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Clark seeks public input

By By Chris Allen Baker/staff writer
Jan. 4, 2002
A longtime community activist told Lauderdale County supervisors Thursday they need more public input before redrawing their five supervisor districts.
Obie Clark, president of the Lauderdale County chapter of the NAACP, said he believes supervisors have been doing too much work behind closed doors and out of the public's sight.
But board president Jimmie Smith, who represents District 2, said supervisors plan to host a public hearing on redistricting before they vote on a final plan sometime next month.
Clark spoke to supervisors during a two-hour work session as supervisors discussed redistricting. Supervisors must redraw their five districts every 10 years, using statistics from the latest Census to make sure each district contains roughly the same number of people.
Supervisors have been working on redrawing their districts since October. They plan to finish the job by the end of February well in advance of the 2003 county elections.
Smith said supervisors plan to create a minority advisory committee to study redistricting plans. The panel would include one member appointed by each supervisor from within his district. The appointees then would name four members each who also would serve on the committee.
The committee first would meet by itself, Smith said, and then with supervisors possibly by Jan. 22. After that, he said, supervisors would schedule the redistricting public hearing.
Clark also told supervisors he was concerned about remarks from Jackson attorney D. Collier Graham Jr., who is working with supervisors as a legal consultant for redistricting.
Clark said that Graham stated in a public hearing that "there was no way we could get a black majority district in Lauderdale County. The information he gave the board, it was erroneous, it was false, it was inaccurate."
Lauderdale County already has two black majority supervisor districts.
Graham, who did not attend the supervisors' meeting, said later Thursday from his Jackson office that he did not make the statements attributed to him by Clark.