Sunday, December 25, 2011

Texas Congressional Redistricting Plan is obviously discriminatory

The federal courts have again declared that Texas redistricting plans may be discriminatory.  A federal hearing will be in January to answer a question that seems rather easy to answer.  The 45% of Texans who are Anglo are already the majority in 64% (23) of the 36 congressional districts in Texas, even before there is an election!  Click here to see the approved PlanC185 map. Study the following data taken from the redistricting plan, PlanC185, approved by the Texas Legislature and signed by Governor Perry.

Click above image to enlarge.

The most valuable place to be in a new legislative district is in the group that represents just over 50% of the population.  You are on the winning side with the most efficient investment of votes from the people who agree with you. If you are in the group that is less than 50% of the population, like the 45% of Texans who are Anglo, you should be loosing the majority of the time, unless you control the redistricting process.  

If you are allocating "resources,"  in this case voting age population, you can make certain that the resources on "your side" are the most well used and those on the "other side" are neutralized or wasted.  Therefore avoid having the voting age population on "your side" go over 70%, and certainly never over 80%, as any votes beyond 51%, and certainly beyond 70%, are unnecessary.  Meanwhile, try to place the votes of the "other side" into the 30% and 40% range so that the maximum number of the oppositions votes are "neutralized," i.e. invested with no return. Look at the scatter chart above.  Compare where Texas Legislators allocated minority voting age populations and Anglo voting age populations.

Notice how the highest percentage Anglo population in any district is 77.1%, but there are 8 minority districts over that percentage, 7 of them over 80%!  That is the way to "pack" a district and get as many minority votes "out of the way" as possible in those districts where a minority majority is impossible to avoid.  Such packing also creates a district where the elected official will have a "free ride" and will not do the harder work needed to please voters back home when a district is balanced closer to 50%.

Notice in the scatter chart where the most blue Anglo diamonds collect.  It is in the very valuable area over 50%, and up to 70% population, where votes have the most power.  The minority majority districts are represented by the majority of red minority squares, 10 out of 13, are in the "packed" area above 70%, with 77% of minority majority districts in that area, and the large majority over 80%.   The remainder of the minority populations are placed in the "looser" percentages of the 30% and 40% ranges, just below 50%, so that as many minority votes as possible are "used up" in what would be loosing campaigns for candidates they may support.

What is the Texas Legislature trying to do?  What is really happening?

Such gerrymandering politicians have caused the legislative gridlock our nation is suffering from.  With such home districts, legislators on all sides of the aisle have little to fear relative to being re-elected.  They have had their voters selected for them. They can do anything they want in Washington, or nothing, and be re-elected. 

Some voters want to cure this problem with term limits.  The real issue is redistricting and compact districts.  Then the apathetic legislative behaviors due to automatic re-elections never start in the first place. Term-limits alone would only increase the potential for making legislative mis-behavior worse during the last term in office before a forced retirement.  Legislators should always be held accountable back home for their behavior in office.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

U.S. Justice Department has approved Dallas' controversial plan for redrawing City Council districts

I was surfing online as my family watched a movie I had already seen: "The Help."  As they watched I received notice that the U.S. Justice Department has approved Dallas' controversial plan for redrawing City Council districts.

It appears things have not changed as much as we would like to think they have from the times covered in "The Help."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Birth Patterns 1990-2009 in Dallas County

From 1990 through 2009 the following were the birth patterns within Dallas County, Texas: 
Dallas County Texas Births 1990-2009
Right click on above chart to enlarge and/or print.
The above chart is made from data freely available on the Texas Department of Health web site at for the years 1990-2009.  Information on more recent annual birth numbers is welcomed so as to fill in the gaps for 2010 and 2011.

While the number of births to Hispanic families grew dramatically through 2007, in 2008 a sharp deline started in all birth rates, with Hispanics again leading the way.  See articles like "Hispanic birth rate plummeting in the U.S.," online at .  This November 28, 2011 article, and others like it, indicate that the lowering Hispanic birth rate has continued since 2009. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Irving ISD movement to 7 single member districts

The 2010 census made the need for ending the at-large Irving ISD board system obvious. While only 29.99% of the Irving ISD resident population is Anglo, and only 10.7% of IISD students are Anglo, there are no minority members on the 7-member school board.  Minority advocates have been pushing for a 7-0 single member district method for Irving School Board elections for years.  This history and current plans were spelled out with today's Dallas Morning News article on the maps released this week by IISD.  These maps presented two possible board configurations: a 5-2 configuration with two at-large positions remaining, and a 7-0 configuration where all members would be elected from single member districts.  Copies of these maps are available from

The 5-2 configuration would be a tragic, and potentially costly, delay in the movement toward a full and inclusive representation on the Irving ISD Board.  The following 12-15-11 draft of a 7-0 single member district map is the best alternative seen so far in the work for a more representative Irving ISD Board:
Right-click on above image to open it in other window to enlarge it, or save a copy.
While the 7-district map created by the Irving ISD Board was a positive step in the right direction, the above map shows that significantly stronger minority representation is possible. 
  1. A plurality black voting age population District 3 is created in the above map that is over 4 percentage points stronger than the District 3 in the IISD created 7-district map. There is no district in any of the two IISD created maps wherein the largest racial/ethnic group voting age population in a district is the black population, but it can be done!
  2. The above map improves the potential for Hispanic representation. It increases Hispanic voting age population in District 6 by over 1.5 percentage points to 72.64%.
  3. Possibly the best improvement is that, while improving minority representation significantly over the IISD proposed maps, the above map also much more closely meets the 24,412 population target for each of the 7 districts. The one-person one-vote foundation for our nation's democracy can be more closely achieved.  A 10% range of deviation from the 24,412 target is allowed. The Irving ISD prepared map has a range of deviation of 7.68%. (Range of deviation is the sum of the largest district percentage above the target population plus the percentage below the target from the district most below that target.)  The above map not only improves minority representation, but also cuts the range of deviation in half, to 3.43%. 

This map is an example of what is possible as we build toward a final draft of a district map to present to the IISD Board in January. Hopefully the value of getting as close as possible to equal representation for all will be guiding the decisions made.  If you have any questions, or recommendations for improvement on this map, please email

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Court Ordered Texas Congressional Map is still terribly gerrymandered

Fortunately some members of the minority community are not celebrating the so called "victory" in federal court this past week when a new map was created by federal court to replace the originally submitted, and grossly gerrymandered, Texas Congressional map.   The accepted Congressional Map submitted for approval, and then rejected by the courts, was planC185.  It is viewable here on the Texas District Viewer.  The demographic statistics from planC185 are here

If you study the planC185 numbers you will note that there are actually 13 districts wherein minorities are in the majority, contrary to what was printed on most of the news media stories on the originally approved plan. See .  Some of the news reports were specific in stating that in the current congressional districts, that have been in force for a decade, there are 10 out of 32 districts that are majority minority.  Most of the media was not that careful.  They left the impression that the new map passed by the legislature only created 10 such districts. In Planc185 there are 13 minority majority districts out of 36 districts, which is still terrible!

The new map ordered by the judges, Plan220, can be found here.  It only adds one more district wherein minorities are in the majority.  It is an improvement, but still does not achieve voting rights the U.S. should be proud of on the world stage. Just look at these numbers! This district by district report on the numbers produced by Planc220 shows the packing and fragmenting that was was used in the original map, and was continued in the replacement map.  Texas will still be a state wherein 45% of the population can remain as the majority group in 61% of the districts.  That is the power of gerrymandering.

Notice that half of the 14 districts wherein minorities are in the majority are over 80% minority, meanwhile in the 22 Anglo majority districts there are none with more than 77% Anglo population, certainly proof of the packing of minority districts so that fewer minority candidates can be elected.  Such packing is a central technique in gerrymandering.

The 2010 Census of Texas shows that 55% of the population of Texas is made up of people who are classified as minorities, leaving only 45% who are white, non-Hispanic. Meanwhile we have a map, Planc220, that has been "improved" by the federal court from having 13 out of 36 districts that have minorities in the majority, to having 14 out of 36 (or 39%) which have minorities in the majority. Thus a state that is only 45% Anglo, non-Hispanic, has a redistricting plan that provides 22 districts (or almost 61%) wherein the majority population are Anglo, non-Hispanic.  Is that fair?

Anyone who considers it is justified for 55% of the population to only be majority in less than 39% of the districts may not understand the difference between the voting booth and the redistricting table. The redistricting table is where everyone is counted.  A very different counting should happen at the voting booth. That is where citizenship counts. That is where the right to vote counts. We will not have justice in redistricting until this difference between voting and redistricting is reflected in redistricting. 

Gerrymandering must be identified by functional laws that are enforced!  Compact districts encourage voters to vote. Who benefits by discouraging the general public to vote?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Redistricting Game

If anyone doubts the critical power in redistricting they should play the free online redistricting game that can be found and played at We must better understand the frightening power that redistricting places in the hands of the map makers. Nothing is wrong with having fun in the process.

The evening of 11/22/11 I attended a very well managed and presented meeting at the Cedar Crest Country Club by the Mayor, several council members, and their staff. It was to share, and solicit from the public, information and perceptions on the directions Dallas is going. Things look very positive. The Paul Quinn students were present with excellent questions. Issues were not solved but presented. It was a very good meeting.

Dallas needs another similar meeting directly focused on the redistricting process recommendations for 2021. The good news is that based on the
11/23/11 Dallas Morning News Editorial, Mayor Rawlings is already working on such recommendations. Now is the time to do that while the experience is fresh on the minds of those who actively participated in the process. Many will certainly have recommendations for improvement. Our Dallas City Council Redistricting process, in spite of how it ended, still started out with one of the best sets of guidelines and procedures in the nation for accepting public input. That must be expanded and continued. Now is the time to make the recommendations for the process to follow in 2021.

Dallas must continue to constantly improve. The Redistricting Game at will explain why redistricting reform must be a part of that improvement.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Proportional Representation reduces redistricting issues in Amarillo, and elsewhere in the U.S.

Everyone involved, with few exceptions, in the redistricting process in Dallas is frustrated with the manipulations and conflicts that are happening in the name of democracy.  The results to date have been terrible! 

Dallas may be able to benefit from an election system used across the world, and in Amarillo Texas. It is described online at . The title of this article is "How Proportional Representation Can Empower Minorities and the Poor."
Many cities have used various forms of this system to elect city councils and school boards going back 100 years. It avoids the million dollar costs involved with redistricting and the resulting litigation. The residence of candidates is a much less of a critical factor.

After having seen the costs and agony we are enduring here in Dallas, this is certainly an alternative worth considering. The City Council representatives produced would be more concerned about the entire city and not just one small district.

We must have a better form of democracy that more accurately translates the desire of the voter into action. It also helps that the Department of Justice appears to have a record of judging that proportional representation systems meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.   It is a system that could have saved Dallas millions of dollars as it appears this redistricting process is headed to court.

Here an another article from the Baltimore Sun last week that gives details about the value of proportional representation:

Fair representation for all Baltimore Sun - Jamie Raskin - Rob Richie - 5 days ago
The battle over legislative redistricting in ... grounded in our electoral traditions: proportional representation in a fair ...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Letter Sent 11-10-11 to the Department of Justice

November 10, 2011

T. Christian Herren, Jr.
Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice, Room 7254–NWB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530.

Re: Comment under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, City Council, Dallas, Texas, file # 2011– 4417

Dear Mr. Herren:

I write with great concern about the gerrymandered Dallas City Council redistricting map that was sent on 10-24-11 to your offices for approval. I'm a recently retired Dallas ISD teacher who has lived in Dallas for 36 years. I've spent most of the past 7 months working as a citizen volunteer providing input in the redistricting process. Here are my concerns:

  1. The approved map severely endangers potential black representation by ignoring population movement patterns. While the approved map shows three black minority majority districts according to the 2010 census, these districts are unnecessarily and dangerously weak. Due to the history of black population movement to North Dallas since 2000, the black 50.76% majority that existed 18 months ago in District 7, when the 2010 Census was taken, now almost certainly no longer exists above 50%. Over 20% of the 2000 District 7 black population had been lost by the time of the 2010 Census. There is no indication this black exodus has stopped. This week DISD identified 41 schools with dropping enrollments and in danger of closing. The majority of those schools were in Districts 7 & 4. As of the 2010 Census District 4 had lost 17% of its 2000 black population. Five years from now it is almost certain District 4 will also no longer be over 50% black. These losses are unnecessary! It was proven in wPlan03c submitted by Rawlings that three much stronger, more compact black districts can be created that will easily last the next decade as black minority majority districts. Also, due to the movement of black population to North Dallas, there is now an even stronger black community that remains fragmented between Districts 10, 11, and 13. It could be made into a winnable minority district.
  2. The approved map does not represent the Dallas Hispanic Community accurately. The city’s population is over 42% Hispanic, but only 4 of the 14 city council districts, or 29%, in the approved map, have a Hispanic majority population. Also one of those four districts will probably not last 5 years. Due to population movements over the past decade it is safe to predict that District 2 will not remain over 50% Hispanic by 2016. When such dramatic differences are reflected in redistricting, something is wrong. Differences in voting should only be made visible in the voting booth, with election results, not beforehand in a redistricting map! With wPlan03c by Rawlings it is proven that 5, not 4, more compact and stronger Hispanic majority minority districts can be created. An additional Hispanic minority opportunity district can also be created for a 6th district, an opportunity district, that is 42% Hispanic. With 6 out of 14 districts as potentially winnable Hispanic districts, that makes for potential Hispanic representation in 43% of the 14 city council seats in a town with a population that was 42.35% Hispanic 18 months ago, and is now certainly above 43%.
  3. Contrary to guidelines regarding minority representation, white districts disproportionately dominate the approved map. While only 29% of Dallas population is white, 43% of districts, six districts, are white majority districts. Minority communities are fragmented so as to achieve this imbalance. Some people confuse voting with redistricting and therefore speak of citizenship numbers or child population numbers in attempts to justify this type imbalance. Such factors should only be reflected in the voting booth, not at the redistricting table! Yes, there are districts that may be minority majority districts that will be won by non-minority candidates due to the simple fact of heavier white voting in many minority communities. But that is not a factor to be used in redistricting. That happens in the voting booth, where it should. By it's very existence this factor encourages minorities and their children to register to vote as soon as they are able. But such encouragement only happens when non-voters can easily see that their votes can make a difference. Such encouragement only happens when the redistricting process was done justly, with compact districts, and the proper power of the vote is restored, and maintained!
  4. Contrary to the guidelines, and the consistent requests from the large majority of speakers at all 10 of the public input meetings, the approved map remains terribly gerrymandered. Community assets are thereby separated from the residents throughout Dallas. The redistricting guidelines approved by the Dallas City Council were followed more closely by the public, who designed and submitted over 20 maps, than they were by either the Commission or the Council itself. Almost all of the publicly created maps were more compact and less gerrymandered than the approved map created by the City Council. The approved map still has over 40 excess miles of boundary lines due to gerrymandering, miles of boundary lines that do not exist in wPlan03c by Rawlings.
  5. Contrary to guidelines mandating neutrality as to the address of incumbents, these addresses seemed to drive the redistricting process toward the approved map! Notice the strange arms sticking out to the east from District 3. Frequent statements during council meetings document the importance of council member addresses in the minds of many council members during redistricting. Fortunately these and related statements are recorded.
Please, do not approve the map submitted to your office for approval by the Dallas City Council on 10-24-11. The above are only some of the major reasons it is defective. It is a major setback for the democratic process in Dallas.
After attending all of the public hearings, and all of the Redistricting Commission meetings, I had the good fortune to complete the wPlan03c Map that was then improved and presented to the City Council by Mayor Rawlings. It was the only citizen created map presented to the Council. The wPlan03c map enjoyed popularity with the public and was endorsed by virtually all of the print media in Dallas. If you google “redistricting” and “betzen” there are about 2,000 hits related to this map and these endorsements, including 4 supportive editorials from the Dallas Morning News. This map and these published endorsements were included in the material sent by the city to your offices.

The final wPlan03c version submitted by Mayor Rawlings is compact, with 40 fewer miles of district boundary lines than the approved map you are now considering. By eliminating gerrymandering, and since 71% of the Dallas population is minority, this map provides the strongest minority representation of any map created. It has 8 minority majority districts and 2 strong minority opportunity districts. Thus the potential exists for Dallas, with a 71% minority population, to have 71% of the Dallas City Council, or 10 out of 14 seats, occupied by members of the Dallas minority communities.

However, due to multiple factors, including the wonderfully large families in our Latino community, these percentages may over-represent current voting potential, potential that will certainly grow as these children reach voting age.

The goal in writing now is to document the flaws in the approved map sent to your offices on 10-24-11, and to show what is possible as demonstrated with one map, the wPlan03c map, online at .

Since April I have been maintaining an online record of this redistricting process. It is in a blog at . That record may provide information that will help in the critical decisions you are making. It would also be an honor to spend time helping you, or any of your staff, in any way possible to help secure a much more representative map than the one sent to you for consideration by the Dallas City Council.
Thank you for the work you are doing to help our democracy function. It is critical work!

Bill Betzen
Dallas, Texas
A copy of the above letter was also emailed to .

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Talking Points – Redistricting Letters to Department of Justice

Everyone concerned about the Dallas City Council Redistricting Map approved 10-5-11 must let their concerns be known to the Justice Department by December 12th.  The Justice Department has 60 days from the date they received the map, 10-24-11, to make their decisions.  Do not wait till the last minute to write your letter.  The letter may be addressed as follows, changing the date and content as appropriate, using this address and format as was used by the City of Dallas in their cover letter sent with all the submitted materiel:

============== letter format to Department of Justice =======================

T. Christian Herren, Jr.
Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
Room 7254–NWB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530.
Re:  Comment under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, City Council, Dallas, Texas, file # 2011– 4417
November 1, 2011
Dear Department of Justice:
I write with great concern about the gerrymandered Dallas City Council redistricting map that was sent to your offices for approval on 10-24-11.
With that entry, the following are ideas for the content of your letter. Copy, edit, and paste as you see fit. Some may not be appropriate for where you live, or make sense for you. Ignore them. Use arguments that mean the most to you. Use arguments that affect your home and where you live. These are only general ideas as to how the Dallas City Council Map approved 10-5-11 is affecting democracy in Dallas.
An email address that may also be used for comments is: . Details about emailing comments are at .
  1. The approved map does not represent the Dallas Hispanic Community accurately. The city’s population is over 42% Hispanic. Only 29% of the 14 city council districts in the approved map have a Hispanic majority population. When such dramatic differences are reflected in redistricting something is wrong. Differences in voting should only be made visible in the voting booth, with election results, not before there is even an election! That is not democracy!
  2. Contrary to the guidelines, the map remains terribly gerrymandered. The redistricting guidelines approved by the Dallas City Council were followed more closely by the public who designed and submitted over 20 maps. Almost all of the publicly created maps were more compact and less gerrymandered than the approved map. The approved map, while an improvement over the current map, still has over 40 excess miles of boundary lines due to gerrymandering.
  3. Contrary to guidelines mandating neutrality as to the address of incumbents, this was the guideline most aggressively ignored by Dallas City Council. Notice the strange arms sticking out to the east from District 3. Frequent recorded statements during council meetings document the importance of council residence in the minds of many council members during redistricting.
  4. Contrary to guidelines regarding minority representation, white districts disproportionately dominate the map. While only 29% of Dallas population is white, 43% of districts, six, are white majority districts. Minority communities are fragmented so as to achieve this imbalance. Voting population and/or citizenship numbers should not figure into these calculations as those factors are counted when actual voting happens. Yes, there are districts that may be minority majority districts that will be won by white candidates due to the simple fact of heavier voting in many white communities. But that is not a factor to be used in redistricting. That happens in the voting booth. Redistricting is only about potential. It is about a potential that is protected by our nation's laws.  Sadly it is also a potential that too often is not realized when a gerrymandering redistricting process does not protect the right to an effective voting process once residents become citizens. That potential must be protected in our democracy.
  5. Gerrymandered districts increase the costs to the city for extra meetings and other expenses needed in long, strangely shaped districts.
  6. Gerrymandering also handicaps democracy in very practical ways. Campaigning is more expensive. Fewer candidates step forward to serve. The election process is more dependent on campaign donors in strangely shaped districts. People who may not even live in the district become donors when they want to have influence with city council members. Voters are more readily apathetic when their representatives live 10+ miles away, or rarely visit their area. (Dallas city council districts can easily be designed so almost all Dallas residents live within 10 miles of their representative.)
  7. The history of population movement over the past decade was virtually ignored in the 10-5-11 approved map. That fact severely endangers potential black representation. While the approved map shows three black minority majority districts according to the 2010 census, due to the history of black population movement to North Dallas since 2000, the black majority in District 7 almost certainly no longer exists above 50%. Remember, the 2010 Census numbers used are already 18 months old so the 50.76% majority is probably gone. Since 2000 over 20% of the District 7 black population has been lost. The District 4 majority is also in danger of being below 50% within 5 years. Since 2000 District 4 had lost 17% of black population. It was proven in other submitted maps that three much stronger, more compact, black districts can be created that will also much more easily last the next decade as black minority majority districts.
  8. Due to gerrymandering community assets are being separated from their residents. The fabric of multiple Dallas communities is being decimated. An example occurs in the heart of Oak Cliff where, in the Wynnewood area, neighborhoods are redistricted apart both from each other and from their shopping center. Virtually across the street from Wynnewood Village, Kiestwood neighborhoods are split away from Kiest Park and joined instead with the VA Hospital. The same thing happens to the endangered and fragile Southwest Center Mall. It is at the end of a long arm reaching out from District 8 while across the street is District 3 which covers much more of the area from which customers to the mall live. This deplorable indifference to considering and respecting our communities of interest occurs throughout Dallas.

Make this your personal letter. The above points are only suggestions. 
Please send your letter soon, well before Christmas.  The Department of Justice must know, well within 60 days of the 10-24-11 date that the map was sent, that the people in Dallas are watching.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dallas Redistricting Map sent to Department of Justice, & petition to also be sent!

(Text from release from Dallas Redistricting Commission on 10-24-11:)
The City of Dallas has submitted its 2011 Adopted City Council Districting Plan Section 5 Submission to the Department of Justice. The Dallas Council adopted the plan on Oct. 5, 2011.

A paper copy of Dallas’ submission is available for review by the public at the City Secretary’s Office, Room 5D South, 1500 Marilla St., Dallas, TX 75201 and at the Government Information Center on the 6th Floor J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas, TX 75201. An electronic copy is also available at

Comments or concerns can be submitted directly to the Department of Justice. Comments to the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, sent by the U.S. Postal Service, including certified mail or express mail, shall be addressed to the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, Room 7254–NWB, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530.
Carriers other than the U.S. Postal Service, including hand delivery, should be addressed and may be delivered to the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, Room 7254–NWB, 1800 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006.
All comments should be marked: “Comment under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.’’ Comments should include the name of the jurisdiction and the Attorney General’s file number (2011– 4417) in the subject line.
Remember, additional details are linked to, the City of Dallas Redistricting Commission web site.

It is recommended you read the cover letter dated 10-24-11 that is linked just under the title "City of Dallas Department of Justice Preclearance Submission" on the above linked page for the Dallas Redistricting web site. 

On Monday evening, 10-24-11, a standing room only meeting was held at the Kiest Recreation Center by Councilman Scott Griggs over concerns about the approved map.  He gave the best presentation on what redistricting is that I have ever heard from an elected official.  He also illustrated on the maps some of the problems with the approved map. About the only thing that was not well explained was how the approved map is an injustice to the Dallas black population.

At the end of the meeting petitions were circulated with the wording below which I find to be exceptionally accurate.  They will be submitted to the Department of Justice.  This petition can be signed online at

============== What the petition states: ==============

Dear Department of Justice:
On behalf of the undersigned, please enter into the Minority Report the following concerns that we have regarding the redistricting map that the Dallas City Council has approved for submission.
• The citizens of Dallas were asked to provide input in what we were assured would be an open and transparent process. Taking this invitation at face value, we attended public forums and expressed our thoughts regarding redistricting. The repeated preference of citizens was for compact districts that unite communities of interest. Now that the process has run its course, we are presented with a fait accompli in the form of a redistricting map that not only ignores citizen input but also that of the Redistricting Commission. The Mayor’s private bargaining out of the public eye and immune from public input has resulted in a map that fails to meet either the needs of the citizens of the City of Dallas or the requirements of the United States Department of Justice.
• With community assets being separated from their residents, the entire fabric of Oak Cliff’s communities are being decimated. An egregious example occurs in the heart of Oak Cliff where, in the Wynnewood area, neighborhoods are districted apart both from each other and from their shopping center. Virtually across the street from Wynnewood Village, Kiestwood neighborhoods are split away from Kiest Park and joined instead with the VA Hospital. This deplorable indifference to considering and respecting our communities of interest occurs throughout District 3, as far north as Pinnacle Park and as far south as Mountain Creek.
• The Voting Rights Act should be applied citywide, and not exclusively to southern Dallas where we are perpetually being saddled with all of Dallas’ not-in-my-backyard challenges. Recent examples are Oak Cliff fire trucks being allocated elsewhere and the DHA attempt to front load Permanent Supportive Housing applicants into Cliff Manor. Why isn’t North Dallas’ District 10 that contains Hamilton Park and a sizeable Black voting age population, redistricted into a winnable Black seat? Why isn’t Northwest Dallas that contains a substantial Hispanic voting age population, redistricted to contain a winnable Hispanic seat? Dallas’s diversity is citywide and redistricting should reflect that reality.
• The DOJ has filed suit challenging the redistricting map cobbled together by the State legislature. The Dallas City Council has approved a redistricting map that includes such substantial defects that there is no reason to think it will be immune from DOJ challenge. In addition to shattering public trust in the redistricting process, adopting that map in the face of the above-mentioned defects will potentially cost the City of Dallas massive legal fees to defend it at a time when the City is cash-strapped.
I gave my signature 10-25-11 as #47 to sign with the following statement added:

With 71% minority population, it is wrong for the approved Dallas map to have only 7 out of 14 districts as minority majority districts, especially when 3 of those 7 will loose that status within 5 years due to population movement. This is certainly unjust when maps exist with 8 STRONGER minority majority districts designed to all last 10+ yrs & grow!

Remember, the above petition can be signed, and your comments added, online at

Monday, October 24, 2011

Redistricting lawsuits, online mapping, and anger over gerrymandering

Google news for the two words "redistricting" and "lawsuits" and you will get well over 400 news articles within the past month. Those numbers will grow in the months to come. Why not? As many as 85% of all legislative elections are accurately predicted before voters vote based on how well legislators have selected their voters in the redistricting process. Computers make gerrymandering a frighteningly exact science.

But a change is comming. Google the two words "redistricting" and "software" and one of the first hits is "Playing offense on redistricting,"written by Paul McMorrow in Commonwealth Magazine and published 10-21-11. He writes of the power of the increasingly public and online re-mapping software that is allowing citizens to have the same data and map-making power available to them that legislators have available.

He calmly wrote that "because the Legislature is working with the same data that's available to every state resident, there's no reason that residents can't just take over redistricting themselves."

Let's repeat the last half of that sentence and listen carefully: "there's no reason that residents can't just take over redistricting themselves."

That takeover will happen.  It will be fueled by the anger that will explode as more and more citizens understand how the immense power of redistricting has been abused for generations. The anger will spread as people better understand how 85% of congressional elections can be decided, before any voting, with computer-empowered gerrymandering. They will see how well designed, compact districts can restore legislative accountability and true democracy to our nation. They will demand it! They will demand an end to gerrymandering!

Our rather small problems in Dallas, with 43.5 miles long city council district boundaries when 30 miles boundaries would be enough, are certainly small relative to the horrendous legislative gerrymandering that was inflicted again on Texas legislative districts with the legislatively approved plan. Watch what happens in 2021 as citizens have the same power as legislators by going online to manipulate these districts and immediately see the results. Any legislator standing in the way better have his/her retirement planned. 

That majority of citizens who testified for compact districts in 2011, and were ignored, will have more weapons, more anger, more determination, and more allies in 2021!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Redistricting justice & voting power

Our schools have failed to educate the public about the power of the vote stolen in gerrymandering legislative districts, including city council districts.

The power in redistricting should only go one direction, toward justice and fairness. The districts should be compact and centered on authentic communities of interest, which are often still communities that share a common ethnic and racial heritage. As integration and inclusion continue, race and ethnic heritage will be less and less of a devisive factor for our children and grandchildren, many of who will be multi-racial and multi-cultural.

When you have a city that is 29% white, 25% black and 42% Hispanic, those proportions should be reflected in the ethnic/racial majority distribution in the 14 city council districts. (That is not happening in the new map for Dallas.) That is the foundation for justice. Then, in the election booth, we will see a reflection of the voting numbers and the real power. That is where citizenship will count, not in redistricting.

The real power should be in the voting booth, not at the redistricting table, unless there is an injustice committed in redistricting! Unjust redistricting happens as the power of the vote is manipulated by one political party or another. Redistricting should be for justice, the foundation on which we have equal access to voting, the avenue to power.

Unjust redistricting moves the power from the voting booth to the redistricting table. That is not democracy. That is not what our soldiers are dying to defend. The only so-called “power” in redistricting is a negative power, the power of injustice, the power to manipulate others votes.  Authentic justice redirects that power in redistricting back to the voting booth, where it should be.

As more and more citizens realize how their votes are compromised by gerrymandering during redistricting, the anger will grow. Transparency will allow that awareness to spread. The end of gerrymandering is within sight.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do we count the undocumented?

Not since the days of slavery has anyone in the US been counted as less than one person. The 1787 Philadelphia Convention allowed slaves to be counted as 3/5 of a person, the Three-Fifths compromise. But, after slavery ended, never again would the reason for a person’s presence in the US, a person who labors in our fields or in our cities, be used to keep that person from being fully counted, even in the redistricting process!

Many U.S. laws and court decisions have reinforced the legal foundation of every person living in the U.S. being counted, one for one.  Court decisions from this legal foundation are often referenced in the documents that are linked to the Dallas City Council Redistricting site as resources.

Using this one for one counting method, the population changes in Dallas since 2000 have been dramatic:
  • White population has gone down 65,526 to 345,205. Whites are now 28.82% of Dallas population meaning that 4.03 out of 14 districts should be majority white.
  • Black population has gone down 5,183 to 299,634. Blacks are now 25.02% of Dallas population meaning that 3.50 out of 14 districts should be majority black.
  • Hispanic population has increased by 84,665 to 507,309. Hispanics are now 42.35% of Dallas population meaning that 5.93 out of 14 districts should be majority Hispanic.
Thus "446" should be the motto for redistricting equality in Dallas. The district population majorities should be 4 white, 4 black, and 6 Hispanic.

However, due to combinations of youth, the inability to vote, or the failure to vote, "545" (5 white, 4 black, 5 Hispanic) will probably be the election results with a "446" redistricting plan in place.  The concerns of the public about non-citizens are addressed in the voting booth, where they should be, not in the redistricting meeting.  We must continue to allow the voting booth to be the ultimate power.  It is one of the most critical goals for becomming both a citizen, and an adult.

Compact Dallas City Council Districts can, and should, be formed to follow the 446 pattern.  Such a map would have more compact districts, improve chances for a 545 representation, and provide the best minority representation in the history of Dallas.

Then, as years pass and current children register to vote, 446 will be achieved.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Redistricting map an injustice to Blacks

This was written in response to "Redistricting map an injustice to Latinos," a 10-13-11 editorial in the Dallas Morning News.

The approved Dallas redistricting map is potentially a much greater injustice to blacks in Dallas than it is to Hispanics. While the immediate injustice is more obvious for the Hispanic community, it is a much greater injustice for the black community projecting forward 5 years. The population movements of the past decade, if they continue, could leave the Dallas black community with only one black voting age majority district in just 5 years!  That is an even more blatant injustice than the one to our Hispanic community.

In 2001 the current four black city council districts had an average black population of 56%. By the 2010 census this same average black population in these 4 districts (4, 5, 7, & 8) had fallen to 48%. A total of 16,700 in black population was lost. (See slide #70 in presentation given to Dallas City Council on 9/7/2011 titled "Redistricting 2011: Process Review and Proposed Districting Plan" at
) Districts 4 and 7 lost over 16% of their black population. The adopted redistricting map does not take this history into consideration. With the adopted map, in 5 years we could be back to having exactly what we have now, only one city council district that has a black voting age population over 50%.

Remember, the census numbers used in the redistricting process are already 18 months old. District 7 in the adopted map only had a 50.76% black voting age population majority, and that was 18 months ago. The area of Dallas in the new District 7 lost from 8 to 12 percentage points in black population over the past decade. It is almost certain we have already lost the majority black voting age population number in District 7 during the 18 months since since the 50.76% number was recorded. We may have lost much more, unless the population movements have stopped.

Yes, a lower black voting age population District 7 in the adopted map is still very "winnable" district, but that leaves us with only two districts that are majority black voting age population at the very start of the decade. Why take the risk when three much stronger districts, with an average of 6 percentage points in voting age population more, over 63%, have been proven possible? This can be done with no loss in the potential for a fourth "winnable" district? Even a fifth "winnable" district is possible!

Due to population movement, less gerrymandered maps looked north for these winnable black districts. The large majority of the 16,700 loss in black population in the four current black districts were not people who moved out of Dallas. They simply moved to North Dallas districts, one of which had a black population that grew by more than 100%. In the six white majority districts the black population has grown by over 9,100 people. That is where more potentially winnable black districts are. Such maps can have two minority coalition districts, one of which can be 70% minority. As population movement continues, such districts north of I-30 will become stronger for minority candidates. Let's build for the future.

Maps that are much more compact than the one adopted can provide 10 minority districts on the Dallas City Council. These include 8 minority majority districts and two coalition districts, with a minority as the majority in each coalition district. Why was such a map not chosen?

While the potential for a black leader to be elected in any district city wide is increasing, that potential remains compromised in North Dallas minority communities. They remain fragmented among several North Dallas districts in the adopted map. The Justice Department must change this. It must establish and maintain equal voting rights in Dallas, and do it without gerrymandered city council districts.

Since the above posting was made, on 11-6-11, there was an article in the Dallas Morning News about the 41 schools within DISD that are less than 75% full and being studied for possible closing.  On page 10B of that paper was a map with the locations and names of these 41 schools given. It was not given online, but was photographed and is below. 

Click on the above map & list to enlarge.
Study the above map and listing of schools closely, along with the approved redistricting map for Districts 7 and 4, copied below. 

Click on above map to enlarge.
You will note that the overwhelming majority of the 41 schools are in Districts 7 and 4.  This corresponds to the dropping black population in this area.  We must start the decade with much stronger, more compact, black districts, and with black majority districts that are in areas wherein the black population is either stable, or growing, as we done in wPlan03c by Rawlings.  The fragmented minority coalition district surrounding Hamilton Park could be united to become a true "winnable" black district, but it appears such potential may have to wait for the next redistricting in 2021.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A letter to the editor

The redistricting guidelines passed by the Dallas City Council were excellent. They were simply not followed.

The 6 council members who voted against the adopted map may have remembered the often repeated words during redistricting training: "a plan cannot have the effect of diluting racial, ethnic or language minorities."

There are 50% more white-majority districts (6) than Hispanic-majority districts (4) in the new approved city council map. This is in a city where the Hispanic population is 47% larger than the white, non-Hispanic population.

In terms of voting age population, only 34% of the Dallas voting age population is white but the approved map has 43% of districts, 6 districts out of 14, that are majority white. That same approved map has only 29% of districts, or 4 out of the 14, wherein Hispanics are in the majority. The Hispanic voting age population is 37% of the total voting age population of Dallas.

These numbers clearly document the "diluting" that is happening.

While three majority black districts are in the approved map, with one "winnable" black coalition district, the potential for these to survive the decade are minimal if the 8% average drop in black population over the past decade continues. Two of these four districts are already weak. Gerrymandering only adds to that weakness. Stronger districts are needed, and possible! They were achieved in the wPlan03c Rawlings map that produced three much stronger black majority districts.  These three districts were stronger by an average of 6 full percentage points in the black voting age population. 

While the current 4 black council districts on the south side of Dallas have lost over 16,700 in black population over the past decade, the large majority of that population did not move out of Dallas.  Most of them moved to northern city council districts.  That is where the two growing coalition districts are located in the wPlan03c Rawlings map.  One of those coalition districts can be made to have a black majority, and can be expected to become a stronger black district!

Now is the time to lay foundations for compact communities to develop that will carry electoral traditions forward and nurture more citizen involvement. Gerrymandering does not do that!

The wPlan03c Rawlings map, with 40 fewer miles of gerrymandering boundary lines, shows that a 71% minority city council (10 minority seats) is possible through coalition districts. It has a total of 8 strong minority majority districts and two strong coalition districts.
Redistricting can never guarantee election results, only potential. Results only happen when people vote. But when we start without a level playing field, and with gerrymandering that discourages community development, something is wrong.

Without a change from the City Council, the next hope for progress in Dallas now rests with the Justice Department.  The Justice Department must approve this map before it can be used due to a history of similar voting rights violations in Dallas.

The Dallas City Council must reflect Dallas. That is the law.
If the adopted map bothers you, write a letter to the editor, and notify your city council member. Council contact data is at

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Were guidelines followed with the adopted Dallas City Council Map?

Five guidelines were adopted by the Dallas City Council for the 2011 Redistricting Process. The first three were regarding population equality, minority representation and continguity and compactness. It was stated that these “shall be applied as required by the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and other federal and state laws.” The stated goal in the guidelines was that "the voting strength of racial, ethnic, and language minorities in the districts should not be diluted by depriving minority voters of an equal opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice, such as by packing or fracturing districts."

In the eyes of this non-lawyer the first of these guidelines was followed. No map was accepted that did not meet the mathematical requirements of the first requirement for population equality.

The second requirement for minority representation was not met.  Dallas now has a new gerrymandered map that will do well if it produces a 50% minority council in a 71% minority city. The approved map has 6 districts (43%) that are majority white while only 34% of the voting age population is white. That same map has 4 districts (29%) wherein Hispanics are in the majority while Hispanics are 37% of the voting age population. Does it look like some "diluting" is happening? Another more compact map, rejected in the process, demonstrated that a map can be created wherein the potential for 71% of the council seats to be won by minorities exists.

The third requirement for contiguity and compactness was not met.  The chosen map required gerrymandering to avoid greater minority representation. The chosen map had an additional 40 miles of gerrymandering boundary lines.

The final two guidelines were listed as ones “which may be considered.” The first of them regarded “neutrality as to incumbents” with a very clear statement that “districts must not be configured for the purpose of either protecting or defeating an incumbent.” As is shown in the online video documentation of Redisstricting Commission discussions, and City Council discussions, and in the map itself, this guideline was not followed.

The second of these final “may be considered” guidelines was “communities of interest.” While this was the lowest priority guideline, it was the most often mentioned of the guidelines in the redistricting discussions. It appears “communities of interest” were used to avoid meeting the highest priority guidelines number two and three, certainly the more critical guidelines. More has been written elsewhere about this failure.

Dallas Morning News Editorial was too gentle

The Dallas Morning News Editorial: Hits and Misses was too kind about the usage of the term "communities of interest" during the Dallas City Council redistricting process. This three word phrase was used to hide some of the worst actions taken during the redistricting process. Those actions too often achieved the same goal as the usage fifty years ago of another three word phrase: "separate but equal."

Too often (once is too much) the difference from a "separate but equal" effect is minimal. This most clearly happens in statements as to why certain, usually higher percentage white, "communities of interest" should not be included in a, usually lower percentage white, City Council District.

One example is the gerrymandering Councilman Caraway wisely objected to during the tragic 10-5-11 meeting.  He objected to a gerrymandered appendage from District 1 that crossed I-35 into District 4 and was ultimately eliminated in the "final" map. But too many other such "community of interest/separate but equal" amendments remained in the final map that was approved.

In the Dallas redistricting process it was proven beyond doubt that the most compact districts can also provide the highest level of minority representation. But that was not allowed to happen in the map approved on 10-5-11. There were other priorities.

We now have a map that we can only hope the Justice Department rejects. Dallas is a much better city than the one reflected in the gerrymandered map approved 10-5-11.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why Dallas City Council had no winners on 10-5-11

10-5-2011 was a terrible day at Dallas City Council! We showed the world a side of Dallas that was not pretty.

There is no evidence to indicate that what happened yesterday in the Dallas City Council was any "prettier" than the same redistricting processes 10 or 20 years ago, except for the critical factor that now this process happens in the open, the way it should.   In the long run it is certain this transparency will improve the process.  It will lessen gerrymandering. 

Voters hate gerrymandering. Such hatred of gerrymandering is readily evident at any redistricting hearing. Almost all speakers at all redistricting hearings, at all levels, talk of the desire to keep their neighborhood/city/county together. The same testimony was the most common testimony at the Dallas City Council redistricting hearings. Then it was ignored, just as it was ignored in the Texas Legislature.

Almost all of the maps submitted by the public to the Dallas Redistricting Commission were more compact, with smaller average district perimeters, than the 35.60 mile average perimeter map that was approved yesterday. If you study the list of 21 maps submitted by the public, and summarized at, you will see that almost all the average perimeters were less than 35.6 miles.  These maps were more compact than the map approved 10-5-11.

Gerrymandering will be less and less acceptable to the public as knowledge about gerrymandering grows. Strangely shaped districts are almost never misshapen so as to maximize minority representation. They are almost always formed only to help in the re-election of either an incumbent, or a person they want to follow them.  It is the reason for the legislative gridlock plaguing our nation! 

Legislators fear no negative consequences from voters they have selected themselves during redistricting.  They know they will be re-elected no matter what they do or fail to do. 

Some could say that the obvious winners yesterday were the large majority of the Anglo council members who will probably keep their city council seats, something totally inconsistent with being only 28% of the population. But the price they, and all of us, pay is a less than efficiently functioning city government due to the unnecessary gerrymandering and misleading representation.  We all loose!

Others may claim that our Black Community is the winner. But, with the more compact wPlan03c Map presented by Rawlings, the Black Community would have had three much stronger Black majority districts.  The average Black voting age percentage in the three Black majority districts was over 6 percentage points higher on average in the wPlan03c map presented by Mayor Rawlings than in the map finally approved on 10-05-11.  Also, due to population movement patterns that appear to have been ignored in the approved map, in the 18 months since the 2010 census, the black population in District 7, 50.76% in the approved map, has probably already fallen below 50%.  District 7 lost 20% of their black population since 2000.  Similar patterns in District 4 indicate it will be below a 50% black population within the next 5 years.  The approved map may leave only one district with over 50% black population by the start of 2017 in Dallas.

The Rawlings wPlan03c map also has two coalition districts that could each have produced another Black council member.  With minor amendments, both of these coalition districts could have even been made significantly stronger to increase this "winnable" potential.

The Dallas Hispanic community, now the largest group in our city, is generally acknowledged as the most overt loosers in yesterday's process. They will do well to achieve 4 positions on the next Dallas City Council when, just by the numbers, they should comfortably have had 5 strong seats.

In summary it appears we now have an approved Dallas City Council Map, with over 40 unnecessary miles of boundary lines in it, that significantly weakens any potential we may have had for the minority composition of the next City Council to reflect that of our city.

Consequently thousands of us will be joining together in making valid claims to the Justice Department against the imposition of the Dallas City Council redistricting map selected on 10-5-2011.

As a small bit of the evidence to be submitted, here is a comparison of the approved 10-5-11 map with the wPlan03c map by Mayor Rawlings.  It shows what could be possible:
Click on the above chart to enlarge it.

There were no winners

Here is the map, and the demographic report it produces, that was approved by a 9 to 6 vote during the tragic city council meeting yesterday.  A copy of the approved map, and the demographics, have just now been posted on the City of Dallas web site at

Click on the above map to enlarge it.
Click on above chart to enlarge it.
The average district perimeter for the approved map is 35.60 miles.  This is a significant improvement from the current average district perimeter of 43.52 miles for our extremely gerrymandered city council districts.  But it still remains more gerrymandered than almost all of the 21 redistricting plans designed by the public and submitted to the Redistricting Commission.  It is obvious that the public wants less gerrymandered districts.  They do not want their neighborhoods broken up.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What will the Justice Department say?

What will the Justice Department say about a Dallas City Council Redistricting map they must approve that does not follow the guidelines passed by that same Dallas City Council? What will the Justice Department say when it is obvious there are other maps that provide a more complete minority representation, with more compact, less gerrymandered district lines?

Gerrymandering is mandatory if you want to design districts that will continue to produce an Anglo majority city council in a town with a population that is over 71% minority.

(The above comment was left under the 6th Dallas Morning News editorial urging the Dallas City Council to approve a less gerrymandered map for Dallas.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 5, 2011 Final City Council Amended Maps

Since last week three new "final" amended maps are now posted at .  Two are under the "October 5, 2011 Final City Council Amended Maps" heading and a third is posted below that with "October 5, Proposed Floor Amendment Map" in the heading.  A statistical report on each map is given.

With these maps, a total of 14 maps have been considered since the redistricting process left the Redistricting Commission and went before the Dallas City Council. The third alternative map for consideration 10-5-11 is by Council members Atkins, Caraway and Davis.  It is also the fourth map of these 14 considered by the Dallas City Council that has two minority coalition districts. (Minority coalition districts are those districts wherein no single ethnic group has a voting age population majority.)

Only one of these four, 2 coalition district, maps also has 8 majority minority districts. That is wPlan03c presented by Mayor Rawlings. The other three only have 7 majority minority districts, and too many of those majority districts are very weak.

Only one of these 14 maps also has three majority Black districts that are also all above 52% Black voting age. That is wPlan03c presented by Mayor Rawlings that has all three Black voting age districts above 55%. This map also has a 30.7% Black voting age coalition district that could easily be amended to be above 35% Black voting age without affecting the other strong majority Black districts.

Only one of these 14 maps also has five majority Hispanic districts that are above 54% Hispanic voting age. That is wPlan03c presented by Mayor Rawlings that has all Hispanic voting age majority districts above 57%. Four of those 5 districts are above 62%!

Only one of these 14 maps also is the most compact of all maps being considered. That is wPlan03c presented by Mayor Rawlings.  It has an average district perimeter that is 32.64 miles, several miles shorter than the other maps.

The normal result of having the most compact redistricting map in a town that is over 71% minority is that you will also have the highest minority representation, especially when it seems the other maps were designed to minimize minority representation. The days of an Anglo majority on the Dallas City Council should be coming to an end unless there is a refusal to follow the redistricting guidelines we are supposed to be working under, and the laws of this great nation.

Eight minority seats should be almost certain, but that is only true with the plan by Mayor Rawlings. With Mayor Rawling's plan, not only is an 8th district an almost certainty, but a 9th, and maybe even a 10th minority seat, are real possibilities due to the two minority opportunity districts.  Here is a chart that documents these differences between the plans:
Click on chart to enlarge it.
The exception to the representation predicted above is that candidate competence may overshadow all other variables in voting. Hopefully such visible competence and dedication will become increasingly common as more candidates of all races file for office in more compact districts on all sides of Dallas.  Dallas is in a place to become a truly great American City as a more truly representative city council helps that happen.

Another positive note about progress in Dallas relates to the stories that have been floated about Dallas loosing Black population.  While this is true, it represents a loss of less than 6/10 of one percentage point in the Black population.  The redistricting agony in finding a 4th Black district is due to the 16,000 Blacks who moved out of the four Black majority districts in Dallas.  However, over 11,000 of this population did not leave Dallas.  Most of the Black population movement appears to have been to the north within Dallas.  Many of the northern districts grew significantly in Black population.  An increasingly inclusive Dallas is certainly not a problem!