Coffee County Commissioner unhappy with proposed district line changes
Coffee County Commissioners voted Monday, April 11, to advertise a draft plan of newly redrawn district lines, but this was not a unanimous decision.
County administrator Kathy Lolley said the 2010 Census made it necessary for Coffee County to redraw district lines. She said officials have been meeting and working on this along with the assistance of a consultant from the University of Alabama.
Monday morning, Lolley recommended commissioners approve a motion to advertise Draft Plan #5 for the new district lines. A public hearing will be held at the next Commission meeting set for Monday, April 25, at 9 a.m.
A map of the proposed district line changes is available for public viewing at the Coffee County Commission office in New Brockton.
Commissioner Bernest Brooks expressed his displeasure in the proposed changes. He said there is no 65 percent minority district in this plan, and that is unacceptable to him.
Brooks cited a mid-1980s court case as justification for his belief in the need for a 65 percent minority district.
Brooks, the District Five representative for the Coffee County Commission, said he needs 4,100 blacks in his district to have the 65 percent. He said the current district plan has 3,800 blacks in it.
Commissioner Brooks said he wanted to call the consultant back to take another look at the minorities in the county and municipalities to come up with a 65 percent minority district.
Rubin McKinnon, a Coffee County Board of Education Member, also addressed commissioners on this issue and said he feels there is no reason why the consultant cannot find the 65 percent number.
“Can’t see any reason why it cannot be done,” McKinnon said.
In regards to the need to make district line changes, Commissioner Dean Smith said it is not the best looking map, but according to the consultants, it serves the requirements.
Commission chairman Jim Thompson said Commissioner Brooks’ numbers are way off. He said the current plan has 3,991 blacks in Commissioner Brooks’ district, and Brooks has never had 60 percent anything.
Thompson said the current proposed plan has Brooks’ district at 54 percent minority, the most any of the proposed plans during this work-in-process.
Also, Thompson said Brooks asked the consultant from Tuscaloosa during one of the working meetings if the justice department would accept less than 65 percent for the minority district, and the man answered yes.
Commissioners voted 6-1 to approve the motion to advertise the proposed district line changes and upcoming public hearing. Commissioner Brooks cast the lone opposing vote.
“We all had to give a bit,” Commissioner Al Britt said in regards to the proposed plan.
In other business during Monday’s meeting, commissioners voted to approve a resolution to authorize the chairman to enter into an agreement with the Department of Transportation for the installation of guardrail on two county bridges (culvert on County Road 105 and culvert on County Road 723).
According to county engineer Randy Tindell, this is a grant project that will cost approximately $50,000. The cost to the county will be about $5,000.
The next Coffee County Commission meeting will be Monday, April 25, at 9 a.m. in the community room of the county complex in New Brockton.