Category Archives: Redistricting ’11

Harris County Gerrymandering Goes to Court

Yes, the case against Harris County’s redistricting map is back in court this week.

The redistricting resulted from the 2010 census, which showed population growth in the county’s west and north was outpacing that in the south and east, requiring new lines to make the precincts roughly equal at about 1 million residents each.

The county’s map added a bloc of reliably conservative voters in the northeast to Precinct 2, and reduced the precinct’s concentration of Hispanic citizens of voting age from 34.9 percent to 33.8 percent, Dunn said. An interim map for use in this fall’s elections, drawn as part of the lawsuit by U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmorelast year, put that number at 40.4 percent.

Republicans and the County Attorneys office have argued that Precinct 2 was not a protected district; therefore, the DOJ pre-cleared the map. The fight attempted to create a chasm between African Americans and Latinos given the basis for the County’s argument.

County officials say the need to protect Precinct 1, a black-opportunity district under the Voting Rights Act, made it difficult to add Latinos to Precinct 2 because they share a long border. Dunn said he will show both precincts can be drawn as minority-opportunity districts.

[...]

The U.S. Department of Justice “pre-cleared” Harris County’s redistricting map last year, saying it did not violate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Dunn and Ray said that is because the Justice Department agreed Precinct 2 did not have protected status and could be altered. Dunn said he will argue, under Section 2 of the act, that the precinct should be declared a protected district.

This is definitely something on which to keep an eye. I think there is a solution; perhaps, the current interim make-up which puts Latinos citizens of voting age at 40% of Precinct 2’s population. Ultimately, this is about fairness, and not about Jack Morman.

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CD-33 Is Gonna Be Interesting

Looks like former Dallas City Councilman Steve Salazar has also filed for CD-33 and he has the backing of DosCentavos friend and State Rep. Roberto Alonzo. I say interesting, because, well, read along:

State Rep. Roberto Alonzo told me today that he toyed with the idea of running in the newly created congressional District 33.

But instead of jumping in a race that’s expected to include his old rival, former state Rep. Domingo Garcia, Alonzo is backing longtime ally Steve Salazar in the Democratic primary. The former Dallas council member announced his candidacy for the seat Tuesday. Salazar is also a rival of Garcia.

The primary battle for the new congressional seat could be epic. The district includes parts of Dallas and Tarrant counties. Battles are already emerging on each side of the county line.

In Tarrant County, state Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, has launched his campaign for the seat. He’s expected to be joined by several other Fort Worth notables. Fort Worth council member Kathleen Hicks said Tuesday she would seek the Democratic nomination for District 33.

On the Dallas County side, Garcia and Salazar will also have company. Activists Carlos Quintanilla is kicking off his campaign tonight at a Golden Corral in southern Dallas.

With the high number of candidates in the race, a runoff is almost certain. There might be a scenario where the winner of the Fort Worth bracket will meet the winner of the Dallas bracket on July 31. We’ll see.

The Dallas County aspect of this race could be nasty. Remember the fights for state representative that Garcia and Alonzo had last decade? They were not pretty, but very entertaining.

Salazar has that Crystal City connection that I like in a candidate from Dallas (his wife and I went to high school together), so, I’ll be paying a lot of attention to this race. Salazar and Alonzo have run some great ground campaigns, recently, so there’s nothing like an exciting primary to get the people excited about voting.

Garcia to Announce for DFWs CD-33

Just picked this up over the “facepage,” and it looks like Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia will be announcing this afternoon for DFWs new Congressional District 33.

I want to invite everyone to my annoucement for Congress in the new DFW 33rd Congressional district.It will be at 6:30pm at Oak Cliff Tower,15th floor,400 S.Zang,Dallas,texas 75208.To volunteer or donate- 214-948-6100. Lets make history together and make America better

Garcia is a former State Rep. and candidate for Dallas Mayor, and quite a successful private practice attorney.

I met Garcia during the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force’s tour-stop in Houston. He’s known for putting up vast resources into various candidate, voter registration and GOTV campaigns, as well as recent legal defense causes on redistricting and immigration. Needless to say, I’m sure he’ll be running quite the campaign.

But enough from me, I’m looking forward to the press releases and positions.

Stay connected!

I Guess We Are Voting

The panel of federal judges in San Antonio has ordered Primary elections be held on May 29. Some say, “Finally!” while others are holding on to hope that the DC court’s order will un-do the SA re-draw of the maps. At this point, I would think it unlikely, but then again, who knows? It’s been that sort of season. Anyway…

The Texas political primaries will be on May 29, a panel of federal judges ordered this afternoon, and candidates can file for those elections starting tomorrow and ending on Friday, March 9.

Candidates who already filed can drop out, stand pat or switch to other races. Candidates who didn’t sign up during a filing period last year can sign up now. The parties have to deliver a completed list of their candidates to the Texas Secretary of State by Monday, March 12.

For those running for Texas Legislature, they must establish residency in the district by April 9. Of course, if one is running for Congress, there is no requirement that one reside in the district. And if there are any run-offs, they will be held on July 31.

So, that takes care of the voting. The following post will have what will be happening regarding the Democratic Convention process, or at least links to the experts who get all involved in that process.

For all intents and purposes, it’s on! We’ve got around 90 days until the big day, a couple of weeks less until Early Voting. And we have a couple of months to get folks registered for the Primary, too.

Now, back to work.

Are We Voting Yet?

Well, it looks like we’re headed toward having some elections. According to Michael Li, the parties have submitted proposed election schedules, but there’s no doubt many of us aren’t happy with the end-result.

On Tuesday, LULAC joined with the NAACP and three other groups in asking the Washington court to expedite its ruling on whether the Texas Legislature‘s original maps violate the federal Voting Rights Act. They hope that a favorable ruling from the Washington court will compel the San Antonio court to go back and alter districts ruled to be in violation.

The San Antonio court, however, is not bound to make changes to the 2012 maps based on what is handed down from the three-judge panel in Washington. In that scenario, Vera said the next step would be appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, but even lawyers for the same minority groups acknowledge a victory there to be a longshot.

Under the court’s latest map, Democrats say 11 of the state’s 36 congressional seats would be minority-opportunity districts. A surge in population over the last decade awarded Texas four new congressional seats, which are likely to be evenly split among Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans largely cheered the maps as a victory. According to an analysis by the state GOP party, Republicans lost only one state House seat from their original map and projected they could win as many 20 of the 31 state Senate seats.

Joey Cardenas from Texas LULAC had his own take on the court-ordered maps.

If the Department of Justice approves the maps adopted today by the Federal Court of the Western District of Texas, we have a victory! Plan C-235 is slightly better than plan C-226 which was the plan that both the Latino Task Force and the State agreed were adequate and for which MALC later called two key districts, CD-35 and CD-33 not unconstitutional. In plan C-235 Latinos will gain two districts, one with raw population and the other with HCVAP numbers.

That’s one way to spin it, Joe. Joey’s my good friend, but I’d have to agree with my compadre Greg‘s on what happened to the Gulfton area now in CD-7. There are a whole lotta Latinos who have been left to suffer in districts occupied by the worse the right-wing has to offer.

But I’m also drawn into Congressional District 7. Ya know, because all them Gulfton Hispanics really have a lot in common with Hedwig Village and Jersey Village. Draw your own landscaping/nanny/ housekeeper jokes. But I don’t see any of those Village folks dining at the China Star Buffet or any of the numerous and wonderful taquerias in my neighborhood. CD7 starts the decade as 58.7%-40.4% McCain-Obama.

Truth be told,  I like the opportunity to build in CD-7, and there’s no doubt that Gulfton and SW Houston need a shot in the arm when it comes to outreach and development in 2012. But there’s no doubt that a lot more could have been done to create a new Latino district in the Houston area. Barring any delays, this rendition of CD-7 will surely allow for a lot of outside the box thinking in organizing and outreach.

Still…

Now, That’s How One Announces for 2015

With all the talk about who is going to challenge Mayor Annise Parker in 2013, Controller Ronald Green seems to have stated how he really feels.

I think Annise Parker’s going to be (re-elected) mayor in 2013. I don’t have any problem saying that. I have no desire that she not be the mayor. I think she will rebound from what showing she had last year. I think that at the end of the day I’m keeping my options open. I think that as long as the two of us can work together, she’ll be the mayor for the next four years, I’ll be the controller.

And then…

“When the time comes,” he repeated with a laugh. “I will be formidable. I have shown that I can be formidable in anything I run for.” Green was unopposed in November for a second two-year term.

I’ve been a fan of the Controller since his first race for Council. And he seems to know how to play it, rather than be a bully or a naysayer. But I know there’s at least one member of the City Council that I wouldn’t mind seeing announce for Mayor in 2015, too.

And now, back to our regular 2012 programming…

Where Things Stood After the Lege Messed Up on Redistricting

Back when the Texas Legislature failed to come up with some maps that were not discriminatory, particularly toward Latinos, it was the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force that did a mini-tour of the state to take their message to the media.

SomosTejanos.org was actually at the Houston press conference back then. So, we decided to compare the video to the outcome known as “the deal,” which is now being negotiated further in SA (as far as the interim maps go). It’s a good historical record of where things stood at that time. Did things change much from then to now?

Redistricting Today: SD10 and Other Negotiations

Looks like the plaintiffs and the State of Texas have agreed to the SD-10 map, which will stay somewhat favorable for current State Senator Wendy Davis. So, that’s one part of the lawsuit that seems to be done.

Ramsey at the Trib has something, as well as some play-by-play from the rest of the morning. The rest of the maps (Texas House and Congressional) still remain in negotiations. Follow Michael Li’s tweets at Twitter.com/mcpli for the latest.

While some of us have seen some of the bickering and arguing through press releases and even some punches being thrown through Facebook and Twitter, what about the judges? According to Ramsey,

The Texas judges — 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith of Houston, and federal judges Orlando Garcia and Xavier Rodriguez of San Antonio — have to guess what their colleagues in a Washington, D.C.s court might do. The Washington court is deciding whether the maps enacted by the Legislature undermine existing power of minority voters. Without a ruling from that court, the Texas judges have to guess at what might be in a ruling, and to incorporate that with their own judgment about other aspects of the maps. They’re working to put interim maps into place that can be used this year, with the understanding that there will probably be more remapping ahead.

Yeah, pobrecitos.

UPDATE:  Plan on May 29 Primary, Says Judge Smith

Wow! May 29th would basically make Texas Republicans insignificant in the Presidential primary. Or at least, not a catalyst for any given candidate. Still, the negotiations over the Congressional and Texas House maps continue. Keep an eye on the internets and the Tweeters for the latest.

Re-Committing To Voter Registration

There’s no doubt that 2012 is weighing heavily on our minds. With Republican-led voter suppression efforts becoming law around the country, the intent of these efforts is obvious. It’s what we don’t see that we should be worried about, according to my good friend Stan Merriman, who had this op-ed in the Chron.

The Harris County tax assessor-collector has re-created the equivalent of a regressive poll tax by maximizing the time and travel costs of voting. He forces most voters in Harris County to reapply over and over. He then decides whether to allow a citizen to remain on the registration rolls by a secretive purging operation that, even after the lawsuits by the Democratic Party mentioned in the Jan. 30 article, remains largely obscured from public scrutiny. No increase in the voter rolls for this dynamic and growing community is the result.

The Tax Office suspends or cancels voter registrations based on something like a credit check. The office calls it a live check; it sends personal identification information into a so-called “fusion center” and, from there, to where nobody will say. In any case, the unreliable information returned from various sources is used to disqualify or misdirect voters. This is not subject to audit and barely subject to appeal. You the voter just show up at the polls to discover when it is too late to do anything about it that you are not qualified to vote. Just making a simple change of address is difficult and risks cancellation. Voter registration in Harris County is really a lifetime reregistration process costing millions their right to vote and the county millions of dollars.

Many believe new voter identification rules will suppress turnout, but whatever effect they may have is dwarfed by the huge voter suppression caused by our registration process.

There are solutions.

He goes on to give some simple, common sense solutions, so read the rest of the article.

Meanwhile, a voter group has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas for some of these practices.

The latest lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Texas courts names Texas Secretary of StateHope Andrade and takes aim at the state’s new mandatory training for all volunteer registrars – in which almost anyone who handles a voter’s application as part of a registration drive has to complete training before he or she can be “deputized” to operate in any Texas county. A spokesman for Andrade refused comment.

Population growth in Texas exceeds most other states, while many voter registration rolls throughout the state remain stagnant. As of January, 12.9 million Texans had registered to vote -up just 2 percent from January 2008.

There’s no doubt that this is all part of a pattern to suppress voting opportunities for Texans across the political spectrum. Through some spies, I’m hearing of other things that may be launched soon to cut folks off the rolls. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this in the near to not-so-distant future.

More than ever, voter registration will play a major role in the 2012 elections. It’s time to recommit to ensuring Texans remain on the rolls.

It’s time to “true the democracy,” don’t you think?

Stay connected!

Third Centavo: The Texas LULAC Position on The Deal

by Joe Cardenas, III, ED of Texas LULAC

DC NOTE:  After reading much criticism about “the deal,” I sought out Joe to provide a bit more clarification. With so many press releases and comments flying about, I thought it fair to have a clearer view of things from this other side of the debate. If someone on the other side wants to clarify their position, by all means send it in for equal time.

I write this as an attempt to clarify a lot of misinformation that is casting a shadow of doubt on the sincere efforts of Texas LULAC to reach a satisfactory conclusion to redistricting.  Remember that we belong to a coalition of seven organizations called the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force who organized for the sole purpose of garnering the best possible redistricting plans in the Congress and State House for Latino representation after the Texas Legislature adopted maps that not only failed to give Latinos any additional representation, but that purposely weakened Latino opportunity districts or did away with the viability of Latino preferred candidates.  From the on start, we have been fighting a two-front battle to get what we lost and to increase our representation in the Congress and State House.  That the Texas Attorney General has given its approval of maps that give our community back what it had lost and an increase in representation through Latino opportunity districts is a victory for all Texans!

Our fight in the courts is going well, but the timeframe provided by the court in D.C., makes it likely that Texas will have a split primary that will cost counties throughout the state money that they don’t have and confusion that will keep many from voting; it is estimated that a split primary will cost 15 to 20 million dollars. It is for this reason that the court in San Antonio has urged all parties to negotiate among themselves a plan that is acceptable and in keeping with the voting rights act and the instructions by the Supreme Court; furthermore, and most importantly, Texas LULAC and the Task Force applaud the State’s position that these maps are acceptable for the decade!  Removing redistricting from the state legislative agenda ensures that we can concentrate on the educational issues of the state.

But be warned, there are many detractors who are against Texas LULAC and the Task Force for various reasons stemming from their own lack of foresight.  I have seen the comments and emails from friends in the Democratic party criticize our willingness to support plans that accomplish our goal and provide a springboard to addressing the issue of education for all; I have also witnessed the criticism of Republicans who question whether the Attorney General has the power to agree on a set of plans at this stage of the game.  We have also read various newspaper articles that falsely read that the court has rejected these plans.  Let me be very clear on these naysayers: We are not in the business of protecting the incumbency of any politician whether they are a Democrat or a Republican!  Nor does the argument that some have been left out change our position, for in the end, the only group who matters is the Latino community of Texas.  We do what we do because the Latino community of Texas as a whole will benefit regardless of what some might say.  Texas LULAC will not play politics with the education of our children!

We have an opportunity to support plans that will ensure our community additional representation while removing redistricting from the legislative agenda, all in the spirit of compromise!

Brothers and Sisters, by all accounts, this is a victory, a hard fought victory!  Texas LULAC was the only organization to be present at every state redistricting hearing; it was Texas LULAC that was consistently present in Austin at the hearings; it was Texas LULAC that helped create a Task Force to represent the Latino community.  And, it was Texas LULAC who elected to have MALDEF as its legal representation in order to ensure that the best possible case could be made on behalf of the Latino community of Texas.  We have forced the state to reconsider its stance, and we are on the verge of a victorious compromise that will politically change the way politics are done in Texas.  From this point on the Latino community of Texas is not beholden to any one political party or politician!  We as a community have achieved a level of political maturity that will translate into political power from now on.  You must be willing to stand firm on this compromise that many do not want, but for which so much is at stake.

As a teacher of Government, I often cringe at the politics of D.C. and the inability of our politicians to make decisions for the people rather than for their own self-interests.  Today, we in Texas LULAC find ourselves in a similar situation: do we do what is in the best interest of the people of Texas, or do we bend to the interests of the politicians and their friends? Somewhere along the way, politicians forgot that our nation was forged in the art of compromise for the common good. While we do not agree with all aspects of the proposed plans, they do accomplish our goals, so that we can concentrate on the educational issues of fair-funding, high-stakes testing, and the state’s structural deficit.  We have been given the opportunity to move beyond the issue of redistricting in a satisfactory manner.  Now is the time to do so by again taking the lead in spite of what criticism may come.  In the end, time will prove that our choice was the right choice; and History will remember that it was Texas LULAC that led the way!