Dallas City Hall Gets Occupied, For the Morning At Least, By the Latino Redistricting Task Force

545tee.JPG
Photos by Anna Merlan
As promised, the public comment period at this morning's Dallas City Council meeting featured several members of the Domingo Garcia-led Latino Redistricting Task Force . In the council briefing room, every chair was full, with many people wearing white or blue tees that read "Count Us In" inside a drawing of a Texas map. On the back were the words "Our Vote, Our Community, Our City Map," and the numbers 5-4-5 -- the number of districts the LRTF believes Latinos, African-Americans and Anglos should respectively have on the council.

After the public comment period of the meeting ended, Garcia led a raucous press conference in the Flag Room down the hall, which was attended by both LULAC-ers and at least 30 members of Occupy Dallas. More on that in a minute.

"You have let us down by approving such an unjust plan," Martina Alvarado told the council. With her, as with each speaker, the entire room stood up as she spoke. After she concluded, the room erupted with cheers, applause and chants of "5-4-5!" and "Si se puede!"

Former LULAC president Hector Flores called the map "totally unacceptable to the Latino community," adding, "Not since the days of slavery has anyone counted as less than one person."

"Bring back Plan 16," he told the council, referring to the map drawn by Garcia, Brooks Love and Billy Ratcliff. "The Voting Rights Act should apply to North Dallas too."

LatinoRedistrictingFlagRoom2.JPG
Domingo Garcia leads the press conference-slash-general assembly in the Flag Room
As Bill Betzen got up to speak, he was nearly drowned out by more chants of "5-4-5!" from the hallway, where a huge crowd that couldn't fit into the briefing room had gathered. He said he hoped the council would avoid the "multimillion-dollar lawsuits" that could arise from this dispute.

When he finished, Mayor Mike Rawlings thanked the group for their thoughts, and Garcia "for your hard work and leadership."

"Thank you for showing that the Latino community does speak," council member Delia Jasso added. Throughout this process, she added, to loud applause, "People asked, 'Where were the Latinos?' Well, we're here, and we're 42 percent of the population."

"We have an obligation to make this right," she told the room, "And stop being in the national news talking about diluting the Latino population."

Out in the Flag Room, more than 100 LULAC-ers, students, reporters and others crowded in to watch a follow-up press conference led by Domingo Garcia. Among them was a sizable group of Occupy Dallas-ites, at least 30 of them, some clad in "Count Us In" tees.

Stephen Benavides is an Occupy Dallas organizer, as well as a public employee adviser at the North Texas Association of Public Employees, a division of the United Steelworkers union. He explained that at Occupy's general assembly meeting the other night, he asked for people to come over and help support the Latino Redistricting Task Force.

"This is a major population not getting representation," Benavides told us, "and that's anti-democratic." He added that Garcia has volunteered to donate food, water and electrical supplies to Occupy.

Addressing the crowd in the Flag Room, Garcia also used the language of the Occupy movement to make his point. "Today, we decided to occupy City Hall," he said. "We're standing up for 99 percent of all Dallasites." Garcia urged the group to "Occupy City Hall, but also occupy the voting booths of America. Today, the movement has just started. We're here," he told the crowd to roars of approval, "and we're not going anywhere."

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45 comments
TRUMPETWILDBILL
TRUMPETWILDBILL

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md
md

"'You have let us down by approving such an unjust plan,' Martina Alvarado told the council."

Much like the federal government let us down with their lax enforcement of the nation's immigration laws.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

I was born at Parkland hospital 70 years ago.Black people had one area for all illnesses,the basement.I attended public school DISD all Black teachers and students.I road Dallas Transit bus,sat in back if all seats were taken we had to stand.I am trying to figure why Dallas Hispanics are so anger they were not segregated,Hispanics were white and mixed with white people.They enjoyed  all public accommodations that White's enjoyed Blacks were the only race told no.Hispanics ID said W, booked into jail W. Hispanics served on City Council before single member districts so I would like to understand the anger.

Read the Voting Rights Act
Read the Voting Rights Act

Even in the 1960s, at a time when desegregation was at issue, our United States Congress recognized that our country, in order to have FAIR REPRESENTATION, must have an electoral system in place where every voter has the right to cast a MEANINGFUL vote---not just a vote, but a MEANINGFUL vote.  See Voting Rights Act, enacted and amended by Congress every decade since the 60s.What the Dallas City Council has done is put forth a map that dilutes the vote of many minorities in key areas of the City.  They drew lines that place Latinos in districts where their vote really does not matter...we have a right to be able to elect a representative who we feel understands the issues in OUR NEIGHBORHOODS. How can a representative who lives in far North Dallas off of 635 and Marsh ever truly understand the issues faced by a person living in the Latino areas of Oak Cliff? The Anglo population has drastically declined, as shown in the 2000 Census.  It is only fair that that decline be reflected in our City Council.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Too damned bad I don't see this kind of turnout for parent-teacher conference night. Or Open House, or at football games, etc... Yea, yea, yea. 42%, we get it. Let' see, that is one spot for a Garcia, one for a Medrano, one for an Alonzo, and two for newbies? Quantity, not quality?

When I see "Hispanic activism" deal with our extremely high Hispanic dropout rate, increasing teen pregnancy rate and infiltration of the cartels into our neighborhoods (hiding in plain sight), I will worry about 5-4-5. Until then, it i s all, "Habla, habla, habla...yada, yada, yada..."

Lorena
Lorena

5-4-5 That is what we want!

Concerned college student
Concerned college student

Their effort is a just one and what they demand is fair based on demographics and voters right act alone they are in the right. I just hope the city does what's right and follow the 5-4-5 concept!

Steve
Steve

OK this Occupy shit is officially as annoying as the Tea Party.

Watching South Detroit
Watching South Detroit

On their shirts, they should also have had boxes to check entitled "Legal" and "Tax money sucking illegal".  How many boxes would be checked "legal"?

Fredpmtncreek
Fredpmtncreek

"We're.not.going anywhere...." Not even to.vote

Mike
Mike

Why would Occupy Dallas get involved in a conflict between Black and Hispanic councilpersons?  These people to learn the phrase "Pick the hill you want to die on.  Don't die on some hill someone else picked for you."

Metroplexual
Metroplexual

Perhaps Dallas should just register voters by race without regard to neighborhood or geography.  Then allocate council seats based on racial numbers / make-up of registered voters and let people vote for their race groups' nominated canditates.  I don't see why we need precincts any longer now that race is primary factor.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

5-4-5 - The hispanic community is absolutely correct.  This is exactly what the makeup of the council should be.

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

both the blacks and the whites pop decreased but we remain the larger concentratedgeographic areas of town se sandra crenshaw below 4 hours ago. The Latino city council members drew their own districts. My proposed maps for 6 does not go south of the trinity.I agree with your whole hardedly See Sandra crenshaw below 4 hours  

Paul
Paul

And am I correct in understanding that this can only be done by a hispanic/latino council person?

Who then is the representative for the non - hispanic/latinos?

Is the definition of a "meaningful vote" a vote for a person of the same ethnicity?

How will the council districts be set when the city is no longer segregated by race?

Do you plan on running for a city council seat?  Will you please articulate what are the issues that only a hispanic/latino can understand and represent?

D14 shares the same problems as D6 when it comes to compactness and neighborhoods.

Cliffite
Cliffite

Hurray for you, Diane. Mexicans in District 1 will lose "their" seat not because a bunch of white guys are meeting in a backroom, but because they have little or no interest in anything that doesn't involve a cookout, bounce houses, Bud Lite, or marching around going "Si Se Puede". The good things happening in OC are because of concerned, involved white folks who don't need a Grand Poobah like Mingo to lead them around in a dog and pony show like this. I wonder how much these concerned volunteers are getting paid...as I recall some of his minions told me they were getting about 40 bucks  a day during the 2009 District 1 elections....

Latina
Latina

Every race has their problems, but unfortunately we have ignorant ppl like you who choose to focus on the negatives rather than the positive. Why not focus on how Latinos have helped tremendously to build this City? Next time you pass through downtown Dallas or drive on that smooth road in North Dallas, think about how many of your relatives were outside in 110+ degree weather sweating with their hard hats on. Not many you can think of, I'm sure.  When you see Anglos advocating do you think of poverty, drug addictions, and white-collar crimes that have devastated many American households? Ignorance is bliss. 

boris the cat
boris the cat

Most of the people in that crowd have probably worked harder in one day than you have in your entire life. You belong in the 'burbs with your cracker, totally ignorant mentality. Actually, you probably belong in a trailer home, but that's an insult to people who live in trailer homes.

you're stale
you're stale

yeah.. uh, thats really not very realistic, michael...

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Why would you think this is a black and brown fight?  Actually, it is a north and south fight.  The north is losing population but they continue to have 6 seats on the council with only 29% of the population.  Their battle cry is 5-4-5 which means that the whites in the north would have to give up a seat.  Maybe they think this is the right thing to do.

md
md

Dallas city council members were elected in at-large elections until black activists sued, resulting in the creation of the system we have now. More recently (last year?) Hispanic activists brought a similar suit to force the same thing in Irving.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

I would never like to vote by race.  Have you ever heard that people of your color are not always of your kind?

Heywood U. Buzzoff
Heywood U. Buzzoff

Obama just dedicated a monument in DC to man who asked us to judge a person on the content of their character not the color of their skin. I guess the skin is now more valuable than what is in the heart or the brain as far as Ding Garcia is concerned.  Frankly, I would not care if the entire council was a bunch of yodeling albinos if they managed the city well. 

White people -- all going to Hell.  As long as Hell is not a city council seat Ding Garcia that needs a brown or black backside to occupy.

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

I said I wasn't going to comment on this site anymore, but I do read to gauge the level of disinformation diseminated dividing our community (intended).  How does anyone decide that there should only only 5 white districts, 4 black districts and 5 hispanic districts. . The Voting rights Act does not mandate redistricting  proportionate to its ethnic population and this council choose not to support 5 Hispanic VOTING Age districts with high noncitizen population. , Medrano and Alonzo insisted on maintaining racially gerrymandered configurations that produced weak Hispanic voting districts. Alonzo won with 600 out of 1,000 votes, That is dilutes the black and white citizens voices at cityhall.

Yes the Equal Protection Clause under the Voting Rights Act  protects all persons on US soil regardless of race, citizenship and age here by requiring that all 14 Districts be of equal population plus or minus 5% under the  One man one vote. Our immigrants have the right to be represented by government officials who are responsive to their public policy needs. The purpose of Section 5 Voting Rights act,however, is allow to our disadvantaged population the opportunity to ELECT.the government official of their choice. To ensure that a numerical majority of the disadvantaged population can elect a responsive official, the DOJ which reviews and enforces the VRA must look in part at the number of potential VOTERS  in a proposed plan.. To be a voter, one must be a born or naturalized citizen over the age of 18, so therefore to determine if a proposed plan has 50% plus 1 persons who are eligible to vote,so that if all of the Hispanic eligible voters, registered and voted for the person of their choice, they could win the district. therefore  citizenship does come into play in assessing POTENTIAL voters. Getting folks registered and out to vote is not the job of the Justice Department. 

On North Dallas, how can they give up a seat? How do you squeeze blood out of a turnip?As long as the minority population remains segregated in the southern part of Dallas, where there is low and affordable housing, the minority districts will likey come from the south. The Collin County Section of Dallas has few minoritiy population, how can it be drawn into a black or Hispanic  District. How many blacks live in Preston Hollow, how can these homeowners "give up a district"  Lake Highland, proper, is majority white, the Hilcrest area is mostly white .When a city loses it population, it means that the singlemember districts ALL of them become smaller. The Voting rights ACt can't make North Dallas residents move out their homes  and be sliced north and side to pick u minorities in the south for some imaginary redistricting boundaries. PLEASE, I had hoped that Dallas could lead by example for redistricting reformists, since Dallas city charter calls for an independant commission but with Caraway and Garcia trying to fight the Constitution at City Hall, this has become a farce.  All of us are protected by the 14th amendment equal protection and for Billy Ratcliff to think he was empowered to give up a black seat in some sort of deal trading, he is a traitor and I will make sure history records him that way. I want to know how many contracts he has with Willis Johnson at the city, county and DISD. Ruth Morgan the chaired played the role as expected after publishing her disdain for 14-1 and the most transparent portion of this process with the Citizens Council appointing its President and CEO Donna Halstead.to the redistricting Commssion. See Buzz for advice on being discreet.  Garcia is like the dog with the bone in his mouth, looks into the reflection of a pond and opens his mouth to get another bone, and loses the bone he had.

I proposed and lobbied hard for Kessler Park and North Oak Cliff  to be drawn into downtown district to  connect with Oak Lawn and (Dallas) Highland Park area voters for an Urban Pioneer District that is now controlled by Old East Dallas and the M Streets. History records that Kessler Park and Highland Park were developed by the same interests. Our Trinity River, the McDermot Bridge and the goals of Bishop Arts make my proposal one that would unite the gateway to Oak Cliff with the North to obliberate the lines that divide us. Griggs, personally rejected the plan and said he wanted to remain totally in Oak Cliff. Under my proposal Oak Cliff would permanently have a White district of which I do not have problem with having a majority southern sector council.that reflects its proportionate population and does North Dallas.

 I am sure that what was done in the dark will come to light because under any court challenges, the city (representing the black trio, halstead, garcia, hunt, and griggs) will bear the burden of explaining why they did what they did.) They all should have to pay for the court challenges. I am on record at the majority of the meetings reminding them of the costs of litigation.  I will personally challenge the council  on deliberate ignorance, greed, incumbent protection corruption, voter intimidation and discrimination. . . EYE, Garcia, LULAC, nor the NAACP and not even the Justice Department can determine if a proposed plan is without discrimnatory intent without looking at the whole picture and a history of the voting behavior in the city. So guys, just cool it for 60 days and let's see what the DOJ has to say. They welcome your comments, but let's not open our mouths and remove all doubt that this is an ignorant or racist city. At this point, this is a Disinformed city led by ignorant, greedy, and racists leader and do you know why. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER and those who don't have it will be remain disenfranchised because POWER takes advantage of the unlearned and the sheep.  i can't wait for Domingo to defend his doings. I just knew that at the last minute, the 7 minorities plus 2 were going to amend the map and make 10 a fifth black district and pit Allen with Kadane.  Until, I learn otherwise, I think Scott Griggs is gaming us to make District 1 a white seat and  I also believe that the black trio had a hammer put to their head to draw four black  seats to kill the southern sector noble dream plan to achieve a majority on the council. but with the bunch we have there now, heaven helped us since they want me and white folks to go to hell.  .

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Why do Hispanics  get offended when the truth is told about their people? That's one thing I don't understand.Black's voter turn out was low at one time we worked to register people and get them out to vote.In a 72% Hispanic district there is no reason a Hispanic cannot be elected. Council member Jasso said they are 42% city wide its possible they could win 5 seats if they vote. Vote,Vote,Vote.

Martin G
Martin G

Ah yes, the Grand Illusion of Dallas' Latin Community: "No structure has ever been built/No lawn has ever been mown/No child has ever been baby-sitted/No dish has ever been washed/No meal has ever been cooked/No leaf has ever been raked in Dallas unless it was by a "Latino". I can name at least 11 of my (close) Anglo friends and family who were outside in 110+ weather building Dallas. Don't exaggerate the "contributions" that the latino community makes. When I can pass by White Rock Lake after a Mexican soccer game and not see the ground littered with beer bottles, dirty diapers, food wrappers, etc., maybe I'll be a bit more open minded.

you're stale
you're stale

its about fucking power. no more and no less..

heart and soul
heart and soul

Mary is right. The is a north vs. south fight. It is about class not race.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

White candidates don't need "arranged" districts for them to field winning candidates.  Take Scott Griggs as a good example.

Paul
Paul

Voting by race is exactly what Dingo is talking about.  Voting by race is exactly what the original lawsuit that resulted in 14-1 is all about.

How will we redistrict the council seats according to race when the city is racially homogenous?

I have said it before and I will say it again, with 14-1 we have the worst of ward politics with none of the benefits.

@Mountain Creek:  This idea of voting by race and voting by legislative body is nothing new.  It has been proposed time and time again that each person have a number of votes that is the same as the number of Congressional Representatives for that state.  The voter can then cast multiple votes for a single candidate or divvy up their votes however they want.  It is a furtherance of the concept that is increasingly advanced that only a minority can represent a minority.

@google-7c63cec09c54cd0ba703a6fe279d1a5c:disqus IIRC Diane Ragsdale once said that she represented the blacks in South Dallas and not the whites.

hth

Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek

I think/hope that 'Metroplexual' was being what we call "silly"

you're stale
you're stale

nah, never heard it. anyhoo, never like to vote by race? that IS this country, minus the variables of club honky..

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Dr. King was before his time.  It would be great if people did judge others on the content of their character but that is not the case.  Maybe some day we will get there.

heart and soul
heart and soul

Not all white guy are the same. Griggs is good guy and Dave is a jerk and was puppet a for Leppert.

Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek

Thanks.  Yes, it was all because of me, the Mountain Creek area of D3, that Griggs won.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

The truth of the matter is that when Hernandez ran, initially he didn't ask a lot of blacks for support but Neuman did and he won.  If a black or hispanic candidate who people believe care about the district runs, and he/she gets their message out, I truly believe they could win in District 3 even without Kessler Park.  A lot of time, you have people who do nothing in the community who decide to run and people don't vote for them because they have never seen them before or even heard of them.  I didn't know Scott at the time he ran but I did know Neuman and he was doing absolutely nothing for the community.  During this time, I would have supported anyone.  I just wanted Neuman gone and most of the district felt the same way.  Look at the numbers Kessler Park didn't elect Scott, the residents of District 3 did.  Now money may be the issue as to why we don't have more people of color running for the seat.

you're stale
you're stale

i'm pretty sure its a "Saxon" district...

jfpo
jfpo

I wasn't knocking Griggs, he seems to be doing a good job. Neuman, on the other hand, was a business interest puppet. That district will always be drawn to ensure Kessler Park remains an "Anglo" district.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Then why are they fighting so hard to keep the ones in the north.  You don't have to tell me about Scott Griggs because I voted for him.  I not only voted for him, I walked neighborhoods on his behalf.  He won because his support came from blacks, whites and hispanics.  He was the best candidate.

jfpo
jfpo

Griggs covers the very white Kessler Park area. He replaced Neuman, also white. That district is carved up so Kessler Park gets a white guy in there.

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