"It's Time to Take Action": Latino Redistricting Task Force Pledges to Fight New Council Map

GarciaandGriggs.JPG
Photo by Anna Merlan
Domingo Garcia and, sitting to his right, Scott Griggs at last night's meeting over the map in Oak Cliff
Last week we sat through a very long, very ugly city council meeting, which ended with the members narrowly adopting a new redistricting plan. At that time, council member Delia Jasso predicted that Latinos would probably sue over the four Hispanic-majority districts, given that Hispanics now make up 42 percent of the city population and 37 percent of the voting age population (and because the map originally forwarded to the council from the Redistricting Commission had five).

And it isn't over yet: Last night, former redistricting commissioner and city council member Domingo Garcia called together the first meeting of the new Latino Redistricting Task Force, a group of about 60 who met in the back room of Tejano Mexican Restaurant in Oak Cliff, home of the neon-green margarita. Garcia was pushing for a return to the map originally forwarded to council (of which he was one of three authors). He also outlined some possible plans of action: a lawsuit against the city (which, as a redistricting commissioner, Garcia can't be part of), protests outside City Hall, marching, picketing, getting people to speak about redistricting at city council meetings and a campaign to get as many letters and phone calls as possible to the Voting Rights division of the Department of Justice.

"This map has maybe created four Latino districts," Garcia told the audience, which included council members Scott Griggs and Monica Alonzo. "But, really, only two. Districts 1 and 2 are at risk."

Wait, District 1? Which has a 74 percent Latino voting-age population? Yes, Garcia told Unfair Park after the meeting. "It puts three voting precincts -- Kessler, Stevens and Winnetka Heights -- into one council district. Kessler and Stevens could dilute the Hispanic vote because of voter turnout." Pouring "wealthy, affluent voters" into a working-class Latino neighborhood, he said, unfairly jeopardizes both Districts 1 and 2.

"There are two groups disenfranchised by this map," Scott Griggs told the audience. "Those along the Keist-Illinois corridor, which was put into three separate council districts," as well as Hispanic voters.

Alonzo agreed. "Everybody saw the numbers," she said, "And we're disappointed."

"We're the largest group in Dallas," Garcia said, "And we would grow by one district at the most. ... So we can complain and whine and gripe and go home, or we can take action. I believe it's time to take action."

Garcia estimated the city of Dallas would spend $1.5 million to $3 million on legal costs. "They've already retained outside council," he said. "They'll spend $2 to $3 million of taxpayer dollars to defend an illegal map." But the Latino Redistricting Task Force, he said, only needs $100,000 to contest it. "We're much more efficient," he said. The task force still needs a plaintiff to go forward with a lawsuit.

At the same time, Garcia called for calls and letters to the Department of Justice. "If somebody in D.C. gets 1,000 letters and phone calls, ears will perk up," he promised.

Garcia also asked for five people to sign up to speak about fairness in redistricting at every city council meeting, but said he was also ready to look at "more out-of-the-box" thinking. He mentioned the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"That's grown," he said. "I don't see why we can't occupy Dallas City Hall. It belongs to us anyway." He asked that 300 Latinos try to show up for the next city council meeting. "I think that would have an impact," he said. He also added that the group needs to "re-mobilize" in 2012 to improve Latino voter turnout.

Bill Betzen, who was also in attendance, promised to help coordinate public information efforts, telling me later that the map "grotesquely" disenfranchises Latino voters. "There are six Anglo districts and four Hispanic ones," he said. "It should really be the other way around."

Garcia said that although the task force would push for the mayor to re-adopt the Redistricting Commission's map, if the case goes to court, it would "probably be Bill's map" that they argued for. "North Dallas isn't going to like that," he said.

Garcia also said he'd "heard rumors" that the mayor is reconsidering the map, adding that the mayor had called him and said he wanted to talk. "I know he's open to dialogue," he said, "But I don't know yet what kind of dialogue." (Paula Blackmon, the mayor's chief of staff, told us yesterday such meetings were already taking place and that it's possible he could call a special meeting before the map has to go to the DOJ Saturday.)

"Between me and you," he told the crowd, "I'm hoping the council and the mayor will come to their senses and do the right thing. But if they don't, you guys will be ready."
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42 comments
Jj
Jj

It was the African American block that passed this map, not the white block.  While Jasso voted against, this map was produce at the 11th hour in a private meeting with Rawlings, Atkins and Jasso.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Four votes on a council of 15 could not pass a map.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Oh, oh. Sounds like it is time for the North Dallas Oligarchy to pull out the wads of cash to make all of this go away....

bbetzen
bbetzen

The Justice Department will not accept the 10-5-11 map that Dallas City Council approved.  The 1965 Voting Rights act is built on the principal that a redistricting plan "cannot have the effect of diluting racial, ethnic or language minorities."

In the plan approved by the Dallas City Council the historic "majority group in power" in Dallas, whites, continue to be the majority in 6 districts, 43% of the total, even though they are now less than 29% of the city population, and less than 34% of the voting age population.

Meanwhile, a historically mistreated minority in Dallas, Hispanics, who used to be denied multiple rights like housing and equal eduation, are now being denied the alternative of being the majority in any more than just 4 districts in this map. Thus 43% of the Dallas population, who are also 37% of the voting age population, are only being allowed to be the majority population in 29% of the districts, or 4 city council districts.

Thus whites, 29% of the population, will be the majority in 50% more districts than Hispanics, while Hispancis, who have a 47% greater population than whites in Dallas, will only be the majority in 29% of districts. Can that be fair?

While citizenship cannot be used in the redistricting process, the best estimates range from 8% to 15% for the possible number of undocumented residents unable to prove U.S. citizenship in Dallas. Even using the highest 15% number as a "correction," that calculation in no way erases the gross injustice of the approved redistricting plan!

It is also well documented that there are multiple other maps, almost all that have much less gerrymandering, wherein this injustice does not exist.

If the Justice Department somehow accepts this map, which is doubtful, that will help this injustice receive national coverage.  It will thereby help our nation to come one step closer to understanding how redistricting and gerrymandering can be, and are, used to distort democracy.

md
md

What do the numbers look like when we count only the legal citizens of voting age?

heart and soul
heart and soul

FYI, That information is not public that I know of but it is believed undocumented Hispanics are underrepresented in the census count.

Nitpicker
Nitpicker

Ummm, someone need to fix that caption.  Scott is sitting to Domingo's LEFT.  But he *is* on the right side of the picture.

heart and soul
heart and soul

See the empty chair on Scott's left. My guess ( from the caption) is that is where DG was sitting.

cp
cp

Hate it but I have to agree with Domingo here...

heart and soul
heart and soul

You know I think it is interesting to note the recent voting record of the three current Hispanic districts. They didn't vote for Tom Leppert. They voted for Oakley. They didn't vote for the Tollroad. They voted against it. They didn't vote for the hotel. They went against that too and they didn't vote for Rawlins. They went with Kunckle.

If anyone thinks this is all about color you would be wrong. The Hispanic vote is a threat to the Citizen Council types that have been controlling Dallas for decades. They can't buy off the Hispanics so they are out to bury them. That is what is really going on here.

Go Domingo! He is a hero here IMO.

md
md

Sounds like someone bought them off.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

07 Elections- Supported OakleyTollroad- Not sure what my stand was. Hotel- We need it, if we're gonna bring more people downtown!Rawlings v. Kunkle- We need Rawlings, Kunkle was just going to make crime go up, Kunkle was just not the right man for the job.

See, not all Hispaincs are the same on every issue.

heart and soul
heart and soul

I never said that all Hispanics are the same on every issue. I just said how they voted as a block. And they did. BTW, They voted against Strong Mayor too.

Dallas Watcher
Dallas Watcher

You can't make a "safe" district for anyone if people don't vote.  If a district is 70% Hispanic voting age and a handful of mean old White voters can steal the district because the 70% don't bother to vote -- it's their fault if a mean old White person wins the seat.

heart and soul
heart and soul

Dallas Watcher, I don't think you get it. These "mean old White voters" are not powerful because they are mean old White voters. They are powerful because they are rich compared to the rest of the District. It is more than votes it is money too. Put these Hispanics in a district with Whites and Blacks in same general economic class and with their numbers they will dominate. Rawlins was wrong to carve out these wealthy White people out of a district with other wealthy white people and put them in with middle class and poor Hispanics. Pretty sure Rawlins broke the law. If this goes to court the city will waste a bunch of money and lose. Count on it.

Oak Cliff Res
Oak Cliff Res

Rawlings broke the law??? All he did was vote up or down it wasn't even his ammendment, so if Rawlings broke the law just by voting then I think we are all in trouble. Not to mention the district was not carved out to put Kessler/Stevens/Winnetka with Lake Cliff/Kidd Springs/Bishop Arts (which are neighborhoods of interest, in fact Domingo's RICH ASS lives in Kidd Springs so let's not start calling it poor/middle class) they were carved in.  Domingo's map carved them out and broke up North Oak Cliff.  And what are you even talking about money for.  Voting is the only thing in America that put's everyone on the same level.  If I have $1 million and you have $1, it doesnt matter at the ballot... You might be heart and soul but where is your mind??? 

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Speak the truth.  I do believe that the makeup of the council should be 5,5 and 4 but some of the things that some of these bloggers are saying is stupid.  Whites will not give up a seat.

Oak Cliff Res
Oak Cliff Res

If your mind was right then you would know that the map that was passed was called the Atkins/Caraway/Davis Map w/ Hill Ammendment.  I don't see Rawlings name on anything.  I didn't say that money is not powerful in elections.  But what I am talking about is what the money actually goes to and that is the pool of voters.  Those pool of voters show up at the ballot box and at the ballot box is doesnt matter how much money you have everyone is equal.

heart and soul
heart and soul

That's right. Rawlins. He drew it and called it his map. He owns it.

FYI, If you don't know that money has a powerful influence in elections then you don't know much. And even less about the maps. BTW. My mind is right here behind my mouth. Where do you keep yours?

md
md

The rich are inherently powerful and therefore evil but Garcia's motivations are beyond approach even though he is attempting to grab more power for himself.

heart and soul
heart and soul

He is on the right side this time. I am grateful for his efforts here.

primi timpano
primi timpano

I hope I will see the day when we base our political differences on politics and not race.  I would much rather have class warfare than race warfare.

heart and soul
heart and soul

Your day is here. You got your wish. This is all about class warfare. Pick your battle. Go Occupy or go plan an attack with a neon-margarita. We have class warfare for everyone today. :)

Paul
Paul

I wonder what DG's payoff is?

Once again our local politicians have shown that they are no different than any other politician, partisan or nonpartisan.

It is all about the acquisition and utilization of power for their own aggrandizement, nothing more, nothing less.

heart and soul
heart and soul

And just what difference does it make, Paul. I think he is doing right for the right reasons but even if he was doing the right thing for the wrong reasons what difference would that make? He is still doing right. What are you doing?

Paul
Paul

I vote in every election even though I think that the system is basically corrupt.  I also participated in voter registration drives in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and the Carolinas in the 1970s.

I'm sorry, but the "end justifies the means" has never been an acceptable rationalization for any deed.

I am suspicious of virtually all local politicians.  There has been a long history of corruption in city and county politics.

My question to all persons interested in this redistricting based on race:

How will we set the city council districts when the city is homogenous?

Additionally, I believe that the council seat districting has institutionalized racism and segregation more permanently and more effectively than the segregation laws that existed prior to this.

It is a fact that the federal government has imposed a race based quota system on our city for the selection of our council representatives.

Thanks for your viewpoint and questions, but I think that we will just end up disagreeing on this one.

gabbahey
gabbahey

-snipped from article above-

Garcia estimated the city of Dallas would spend $1.5 million to $3 million on legal costs. "They've already retained outside council," he said. "They'll spend $2 to $3 million of taxpayer dollars to defend an illegal map." But the Latino Redistricting Task Force, he said, only needs $100,000 to contest it. "We're much more efficient," he said. The task force still needs a plaintiff to go forward with a lawsuit.

Paul
Paul

And this has what to do with my question? ... or my comments?

Paul
Paul

No it doesn't.  This snippet only talks about how the cost to the "Latino Redistricting Task Force" will only be $100k while the CoD will easily spend 20 times that amount.  IF DG's payoff is the $100k, then this only points out how cheap politicians can be bought in Dallas.

One thing could be is DG going to be the lead lawyer representing the plaintiffs in which case he will pocket this money.  This is chump change in a shakedown.

So what if the LRTF is successful, what does DG gain by having a greater number of "hispanic majority" council districts?

Sleeping well at night that he did a good thing?  Somehow I don't think so.

Given the constant presence of political corruption in City of Dallas and Dallas County over, say, the past twenty to thirty years, I somehow do not think that DG is doing this out of the kindness of his heart.

gabbahey
gabbahey

You wondered aloud, what DG's payoff is. He spelled it out for you.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

This is how I see it, yes I agree with 5 Hispainc Districts, and that District 1 is scary, but, they are going to push a map that they will push for which has 2 and 8 Gerrymandered. If there would be a lawsuit, it should be because of Gerrymandering. Yes, LULAC can give me the middle finger and to the Hispaincs down there, since they would all insist that the Kleberg/Rylie people that drank the Kool-Aid want to be in a Gerrymandered District. At might as well a one man fight. At the same time, why did Jesse Diaz even come to Rylie when all thoses kids at Ebby Holiday were being treated like shit?

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

He came for the free publicity.  District 2 and 8 are not the only districts gerrymandered but 8 is the one you are concern with and you threw 2 in for good measure. 

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

Kessler and Stevens could dilute the Hispanic vote because of voter turnout.....yeah, poor voter turnout does tend to dilute voting.

Fredpmtncreek
Fredpmtncreek

I've got it! The reason Garcia don't want them to register to vote is so Garcia and crew can keep power. Who's to say another Hispanics won't run and push Garcia and crew out of there?

And how do you explain to the justice department that a Hispanic councilmember helped to draw the last map? And that while they're complaining about district two it was amended BY the District 2 councilmember. Good luck with that

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Doesn't it seem strange that they are not worried about District 6 when it took only 600 plus votes to win this district.

gabbahey
gabbahey

Edit for clarification:

Weren't there some similar re-districting shenanigans that Tom DeLay tried pulling in 2004, and all the affected representatives fled to New Mexico or Oklahoma or somesuch, so the Texas House couldn't vote? I know, different animal, but....

DBCOOPA
DBCOOPA

As of right now, Occupy Dallas has only one target for protests: City Hall.

- OccupyDallas.org

Albert
Albert

Why protest City hall, they aren't capitalists.

When you decide to occupy Hooters, the movement will really bust out.

Alan
Alan

Surely...SURELY...the enduring solution to ensure Latino representation is to register that high voting age population and get them to vote!  And as ill-intentioned as Voter ID is, it doesn't actually erect barriers that can't be overcome with patient education, especially by well-informed Latinos.  Once Latinos voting strength matches its potential numbers, they'll be making the rules.

Cliff Dweller
Cliff Dweller

Or they could run some decent candidates.  White folk will vote for a Hispanic who shows intelligence and integrity.  Kessler/Stevens is represented in Austin by Rafael Anchia. . . 

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