Thursday, January 27, 2022

As mostly Black basketball players lift Auburn University to national prominence, a law firm with a dubious past on race helps produce diluted voting map

Auburn's Jabari Smith averages a team-high 15.2 ppg

Auburn University's men's basketball team is ranked No. 1 in the country for the first time in school history. Seven of the team's top eight scorers are Black, as are seven of its top eight rebounders.

So, how is this for irony? As fans pack Auburn Arena to cheer on a majority-Black basketball team, the city was hiring a Birmingham law firm with a troubled past on matters of race to help dilute the voting power of those players -- and other Black residents.

If there is a positive note in this sad story of gerrymandering and doctored voting maps, it's this: Auburn residents are not taking the insult quietly, according to a report on Tuesday night's city council meeting at Writes Publisher K.B. Forbes, under the headline "At Auburn City Council Meeting, Public Mauls Balch & Bingham to Shreds":

Is Balch’s reputation and public image truly this awful?

Not a single person at the City Council Meeting last night in Auburn, Alabama, defended Balch & Bingham. Not a single person.

Testimony after testimony mauled Balch to shreds. Balch’s public image appears to be in shambles.

The timing comes just hours after a federal three-judge panel rejected a state redistricting plan for Congress that “dilutes the voting power of Black residents.”

Balch was involved in those redistricting plans.

Auburn residents had seen this tired act before. Writes Forbes:

In 2011, the state was forced to redraw redistricting maps because of the inappropriate use of race, and now in 2022, the legislature will have to redraw because of the diluting of Black voting power. Balch has participated in both rejected plans, and Balch’s stigma of being an alleged racist law firm stings.

The wrath of the public was also against Darmon Walker, the Balch partner who was involved with both state redistricting plans, and also hired as a consultant in Auburn’s redistricting plans.

A week ago, Balch consultants stupidly attacked the NAACP’s proposed Auburn maps as “invalid.” The insidious attack against the civil rights organization’s work amplified the allegations of racism.

Last night, an independent consultant hired by the local NAACP called the maps legal and valid.

The evening did not end well for Balch:

The City Council eventually voted down the NAACP maps and went forward with their own maps. The city’s position was that their staff drew up the maps and that no lawyers were involved in the process. Balch allegedly only reviewed the maps for legality.

The public’s anger at the city’s political leadership for allowing Balch to only have their soiled fingertips on the redistricting matter is interesting. Will residents in Auburn quietly unite (like in Vincent, Alabama) and toss the Balch stooges out of office?

Balch’s reputation appears to be so battered that just choosing the firm appears to have become an extreme liability on its own.

Will Balch’s sister-wife, siamese twin, and long-time client Alabama Power continue to subsidize the alleged racist and unsavory firm with generous fees? Alabama Power CEO and former Balch partner Mark A. Crosswhite has enough problems right now.

Regardless of what million-dollar donations Alabama Power and its foundation make to minority-groups and entities, the embattled firm and the Matrix Meltown appear to have become major liabilities for Crosswhite and the utility, overshadowing the good deeds the company does.

Auburn is just a small example of what is to come.

Balch’s alleged misconduct may cause Crosswhite, a University of Alabama alumni, to be tackled onto his back and forced to scream, “War Eagle!”


Anonymous said...

Of all the law firms in Alabama. the City of Auburn had to choose Balch & Bingham?

legalschnauzer said...

Somebody with the city didn't do their homework.

Anonymous said...

"Brookside police chief Mike Jones stepped down after reported accounts of harassment and intimidation by officers, and state officials have called for investigations and new legislation to limit small-town police practices, and the controversy has shaken loose old complaints about retaliation against the department's critics.

“The person threatened me with an arrest if I did not take down my Facebook pictures and posts of their police officers, stop sending emails to the local politicians, as well as others, and show them (Brookside police) that I understand law enforcement practices," said Michelle Jones, who got a call this week from the state attorney general's office about a 2019 complaint she had filed."

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer!

legalschnauzer said...

Thank you for mentioning the Brookside situation. Sounds like a classic case of cops acting like crooks. It's so preposterous it almost takes your breath away. Will be interesting to see if people wind up behind bars for this.

legalschnauzer said...

I could see 60 Minutes paying a visit to Brookside.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who should do redistricting, but it shouldn't be state legislatures.

Anonymous said...

Dorman is hanging in there huh. He's the "go to" guy when a municipality needs to figure out how to squelch a victim of harassment or racism it seems. I don't think he carries the intimidation he once did. Obviously he doesn't in Auburn. I don't get why the voting public has to fight for their right to equal representation?! It appears they are finally tired of it however. And yet Balch is a name that always shows up.