Last Week, Several From Dallas City Hall Took a Couple of Field Trips to the Justice Department

Categories: City Hall

jassonanddomingogarcia.JPG
Photo by Anna Merlan
Domingo Garcia and Delia Jasso at last night's redistricting confab
The answer is no, the question being: Will we ever stop writing about the city redistricting process? But it's been a little while, so let's review. Then we can discuss the dueling delegations who apparently met with the Department of Justice last week to discuss the (barely) council-approved map forwarded by the city on October 24. Here's a teaser: The DOJ folks, according to council member Delia Jasso, had some "pointed questions" about the process leading up to the final map's approval.

On October 5, the council passed a redistricting map that was a sort of mash-up of two maps created by council members; Delia Jasso's plan, which had five Hispanic and three African-American majority districts; and the Atkins-Caraway-Davis-Hill map, which had four African American districts. During an incredibly lengthy, frequently shout-y meeting, Mayor Mike Rawlings decided to pull Jasso and Atkins into a back room and try to create a map that combined the two plans.

Several city council members were upset that they'd been left out of the process of drawing the final map, and that they were essentially being asked to vote on something new they'd never seen before. In the end, Jasso couldn't even support the new map, which squeaked by 9-6, with Jasso, Scott Griggs, Angela Hunt, Monica Alonzo and Sandy Greyson voting against it. Their concerns are, among other things, that the passed map carves up Oak Cliff and denies representation to the Hispanic communities in Districts 1 and 3.

At the time, Jasso predicted a lawsuit over the fewer Hispanic districts. Now, she's a part of the Redistricting Task Force led by former Redistricting Commissioner Domingo Garcia, which will likely be instrumental in bringing that lawsuit. In an auditorium at the Methodist Dallas Medical Center last night, Garcia, Jasso, Griggs and Alonzo talked to an audience of around 40 about the next steps for restoring the plan the Redistricting Commission voted for and forwarded to the council. They also discussed dueling meetings that apparently happened last week at the DOJ: a delegation led by Jasso, who spoke with Department of Justice attorneys and analysts on Wednesday, and another group -- which included the mayor, City Attorney Tom Perkins and council member Vonciel Hill -- that went to see the DOJ folks the very next day.

"The city of Dallas got wind," of Jasso's delegation, she said. "And they made their appointment for Thursday. ... The mayor actually asked me to go, and I said, 'There's no way I'm going to advocate for a map that I voted against."

The DOJ analysts, she said, asked her "pointed questions" about what happened the day the final map was voted on. Looking back on the meeting between her, Atkins and Rawlings, Jasso said, "It felt almost rigged -- it was almost as if they knew exactly what they were going to do and they put me in the room to say that the opposing side was there." She said that she told the two men, essentially: "I can't agree with this map, and I'm not going to vote for it," before leaving the room.

"This map had no public input whatsoever," Jasso added. She urged those present to tell the DOJ -- and specifically analyst Kevin Grigsby, who's the one looking at Dallas's map -- the same thing.

"This is retrogression in the clearest sense, because it takes away the voting power of a Hispanic community," Jasso said. "I know the Department of Justice knows the definition of retrogression -- but it's something I could never get across to my colleagues."

Garcia told the group that more than 500 letters have already been sent to the Department of Justice through the Redistricting Task Force, while Griggs added that another 699 have been collected and sent through the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League. At the back of the room, a couple of attorneys and volunteers waited to help the group fill out of affidavits, in order to discuss anything they witnessed during the redistricting process that gave them cause for concern. The deadline to file letters and petitions is December 8.

Griggs urged everyone to "continue to rally" friends, family and neighbors, adding, "It's a sign of concern from the city of Dallas that they made this last minute push to go to Washington and plead their case."

"I think they know they have a flawed process," Garcia added.

Jasso, meanwhile, made it clear that her primary objection was with the process of how the final map was created. But she also had some harsh words for Rawlings. "From the beginning of the mayor's term, he's done payback," she said, to a group of South Dallas politicos who helped get him elected. "That's not a secret," she said. "The mayor has been in payback mode to that group."

The Department of Justice's response to the map is due Dec. 24. But just in case, Garcia said, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is also fighting the Texas Congressional and House redistricting maps, has agreed to take on this case as well.

"I think we're at a tipping point," Garcia said. "We just need to tip it. We want Santa to remember North Oak Cliff, and our Santa Claus is going to be the Department of Justice."


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6 comments
saywhat!
saywhat!

Only time will tell and you can't blame a group for trying. Politics are a b*tch!  Until there are more Hispanics running for office we are stuck with the same old, same old.

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

"From the beginning of the mayor's term, he's done payback," she said, to a group of South Dallas politicos who helped get him elected. "That's not a secret," she said. "The mayor has been in payback mode to that group." 

Delia, this is politics. why are you trying to rewrite the rules. Politicians dance with who brung them.  The black trio and Garcia tried to take advantage of Rawlings who also had marching orders from the Citizen Council. But when the light came on that the VRA prohibits retrogression for BLACK people. DUH four seats at the last legally enforceable election (2011) any less WOULD have been retrogression. There are 10 other seats besides the four blacks,why fall for the divide and conquer and destroy black-brown relationships.  The black quartet did as they were mandated to do from their constiuients, come up with four black seats or get out of the seat you hold now.PERIOD.  Get the two other white votes to go along with you, Jasso and quit being a crybaby.

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

at each commission meeting, I read into the record, excerpts from the DOJ  federal register Feb 2011.  I opine before the DOJ that the commission with a go along legal team are guilty of deliberate ignorance.  Jasso complains that she could not get her colleagues to understand that the proposed plan was "retrogressive"  I wonder if she sucessfully argued against Section 5 which defines the benchmark considered when comparing maps for retrogression.Problems with the process?? Yes, so  Argue that Jasso, but the problem is, Tennell Atkins pulled the rug out from under the Hispanics and progressive whites who are just as guilty of back door and the traditional citizen council and elite ruling class.  I wonder what does Rawlings have on Atkins.  The Section 5 ‘‘Benchmark’’

As noted, under Section 5, a jurisdiction’s proposed redistricting plan is compared to the ‘‘benchmark’’ plan to determine whether the use of the new plan would result in a retrogressive effect. The ‘‘benchmark’’ against which a new plan is compared is the last legally enforceable redistricting plan in force or effect. Riley v. Kennedy, 553 U.S. 406 (2008); 28 CFR 51.54(b)(1)

Badmonkey
Badmonkey

don't like the backdoor stuff going on at city hall. and domingo, it's pancho claus, the vato with the bony knees, to you sir. 

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

OK  I'll go first and get this started.  JASSO: "This is retrogression in the clearest sense, because it takes away the voting power of a Hispanic community," Jasso said. "I know the Department of Justice knows the definition of retrogression -- but it's something I could never get across to my colleagues." In 2000, there were three (3) Hispanic districts and (4) four black seats Can Jasso please tell what is retrogressive about the 2011 map with four Hispanic seats and four black seats. Jasso is the Hispanic version of a dumb blond. She will argue with a lamppost and wonder why she can't get her colleagues to agree. Retro means to go back to the old number of districts which would have been two. What I could not get Bill Betzen to understand is that a political jurisdiction is not required to configure districts based solely on voting age population if it includes non-citizen population as it does in Dallas, Texas. Does Domingo think that he can bluff the Department of Justice who use formulas, and data to determine the voting behaviorial patterns of the minorities. The current plan has 56% Hispanic surname registered voters???, I concur there are problems are with the process, but Domingo was part of the disinformation campaign on the commission and can't tell on himself. The 700 people from North Oak Cliff asked to be kept together, problem is Domingo and Delia and Griggs all live in North Oak Cliff . 

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