Monday, March 26, 2012

Where Did Ten Thousand People Go?

When we think of population problems in Franklin County and the surrounding areas, most of us tend to think of unwanted Hispanic immigration--at least unwanted in most circles. Apparently there's a problem with the area's population that hasn't been discussed or even publicized to any great extent.

Per the results of the 2000 Federal census, each senate district in Alabama was to have 127,140 citizens. Per the 2010 population, each district needs to have 136,563. In other words, each of the 35 senate districts in the state will have 9,423 more, give or take a few since any population is in flux at any time.

The two local senate districts are One, currently held by Tammy Irons and covering all of Lauderdale County and part of Colbert. The second district is Six, represented by Roger Bedford Jr. and composed of all or parts of Colbert, Franklin, Marion, Lamar, Winston, Fayette, and Lawrence. If population trends had remained static during the past decade each district would have increased by the 9K+ figure...but they didn't.

Reports from the magical metropolis of Montgomery indicate that Irons' district needs to pick up 1,506 citizens. That may not be the news the Shoals wanted to hear about population growth, but it does tell us the district's population increased by 7,917.

Now, let's look at Bedford's district. It needs to pick up 19,518 citizens. That means the population in District Six not only failed to grow, but actually lost 10,025 people. Where did these 10K people go?

From data collected by government agencies, it would be extremely difficult to pinpoint each factor causing the population shrinkage. More deaths than births? That would probably be true. More moving out of the district than moving in? That's the obvious answer. Perhaps some moved to Lauderdale County? Good for Lauderdale; however, we're betting most moved to even larger metropolitan areas--if they remained in Alabama at all.

Adding the large influx of Mexican and Central Americans to the mix, that means even more long time citizens moved away. Most of these were probably white since the black population in this district is historically low to non-existent. 

Besides the problem of a fair reapportionment using strictly numbers, you have what could be an even greater problem. Bedford is already representing a population spread over seven counties. Will he pick up part of an eighth? Probably not, but the actual land area will increase. No matter how good a senator Bedford might be, he can't fairly represent such a large geographic area. What happens when his part of Colbert is vying for a new industry with his part of Fayette (sometimes considered in the Tuscaloosa metro area)?

Would more districts solve the problem? More districts mean more senators (read: politicians). The mind wobbles.



  1. you wrote -"unwanted Hispanic immigration". I'm sure you meant unwanted ILLEGAL Hispanic immigration, right? Reading that sentence as it is written might lead some to believe that you just don't want hispanic people living in the Shoals area.

    1. As far as we're concerned, we certainly did mean ILLEGAL. We wish for immigrants to better the state, and certainly those coming to District Six who are legal will in all probability be hardworking and seeking to improve their lot in life.

      And Judging from the population figures from that District, if the counties are to have any tax base at all, it will need the LEGAL immigrants who wish to come here. That includes the many from the Republic of Ireland who are locating mainly in the Northeast. We would welcome them here. We have many Indian friends who tell us even our remotest backwaters are preferable to most places in their homeland. We will stress our Indian friends did come here legally, and many are patiently waiting to bring parents or spouses here legally.

  2. I was just making sure those weren't your true feelings. I figured leaving out the word ILLEGAL was just an innocent omission. Not a freudian slip or anything, right?

    1. As long as immigrants come here legally, contribute to society, and are not a burden on the taxpayers of this country and state, we welcome them. In college, I had a close friend who was from Lebanon. Over the years I have had many friends from the Caribbean. I have many Indian friends...and, yes, they complain often of not being able to bring their families here. I feel for them greatly and if I could change the laws for them (it's not a matter of money for them at this point), I would do so.