Thursday, June 30, 2011

Final Dallas City Council Redistricting Plan submitted to Commission

This redistricting plan, wPlan03, will now only be the second of two plans I have submitted that will continue to considered for implimentation by the Commission. It was agreed that there have been so many improvements since pPlan03, the initial plan presented over a month ago, that plan pPlan03 will be retired from any consideration.

The following posting describes this final plan, wPlan03, in four parts:
1) Proposed Dallas Council District map for wPlan03, in 5 photos,
2) Demographic profile produced by wPlan03 for each district, and
3) Text from letter to Redistricting Commission sent with wPlan03 explaining the goals that guided its creating, and the improvements made.
4) A comparison of wPlan03 with wPlan24, and the updated wPlan24a, to demonstrate improvements made.
Part 1) Here are 5 photos which together show one proposed Dallas City Council redistricting plan that provides for the highest minority representation possible while also eliminating over 90% of the gerrymandering that has plagued Dallas City Council districts on the south side of Dallas:
Far North Dallas: (Click on photo to enlarge.)
North Dallas:
Central & South Dallas:
Far Southeast Dallas:
Far Southwest Dallas:
The above 5 maps are generated by wPlan03 completed on 6-30-11 with input from hundreds of people.


Part 2) Demographic numbers produced by this plan: (Click chart to see larger copy.)


Part 3: Text from letter sent Redistricting Commission with wPlan03 on 6/30/11 to explain the values that guided the creation of wPlan03:
June 30, 2011 ...

Dear Honorable Commissioners:

... This final plan took advantage of the hundreds of inputs I have continued to be blessed with over these past three months, right up to the last hour before it was submitted online today. But the design of this final plan is centered on improving the compactness measurements from wPlan24. (Plan completed and now in consideration by Commissioners) There are factors in wPlan24 that are preferred by some Commissioners that are not in this final plan. But, for the long term political health of our city, compactness, and the centering of districts closer to one of the 14 population centers in Dallas, are the highest values. Other values that drove the design of this final plan were the maximization of minority representation and working to avoid any use of residential streets as boundaries, especially with homes on both sides of the street. All such residential streets have been avoided as boundaries except in the northeastern boundaries to District 2 in East Dallas, and in two other locations. Here are some of the improvements made:

  1. Hispanic Voting Age Population averages have improved and now average 62% in the 5 most populous Hispanic districts.
  2. Black Voting Age Population averages also improved and now average over 60% in the three districts with the highest Black populations.
  3. The locations where small two-lane streets were used as boundaries have been reduced to only three locations on the map, a very significant improvement. These lesser boundaries cover about 4 miles of the over 420 miles of boundaries that surround the 14 districts in Dallas. (If more population variation were used, well within the allowable, at least two of these spots may be eliminated.)
  4. The average perimeter for each of the 14 districts is expected to be about 31 miles per district, over 12 miles less than the current average district boundary. The average index score measuring improvement in compactness will hopefully be above 1.4. Both are solid improvements over wPlan24.
Hopefully the final map chosen will equal or improve these four critical numbers, and use even fewer miles of two-lane road boundary.

I again want to congratulate the Redistricting Commission members for designing and approving this public process and the excellent set of guidelines. They reinforce the values of our democracy.

Following are the ways each of the Redistricting Guidelines are followed in wPlan03 now submitted.

1. Population Equality
None of 14 districts recommended in wPlan03 are more than 1.39% away from the 85,558 population target. The total variation is 2.77%.

2. Minority Representation
There are a total of 9 districts with wPlan03 that have a majority of residents from a single minority group. A total of 6 districts are majority Hispanic with an average percentage of the population that is Hispanic of over 68% in the 5 most populous. The sixth Hispanic majority district is truly only an opportunity district as the Hispanic population is 51% with a Voting Age Population (VAP) of 45%. Three districts are majority Black with populations that are 54.7%, 59.6% and 62.6% Black. (Black Voting Age Populations in these same districts are 55.8%, 58.4%, and 66.5% for an average VAP over 60%.) All numbers are improvements over wPlan24. These 8 districts with a majority Voting Age Population that is one minority group, combined with two minority opportunity districts, should allow minority voters to have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in Dallas.

3. Contiguity and Compactness
The 14 districts were each centered as much as possible around the 14 population centers in Dallas. This is required to secure the most compact district possible. This process required radical movement of current districts due to the Dallas history of gerrymandering. At the same time, as compactness increases, the length of boundaries decrease, thereby dividing up fewer communities because there are simply fewer miles of boundaries. It is anticipated that wPlan03 will have about 168 fewer miles of such boundaries than the current district boundaries in use since 2001. We will know this for certain as the compactness tests are run.

Among the guidelines which may be considered is listed “Communities of Interest.” Under that heading three specific districts in this plan deserve mention due to the two historic areas of Dallas they will now represent.

Districts three and one, Hispanic majority districts, will both now include with this final plan the parts of Dallas that used to be called “Little Mexico.” District 4, a majority Black district, now also will include sections of Dallas containing the former Freedman's Town and Freedman's Cemetery which had a painful history of less than respectful care under city leaders in the distant past. These redistricting changes increase the probability that these historic locations may someday be under the more watchful care of one or more city council representatives who are also descendants of ancestors who lived, worked, and may even be buried, on that land. These redistricting changes are a way for all the citizens of Dallas to acknowledge the strong positive contributions and history of the ancestors of the hundreds of thousands of Black and Hispanic Dallas residents, now working in greater numbers than ever to lead us into the next century. We must celebrate our Dallas History!

It is an honor to present wPlan03 for your consideration.


Bill Betzen, LMSW (Emeritus)
The School Archive Project – history, a dropout cure

Part 4: A comparison of the wPlan24 presented to the Commission on 6/21/11, the updated wPlan24a presented on 6/30/11, and the wPlan03 scheduled for presentation on 7/12/11:

Compactness numbers for wPlan03 have not yet been generated.  These are only estimates generated from an earlier version of wPlan03.

Once you have studied the above maps and demographics produced by wPlan03, the cover letter that describes the values used in the design, and the comparison between wPlan03 and wPlan24 and wPlan24a, what do you think?
Which is the best plan? How may they be improved?
Please email, or post below to the blog.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

6-28-11 version of wPlan03, an almost finished Dallas City Council Redistricting Plan

Today, 6-30-11, the final plan was presented to the Dallas Redistricting Commission for study.  Find details at
************* Posts below are archived as of 6-30-11 **************
We are near the finished line.  There have been multiple changes to wPlan03 in the past week, mainly between Districts 5, 8, and 4,  and between 2, 9, and 14.  Some lines were straightened and other balances acheived.  This plan is open to changes, but they must be received by the evening of 6-29-11.

Here is the current map, one north and one south, for wPlan03:
Here is the map of the south side of Dallas from wPlan03 as of today, 06/28/11:
Here are the demographics produced by the changes this past week:
 The final plan must be turned in by the end of this week.  Input and comments are welcome at either or by phone: 214-957-9739.

I welcome your calls. They are improving this map!
Bill Betzen

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dallas City Council Redistricting Plan wPlan03, 6th plan and third planned for submission to Comission: the Goal!

Today, 6-30-11, the final plan was presented to the Dallas Redistricting Commission for study.  Find details at
************* Posts below are archived as of 6-30-11 **************
On, 6-20-11, the Dallas City Council Redistricting plan named wPlan03 was accepted by city redistricting staff for consideration, then pulled back for minor updates and corrections following additional input.  This will be the third and final plan submitted to the Commissioners. It is setting the standards for the final plan selected to match:
  1. The average wPlan03 district perimeter is 31.04 miles as of 6-20-11.  That is 12.5 miles less than the current average perimeter with the current 14 city council districts.  (Is there a better way to reunite neighborhoods and keep them together than eliminating 175 miles of boundary line?)
  2. There are 3 Black majority districts with adult voting age percentages that average over 60%. 
  3. There are 5 majority Hispanic districts with adult voting age percentages that average over 62%.
  4. There are two additional districts termed as "minority opportunity districts."
  5. The compactness measurements improved significantly, to an average index value of 1.36 for all measurements on all Dallas City Council districts combined in wPlan03. 
Here are the demographics, and compactness measurements for the version of wPlan03 as of 6-20-11:
The above average numbers are the highest yet secured in the affirmation of Voting Rights Act goals during this redistricting process for the Dallas City Council.
The Compactness Index average of 1.36 reflects very positive improvements to correspond with the low average district perimeter of 31.04 miles. 

The final redistricting plan put in place by the Dallas City Council should have numbers at least this positive for minority representation, district perimeter, and compactness scores!  If you agree, please let them know.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Best Dallas City Council Redistricting Plan yet!

Today, 6-30-11, the final plan was presented to the Dallas Redistricting Commission for study.  Find details at
************* Posts below are archived as of 6-30-11 **************
Using the online redistricting application for Dallas City Council, I have created this weekend the 6th and best redistricting plan yet.  It is named wPlan03, not to be confused with pPlan03 submitted over a month ago. 

WPlan03 increases minority representation potential for both Black and Hispanic communities of interest. The 5 Hispanic districts now have a voting age population that averages over 62% of the population in those 5 districts, 4 percentage points higher than the pPlan03 submitted a month ago.  The three Black districts now have voting age populations that averages over 60%, 2 percentage points higher than the pPlan03 submitted a month ago. 

The one failing of the online application is the difficulty in getting a map from it without city staff help.  Below are two photos of the design of the districts reflected in the above statistics.  These are digital photographs taken of the online map with the District numbers inserted.  (Maybe someone can show me how to get a digital map from this software.) This clearly shows where the boundary lines are. 

First, here is the map for the north side of Dallas under wPlan03 as of 6-19-11:

Here is the of the South side of Dallas under wPlan03 as of 6-19-11:

While I am certain that the compression tests for this wPlan03 will show improvement, those results will not be available until Monday afternoon at the earliest.  City staff must run those tests after wPlan03 is formally accepted for submission.  Your comments and questions are welcome:

Remember, there are now two plans that will be presented before the Redistricting Commission on 6-21-11: pPlan03 submitted a month ago and wPlan24 submitted a week ago. WPlan03 is a new plan completed this weekend.  It is built on the improvements of all the plans that have gone before it, and improves those results.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Documents describing first two redistricting plans to be presented to Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission

Today, 6-30-11, the final plan was presented to the Dallas Redistricting Commission for study.  Find details at
************* Posts below are archived as of 6-30-11 **************
Two pdf documents have now been received that were prepared by city staff from the first two redistricting plans that will be presented to the Redistricting Commission at their next meeting.  The plans are pPlan03 and wPlan24.  These are the documents that have already been sent to the Commissioners to prepare for the 6-21-11 meeting. If you are interested in seeing these two documents please email

Please join us at the 6:00 PM meeting on Tuesday 6-21-11 in room 6SE of Dallas City Hall.  You may also sign up to make your own comments on these plans, or any other item you may want to speak to the Commission about regarding redistricting.

Fifth Dallas City Council Redistricting Plan as of 6-17-11

On 6-30-11, an improved version of this plan was presented to the Dallas Redistricting Commission for study.  Find details for newest version down the page at
************* Posts below are archived as of 6-30-11 **************
Following input received at the last Commission meeting, wPlan24 was redone to move districts closer to their population centers and thereby improve the compactness scores for the entire plan.  The western boudary for District 13 was moved to Marsh Lane with effects that went around the map. Compactness measurements will be secured Monday.  Here is the resulting map for pPlan12, the fifth plan done:
I am very certain that the compactness measurements for this new map will be higher than any to date.  Here are the populations statistics generated by this new map:
Work remains to be done, but the maps are getting better.  What problems do you see?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fourth Dallas City Council Redistricting plan completed, second one submitted to city for consideration.

This afternoon, 6-14-11, I submitted a second offical redistricting plan to the city that met all requirements for acceptance. While it was my fourth plan finished, two of them have not been submitted for various reasons.  Work continues on one of those. The plan submitted, wPlan24, has many improvements from the first plan submitted almost a month ago, including that almost all of West Dallas is in one district:

Click on this map to enlarge it. Only one small area of West Dallas, east of Beckley and South of Commerce are in District 1 and not with the rest of West Dallas in District 3. Here are the statistics generated by this redistricting map. Study them closely.
Comments to this map are welcome. It is a work in progress and critical comments are especially valuable., Bill Betzen

The compactness scores for this redistricting plan were received this afternoon. (See copy below.) They are very good! The average index average score is 1.43, about 5 percentage points below the 1.50 average index score achieved by the "ideal compactness" pPlan10 that was designed last week with compactness and district population equality as the ONLY goals.  
This new plan, named pPlan24, will be formally presented next Tuesday, 6-21-11, at the 6:00 PM Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission meeting in room 6SE in City Hall. If you support the map represented in pPlan24 please come and tell the Commissioners.  Public testimony is accepted at every meeting.  You may also email your support of the plan to Dr. Ruth Morgan, Committee Chairperson, c/o Yasmin Tolliver,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Four Compactness Measurements used in Dallas City Council Redistricting

Today, 6-30-11, the final plan was presented to the Dallas Redistricting Commission for study.  Find details at
************* Posts below are archived as of 6-30-11 **************
The staff of the Dallas City Council Redistricting office have done a wonderful job of taking the recommendations of the Chairman of the Redistricting Committee, Dr. Ruth Morgan, and others, and forming an impressive system for measuring compactness. The link they provide, click here, to explain these four measurements is required reading if you want to best understand these measurements.  This linked article also lets you know that we are certainly not the first people to struggle with redistricting.  The issues are almost identical everywhere.

Here are graphics to explain the four measurements as simply as possible. Click on any one you may want to see more clearly.

For more details go to the excellent article linked above, and here.

For the "ideal map for compactness," pPlan10, the measurements used in the spreadsheet below were generated by city staff.  I added the averages to the spreadsheet.  In the chart, area is measured in square miles and perimeter is given in miles.

Probably the most valuable single number to summarize compactness will be the average of the four "indexed" scores on the last line for each measurement.  For pPlan10 those numbers are 1.64, 1.29, 1.71 and 1.36.  Their average is 1.50, in the lower right hand corner of the spreadsheet below.  Remember, a score of 1 would mean no improvement was achieved on average with pPlan10.

Following are the compactness measurements provided by city staff: (click on chart to enlarge)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Compactness idea proposed 6-7-11 at Dallas Redistricting Commission Meeting

Today, 6-30-11, the final plan was presented to the Dallas Redistricting Commission for study.  Find details at
************* Posts below are archived as of 6-30-11 **************
Now that the ten public input meetings throughout Dallas are over, that does not mean that public input is over.  Every Commission meeting accepts public input.

While nobody in the audience had input for the 6-7-11 City Hall meeting, one of the commissioners asked a critical question: "Could redistricting staff make a council map wherein compactness was the priority?"  Sadly this request was lost in conversations that followed (see the video), but the idea was excellent! Here is the result:
Above is a redistricting map made with population equality and compactness being the ONLY two standards used in the design. It will be presented at the next Commissioners meeting.

While this is NOT a map that can be presented as a redistricting plan, it does demonstrate the 14 "dots on the map" that represent the 14 population centers that are the same no matter who does the map. The location of these 14 locations, within each of the circles on the map, only change as the population changes. The value of this map is that it gives some idea of the locations on the map that the districts should be designed around.

While, the boundaries must  change to meet the other criteria, these 14 locations on the map are a constant, no matter who makes the map.  While the above map was not made with the certitude of a programmed calculation using detailed 2010 census data, it is very safe to say that each center of population "dot" for each district is somewhere within the larger circle placed in each district.

Here is the statistical report produced by this map.
Tuesday, 6-7-11, was a good meeting.  It produced one of the most productive ideas yet for any redistricting process that wants to minimize gerrymandering and maximize compactness in all districts. Population centers must be known, one for each district.  This is something a computer with census data could produce. It is 100% objective.  It only changes when the population changes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dallas Redistricting Process Now Online

Today, 6-30-11, the final plan was presented to the Dallas Redistricting Commission for study.  Find details at
************* Posts below are archived as of 6-30-11 **************
Yesterday was the day the Dallas City Council redistricting process when online. It is at  In the left column click on Redistricting Web Account Request Form and begin the process.  You will be sent the instructions and password you will need to begin your own redistricting plan for Dallas City Council.

Yesterday three people requested passwords and are starting the process.

There are now three places the public can go to work on redistricting plans:
  1. Dallas Redistricting Commission offices in City Hall,
  2. the Central Library,
  3. and any computer with an Internet connection. 
The final day for the public to submit a redistricting plan is June 30, 2011 at 5:00pm

If the guidelines established by the Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission are fully reflected in the final district boundaries established, this will be a significant step forward for Dallas. Citizens need to be vigilant and make certain these redistricting guidelines are followed.