In his final days, Barack Obama left the country plenty of not-so-lovely parting gifts — more unreasonable federal regulations, irrational executive orders and land grabs snatching millions of acres from Western states.
But it’s even worse than that. Obama’s minions are working under the radar to interfere with even small communities.
Not beyond Obama’s dead-man grasp is Eastpointe, a working-class suburb on Detroit’s border. A city since 1929, Eastpointe was known as East Detroit until 1992, when voters changed the name to disassociate themselves from a place then best known as the Murder City. (Secondarily, they futilely hoped to link their city to their ritzy neighbors, the Grosse Pointes.)
Like many older suburbs, Eastpointe was nearly all-white until waves of middle-class blacks fled to escape the hellish inner city in the past 20 years. Blacks now make up almost a third of its 32,000 residents.
No blacks serve on the city council, however, a fact that caught the eye of Obama’s Department of Justice.
Even though no black resident filed a formal complaint or even spoke out publicly about Eastpointe having an all-white city council, the DOJ saw racism run amuck. On Jan. 10, the agency filed a lawsuit seeking to force the city to switch from electing council members at large to setting up a district or ward system.
“Eastpointe has racially polarized voting patterns, with white voters consistently opposing and defeating the preferred candidates of Eastpointe’s sizable black community,” a Justice Department press release said.
An internet search turned up plenty of links to stories about the DOJ monitoring local elections for irregularities but none about federal efforts to overturn a city’s voting system.
So Eastpointe’s activists cheered the feds’ plan to throw out an 88-year-old electoral system? Not exactly.
Local black leaders, such as the Revs. James Friedman and Kevin Lancaster, don’t want the feds to get mess around with their city, according to a report in the Detroit News.
Friedman, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Eastpointe, said he believes minorities can win office without Washington’s help. “Why Eastpointe?” he told the News. “What is it that Eastpointe has done?”
Lancaster, pastor of Love Life Family Christian Center, said he’s pleased the DOJ is raising the issue, but he believes community groups can elect a more diverse council. He doesn’t think splitting the city into four wards, of which one would be predominately black, is the best idea.
The only person quoted in the News article who favored the move was the black owner of an insurance agency who placed third in a three-way race for two council seats in 2015.
Whether the DOJ forces the city to adopt a district voting system in time for its election this November could be up to President-elect Donald Trump’s new attorney general.
“The decision reflects the Obama administration, which strongly supports voting rights cases. Let’s see what the Trump administration does,” Robert Sedler, a constitutional law professor at Wayne State University, told the News.
In any event, Eastpointe’s case is a reminder that draining the swap in Washington must include clearing out the bogs and miasma the Obama administration has scattered across the land.