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.

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