Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dallas Redistricting & your neighborhood

Map 16 was selected by the Dallas Redistricting Commission for presentation to the Mayor.  The more compact map, Map 3, was voted second by the majority of the Commission.

The pages below compare Map 16 districts with Map 3 districts.  They show, district by district, how potential minority representation was gerrymandered and damaged in Map 16, and how it was enhanced in Map 3 with the more compact maps.  If you want to present your council representative or the Mayor with evidence as to why you prefer Map 3 over 16, click on the map below that represents your neighborhood, print it, and send it to them asking that they use Map 3 as the new redistricting map for Dallas for the next decade.
District 6
Which District 6 map below will provide the best representation for families living near Love Field?   (Click to enlarge.)

 District 3
In Map 16, District 3 is 53.94% Hispanic voting age population (VAP).  In Map 3 the Hispanic VAP for District 3 is 62.05%. Which of the maps below will provide the best and most secure representation for West Dallas families? Or for the families in far Southwest Dallas? (Click to enlarge.)
In Map 16 the weakest of the three Black majority districts is District 7 (see below) with a Black voting age population (VAP) that is vulnerable at only 50.4%.  With the movement of the current District 5 to the west to create a Black majority district in southwest Dallas, District 5 becomes the new "weakest" Black majority district, but significantly stronger, with a Black VAP that is 55.42% and 5 percentage points higher than the Map 16 District 7.   

These maps can be clicked on, once to select & once to enlarge, and then can be printed in either portrait (i.e. District 2) or landscape (i.e. District 6 or District 3) format, whichever is best, to show the comparison between the maps. 

District 2
District 2 only maintains the eastern end of the current District 2 in Map 3.  Map 3 also strengthens the Hispanic vote by over 4 percentage points by unifying with far East Dallas north of Bruton Road. Gerrymandering is less of a factor in Map 3. 
The South Side of Dallas
The above maps reflect differences between boundary lines for Map 3 and Map 16.
  • In Map 16 District 5 has a voting age population (VAP) that is 64.10% Hispanic.  In Map 3 District 5 represents the southwest corner of Dallas and has a VAP that is 55.42% Black. 
  • In Map 16 District 7 has a VAP that is 50.4% Black.  In Map 3 District 7 is significantly less gerrymandered and has a VAP that is 66.36% Black.
  • In Map 16 District 8 continues to the the longest district in Dallas but has a Black VAP that drops to 61.61%.  In Map 3 District 8 is more compact with a Black VAP that is 67.42%.
  • In Map 16 District 4 covers most of the area that District 7 does in Map 3.  In Map 3 District 4 covers the southeast corner of Dallas, and most of the area known as Pleasant Grove, with a Hispanic VAP that is 61.98%.
  • In Map 16 District 3 continues to cover far north Oak Cliff and far South Oak Cliff but only has a Hispanic VAP that is 53.94%.  In Map 3 a more compact District 3 covers all of West Dallas and northwest Oak Cliff.  It has a Hispanic VAP of 62.56%.
  • In Map 16 District 1 was closest of any district to charges of packing with a Hispanic VAP of 70.56%.  In Map 3 this was avoided by including much of downtown Dallas, and the former area of Little Mexico to embrace Dallas History.  The Hispanic VAP for District 1 in Map 3 is 62.32%.            
The bottom line for minority VAP: it is 1.8% higher on average for each of the 8 minority majority districts in Map 3 when compared with these same 8 districts in Map 16.
Below are numbers that reflect how the more gerrymandered lines of Map 16 damage minority representation in Dallas.  Such gerrymandering should not be allowed to continue in a city that is now over 70% minority but still has a City Council that continues to be majority Anglo.
Remember, click on the above chart to enlarge it.

Print out the above maps for your neighborhood.  Share them with neighbors if you see issues you want to address with the City Council.  Here are email contacts for the Mayor and City Coucil.

If you want to study the full Map 16 that will be submitted to the Mayor, and Map 3 that was the first choice of one commissioner and the second choice of 12 of the remaining 14 commissioners, you may simply load each map in a different tab in your browser and click between them to compare the differences.  Do a right click here for Plan 3 and then click "open in new tab."  Do a right click here for Plan 16 and again click "open in new tab."  These are large maps and may take a while to each load. Once both maps are loaded in different tabs, click on the tab for one of the maps.  Then click on the tab for the other one.  Now click back and forth between the tabs to compare maps.  Move each map to the location you want to compare.

It has often been asked how the district maps produced by Map 3 (wPlan03c) have been so consistently more compact while also producing higher minority percentages.  While there are many hundreds of  elements that have combined with ideas from dozens and dozens of people along the way, the most central and consistent guidance came from the following map created June 9th: 
The blog posting that day explains the history and reasoning behind this map that has guided the creation of wPlan03c.  If you compare the above map with wPlan03c it will be noted that boundary lines were moved so as to eliminate any danger of charges of "packing."  Other boundaries were moved so as to maximize "communities of interest," a valuable term when used with good intentions, but that can also be use in a way to remind one of a previous time when "separate but equal" was also considered a valuable and respected phrase.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Redistricting: DISD vs Dallas City Council

The more the public understands the contrast between DISD redistricting and Dallas City Council redistricting, the more we all will understand redistricting and how it should be done. Expanding that knowledge benefits us all!
To compare the redistricting process at the Dallas City Council with that same process at DISD is especially frightening when you consider the old teaching truism that you teach more by what you do than what you say in front of a classroom.
What lessons are being given students by the DISD board in their redistricting process? Any senior government class could come to the following conclusions if they were to have observed the past 3 months of the redistricting process within DISD, and failed to also observe Dallas City Council in the same process:

Lesson #1: Redistricting requires more involvement by attorneys than by the public. There were at least three attorneys involved in the DISD redistricting process. DISD only spent about 60% of the amount that Dallas City Council spent but it appears that a disproportionate amount of the DISD money was spent on paying attorneys.
Meanwhile, Dallas City Council only had one attorney visible in the redistricting process. She was only there for guidance and legal advice, and she was great! She did not draw maps. It appears attorneys were paid to draw the maps in the DISD redistricting process.

Lesson #2: Redistricting does not require maps being drawn by the public as it is too complex of a process and must be done by professionals. DISD provided no online access or other computer access so that the public could be actively involved in designing the redistricting map.
Meanwhile, Dallas City Council centered their process on maps being drawn by the public and by the commissioners. Those hundreds and thousands of hours spent drawing maps were donations to the city both by the public and by the commissioners who were also volunteers. It was a priceless lesson about public donations of time. It was a practical lesson related to what can be done online. It also helped to expose the power of gerrymandering to the 50+ people involved in the process, and underlined the need to eliminate it. (This was the most priceless lesson students studying only the DISD Board would have missed.)

Lesson #3: The public has no need to know the details of the redistricting process. The public does not even need to see the maps to be voted on beyond maybe seeing the final map two hours before the final vote by the DISD board. The final DISD map was never posted online, and may still not be online as I am writing this, but it was passed by the DISD board last night after less than two hours of visibility to those present at the meeting. Those not present never saw it!

Meanwhile the Dallas City Council had dozens of maps posted online for days before they were ever voted on. The final proposed Dallas City Council map has now been online for 2 days at It will not be presented to the Mayor till next week. It may be as long as 45 days before it is passed by the Dallas City Council. This provides ample time for the public to study the map, actively criticize the map and suggest alternatives, and write emails, letters, and make phone calls to the Dallas City Council related to the map. (I am actively doing that at

Are these the lessons we should be teaching as to how a true democracy functions? What do we want our children in to learn? May I suggest that our most advanced government students study BOTH of these redistricting processes and come to their own conclusions. It may be one of those lessons they will remember most from their years in DISD, but they must also study the Dallas City Council process.  The good news is that Dallas City Council process is well documented online along with 100 hours of video from the actual meetings.  Sadly such documentation of the DISD process does not exist.
If the above issues are not shared in gatherings and conversations in Dallas, the potential for our city to become a truly great and sustainable American City will be limited.  Please join in the conversation and the sharing. Invest in our city, our schools, and our future.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dallas City Council Redistricting Maps 3 & 16 Compared

We must closely compare Map 3 (the wPlan03c Map) with Map 16 (the cPlan16d Map).  Map 16 won the most votes on the Redistricting Commission and will be the map sent to the Mayor and City Council next week unless actions are taken for change.  It will ultimately become the map used to redistrict Dallas City Council Districts for the next decade unless enough citizens rise up to express other opinions. A comparison of the two maps shows why change is needed.

Both maps can be loaded in different tabs in your browser so you may then click between them to compare the differences.  Do a right click here for Plan 3 and then click "Open in new tab."  Do a right click here for Plan 16 and again click "Open in new tab."  These are large maps and may take a while to each load. 

Once both maps are loaded in different tabs, click on the tab for one of the maps.  Then click on the tab for the other one.  Now click back and forth between the tabs.  You will first see that Districts 11 and 12 are identical on both maps. As you slowly move both maps down using the scroll bars you will see the multiple differences as you click between these maps.  If both maps are in exactly the same location, when you click between them you will get a very good idea of the differences between the districts for that location.  Both maps can be enlarged for much greater detail.

If you have any questions I would be honored to answer them:

If you become concerned about the Map 16 that was chosen for the city by the Redistricting Commission, remember that you may still contact the Mayor and City Council members about your concerns and preferences, including another map such as Map 3.  Here are the email contacts for the Mayor and City Council . 

It may be as long as 45 days before the City Council and Mayor make their final decision on the map to use for our future City Council Districts.

In addition to the concerns documented yesterday about the reduced minority representation in Map 16 as compared to Map 3, there are other concerns:
  1. District 6 in Map 16 is pushed south and stretched out over three miles longer into a gerrymandered, irregular shape.  District 2 remains strangely gerrymandered around the center of the city.  These residents most affected by flights from Love Field will again have fragmented representation between two Council members for issues at Love Field.  In Map 3 these issues are made more compact in one district, District 6.  In Map 3 District 6 includes and surrounds Love Field on all sides.  The residents who suffer most from airport noise will be able to have one voice to speak for them relative to the Love Field noise issues, but only if Map 3 is chosen.
  2. It is easy to see that District 2 in Map 16 "just doesn't look right" due to gerrymandering.  In Map 3 it is united to the east with the similar far East Dallas community.  The 39 mile long District 2  perimeter in Map 16 is reduced to 29 miles in Map 3 while the voting age Hispanic population jumps four percentage points to over 57% in Map 3 for District 2.
  3. The comparisons of District 7 between Map 3 and Map16 is almost painful.  In the gerrymandered Map 16 you find that the resulting Black voting age population is only 50.4%!  In Map 3, with a much more compact and centrally located District 7, the Black voting age percentage is 66.36%, over 15 percentage points higher!  Part of this advantage is lost as District 4 is moved in Map 3 to the southeast corner of Dallas to be the Pleasant Grove district which is majority Hispanic.  Then it is regained significantly as District 5 is moved to the southwest corner of Dallas to become a Black majority district with a Black voting age population that is 55.42% in Map 3 instead of the 50.4% for District 7 in Map 16. (Remember, in summary both maps have three Black majority districts but Map 3 has three much stronger Black majority districts with an average Black voting age population that is over 3 full percentage points higher in Map 3 than in Map 16.)
  4. Continue to compare the gerrymandering, district by district flipping between the maps.  With this method it is easy to see which map suffers most from gerrymandering.  What is the reason for this continued gerrymandering?
  5. Do not forget the concerns documented yesterday about the critical difference in minority representation between the two maps.  They merit repeating:
    A) The Hispanic voting age percentage averages 3/4 of one percent lower in Map 16 for the average among the 5 majority Hispanic districts when compared with the higher percentages in Map 3. 
    B) While the weakest Hispanic district in Map 3 is 57.63% Hispanic voting age, the same measurements for the two weakest Hispanic majority districts on Map 16 are lower at only 53.94% and 53.39%.  These are not safe percentages.
    C) There is an average 3 percentage points difference between the average Black voting age population for the 3 Black majority districts in each Map.  In Map 3 that Black voting age percentage is three points higher than in Map 16.  D) The weakest Black district in Map 16 has only 50.4% Black voting age population.  On Map 3 that weakest district is 55.42%, a much safer percentage due to the population movements anticipated.  The potential for loosing an additional Black district is much greater in Map 16 than in Map 3. E) Finally, remember that Map 3 has two stronger minority opportunity districts that are each stronger than the one 57.76% minority opportunity district in Map 16. One of the Map 3 districts is over 70% minority!  That represents a very real opportunity for Dallas to have a City Council that has 9 out of 14 members who are members of a minority community.    
The above concerns are still only some of the potential concerns.  You may certainly have others from your own area of Dallas. The Dallas City Council Redistricting Process is not yet over. 

The health of these maps should reflect the health of our City.  The days of "separate but equal" due to gerrymandering must end!  The comparison of Map 3 and Map 16 proves that in Dallas gerrymandering can actually be used to reduce minority representation.  Then, why does gerrymandering remain?

You can still contact the Mayor and City Council members about your concerns before they make a final vote: Email Contacts for the Mayor and City Council . Notice the link at the top of that page which will allow you to send the same email to all council members and the Mayor at one time.

If the above issues are not shared in gatherings and conversations in Dallas, the potential for our city to become a truly great American City will be limited.  Please join in the conversation and the sharing. Invest in our city, our future.  Share the above issues with your friends.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More Compact Districts & Stronger Minority Representation

The 8/23/11 Dallas City Council Redistricting meeting was a very pleasant surprise.

I had anticipated a short meeting. I signed up to speak upon arrival to thank the Commissioners for their work. Then I began to be greeted by people who were present to speak out in support of Plan 3 and discovered many promising facts.  People wanted the more compact plan found in Plan 3.  The Commissioners had received 250 emails from citizens supporting Plan 3.  The people were angry that Plan 3 had been voted down. About 30 speakers had already signed up by email to speak, most of them in support of Plan 3. Due to the volume of speakers the Commission limited the time to 2 minutes instead of the normal 3 minutes.

The public speakers addressed multiple issues related to compactness, the gerrymandering remaining in Plan 16, and the way Plan 3 would treat their own neighborhoods better.  It was discovered that while only 1 commissioner had voted for Plan 3 as their first choice at the last meeting, 12 others had voted for Plan 3 as their second choice. It was argued it should have been the second choice. There was anger expressed regarding the politics involved in plan selection. It was very reassuring to listen to the testimony.

After the public testimony, the possibility of submitting the other two plans as second and third choices, along with the first choice of Plan 16, was discussed. It was ultimately voted down. Most of the evening was spent considering amendments to both Plan 16 and Plan 5 before the final vote. The meeting did not end until about 11:30 PM.

It appears that the potential for greater progress, than appeared possible when Plan 3 lost the first place vote three days ago, may have been revived. It would be a dream come true if Dallas could get rid of the 35 miles of gerrymandered boundary lines that remain in Plan 16 and improve minority representation in the process.

No matter what happens, we need to celebrate the progress. It appears that Dallas will certainly get rid of 125 miles of the current 609 miles of boundary lines between city council districts. It is estimated there are now just over 160 miles of such boundary lines that only exist due to gerrymandering. Thus we will have eliminated about 78% of those lines with Plan 16. That is wonderful progress!

But, while the final version of Plan 16 sent to the mayor, cPlan16d, is an improvement for minority representation in general, cPlan16d does not improve the potential for minority representation as much as Plan 3. This is especially true in the potential for Black representation. While both plans have three majority Black districts, in this last version of Plan 16 the average of the three Black voting age population (VAP) percentages for these districts is only 59.69%. In Plan 3 this same average is 63.06%, over three percentage points higher!

The weakest of the three Black majority districts in Plan 16 has a VAP percentage of only 50.40%. In Plan 3 the weakest of the three Black majority districts is significantly stronger: 55.42% !  Given the potential population movements happening, the potential for such a low number as 50.40% to move below 50% and weaken is very high.  The strongest possible districts are needed!

A similar weakness in the Hispanic districts is shown by comparing Plan 3 with Plan 16. Both have 5 Hispanic majority districts, but the average VAP percentage is .75% (¾ of one percent) higher in Plan 3 than in Plan 16. The significance of this grows in that the weakest VAP percentage district in Plan 3 is over 3.5 percentage points higher than the two weakest districts in Plan 16. The difference between a 57.63% district and a 53.39% district can be significant when you allow for residents unable to vote due to citizenship.

A potentially very significant difference between Plan 16 and Plan 3 is that Plan 16 only has one minority opportunity district.  It has a minority population of only 57.76%. Plan 3 has two minority opportunity districts, both of which have higher minority populations (70.09% and 58.86%) than the one opportunity district in Plan 16. 

The final difference between Plan 16 and Plan 3 is that the sixth strongest Hispanic district in Plan 3 has a Hispanic VAP percentage of 42.61%. This is significantly stronger than Plan 16 with a sixth strongest Hispanic district that has a Hispanic VAP percentage over 9 percentage points lower: only 33.36%.

Remember: these achievements in stronger minority representation in Plan 3 over Plan 16 are all made while also achieving significantly more compact districts! Plan 3 eliminates 31 more miles of gerrymandered Dallas City Council boundary lines than does Plan 16.

This indicates gerrymandering can be used to lessen minority representation.  (Click here to compare Map 3 and Map 16 more completely to form your opinions based on the shapes of the districts alone.)

Lessen gerrymandering and our City Council will more accurately reflect our city with an ever greater number of people stepping forward to serve. Campaign contributions will be less of a factor for potential leaders to consider.

It is a joy to be involved in a competition between two plans in the Dallas City Council Redistricting race that are both fighting to provide the highest minority representation possible in Dallas. The power of our democracy is being shown!   No matter which plan wins, we all win!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dallas City Council Redistricting Plan 3 died about 8 PM on 8-20-11

It is sad to announce to the hundreds of supporters, and the 22 who spoke at the forum to support the plan, that Plan 3 is no longer in the running to be the redistricting plan for Dallas City Council. 

At this evenings meeting after the forum the Commissioners wrote their first choice, second choice, and third choice on a sheet of paper in an effort to eliminate one map.  After that was done it was decided that the two plans with the most first choice votes would be the ones to go forward. The one with the least first choice votes would be out.  Plan 16 received 10 votes, Plan 5 received 4 votes. Plan 3 only received 1 vote for first choice.  Plan 3 was out.  The Chair states that all of the votes would be read into the record.

This vote was ultimately recorded on page three from the minutes for the Commission Meeting on 8/20/11.  Here is a link to the copy of these minutes on the Commission web site.  Here are the results of those votes by the 15 Commissioners, followed by the percentage, in parenthesis, of Commissioners who thought that the plan should either be first or second:

wPlan03c: 1 first place vote, 12 second place votes , 2 third place votes, (86.7%)
cPlan05b: 4 first place votes, 1 second place vote, 10 third place votes,  (33.3%)
cPlan16b: 10 first place votes, 2 second place votes, 3 third place votes, (80.0%)

The strange way in which the votes were interpreted were certainly disappointing, but there was no opportunity for comment from the public relative to the questionable logic involved in the elimination of Plan 3 instead of Plan 5.  One commissioner spoke up who noticed the irregularity, but they were overruled by the others.

Only 8 votes are needed for a plan to be selected.  Ten votes were received this evening by Plan 16.  Unless there are major changes by Tuesday, it is certain Plan 16 will be the selection.

I am still in the Commission meeting.  It is now 9:21 PM.  They continue "tweaking" the remaining plans, 16 & 5.  The staff analysis of the results of these changes will hopefully be posted on the Redistricting web site Monday along with the new maps. We need to watch and see if these changes will weaken these plans from the strength they had originally shown as significant improvements to the current Dallas City Council District Map.

Dallas City Council Redistricting Forum Handout 8/20/2011

Several hundred copies of the following will be distributed around the City Council Chambers today.  Click on them to enlarge:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dallas Media on City Council Redistricting Plan 3

It has been a good week in the media for Plan 3. Now enough people must speak out at the 8/20/11 2:00 PM Dallas City Council forum so that wPlan03c, now just called Plan 3, is chosen. It is an investment in our future.

Bill Betzen has the best redistricting plan Dallas Morning
The best of the bunch was submitted by Bill Betzen, a Dallas blogger and very interested citizen. His map closely hews to the original high-minded ...
News (subscription) (blog)
- Michael Landauer
- 2 hours ago

Editorial: Redistricting panel should focus on principles over ...

Dallas Morning News (subscription) - 23 hours ago
The best of the bunch was submitted by Bill Betzen, a Dallas blogger and very interested citizen. His map closely hews to the original high-minded ...

Dallas Morning News (subscription)

Meet the Man Who Will (Probably) Draw the New Dallas City Council ... Dallas Observer (blog) - Anna Merlan - Aug 11, 2011
If for some reason you haven't been following redistricting with undivided attention, Betzen's name might not be familiar to you. But if you've gone to even ...

Dallas Observer (blog)

Since the 8/20/11 Forum the following media stories were circulated about the Dallas redistricting process:

Dallas Redistricting Battle Lines Drawn  NBC Dallas-Fort Worth - Ashanti Blaize - 1 day ago
Citizens packed Dallas City Hall on Saturday making their opinions known as the city considers three redistricting plans. ...

Pleasant Grove Residents Want Own Council Seat 

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Head to southeast Dallas – and you’ll find an old community with a strong identity. “You’re in Pleasant Grove,” said Sabrina Harris, who was raised here. “Yea, yea, it’s well known.”
Politically, though, Pleasant Grove has no identity at all, making up a small part of four different city council districts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Three Plans for 8/20/11 Dallas Redistricting Public Forum

Last night one version of each of the three maps was selected to move forward to the forum for public input in City Council Chambers, Saturday, 8/20/11, beginning at 2:00 PM. Anyone wanting to speak about their favorite plan must either call (214-670-5735) or email ( the Redistricting Commission staff, before 2 PM Friday, or appear and sign up at City Hall, City Council Chambers before 1:55 PM on Saturday, to have their name recorded to be a speaker.  As of last nights meeting there were 12 people scheduled for their three minute time to present Saturday.

The final three plans, with names shortened to Plan 3, Plan 5, and Plan 16, are now online at the top of the page at .

While all three of the plans have 8 minority districts and at least one minority opportunity district, Plan 3 is the only one of the three plans that has two minority opportunity districts.  A minority opportunity district is one wherein no single minority group is over 50% of the district voting age population, but together the combined minority voting age populations make up over 50% of the population.  In Plan 3 the minority voting age population is 70.1% of the population in the strongest minority opportunity district, District 9, and 58.9% in the second minority opportunity district, District 10.  District 10 is the only minority opportunity district in the other two plans.  District 10 has a minority voting age population of 57.7% in Plan16 and 57.6% in Plan 5.

There continue to be significant differences between the plans as to how strong their 8 minority districts are. All plans have three majority Black districts. Plan 3 has an average Black voting age population of 63.07% in these three districts.  In Plan 5 that percentage is 58.23%. In Plan 16 it is 59.40%.

All three plans also have 5 majority Hispanic districts. Plan 3 has an average Hispanic voting age population percentage that is 61.79% for these 5 districts. In Plan 5 that same percentage is 60.75%. In Plan 16 it is 60.76%.

Plan 3 continues to be one of the most compact ever presented to the Redistricting Commission.  It has measurements between the other two of the selected plans.  See the chart below for details:
Click chart below to enlarge.

Click the above to enlarge.
Remember, any plan in inventory, not just these three, can be commented on and recommended Saturday.

Witness a major event in the history of Dallas on Saturday. It is not required that you sign up to speak. The parking is free. The seats are comfortable. The building is comfortably air conditioned. The event is free!

If it is like many of the 20+ Redistricting Commission meetings I have witnessed, there are usually some fireworks. The security guards have not had to actually throw anybody out yet, but it has been close several times. This is raw democracy in action. Come join in this wonderful process! Let's reclaim our democracy! It is the foundation for this great nation … and it appears Dallas may be doing it better than anybody!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Is Dallas City Council Redistricting History from 1991 about to be repeated?

Protecting incumbents cited as factor in 14-1 Maps `drawn certain way' because of issue, Miers says
Lawrence E. Young Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)  Published: MAY 25, 1991

Dallas City Council member Harriet Miers told a group of minority lawyers Friday that protecting council incumbents influenced the way boundaries were drawn under the 14-1 redistricting plan. "Incumbent issues caused the maps under consideration to be drawn a certain way,' Ms. Miers said during a luncheon sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association. "If we can take the issue of incumbency away, we could have a map in a New York minute.' Her remarks prompted some minority leaders to contend that the city sacrificed a fifth black district to protect incumbents under the 14-1 plan narrowly approved Monday. "That's reprehensible,' attorney Eric Moye said. "The notion that the protecting of incumbencies rises to the level of the voting rights of citizen s who have been denied their constitutional rights is obscene.' The plan approved Monday features four predominantly black districts, two Hispanic ones and two mostly white districts in Oak Cliff and Pleasant Grove. The other six districts also are predominantly white. The mayor would be elected citywide. Ms. Miers was elected president of the State Bar of Texas May 2 and is not running again for City Council. She said after her presentation that the plan that was adopted "really didn't do violence to any incumbents.' Plaintiffs in the city's 3-year-old voting rights lawsuit, as well as the only two minority council members, favored a 14-1 plan that would have created five black districts.

Ms. Miers said protecting incumbents was a factor in the development of both the plan favored by plaintiffs and the one approved by council members. She said she voted against the plan favored by plaintiffs because it protected some incumbents and not others. "It protected everyone but (council member) John Evans,' who represents Pleasant Grove, Ms. Miers said.

The plan would have split Pleasant Grove among four black districts.

Minority leaders said they were outraged at the notion that the city would place the protection of white incumbents on the same level - as the protection of minority voting rights. To satisfy its obligations under the U.S. Voting Rights Act, they said, the city must maximize minority voting strength regardless of the effect on incumbent white council members. "It's unfortunate,' said lawyer Kevin Wiggins, a member of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board. "With this council, it seems the balance always weighs in favor of protecting incumbents or neighborhoods rather than minority voting rights.' Ms. Miers defended her decision to back the redistricting plan with four black districts.

She said the creation of a fifth black district was "one component of a very complex set of circumstances' that included the protection of incumbents and neighborhoods.

Ms. Miers said that throughout the redistricting controversy she did what she thought was right. She noted that she opposed the competing 10-4-1 plan even though that angered many whites.

Betsy Julian, a lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, said Ms. Miers' remarks represent a significant admission. Ms. Julian said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in a redistricting case involving the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that politicians could not sacrifice minority districts to protect incumbents. "In a political sense, incumbency is a legitimate issue, but protecting incumbencies should not take precedent over minority voting rights,' she said.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company


Progress made and danger remaining: Dallas City Council Redistricting Meeting 08/16/11

Last night the 11 amended maps from the 8/11/11 Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission meeting were posted online.  The following chart has been created reflecting the most critical measurements from these 11 maps.  Only one map on the list below has not met the most critical population equality criteria.  That is cPlan05a.  It has a total deviation from the population target that goes above 10%, a critical flaw.  The other plan with this same critical flaw, wPlan03b, was not included in the listing due to that fatal flaw.

The following chart reflects wonderful progress.  The average district perimenter is significantly improved in every plan!  Gerrymandering will be lessened significantly in Dallas.  We have much to celebrate!

This chart also reflects challenges. The differences between the plans in the ability to provide 8 secure minority districts is significant. While they all meet minimum criteria, hopefully the Redistricting Commission will see the wisdom of going well beyond the minimum.

Click on the chart below to enlarge it.

Dallas City Council Redistricting - 11 Amended Plans for 08-16-11 Meeting

Monday, August 15, 2011

One of Many Costs Dallas Pays for Gerrymandered Districts

The schedule for the 2011/2012 Budget Town Hall Meetings is now posted on the City Web Site.  If you use this list to count the number of meetings at which each city council member is present to meet with the people of their district, you quickly see a pattern.  That pattern is documented in the spreadsheet below.  The 7 most gerrymandered districts in Dallas have twice as many budget meetings scheduled as do the 7 least gerrymandered districts: 34 meetings vs only 16 meetings. 

This is another small piece of evidence of what the unnecessary gerrymandering of minority districts on the south side of Dallas costs. It makes ongoing contact by the city council representatives with residents more time consuming and difficult due to the multiple communities covered in the unnecessarily long and spread out districts. With the 2010 census it is also clear that gerrymandering will lessen the potential for minority candidates to continue to be elected to these city council district positions. Compact districts will help strengthen the potential for minority representation to continue. We must form compact districts on all sides of Dallas, not just the north.  Wplan03a does that.  In 5 districts the Hispanic voting age percentage averages 62.39% with wPlan03a.  In 3 districts the Black voting age percentage averages 62.69% with wPlan03a.  None of the other two maps come close to these numbers. When the map with the highest numbers in these critical areas is also the most compact map, with an average district perimeter that is less than 32 miles, miles less than any other map, what does that tell you?

The information to create the above chart came from the document at this link on the City of Dallas web site.  It is the schedule for the 2011/2012 Budget Town Halls Meetings.

It was just discovered that 11 new amended maps have been posted on the Dallas City Council Redistricting Web page at  These 11 maps represent various recommendations made by Commissioners to the original 3 maps.  There are now three versions of cPlan05, two versions of cPlan16 and 6 versions of wPlan03 that are posted.   

Letter to Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission regarding amendment process

Sent: 8/12/2011 1:02:08 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: Map Amendment Process Recommendation
Dear Honorable Commissioners,

It is awfully late for this to be recommended, but after watching the agony past midnight last night, it is very possible it may only be worse next week. Others also seem to have that fear. It is obvious you are agonizing over these maps to find and create the best. The following recommendations are made seeking to help the process go more smoothly. While some of this is already being done with some recommendations, consistency will help the process significantly.
  1. Every amendment to a map should have a reason behind it. It needs to be expressed in detail. If a community of interest is the reason, it should be described in detail, boundaries given, and the representatives of the community of interest who communicated their concerns named if at all possible.
  2. The area to be moved should be named by street boundaries.
  3. If the change creates an imbalance beyond 5% in any district then the corrections needed must be included in the recommendation before it can be voted on.
  4. Changes in demographics must be known before the vote. That vote will cover the entire package of initial move and corrections to be in the one package change.
  5. If the above can all be done in writing, maybe by filling in a form, the process will go much more smoothly.
This will require additional planning by each member making a recommendation. Without such advanced planning work included in each recommendation, the meetings could go on well past midnight next time. The quality of the final maps will suffer, if for no other reason than the ultimate fatigue that is only human. The huge volume of work the Commission is valiantly undertaking will be less productive without such efficiency.

It would be an honor to help any commissioner form any recommendations they may want to work on.  I am available over this weekend, or at any other time. It can all even be done by email, or I would be glad to meet with my computer and show how changes may affect a map.

The ideal situation would be if every commissioner could access each of the final maps in the online application that is available, such as the one I used for wPlan03. If I could have access to the cPlan05a and cPlan16a online, I could quickly tell anyone what their changes would do to the final map. Without that, I can still report on population & demographics in any given area for the “c” plans, and give more detailed analysis on details to wPlan03a which I am able to work on online.

It is hoped this may help.  It is an honor to be a part of this groundbreaking process. Dallas is leading the way!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wplan03 selected to go forward by Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission, but the evening's last public speaker said something even more important!

This evening, after several hours of discussion on the 15 plans, the 14 commissioners present voted for the three plans out of the 15 that they wanted to go forward.  When the votes were counted wPlan03 came out first with 12 of the 14 commissioners present voting for it. Second place was tied between cPlan05 and cPlan16, each receiving 7 votes.

The amendments recommended in writing for wPlan03 on 8/4/11 were voted on and approved with no objections.  They will be completed by staff so the amended maps will be ready for the Thursday meeting.  Potential additional amendments will be considered to all three plans at that time.   

The last public speaker for the evening was a lady who appeared young to me, but had to be about 40. She said she grew up in "Freedman's Town before 1980."  She had waited for four hours this evening to speak.  She proceeded to make the most priceless statements of the evening by reflecting the normal human need for a connection to our own history. 

She spoke of growing up in Freedman's Town, that area just north of Booker T. Washington Arts Magnet High School.  She explained how, from the time of the Civil War until modern times, that area was the home of the Black Community in Dallas.  She spoke of growing up there, but that the entire area "went white," and now "costs too much."  She asked that this area be taken out of District 14.   

After she spoke I followed her into the hallway to share my strong agreement with her and show her how Freedman's Town is being moved out of District 14 by wPlan03 and into District 4, a Black majority district.

I showed her the following section of the amended wPlan03 map that had been included in the 8/4/11 handout to the commissioners:
District 14 and 4 boundaries in the amended wPlan03.  Click on the above map to enlarge.
It was explained that, with wPlan03, the northern boundary of District 04 is moved north to Thomas Avenue and States Street, and to the northeast to include Freedman's Cemetery.  Freedman's Town and Cemetery will now be a City Council District that will be managed by Councilman, and former Mayor, Caraway.  After he retires, District 4 will probably be managed by another Black leader.  It will be a Black majority district!  She was very happy, and probably shocked as this was all described.

I gave her a wPlan03 map with the web address so she could see a more detailed map online. She was excited. I thanked her for coming to speak.

It was a very long meeting, but this last speaker made it all more than worth the investment. We in Dallas must embrace our history!  The statements of the last speaker are a powerful reminder of that need. We must thank her. She gave a powerful message for all of Dallas, especially our students.

I finally walked to my car after 10:15 PM.   It was the end of a very good day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dallas Redistricting Commission will narrow 15 plans to 5 or less on Tuesday 8/9/11

On the posted agenda for the Tuesday, 8/9/11 6 PM meeting of the Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission (room 6SE of Dallas City Hall) the following 15 plans are listed for consideration. At least 10 will be eliminated.  Click on the chart below to enlarge it.  Study the 8 demographic and compactness measurements from each of these 15 plans. 

Please print out and study this chart.  Bring it to the meeting and sign up to speak.  Copies will be available at the meeting. Let the commissioners know which plan you like the most and why. You may also email your concerns and/or opinions to the commissioners at .

At this meeting the Commissioners will narrow the above list down to 5 or fewer plans to continue considering. The plans are listed on the above chart in the same order they are listed on the meeting agenda (except for the amendments submitted for wPlan03.)  If you would like to look at the maps, or the more detailed measurements from each map, the link to the page where all such data is collected within the City of Dallas Redistricting web site is; .

Help Dallas prepare for the future. 

If you have any questions about this process, or the above chart, I will gladly try to answer them.  Below are the guidelines that the Commissioners established in April that have been guiding our process to this point. This is a good time to go back and read these two pages. Click on them to enlarge.
Bill Betzen

Mayor Mike Rawlings at Chorizo & Menudo Meeting Saturday 8/6/11 with wPlan03 map in the back.

Dallas City Council Redistricting Process haunted by a "separate but equal" ghost

Fifty years ago “separate but equal” was a three word phrase used by respected Dallas leaders, and leaders everywhere, to justify segregated schools and communities.

We are now entering the final months of debate surrounding the 2011 Dallas City Council redistricting process. Another three word phrase, “communities of interest,” has evolved into an uneasy prominence in this political process. While it has valid valuable uses, and I have often used it, there are times it gives a chilling reminder of how “separate but equal” was used.

The Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission has been meeting regularly since February of this year. These meetings are a wonderful testament to the 15 dedicated volunteers appointed to the Commission. They are donating thousands of hours of work to improve our City. Many of those hours are well documented in the video tapes made of Commission meetings since April, and are online at .

On April 13th the redistricting guidelines were approved and made public. There are five general criteria addressed in the redistricting guidelines. The very last, and the very least, of these criteria is “communities of interest.”

It has been pointed out many times during Redistricting Commission meetings that while “communities of interest” are certainly a valid consideration, this designation is the least objective of the criteria listed in the guidelines. It is the last criteria listed in the guidelines. It is under “population equality,” “minority representation,” and “contiguity and compactness.”

Watch closely the video tapes of the Redistricting Commission meetings covering both the Commissioners discussions and testimony from the public. Notice the frequent use of the three words “communities of interest.” They are the most common criteria mentioned. It is certain that at times the difference from a “separate but equal” meaning is minimal. This most clearly happens in statements as to why a certain “community of interest” should not be included in a certain City Council District. Is the ghost of “separate but equal” present? How do we exorcise this ghost?

There are three answers:
1) Inclusiveness must overpower exclusivity.
2) Compactness, population equality, and minority representation should rule the process!
3) Never allow “communities of interest” to overpower the other, more objective, criteria.

These three steps must rule the redistricting process!

In the redistricting process in Dallas it has already been proven that the most compact districts can also provide the highest level of minority representation. Crooked district boundary lines on residential streets are not necessary! Among the 21 complete redistricting plans being considered, the most compact are generally the ones that have the highest number of minority districts, and also have the highest minority percentage averages within those districts. A list comparing such statistics is at .

We need to be very cautious as to what redistricting process phrases may really mean in each use. Such caution will help Dallas create city council districts that will still be a source of pride for our city in 2021, 2031, and 2050.  This will happen if we create the most compact Dallas City Council Districts possible, districts that also have the greatest potential to provide city council members who will accurately reflect our city.

Please come to the Dallas City Council Redistricting meetings every Tuesday and Thursday and show your concern for the future of Dallas.  On Tuesday, 8/9/11, they will be eliminating at least 10 of the 15 plans that remain on the list for consideration. (Here is a one page chart of these 15 plans with 8 basic demographic and compactness measurements given for each plan.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dallas City Council Redistricting plan wPlan03: the most compact redistricting plan with the highest minority representation

The comparison of the 21 plans being considered by the Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission clearly shows that only 7 of these 21 plans have both 3 majority Black districts and 5 majority Hispanic districts.  These 7 plans are the original work of only three people. Three of the 7 plans represent commission updates to the original 4 plans.  Here is a statistical comparison of these 7 plans, with an 8th plan added.  The 8th plan was generated by 12 amendments to wPlan03 following recommendations from many separate sources, including the public and commissioners.

Click on the above chart to enlarge it.

When the plans are compared relative to compactness, only one plan stands out with both an average district perimeter below 32 miles and an average of the four indexed compactness scores that is above 1.3.  This is wPlan03.  With the recommended amendments it now has an original average perimeter of 31.96 miles and an average index score of 1.34.  The next closest of these plans by a different author, relative to compactness, has an average district perimeter that is over 10% longer, over 3 miles longer, of 36.26 miles, and a significantly lower average index score of 1.24.

Once wPlan03 is amended with the 12 changes reflected in the map below, here are the demographics produced:
Click on the above charts above or below to enlarge them.
Here are the compactness scores produced:
Here is the wPlan03 map that produces the above demographic and compactness measurements.  Click on it to enlarge it:
Dallas City Council Redistricting map from plan wPlan03 amended by recommendations given Commissioners on 8/4/11.
Click on the above map to enlarge it. 
The 12 changes in wPlan03 started with attempts to re-unify the uptown area by the movement of the northern end of District 4 south from Turtle Creek to the State/Thomas area.  This moved 8,000 people from District 4 and into District 14.  That required a ripple of no fewer than 5 additional changes to accommodate this move of 8,000 residents. One result was that the black voting age population for District 4 went up over 6 percentage points.  The western boundaries of District 9 had to be moved west to take up some of that population and the southeast corner of District 10 reached into the apartments on the northern end of District 9 to take in some of that population. The western boundary of District 4 had to be moved to take in some of District 8 to make up some of this population loss for District 4.

The other major change was to move the western boundary of District 13 to Webbs Chapel Road from Forest to Walnut Hill.  This led to changes to the southern borders of District 6 which was moved to Medical Center Drive.  Other changes were made to the District 11/12 boundary to accommodate an agreed resolution achieved by the Commissioners in that area.  Also, three sets of changes were made in District 8 to accommodate population balance with Districts 4 and 5 as well as the wishes of some residents.

Between District 1 and 3 the boundaries were moved to place Kessler Park and Stevens Park into District 1.  The western boundary of District 1 was moved to Gilpin at Davis and south, down Cockrell Hill city limits to Clarendon, then east to Westmoreland.  The northern District 1 boundary was moved to Fort Worth Avenue and I-30.  To compensate for this move the County Jail was moved our of District 1 and into District 3.  Since both the population, and the Hispanic percentage of the population, are similar in both Kessler Park area and in the County Jail, these changes did not lead to any dangers of a concern for packing.

Detailed amendments were submitted to the Commissioners on 8/4/11 to achieve these needed amendments which produce the above map.

The best news is there is no need to gerrymander to have strong minority representation on the Dallas City Council!

We must demand compact City Council Districts. These amendments to wPlan03 result in a compact set of City Council Districts that are the strongest minority representation districts created by any plan now before the Redistricting Commission. Compact districts help maximize voter turnout!  They make it less expensive to campaign for office!  They make it easier for citizens to know their representative.  It is easier for a council person to know the people they represent in a compact district.

Please tell the Commissioners you support wPlan03.  It is the plan designed and amended so as to help the Dallas City Council best reflect the makeup of the City of Dallas, while also having compact districts to improve the active involvement in our city by more residents.

The email address for the commissioners is You may also call them and leave a message during work hours at 214-670-5735.