A federal judge on Tuesday ended the years-long battle between the city of Euclid and the U.S. government, ruling that the city’s system for electing public officials is biased against black voters ["New Black City," November 8, 2006]
. At the conclusion of the two-week trial, U.S. District Judge Kathleen O’Malley ordered the city to overhaul its election system, including the way Euclid draws council wards, which, the judge ruled, prevents black voters from forming a bloc. The system was drawn up in the ‘50s, when Euclid was whiter than a Mississippi tractor pull. Now the city is 30 percent black, yet not one African American has ever been elected to a public position. Out of the entire Euclid Police force, only one cop is black.
Yet you can’t blame Euclid for putting up a fight. The city’s leaders spent more than half a million dollars in taxpayer money to defend the city from the government’s lawsuit, something they surely wouldn’t have done had they not thought they stood a chance of winning. Oh, wait, scratch that. They didn’t have a Slurpee's chance in Rachel Ray's kitchen. “This is not a case where it was a close call,” Judge O’Malley said after her decision.
However, Councilman Ed Gudenas, who fought Mayor Bill Cervenik to challenge the Justice Department, still believes everything’s as peachy as it was in '56. “Most of us on council still believe that Euclid residents vote for the best candidate, regardless of age, religion, income or race,” he told the Plain Dealer
. Officials swore they’ll be sure to have some a slew of black candidates on the ballot come November, as soon as they figure out a way to make high-school janitor an elected position. -- Jared Klaus