Tag Archives: redistricting

Progress Texas: Pasadena Plan Discriminates Against Hispanics

I must agree with the folks at Progress Texas who remind us that that Pasadena city council redistricting plan discriminates against Hispanics.

Hispanics are the voice of Texas’ new majority. In Pasadena, the Hispanic population has grown from 48.2% to 61.6% in the last decade. The Republican mayor of Pasadena is doing everything he can to stop that.

A local ballot measure in the city of Pasadena, Texas would remove two single-member council seats currently held by Hispanics and replace them with at-large seats, eliminating the biggest voice Hispanics have in the growing Houston suburb.

Thankfully, the good people from the Texas Organizing Project are educating voters about this plan. It is time for all of you to spread the word and tell your friends and family in Pasadena to vote against Johnny Isbell’s ballot proposal.

Pasadena Moves Toward Mid-Decade Redistricting

Hearing about election jurisdictions attempting to change voting laws definitely is not a shocker and I expect it to occur more in cities and towns around Texas who have benefited from single member districts in the form of representation. The Supreme Court’s decimation of the Voting Rights Act has caused conservative elected officials to walk around with their chests out while they reverse course on decades of progress on equal rights for all.

Regarding Pasadena, I received this from State Senator Sylvia Garcia:

Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell submitted a mid-decade redistricting change to the Pasadena City Charter that alters the city council from an eight single-member district council to a hybrid system with two at large seats and six-single member district seats.  The change will significantly increase the population size of each council seat and depending on the map could drastically harm the ability of Latinos to elect their candidates of choice.  The Pasadena City Council approved the city charter amendment on a 5-4 vote despite overwhelming public opposition in a late evening city council hearing on August 20, 2013.

“This decision by the Mayor and the majority of the Council is exactly the type of change the Voting Rights Act was intended to prevent.  I am extremely disappointed that the Council approved this charter amendment despite the opposition by the citizen’s commission and the minority community,” stated Senator Sylvia Garcia.

With the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the City of Pasadena will no longer need to obtain the pre-clearance of the Department of Justice, despite the fact that a similar election change was denied approval in December of 2012.  The measure will likely be added to the November ballot for voter approval.

According to U.S. Department of Justice, since 1982 Texas has had the second highest number of Voting Rights Act Section 5 objections including at least 109 objections since 1982, 12 of which were for statewide voting changes.  Texas leads the nation in several categories of voting discrimination, including recent Section 5 violations and Section 2 challenges.

According to this article, the charter amendment would be a fifth one added to a list to be voted on in November. The people still get to decide, but it will take a real, concerted effort to educate voters on defeating this amendment.

What I have been saying for the longest time is that while the Voting Rights Act was created to protect voters from people like Pasadena’s mayor, we still have the ultimate responsibility to vote. In the case of Pasadena, elections matter even more.

BOR has more, including some demographic analysis.

House Redistricting Committee Coming to Houston

Folks in the Houston area have one more opportunity to make their voices heard. The Senate Redistricting Committee visited Houston on Saturday, and Greg has more on that one.

Here is the location for this week’s House hearing:

House Redistricting Hearing
HOUSTON
Wednesday, June 12th
2 p.m.
University of Houston
Michael J. Cemo Hall, Room 100 D
4800 Calhoun Rd., Houston, TX 77004

Wednesday: SD6 Community Breakfast Briefing on Redistricting

From the office of State Senator Sylvia Garcia:

Join me tomorrow morning or at any of these upcoming events throughout the week to make sure your voice is heard about redistricting! On the same day that the regular session ended, Governor Perry called a Special Session on Redistricting with specific instructions to adopt the interim court-drawn maps for the State House of Representatives, State Senate, and U.S. Congressional Districts.

Opportunities to Make Your Voice Heard

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Community Breakfast Briefing

A community briefing to be held at the East Aldine District Offices to discuss the redistricting process and give valuable input to take back to Austin.

East Aldine District Offices

5333 Aldine Mail Route Road. Houston, TX 77093

8:00 AM to 9:00AM

RSVP to Celia Valles (713) 923-7575 or Celia.Valles@senate.state.tx.us

There will be a couple more opportunities in the form of legislative hearings to make your voice heard on redistricting, as TXRedistricting tells us:

Here are the details for the House redistricting committee hearing in Houston on Wednesday of next week.

Wednesday, June 12 @ 2 p.m. – University of Houston – Downtown, Michael J. Cemo Hall, Room 100 D, 4800 Calhoun Rd., Houston, TX 77004

The Senate redistricting committee also will hold a hearing in Houston onSaturday:

Saturday, June 8 @ 11 a.m. – University of Houston – Downtown, Michael J. Cemo Hall, 4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, Texas 77004

But I think it’s at the University of Houston main campus on Calhoun, and not the Downtown campus, which is a whole different university. Anyway, FYI.

Action Alert: Sen. Garcia on Senate Select Committee on Redistricting

Inbox ~ From State Senator Sylvia Garcia:

After completing my first Legislative Regular Session, I am very proud of what my team and I were able to achieve in such a short amount of time.

However, our work is not done. On the same day that the regular session ended, Governor Perry called a Special Session on Redistricting with specific instructions to adopt the interim court-drawn maps for the State House of Representatives, State Senate, and U.S. Congressional Districts.

I am honored to have been appointed by Lt. Governor Dewhurst to serve on the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting.  I am committed to working for a fair set of maps that best represents the voting rights of minorities and that the redistricting process is open and transparent.

Texas has a long history of discrimination in voting rights that unfortunately continues today. This is why a special provision of the Voting Rights Act, known as Section 5,  was enacted to protect minorities against discriminatory voting laws before they get enacted in states like Texas that continue to pass laws that are aimed at diluting minority political access. Regrettably, the Texas Attorney General has filed litigation to remove these protections, while also trying to implement discriminatory redistricting maps and laws, like last session’s photo id law.   It’s important to let the Texas leadership and the Attorney General know we are watching them and will continue to fight for the protection of voting rights.

Opportunities to Make Your Voice Heard

Wednesday, June 5, 2013:  
Community Briefing related to redistricting at the East Aldine District Offices located to discuss the redistricting process and give valuable input to take back to Austin.
5333 Aldine Mail Route Road,
Houston, TX 77093
8:00 AM to 9:00AM

Legislative Public Hearings to share your thoughts on the redistricting maps
June 1 , 2013: House Select Committee on Redistricting,  9:00 A.M. Capitol Building in Austin, Extension Auditorium, E1.004

June 6, 2013: Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, 9:00 A.M. Capitol Building in Austin, Senate Finance Committee Room, E1.036

June 12, 2013: Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, 9:00 A.M. Capitol Building in Austin, Senate Finance Committee Room, E1.036

For those that cannot make these events, but want to provide additional input on the redistricting maps please contact my General Counsel, Luis Figueroa atLuis.Figueroa@state.senate.tx.us.

As The Lege Makes Your Stomach Turn

Another long episode comes to an end today and there are a couple of things to which I was giving my attention.

  • The Budget – The House and Senate came to an agreement. Some of the K-12 money cut a couple of years ago was replaced. We’re not sure what Rick Perry will do since he wants $2 Billion in cuts and the Lege could only come up with $700 million or so. Perry and other right wingers don’t want to cut into the Rainy Day Fund, which is estimated to arrive at $11 billion in a couple of years if it isn’t used. But when it comes to K-12 and higher education, it seems to be pouring! Let’s hope it gets signed.
  • Campus-Carry – I have all sorts of friends and colleagues in the higher education sector and all seem to be against allowing CHL holders to carry on college campuses. One would figure that if those who provide the services and teach the courses are against it, then the Lege would leave well enough alone. It almost got to that point, so, the Lege came up with an alternative–bring your guns, keep them in the trunk of your car. Houston’s Senator John Whitmire gave out a pretty stern warning that if the alternative wasn’t passed, the chances were pretty good that Perry would bring it back up in the Special Session and that the result would be bad. One thing is for sure; according to the comments, the gun nuts don’t want to keep their guns in the trunk. But this isn’t the freakin’ wild west, no matter how much these people want to pretend it is.
  • Special Session – Even the Chron is telling us that it’s imminent, and it will be for redistricting.

Democrats said Republicans are worried about how the courts have interpreted the 2011 maps so far and efforts to make temporary maps permanent reflect those fears.

“Everything we’re seeing now is the product of the legal strategy of the attorney general,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat who is the chairman of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, one of a number of minority groups that sued the state. “Now that it’s not going to his satisfaction you don’t just get a do over in the Legislature because you don’t like the pace this case is playing out in the court.”

More on the Lege later. These few things caught my eye as I enjoyed a Memorial Day cafecito. Enjoy your holiday, but always remember those who fought for our rights.

Kuff adds a funny take to Sine Die.

Early Voting Begins for Pasadena Elections

Today marked the start of early voting for May elections. Although there aren’t any within the Houston city limits, there is the  first post-redistricting City Council election in Pasadena.

In Pasadena, Hispanic voters now face a great opportunity to win more seats in new drawn districts after the Census showed remarkable Hispanic growth, thus, making the case for more Hispanic representation. Click here for a PDF of the Sample Ballots.

The long-time Mayor, Johnny Isbell, has an opponent by the name of Gilbert Pena, a retired refrigeration businessman.

Pena said for too long the city has neglected infrastructure in the northern part of the city where he lives, has wasted public money and more recently, deprived residents of a public transit option.

“The problem is only going to get worse,” he said of the infrastructure. “Then all of Pasadena is going to have to pay for it.”

Pena, 63, said it is unfair that the city spends millions of dollars on the upkeep of the golf course but was unwilling to spend far less to continue the contract for a public transit service, even though ridership was increasing.

In District A, incumbent Ornaldo Ybarra has an opponent. Ybarra has been the lone Hispanic on the Council and the most vocal during the redistricting process. Recently, he was a candidate for State Rep. District 144; however, came up short. Ybarra is an honorably discharged US Marine,  a UH grad, and a Pearland police officer. I’ve known Ornaldo and he has served his community well and deserves re-election.

In District B, Richard Serna is running against two opponents for the open seat. I met Richard recently and he’s an upstanding guy committed to his community. Serna had vied for the seat when Council filled the vacancy.

In District E, Cody Ray Wheeler is vying for the open seat. Wheeler is another UH grad, former US Marine, and comes from humble roots.

Others:

Administration clerk Richard Serna, 33, retiree Bruce Leamon, 64, and Barbara Legler, 53, an executive, are vying for district B.

Real estate broker Rick Guerrero, 51, and incumbent Don Harrison, 73, retired, are vying for district C.

Ronald Whitley, 65, an account coordinator, is challenging incumbent Pat Van Houte, 56, for district D.

Cody Ray Wheeler, 27, a tax compliance officer, and retiree Leroy Stanley, 76, are vying for district E.

Unchallenged are incumbents Phil Cayten, 68, an engineer, district F; Steve Cote, 42, who works in insurance, district G; and engineer Darrell Morrison, 52, district H.

In races like these, it’s all about turnout, turnout, turnout. Spread the word about the race to gain better representation on the Pasadena City Council.

Early Voting Locations (PDF)

Election Day Locations (PDF)