Friday, August 10, 2007

LR election lawsuit UPDATE

There was a lawsuit filed in federal court yesterday seeking to stop the current election seeking to expand the duties and compensation for Little Rock's mayor.

If I understand the premise, and I may be mistaken, the plaintiffs argue that, if passed, the outcome would diminish the electoral "weight" and powers of minority members of the city board. Not being an attorney, I may not be doing much of a job explaining this.

It seems possible that there is a viable civil rights argument here. It seems to me that Little Rock has been allowed to establish a completely unique form of local government, each of which is a creature of state government. At least, cities and towns are organized according to state law. It may be possible to argue that the proposed form, but giving an at-large mayor a veto and keeping the at-large directors, dilutes the voting rights of minorities.

My opinion is that the proposal lessens the voting rights of all local citizens, to the benefit of a few elite special interests. I have no idea if a federal court will find that this bad proposal rises to a constitutional or voting rights violation.

It might be that a court would allow the election to proceed, but stay implementation until the sitting directors have completed their terms. It might also be that the court would order a new election for mayor, thinking that Mr. Stodola was elected to a certain term with certain responsibilities and is not entitled to the increased salary ($160,000) and veto powers without direct election for that purpose.

Finally, Mr. Bruce Moore is, by all appearances, a professional of the highest order and a fine politician. The city manager, in my opinion, is not the target of this move to expand mayoral powers. If somebody has evidence to the contrary, let them speak now.

In one way, this litigation plays into the grubby hands of local power grabbers. For many white people, it might seem that if African-Americans are against something, it must be good for whites. Very sad situation.

While the African-American community has had its' voice and electoral power shamefully diminished by local power brokers, it is white neighborhoods that have been ravaged by the Little Rock real estate establishment.

The special interests which run city hall and control our board of directors have an equal disdain for decent working people, regardless of race.


UPDATE: Arkansas Times blog reports that the election will go forward and that a hearing will be set on the issues of this lawsuit.

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