Ex-congresswoman supports GOP peer to retake seat

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Republican congresswoman Mia Love has endorsed a state lawmaker who is one of four candidates hoping to win back the seat for the GOP.

Love said Wednesday that Rep. Kim Coleman has been a tenacious contender against three other Republicans also competing for the party’s nomination in the suburban Salt Lake City district.

“I am supporting Kim Coleman because she is working her tail off and had the guts to jump into a race early that was going to be the most difficult district in Utah,” Love said in a statement. The first black female Republican in Congress, she served two terms and became a CNN contributor after a razor-thin defeat at the polls in 2018.

She had briefly considered a rematch against Democrat Ben McAdams, who could be facing an uphill battle to win re-election in the Republican-leaning 4th Congressional District.

Instead, she is backing Coleman, who is competing against former radio host Jay Mcfarland, former NFL player Burgess Owens and non-profit CEO Trent Christensen in the June 30 race.

— The Associated Press

Property owners file lawsuit over recently exposed mine

BLACK HAWK, S.D. — Residents of a Black Hawk neighborhood where a sinkhole has exposed an abandoned mine endangering their properties have filed a $75.5 million lawsuit claiming government entities and private developers were negligent.

Attorney John Fitzgerald is representing more than 117 residents of the Hideaway Hills neighborhood where more than 40 residents have been evacuated and dozens more are afraid their homes could collapse since the sinkhole on April 27 exposed the gypsum mine.

It’s “unbelievable” to think the state, county and everyone involved in developing the Hideaway Hills community didn’t know it was built on top of an abandoned gypsum mine, Fitzgerald said.

The complaint contains 14 counts, most dealing with negligence, breach of warrant and failure to warn, against dozens of entities and individuals, including the state, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The lawsuit said four streets were built on top of mine waste rock, causing “extreme sinkage” to home foundations, cracked walls and clogged sewer lines due to shifting soil.

The defendants include the state of South Dakota, Meade County and its commissioners, title and engineering and real estate companies and others.

— The Associated Press

Federal desegregation order lifted on Georgia school districtATLANTA — A federal judge is releasing a southwest Georgia school system from a racial desegregation order, ruling its overwhelmingly African American enrollment isn’t its fault.

U.S. District Judge Louis Sands Sr. earlier this month signed an order declaring that, 57 years after black parents sued the Dougherty County school system, it has reached unitary status. That means the judge can no longer find any evidence that racial imbalances in the school system are related to discriminatory intent or the district’s onetime status of being segregated by law.

That doesn’t mean Dougherty County schools have achieved racial balance. Sands noted that when desegregation plans were implemented in 1980, in one of a series of court orders in the case, 45% of the district’s 20,000 students were white and 55% were black. Last November, 89% of the current 13,000 students were black, 5% were white and 6% identified as other racial classifications.

In the district’s 21 schools, white students make up more than 10% of the student body in only one elementary school. This is due, in part, to some white families having moved north into Lee County or sending their children to private schools.

Education researchers have highlighted school district lines as big contributors to segregation in recent years, but a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court ruling found judges couldn’t order desegregation across those lines.

The district asked Sands to end court supervision because the order called for the district to make schools as close to 50% white and 50% black as possible, which the district said had become impossible because of the increased African American majority. The district also said getting court approval for new buildings or realigning attendance zones “places a substantial burden on school operations primarily because the school district cannot make decisions efficiently.” The court has also overseen staffing and transportation.

Relatives of Shirley Gaines, the original plaintiff who led the class-action lawsuit, objected to its dismissal. But Sands wrote that they couldn’t show the district was acting with discriminatory intent or that the racial imbalances “were the result of anything other than demographic changes in the county.”

— The Associated Press

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