Canceled meeting could hurt region

Published 9:31 pm Saturday, May 7, 2011

For the next two weeks, members of what is called the Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment will conduct public hearings at sites throughout the state to hear from citizens about the upcoming congressional and state school board redistricting process.

For the life of us, we couldn’t possibly think of a more boring event to attend, but the contrary is true. Such a public hearing, and the process of hearing from the public could not play a more vital role in the political balance of power in the state of Alabama and specifically that of Alabama’s Black Belt.

When the proposed public hearing schedule was announced, this newspaper was pleased to see one of the hearings wtas scheduled to be held in Selma, the so-called capital of the Black Belt. But just a day later the schedule was revised and the meeting planned for Selma went from having a fixed date, time and location to a “to be announced.”

Email newsletter signup

We are not sure what happened.

But, not one of the members of the Committee on Reapportionment calls Dallas County home, nor does it appear they have strong ties to the political, economic and social issues facing our community. With that said, holding a meeting in Selma could not be any more important. Tie that together with the fact that U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, born and raised in Selma, is the only Democratic member of the state’s congressional delegation and represents the Seventh Congressional District, covering most of Alabama’s Black Belt.

With a Republican controlled Alabama Legislature, there is little doubt her district — our district — could prove to be a prime target for cuts and changes. It is our hope the planned public hearing that was once a hard and fast date for Selma is put back on the calendar and done so quickly.

Alabama’s Black Belt must have a seat at this reapportionment table. If not, we run the risk of having any say in Washington weakened further.