Thursday, July 16, 2015

John Hammer; Some of the background in the lawsuit is interesting.

"It notes that the law “pits incumbent council members against each other.”

...Only in the new District 1 are two district councilmembers facing each other, and that is District 1 Councilmember Sharon Hightower and District 3 Councilmember Justin Outling, and Outling was appointed, not elected.

The lawsuit makes the case that there are currently four African Americans on the City Council, but only in a chart does it note that one of those African Americans, Outling, was just appointed to the City Council and has never won an election in Greensboro to anything.  He is also a Democrat appointed by the Democratic majority on the City Council to a seat that has for decades been held by Republicans.

The lawsuit states that the makeup of the eight districts is to “minimize the voting strength of Democratic voters, which is an arbitrary and discriminatory purpose.”  It makes the same claim about African-American voters, which is a point some African Americans disagree with.

Of the eight new districts, three have a large African-American majority populations and one has an African-American plurality or a slight majority, depending on whose figures are being used.

...Alston explained his position saying that he was in favor of the districts because African Americans could win four districts outright...

...He said that gave African Americans four seats and influence over a fifth, which was a majority.  By contrast the current five-district system has two minority-majority districts, and in 33 years only one African American, City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson, has ever been elected at large in Greensboro.

Former City Councilmember and former state Rep. Earl Jones ...said, “The simplistic answer to why I’m in favor of the plan is that there is more power for black citizens under the new system than the old system.  Four districts out of eight is more than two districts out of eight.”

Jones – who was part of the group that devised the current hybrid system of electing the City Council with a mix of at-large and district councilmembers – said, “The hybrid system was devised for more power and influence to weigh on the wealthier, white, northwest part of town.  The pure district system is what the ACLU and the NAACP support.”

...The lawsuit makes two claims for relief.

One is that Greensboro had its right to determine its own form of government taken away by the law when every other municipality in the state has that right.  ...Under the new law the Greensboro City Council and the people of Greensboro would have to have any proposed changes approved by the General Assembly.

However, the right to change the form of government is not relevant to the current election.  The court could decide in December or any time in the next four years that Greensboro was improperly denied that right and reinstate it.  The new law sets the terms of the City Council and mayor at four years, so under the new law there is plenty of time to debate the validity of that issue and overturn it if it is deemed unconstitutional."