It was very good news to read of the lawsuit being filed by voters against the Dallas City Council redistricting plan approved by the Council on October 5, 2011. The map created by that redistricting plan continues a long Dallas tradition of denying equal representation to minority communities in Dallas. With this approved map it is very hard, if not impossible, to explain how the Hispanic Community was not the primary target. The approved map analysis by city staff clearly shows it only has 4 districts in which the voting age population (VAP) is over 50% Hispanic.
On 9-24-11 the Dallas City Council Redistricting Commission was considering a total of 11 different maps and eight of those maps each had five districts with Hispanic voting age populations above 50%. See the details for each of these 11 maps on a chart at http://dallasredistricting2011.blogspot.com/2011/09/dallas-city-council-redistricting-maps.html . Please note that in one of those maps, wPlan03c submitted by Rawlings, the weakest of the five Hispanic majority districts was 57.6% voting age Hispanic! On 10-5-11 the meeting began with 5 maps still in consideration, including the wPlan03c map, and only two of those 5 maps did not have 5 majority Hispanic VAP districts: http://dallasredistricting2011.blogspot.com/2011/10/october-5-2011-final-city-council.html .
That same map also had the strongest three Black districts, stronger than any other map considered, with an average Black percentage of 63.07%. In the Approved City Council Map this percentage was only 56.9%, and there were only 3 Black majority districts, contrary to what at least one TV reporter said this evening. Also, the Wplan03c map was the only map with two "minority opportunity districts" increasing the potential for a Dallas City Council with 10 minority members! No other map so strongly increased the potential for 71% (10) of the 14 council members to be minorities, just as the 71% of Dallas are minorities!
The wPlan03c map submitted by Rawlings was also the map with the most compact districts with an average destrict perimeter of only 32.64 miles. The approved map was significantly gerrymandered leading to an average perimeter of 35.60 miles. This means there are 41.44 more miles of boundary lines in the gerrymandered, but approved, City Council map. More details about the wPlanc03 map are linked from the same page linked above: http://www.dallascityhall.com/redistricting/planReview.html The WPlanc03 Rawlings map is the 8th map listed on that page.
The problems with the finally approved map were summarized in a letter to the editor posted on 10-9-11: http://dallasredistricting2011.blogspot.com/2011/10/letter-to-editor.html, and in a second letter just published on 8-5-12 at http://letterstotheeditorblog.dallasnews.com/2012/08/its-time-to-change-dallas-voting-landscape.html/ .
In any redistricting plan every resident must be counted, citizen, adult, child, non-citizen. Everyone is counted! That is the law. People complain that the ability to vote should somehow be used in drawing the lines. While there are many estimates as to how many eligible voters are in each district, they are only estimates. It is only at the voting booth that the real determination can be made. Until then the total population is the only population factor that should be used in drawing district lines. The numbers for each district must be within a 10 percentage point range, generally no more than 5 percentage points above or below the target population of 14th the Dallas City Population.
There was a time in history when some claim gerrymandering was used in Dallas to maximize minority representation. Those days are past, if they ever existed. Gerrymandering was certainly used to confuse and discourage voter participation, as that is the most consistent effect. With the approved City Council Redistricting Map it is obvious gerrymandering continues to be used in attempts to fragment the Dallas minority community, now 71% of Dallas population. It must be stopped. The future of Dallas rests with everyone voting and being counted in compact city council districts.