Farmers Branch Is Now Being Sued for Being Too Soft on Hispanics

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AnaReyesFarmersBranch.jpg
voteanareyes.com
Ana Reyes most likely wouldn't have been elected to the Farmers Branch City Council in May if not for federally imposed single-member council districts.
Farmers Branch has spent a remarkable amount of time, money and energy over the past several years battling to limit the influence of Hispanics. It's infamous rental ban on people living in this country illegally cost the city seven years and $6 million in legal fees before it was struck down as unconstitutional last week, probably for good this time.

The fight to keep its at-large system of electing City Council members, which a number of Hispanic residents challenged in federal court, fared no better. In January, a judge ordered the city to adopt single-member districts, which led to the election of Ana Reyes as the first-ever HIspanic council member. The city quickly appealed the decision but, at a meeting on July 16, the newly elected council voted to drop the challenge.

Farmers Branch is now being sued over that decision, which leaves the city in an awkward, not to mention ironic, position. After years of battling in court to defend its efforts to repress Hispanics, it's now facing a lawsuit for doing the opposite.

See also
- Farmers Branch's Illegal-Immigrant Rental Ban May Finally Be Dead
- Hispanics Now Have a Shot at Getting Elected in Farmers Branch

The litigation is being brought by Mark Baker, a civic-minded but otherwise ordinary Farmers Branch resident who accuses the City Council of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act. The City Council, he says, "concealed from the public" the purpose of their July 16 meeting and met illegally behind closed doors in in violation of state law.

The suit continues:

The lack of debate over an ordinance of this magnitude was no accident. Rather, it was the result of a circumvention of [the Texas Open Meetings Act] which thwarted public participation in, and observation of, the debate and decision on the Motion to Dismiss. ... This conduct is particularly troubling because the hallmarks of the campaigns of Jeff Fuller, Kirk Connally and Ana Reyes were transparency and citizen input or vote on pending litigation.

Baker, who hasn't yet returned a message seeking comment, is suing on procedural grounds, but the suit suggests that he's more interested in preserving the at-large districts. The alleged Open Meetings Act violation is just what he has grounds to sue on.

It seems that Farmers Branch is damned if they do, damned if they don't.

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17 comments
Dallasphotog
Dallasphotog

I live in Farmers Branch.  I happen to live in a neighborhood that's on the west side of Webb Chapel...one that's predominantly Hispanic...and one that had an insultingly low voter turnout...as do many city elections.

Anyway, I thoroughly support the single-member districts.  Putting race issue aside, I like the idea that my council member is looking out for my area.  If he doesn't address what's important to us...we can kick his/her ass to the curb during the next election.  

"At Large" districts reduce accountability to all citizens of the city as nobody is directly responsible for any particular area in the city.

Sure, Mr. Baker hates the fact that the water has spilled over the dam so to speak and that a Hispanic has finally been elected to the City Council.  With single-member districts, there's sure to be more minorities elected to the council as minorities probably actually are the majority these days in Farmers Branch.

That being said, I like where I live.  The police are active and seem to quickly home in on issues that could become bigger problems later.  Water/trash service is cheap.  They have an awesome "Green Grabber" service that hauls away just about anything every Friday.  The rec center and library are awesome.  There's plenty of parks.  

And now, there is Hispanic representation on the City Council.

I'm sure it's not going to mean the end of  Farmers Branch as we know it, Mr. Baker.


holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

"Ana Reyes most likely wouldn't have been elected to the Farmers Branch City Council in May if not for federally imposed single-member council districts."

why do you conclude that?

Jon Jackson
Jon Jackson

Hilarious. Farmers Branch can't win for losing.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Holder needs to investigate Dallas County's last gerrymandering attempts along strict race lines.  The Hispanics and the Blacks went after each other and the Hispanics lost.  But they had the numbers.

be interesting to see who Holder sides with (ha!).

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

No wonder the DMN strongly endorsed Obama and Holder's push to ensure that minority rights are protected in Texas.  These backwater, backhole towns are full of white supremacists.

mbakerii
mbakerii

@Dallasphotog I'm not worried about the end of Farmers Branch, and I actually applaud Councilwoman Reyes on her abstain vote on the issue as she promised.  What I find appalling is the lack of transparency on the part of the city council, which was a major part of their campaigns. Why hold a vote after 10 p.m. and turn the cameras off, when it wasn't on the council agenda to take action.  The violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act, which the State Attorney General has repeatedly warned the city, are at the least inappropriate and the most criminal.  If this issue had been publicly announced and debated and the council still voted the way it did, you wouldn't even know my name.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx 

oh, idk, maybe due to the fact that EVERY hispanic who has previously run for Farmers Branch city council in an at-large election lost?

justjammin44
justjammin44

Hilarious, my foot.  Farmers Branch is a GREAT CITY.  The improvements made in the last seven years are putting us on the map. Brookhaven is now one of the hottest areas in the city.  Four Corners is improving by leaps and bounds and new business is BOOMING here because the new council and city staff are easy to work with.  4000 NEW jobs created within FB. You don't know anything about this city.  You just keep believing the rumors that the Branch Forum puts out.  A small group of small minded mostly OLD people. 

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

@holmantx 

he'll get to that once they're done with investigating the entire state of texas for gerrymandering

ItsAllHooey
ItsAllHooey

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Backwater? Farmers Branch is a first ring suburb of Dallas. How do you get backwater (not sure what backhole means) town? And don't paint the whole town with the same brush. How do you know what the town is full of? If you look at the demographics it is over half Hispanic.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@mbakerii @Dallasphotog Coherent, principled stand on behalf of good law -- that's citizenly of you, thank you.

justjammin44
justjammin44

@mavdog @holmantx 

BTW, I like Anna Reyes, she is starting to get what the new council is trying to do for the city.  Not the old do-nothing council.

There are great many hispanic's living in our community that don't vote, which is probably why a hispanic candidate hasn't won prior to Anna Reyes. One reason is because they campaign on the injustices to the hispanics.  WHAT injustices?  The reason most hispanic's don't vote?  Because most of them 1) are not here legally and 2) they don't speak or read English. 

They also work our system and we end up paying this "forced charity", which is not my choice of charities.


We are a country of English speaking citizens.  You don't hear "press 3 for Farsi "  or press 4 for Chinese. And regular English speaking citizens are finding it harder to get a job because they don't speak "Spanish".  So how fair is THAT?


I have hispanic friends, but none of them want any MORE illegals coming to this country either.  Doesn't Mexico protect her "southern Border"?   People defending illegal people here in the U.S. are two faced and split tongued.


jcatt
jcatt

@ItsAllHooey @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz That means nothing.  If it were legal to deny discriminate against Hispanics, they'd be doing it more out in the open.  

I was a McKinney resident for years.  Farmer's Branch is a stone's throw away and very little difference in the makeup of supremacists.  There was a McKinney judge (wish I could remember his name) that had a photo of Strom Thurmond in his waiting room.

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