s gonna work out.”

The Justice Department rejected the city’s redistricting plan for a second time last month, arguing the plan eliminates the Calera’s only African-American voting district. Mayor George Roy and the current city council have retained their seats while Mayor-elect Jon Graham and newly elected members wait to be sworn in.

Montgomery requested the work session earlier this week to keep the public informed of the city’s exchanges with the Justice Department, and to make sure city officials and attorneys are “all on the same page.” He decided to travel to Washington at the urging of Roy, Mitchell and citizens. Calera resident Emily Powell said Montgomery will serve as the public’s voice at the meeting.

“You need to go,” Powell told Montgomery. “We need someone up there to represent us.”

Head and Montgomery will return Tuesday afternoon. Mitchell will return Wednesday. The delegation hopes to come back with a resolution.

“We’ve been going around in circles. We’re sort of tired of it and my guess is (the Justice Department) is too,” Head said. “I don’t know what road or roads we’ll go down.”

Some citizens are doubtful the Washington visit will do any good. Howard Hughes shook his head after the work session adjourned, saying the trip is a waste of time.

“You’re not going to win against the Justice Department no matter what you do. That trip to Washington is going to be money out the window,” he said. “The Justice Department has their mind made up and nothing’s going to change it.”