Tennell Atkins, Dwaine Caraway Demand Four African-American Seats Stay On City Council

Categories: City Hall
carawayandatkinsatpresser.JPG
Photo by Anna Merlan
Caraway and Atkins at this morning's press conference
Did you wake up this morning wondering what all the arguing's going to be about at Saturday's redistricting forum with Mayor Mike Rawlings and the city council members? Wonder no longer! At a City Hall press conference just now, council members Dwaine Caraway and Tennell Atkins, backed by former council member Diane Ragsdale and others, announced formally what Caraway and other black leaders in the city have been saying informally for quite awhile now: They want four strong African-American seats on the new council district map, seats they believe should have been put there by the Redistricting Commission to begin with.

"I am disappointed the plan did not put forward four African-American seats," Ragsdale said. "Now we're having to deal with this at a council level."

Just some light background, for those of you who haven't been hanging on this process like it's a particularly exciting episode of American Gladiator: cPlan16d, the final map submitted to the city council by the commission, ultimately ended up with five Hispanic districts, three African-American ones and one so-called "coalition" district, where the demographic makeup is such that either population could potentially vote in their preferred candidate. The city's demographic makeup, according to this latest census, is 42 percent Hispanic, 25 percent African-American and 29 percent Anglo.

The plan was forwarded on to the city council, where the council members were free to make amendments to the map, or draw up a whole new one, if they saw fit. Yesterday, we got a look at the 10 proposed amended maps various council members put forward, nine of which were based on Plan 16. (Mayor Rawlings also submitted a map based on Bill Betzen's popular but ultimately inventoried Plan 3. Betzen was probably the only non-journalist or political type at the press conference just now. He could be seen circulating the room and explaining the redistricting process to semi-befuddled TV reporters. As always, he looked absolutely delighted to be there, which cannot be said of anyone else.)

Of the nine city council maps that draw from plan 16, seven keep the same ethnic breakdown as 16 does, including one of the four proposals submitted by council members Caraway, Carolyn Davis and Atkins. (Davis was unable to attend the press conference this morning, Atkins said, because she's currently at a meeting in D.C.) The only other African-American city council member, Vonciel Hill, submitted a modified map that creates three Hispanic, three African-American and two coalition districts. She has not been working with the group, to put it mildly -- recall, if you will, about a month ago, when Caraway told us (because we called and asked him about it) that Hill and her appointed redistricting commissioner, Hollis Brashear, were "bandits" and "renegades" who purposely drew a map, he said, to bring Hill into Caraway's district.

"African-Americans should be rightfully upset," he said. "Because an African-American cost us a seat with that move. ... That's a slap, a true slap."

Another plan submitted by Caraway, Davis and Atkins creates four Hispanic, three African-American and three coalition districts. But only one creates the makeup they're arguing for: four Hispanic, four African-American and one coalition district. The argument during the redistricting process by most of the commission was that this would be really difficult to do, but they have, mainly changing the boundaries of District 5 to make it trend African-American rather than Hispanic. (Interestingly, the move also made District 8, which was 61 percent African-American, a little less strong -- in their new proposal, it's become 54 percent instead.)

Nonetheless, Atkins said this morning, "We feel like we should have four African-American potential seats. We're here to make sure people come on Saturday," to advocate for that, he said.

"We've got four today, we want to have four tomorrow and to have four in the future," he added.

By way of background, Caraway also reminded the crowd that the 1991 redistricting process ultimately found its way into court due to activism by Marvin Crenshaw, Roy Williams and Al Lipscomb (whose daughter, Betty, was also standing with the council members this morning). The famous 14-1 decision created five seats, which, Caraway said, "dwindled" to four after the next census. "The threat we're confronted with today is yet more retrogression."

The group also said that their efforts to hang onto a fourth seat shouldn't be construed as hostility against city's Hispanic community. "We will not give up our hard-won and just battles for African-American representation," Ragsdale said. What was won in the 14-1 decision, she said, "was also fair and just representation for Latinos and Anglos."

"As African-Americans," she concluded, "we've fought for everyone to be at the table. We demand four seats. Forward together, backwards never."

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68 comments
donovan acree
donovan acree

The color of a persons skin does not dictate how they vote or where they stand on an issue.The politicians are just reinforcing a race war mentality.

bbetzen
bbetzen

This statement by Councilman Caraway is correct.  I strongly believe he is right.  A fifth black coalition district is certainly possible.

pak152
pak152

too bad the districts can't be drawn without taking race into account. no matter how you jigger the districts you can not guarantee that a particular race will be elected

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

No one can blame Blacks for moving from Southern Dallas for a better quality of life,maybe if City of Dallas would have tried half as hard on infracture,streets and development as they have downtown our numbers would not have gone down.Someone has made builders think a 250,000 house will not sell in Southern Dallas,but Blacks are buying them in Desoto,Cedar Hill and etc All Black people do not want to live in Plano or Frisco.Hispanics have the numbers but not the vote. Dallas is mostly  minority so what difference does it make,I guess, only one I see is Blacks will support Hispanics I am not sure about other way around.

bbetzen
bbetzen

Anna, I was not aware my enjoyment of today's conference was showing so much....

But Councilman Caraway's statement that "The numbers will make the decision" made my day. I know those numbers and they are strong.  Look at the chart on the 11 maps now under consideration, the 10 new ones plus the original Map 16 sent by the Redistricting Commission. The chart is at http://dallasredistricting2011... . It very clearly shows that the most compact map providing the strongest minority representation is the Map 3 as amended by the Mayor.   The average district perimeter in the wPlan03c Map 3 is now only 32.64 miles, better than any other map. 

Minority representation is measured as the average minority voting age population for each minority group in their majority districts. The wPlan03c map submitted by the Mayor provides an average Black voting age population of 63.07% from three districts. The next closest map, the Jasso/Griggs map, weighs in at only 60.14%. For Hispanics, this same wPlan03c map provides 62.53% average Hispanic voting age population in 5 Hispanic majority districts. The next closest map is the Jasso/Griggs/Alonzo/Koop/Margolin map with a 61.60% average. The potential for a 9th minority member on the Dallas City Council is certainly greatest with wPlan03c due to the existence of two minority opportunity districts, both of which are stronger that all the other maps with 8 minority majority districts.

If "the numbers will make the decision" Map 3 should be in good shape.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

Maybe it should be "one dollar, one vote"?  Oh wait, we already do it that way.  I yield the balance of my time to the Secret Councilmembers from the Park Cities.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

What happened when Ron Kirk was elected mayor.... did white citizens from Far North Dallas, Lakewood, Preston Hollow, etc. take to the streets and riot?

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

If they really wanted to have "winnable" Black Districts, that would explain why District 8 has always elected someone from Oak Cliff, and not from Kleberg/Rylie or Pleasant Grove. It makes it hard for anyone from the Southeast to be elected. Just saying. Please help this city if anyone speaks in support of the same Gerrymandered Districts that theses folks put on the table.

Observist
Observist

The very premise that seats should be proportional to race is dubious.  Why not age?  Why not income?   Why not property ownership?  Retired middle-income white people and retired middle-income black people have much more similar needs than, say, retired middle-income hispanics and working 30-something hispanics with young kids.   Everything is racist if you look at everything in terms of race... that sounds like a stupid tautology, but you know what I mean.  Too many people seem to have a vested interest in fighting racism to ever let racism be defeated. 

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

It is very easy to talk about the commission and what they should have done but I say, where you?  Citizens had the opportunity to come down, rally the community and voice whatever concern.  They had the opportunity to draw a map.  They had the opportunty to speak to the black council members and demand that they stop the bickering and worry about people and not economic engines.  Communities were being divided based on getting certain businesses in particular districts.  There was no concern for retaining 4 black districts.  I tried to fight for 3 districts and a strong coalition district.  I just want to know where were you?  It is easy to lay blame but if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.  I fought to keep District 8 together because that is what the community asked me to do.  I will not be a scapegoat.  In actuality, District 7 is considered a coalition district now.  District 5 wanted VA Hospital, the horse park, and Paul Quinn College.  In order to do this, they would have to take Arden Terrace, Highland Hills and Singing Hills.  These neighborhoods were adamant about not wanting to be in 5 with the exception of the part of Singing Hills that is currently in 5.  There is no community of interest.  District 5 did not want to go west where the neighborhoods are similar.  This might cause some problem because of voting strength, the councilmember may come from another part of the district.  

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Wow, talk about a bunch of racists. The last time I checked, Dallas largest "minority" population is hispanic, not black and has been that way for quite a few years. No offense, but i've grown tired of all the whining, complaning and general political cock blocking the "community" in "sunny south dallas" has done since 14-1, which is the root of most of the problems in this fair city. If we want to really fix this city, its time we get rid of the "council/mayor" system of government, which is dragging us down like an anchor, holding dallas back from its potential and go to strong mayor.

just curious
just curious

Do we know what percentage of the 42% Hispanic population is Dallas is illegal?

Facebook User
Facebook User

So much for a post-racial society. Wouldn't it be nice if the citizens of Dallas would elect representatives that best represented the interests of the city and not the interests of race? I believe it should be illegal to create voting districts based on race. Our lawmakers assume that the Voting Rights Act requires them to draw districts in a way that would give minorities a chance of winning elections. The Supreme Court (in 2009) limited the reach of the Voting Rights Act and ruled that lawmakers who make this assumption are misreading the law.

Of course if race is the only thing we should consider when electing representatives we should have 42% of the seats held by Hispanics, 25% of the seats held by African Americans and 35% held by 'other'. But how do we define a Hispanic today? Someone who speaks Spanish? Someone is descended from relatives from Mexico or Latin America? What about Brazil? Are people from Brazil Hispanic? What about those with both African American and Hispanic descendants? Isn't this silly? We are all Americans and the sooner we realize that and start working together to make America great the better off we will be. Focusing on how we are different is not going to get us anywhere.

Paul
Paul

Interesting comments that minorities can only be represented by the same minority representative.  So if I live in a majority minority district and I am not a minority of the majority minority but am a majority that is not of the majority minority who is represented by a minority of the majority minority who is the only one who can represent the minority in the majority minority district then am I as a majority in who is not a minority of the minorities who make up the majority minority district doesn't that then make me a minority in a majority minority district who is not represented by the minority representative even though we are both minorities in the same district except that the representative of the minority that is in the majority even though the majority is in the minority in the majority minority district?

Whew ....

George Orwell said it best: "All animals are created equal but some animals are more equal than others."

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Building on Milkman Dan's idea, maybe districts represented by council members with an IQ below a certain threshold (Carolyn Davis?), could be allocated TWO representatives, each of whom would be allowed to cast 1/2 a vote.

Bpl7
Bpl7

Put Kessler and Stevens Park in District one. Problem solved.

Yakuza_Fighter
Yakuza_Fighter

This is just really sad that there aren't any minority leaders who can represent all the people, just their own race.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Looks like the African-American contingent has met the enemy, and the enemy is MATH!

Hispanic population grew by 84,000 since the last census; black population declined by 5,000 (notwithstanding the "excellent" quality of its political leadership).

Watching South Detroit
Watching South Detroit

Talk about racism - if the hispanics have 42% and blacks 25% - then the hispanics should have the 5 seats and blacks 3.  Remember the old arguments against South Africa when the white minority ruled the black majority?  Well the same arguments apply here - blacks should not get more representation than their population calls for. 

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Yeah, it's pretty retarded the way the system assumes I'd rather be gerrymandered into a district based on my skin color than lumped in with my actual neighbors, with whom I actually share interests in streets, police protection, sanitation and all the other things my city government is supposed to be spending my tax dollars on.  I have a dream...

Ms Freedmans
Ms Freedmans

No because he gave them a Black Community formley Freedmanstown now Uptown!!!!!!!!!

Bill B
Bill B

No, but I blew grass clippings into his car when he parked it in front of my house and left the windows open.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Name one, just one person from Kleberg/Rylie that has run.

Nunya
Nunya

I like your point. And, to be fair, I don't think that the black community will be up at arms if they don't get four districts. I personally think the whole thing is ridiculous. This is mostly about a few city council members that are more concerned about keeping their gravy train afloat than anything.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

I know Mary H is correct but what kind of council Person wants buildings instead of people. The thinking of our Representatives is just twisted.

Sharon Boyd
Sharon Boyd

What was the point of showing up?  Look at all the time Betzen put in, only to have a crooked commission member form a cabal that gives another ridiculous map that is no better than what we've had for 10 years.   For NW Dallas, the crook's map is a disaster.

Bpl7
Bpl7

I don't blame them for not wanting to be in 5. The councilperson is invisible.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

Dallas has City Manager form of government but I agree we need Strong Mayor form.I supported it last time and was almost run out of Town. Good luck.

Oak Cliff Res
Oak Cliff Res

What does legal have to do with anything??? In my opinion illegals get screwed in America.  They pay taxes on all products and purchases but cant elect those who spend that money...  If they rent an apartment then they pay a defrayed if not all property tax amount that the owner/landlord would have to pay.  And at the end of the day they cant decide who represents them but the put their hard earned money into the general fund pot that keeps the north dallas pot holes filled...

Paul
Paul

No problem here, I don't care what ethnicity/gender/orientation/religion/color my council member is so long as they are not corrupt.

You are correct that the Voting Rights Act does not require this, it is a federal judge who forced 14-1 onto and ordered that there be city council districts with majority minority population so that minority politicians could be elected.

Now the minority politicians espouse the position that only a minority can represent a minority and the majority casper cannot.

The problem with 14-1 is that we have the worst of ward politics with none of the advantages.

Oak Cliff Res
Oak Cliff Res

Larry Duncan (who is White by the way) represented South Dallas (which is Black by the way) for years.  Not only did he represent the area, he was elected by the area.  And just because it is any race that represents the district doesnt change what the district is.  The point is that you give four black districts the opportunity to choose the person (of what ever color) to represent them.  South Dallas didnt all of a sudden "go white" because Duncan was the Councilperson.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

But then the voting rolls will read things like:

Aye: 7Nay: 3.5Abstain: 2SQUIRREL!: 1.5

That's just too complicated. And Allah help us all if there's no quorum.

replay
replay

Gravity.........it's a fact of life. Deal with it!

Bpl7
Bpl7

If its math then the white areas should have less seats than anybody. ,2, 14, and 3 are all rigged.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

Hispanics have 42% of bodies counted by census what percentage are legal residents? Only legal residents can vote.

Observist
Observist

Well, everyone knows that Dallas voters' primary concern is that people of their race get a lot of municipal service subcontracts.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Remember the whole Battle last month with Dr. Blackburn and Carla Ranger?

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Then the blame lies with the rep from NW Dallas if the citizens voiced their concern.  I can only speak to what I did.  When the people from Pemberton Hills said they wanted to be in the Pleasant Grove district, I fought to put them there.  I have said repeatedly, that I didn't draw a map because I didn't know enough about north Dallas.  I didn't support Betzen's map because it went against the wishes of the commmunity.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

I heard that from a lot of black communities.  As a matter of fact, some of the same people advocating 4 black districts didn't want their neighborhood in 5. 

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Don't forget about the billions they also pay into Social Security that they will never see a dime of.

Ms Freedmans
Ms Freedmans

It has went white because the City has a 30 year plan and the smart AA vote for what every the white people want and get no housin / economic development for them for themselves!!!!!!!!!!! I'm African American and don't want to be represented by them, I want someone whom will treat everyone equal!!

Paul
Paul

Well most of my post was satire ...

I remember when Duncan was elected and the AA leaders made a big stink about it that this was supposed to be a minority majority district so that the minority would have "one of their own" on the council.

The other aspect is that many minorities are spread across large areas of Dallas.  In particular look at the census data for North Dallas.

I am not saying that a majority can't represent a minority.  It is the minority political leaders who have been espousing the position that minorities can only be represented by minority candidates.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Because the white candidates won the races.  Council boundaries do not have to be rigged to provide white representation; they are rigged to prevent white representation.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

That shouldn't be the point.  If you don't run, you can't win.  That's my point.

Me
Me

I don't disagree that many illegals do pay taxes and try to live here the right way.  But for all those there are many more who don't pay taxes and try to suck as many benefits out of the system as they can, i.e. Parkland, WIC, public schools, etc.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Actually, they pay a great deal into the SS system.  The following is from a 2005 NYT article on the subject:

Last year, Mr. Martínez paid about $2,000 toward Social Security and $450 for Medicare through payroll taxes withheld from his wages. Yet unlike most Americans, who will receive some form of a public pension in retirement and will be eligible for Medicare as soon as they turn 65, Mr. Martínez is not entitled to benefits.He belongs to a big club. As the debate over Social Security heats up, the estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year.While it has been evident for years that illegal immigrants pay a variety of taxes, the extent of their contributions to Social Security is striking: the money added up to about 10 percent of last year's surplus - the difference between what the system currently receives in payroll taxes and what it doles out in pension benefits. Moreover, the money paid by illegal workers and their employers is factored into all the Social Security Administration's projections.

Me
Me

Right, like all those illegals are actually paying SS taxes.  HAHAHAHA!

Paul
Paul

What you say is true, though I don't believe that I missed the point.  Don't forget that the districts also have to be of comparable size in population.  If we were to have four districts with majority AA, then these four districts would have a smaller population than the other districts.  This would not be equitable.

The other problem that I see with the race based gerrymandering of political districts is that it is assumed that the caspers and the AAs do not live in the same neighborhood.  This myth perpetuates segregation even more and even more effectively than the Jim Crow laws ever could.

If the different ethnic groups were all evenly distributed across the city (which would mean that segregation in housing did not exist), then how would you come up with any majority minority districts?

While it may be true that at one time people voted along racial lines, it was because the election system was indeed rigged against minorities and they were excluded from particiapation.  To say that people vote along racial lines today is doing nothing more than perpetuating the Jim Crow laws, except now there are reserved seats for the minority representatives.

Oak Cliff Res
Oak Cliff Res

I think you are still missing the point.  The point is, if there are hypothetically 50 African American neighborhoods that can easily (there are 3 maps that do) make up 4 African American Districts by keeping those 50 majority African American neighborhoods together then why should we take less or even break of a quarter of them to fill in population of Hispanic and Anglo Districts???

bbetzen
bbetzen

District 3 as it currently is serves as a perfect example of the evil of gerrymandering.  It allows what should be a strong Black district to be used to manipulate the position by those living many miles north. (I support the current District 3 Councilman strongly, except for his selection of a map.  He otherwise has made very solid decisons and deserved to be elected.) 

If District 3 is not formed into a Black district during this redistricting in 2011, it certainly will be in 2021.  There is a growing population concentration south of 1-20 of middle and upper middle class Black families.  Most move there for the Duncanville schools and the beautiful area.  The major reason that the Map 16 plans have very weak Black majority districts, ones that may not even remain majority districts for even 5 more years, is that they have not turned this area into a Black district to utilize the majority Black population south of I-20.  In Map 3 this area is the heart of a Black district with over 55% voting age Black population.  See the map at http://www.dallascityhall.com/...   It is the second one on the list, Plan wPlan03c by Mayor Rawlings.

Bpl7
Bpl7

District 3 is rigged to hold onto a council seat that should be a minority. Notice that nobody ever mentions this. Why is that Kessler Stevens park area gerrymandered? The only person that mentioned that was schutze in the paper this week.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Your response makes no sense.  With your logic blacks should have 4 seats because they also won their race.

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