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Protecting incumbents cited as factor in 14-1 Maps `drawn certain way' because of issue, Miers says

Lawrence E. Young Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: MAY 25, 1991

Dallas City Council member Harriet Miers told a group of minority lawyers Friday that protecting council incumbents influenced the way boundaries were drawn under the 14-1 redistricting plan. "Incumbent issues caused the maps under consideration to be drawn a certain way,' Ms. Miers said during a luncheon sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association. "If we can take the issue of incumbency away, we could have a map in a New York minute.' Her remarks prompted some minority leaders to contend that the city sacrificed a fifth black district to protect incumbents under the 14-1 plan narrowly approved Monday. "That's reprehensible,' attorney Eric Moye said. "The notion that the protecting of incumbencies rises to the level of the voting rights of citizen s who have been denied their constitutional rights is obscene.' The plan approved Monday features four predominantly black districts, two Hispanic ones and two mostly white districts in Oak Cliff and Pleasant Grove. The other six districts also are predominantly white. The mayor would be elected citywide. Ms. Miers was elected president of the State Bar of Texas May 2 and is not running again for City Council. She said after her presentation that the plan that was adopted "really didn't do violence to any incumbents.' Plaintiffs in the city's 3-year-old voting rights lawsuit, as well as the only two minority council members, favored a 14-1 plan that would have created five black districts.

Ms. Miers said protecting incumbents was a factor in the development of both the plan favored by plaintiffs and the one approved by council members. She said she voted against the plan favored by plaintiffs because it protected some incumbents and not others. "It protected everyone but (council member) John Evans,' who represents Pleasant Grove, Ms. Miers said.

The plan would have split Pleasant Grove among four black districts.

Minority leaders said they were outraged at the notion that the city would place the protection of white incumbents on the same level - as the protection of minority voting rights. To satisfy its obligations under the U.S. Voting Rights Act, they said, the city must maximize minority voting strength regardless of the effect on incumbent white council members. "It's unfortunate,' said lawyer Kevin Wiggins, a member of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board. "With this council, it seems the balance always weighs in favor of protecting incumbents or neighborhoods rather than minority voting rights.' Ms. Miers defended her decision to back the redistricting plan with four black districts.

She said the creation of a fifth black district was "one component of a very complex set of circumstances' that included the protection of incumbents and neighborhoods.

Ms. Miers said that throughout the redistricting controversy she did what she thought was right. She noted that she opposed the competing 10-4-1 plan even though that angered many whites.

Betsy Julian, a lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, said Ms. Miers' remarks represent a significant admission. Ms. Julian said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in a redistricting case involving the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that politicians could not sacrifice minority districts to protect incumbents. "In a political sense, incumbency is a legitimate issue, but protecting incumbencies should not take precedent over minority voting rights,' she said.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Strauss, Miers, Tandy undecided on 14-1 plans

Strauss, Miers, Tandy undecided on 14-1 plans Council meets today to discuss redistricting proposals
David Jackson Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: MAY 20, 1991

Three key City Council members said Sunday they are undecided about two 14-1 redistricting proposals -- one of which could settle Dallas' 3-year-old voting rights lawsuit, and the other, prolong litigation. Mayor Annette Strauss and council members Harriet Miers and Charles Tandy hold the balance of power as the council prepares for a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday. "We will do what's right, but it's a difficult decision,' Mrs. Strauss said. The minority plaintiffs in the lawsuit have endorsed the "14-S' plan, which calls for five predominantly black council districts, two Hispanic ones and a racially mixed but mostly white district in Oak Cliff. Six other districts would be predominantly white.

prevail tomorrow night,' council member Lori Palmer said. "We are really within arms' reach of a settlement. The moment is here and it will not come again.' But Pleasant Grove council member John Evans has objected to 14-S, saying it would split his area among five districts. He requested the "14-T' map, which creates a white district in Pleasant Grove and reduces the number of black districts from five to four.

Plaintiffs say a reduction in black districts is unacceptable for any settlement.
Mr. Evans said Sunday that he didn't know what kind of chance his map will have during the special council meeting. "There are all kinds of games being played and there are all kinds of people involved in those games,' Mr. Evans said. "You just take your best shot and see what happens. That's the only thing you can do.' Last week, 14-S supporters thought they had majority backing, with Mrs. Strauss and Dr. Tandy among their votes. Dr. Tandy said Sunday that he wanted to talk to more people befo re making a decision. - "I'm committed to trying to get this thing solved, I really am,' Dr. Tandy said. "I'm hoping that maybe we can get there.' Ms. Miers said she had questions about both proposals. "They're very tough issues, and we're just strugglin g with them as best as we can,' she said.

Four council members who have consistently backed 14-1 -- Ms. Palmer, Jim Buerger, Diane Ragsdale and Al Lipscomb -- are expected to support 14-S. The remaining members -- Mr. Evans, Glenn Box, Max Wells and Jerry Bartos -- have supported the competing 10-4-1 plan.

Mr. Box, the most outspoken 10-4-1 supporter, said he will back Mr. Evans' 14-T map. He said the four black seats are "directly proportional to the black population.' "They're greedy,' said Mr. Box. "They're trying to get as much as they can and they don't care how many neighborhoods they destroy in the process.' The plaintiffs, Roy Williams and Marvin Crenshaw, said they will not settle for fewer than five seats because the city's black community is entitled to that number.

According to the 1990 census, blacks make up 29 percent of the city. Five seats on the new 15-member council would mean 33.3 percent representation; four seats, 26.7 percent. If a black were elected mayor, the percentages would increase slightly.

But Mr. Williams and Mr. Crenshaw said the census undercounted blacks. Mr. Williams also noted that since most voters are white, the mayor probably will be white. That, he said, means 14-T would give whites nine of the 15 seats, or a 60 percent representation.

Census figures mark the city's white population at 48 percent. "Why should we give them 60 percent of the council seats?' Mr. Williams said. "The census says that we (blacks and Hispanics) are the majority.' Hispanics make up 21 percent of the city's population, according to census figures. Two council members would equal 13.3 percent representation; three, 20 percent.

Leaders of the Ledbetter Neighborhood Association, the Hispanic intervenor in the lawsuit, said they want to stick with two strong Hispanic districts rather than risk three districts they could lose through dispersed populations. They also expect the Oak Cliff swing district to eventually become Hispanic.

City demographers have told council members that they can draw five strong black districts and two strong Hispanic ones and maintain a white district in either Oak Cliff or Pleasant Grove -- but not both.

Some parties in the lawsuit said the 14-S map favors Oak Cliff for two political reasons. One is Mr. Evans' opposition to 14-1.

The other is a decision by Dr. Tandy three weeks ago that probably killed the competing 10-4-1 plan.

Mr. Evans and other supporters of 10-4-1 -- which included 10 local districts and four larger, regional districts -- had sought a revision of their original plan to improve its chances for electing three Hispanics. They said that revision would have given the city a better chance of winning the required U.S. Justice Department approval.

But Dr. Tandy, who was expected to be the decisive sixth vote in support of the revision, refused. He said creating smaller districts with larger Hispanic populations divided too many Oak Cliff neighborhoods.

A week later, the Justice Department rejected 10-4-1. That - triggered negotiations for a settlement based on 14-1, under which all council members are elected from local districts and only the mayor citywide.

U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer previously had ordered a 14-1 election for May 4. But an appeals court delayed that election to give the city time to seek 10-4-1 approval.

If the parties cannot agree on a 14-1 settlement, the plaintiffs and intervenor probably will ask the appeals court to send the case back to Judge Buchmeyer. "It'll be back in Buchmeyer's court and he will order an August election under a map he chooses,' said Mr. Buerger. "If we keep messing around, that's what's going to happen.'


1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Council tells lawyers to settle voting suit Accord sought under 14-1 plan

Council tells lawyers to settle voting suit Accord sought under 14-1 plan
Lori Stahl Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: MAY 9, 1991

On Page 14A Thursday, a quote from Mayor Annette Strauss was misplaced. The mayor said her statement "This is what I hoped would happen,' referred to the City Council's decision to seek a negotiated 14-1 settlement in the voting rights lawsuit, not the Justice Department's objection to the 10-4-1 council redistricting plan. (Friday, May 10, 1991)

The City Council ordered its attorneys Wednesday to settle the minority voting rights lawsuit that has divided Dallas for three years. The settlement would be based on the 14-1 council election plan that the city has fought in court. Many minority leaders have said that 14-1 is the only fair system because it eliminates any remnants of the at-large council seats a federal judge has ruled illegal. "I'm very pleased that this came down,' said Roy Williams, one of two African-Americans who three years ago filed the federal voting rights lawsuit against the city that led to the redistricting battle. "Hopefully we can end this once and for all.' Council members said they gave city attorneys 30 days to settle and threatened to reconsider the competing 10-4-1 election plan if the city and the plaintiffs don't reach an agreement by then.

The council's leading 10-4-1 proponent, Glenn Box, said he believes talk of revisiting that plan is rhetorical. "If they didn't do that, they wouldn't have any leverage in the settlement negotiations,' Mr. Box said.
The council's decision was made in a closed session. No vote was taken. Council members said afterward that seven members supported settlement negotiations and four opposed. "I'm optimistic that it can be worked out, and that's what we need to do,' said council member Diane Ragsdale.

The council attempted a negotiated settlement last fall, but the plan failed when voters rejected 14-1 in a referendum.

Mayor Annette Strauss said the decision to try again should end three years of divisiveness over council redistricting. Much of the battle has involved the competing 10-4-1 system, which was the focus of the city's legal appeal and the subject of a U.S. Justice Department ruling Monday. - "In my opinion, clearly the Justice Department objected to 10-4-1,' Mrs. Strauss said. "This is what I hoped would happen.' Council members said a negotiated agreement will hinge on three issues: drafting a new 14-1 district map, deciding whether elections will be held in August or November and agreeing on how much to pay the plaintiffs' attorneys.

Talks are scheduled to begin Friday. The council agreed to meet twice a week with attorneys while the bargaining is under way.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs and Hispanic intervenors said they believe that negotiations could go quickly. "I think we can do it in a week if everyone goes into it with good faith,' said Bill Garrett, the intervenors' attorney.

Under 14-1, 14 council members would be elected from single-member districts and the mayor would be elected citywide.

Under 10-4-1, 10 council members would be elected from districts, four from regional quadrants and the mayor at large.

Although Mr. Box stopped short Wednesday of pronouncing 10-4-1 dead, he gave the 14-1 settlement talks a better-than-even chance of success. "If there's a settlement reached, I think the days of 10-4-1 are behind us, unfortunately,' Mr. Box said. "Obviously, I was disappointed.' Some council members said the sticking point in negotiations is likely to be agreement on boundary lines for the 14 districts.

A redistricting commission produced a 14-1 map in February, in anticipation of a May 4 election ordered by U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer. But the election was called off by an appeals court to give the Justice Department time to review the 10-4-1 plan.

On Monday, after 10-4-1 was rejected, three council members switched their support to 14-1. Mayor Strauss and council members Harriet Miers and Dr. Charles Tandy, who earlier supported the city's appeal of the case, said they would favor a negotiated settlement.

Most council members said they would refuse to consider the original 14-1 map produced by the redistricting commission because it was severely gerrymandered.

Plaintiffs said they hope to focus on a "unity' map that would produce five black seats, two Hispanic ones and a racially mixed district in Oak Cliff. "Probably the most difficult aspect of it is the map,' said Ms. Miers. "The unity plan that has circulated drew very hostile reaction from some members who had not been consulted.' Dr. Tandy agreed. "There is no consensus in there on a map,' he said.

Dr. Tandy, who was a 10-4-1 supporter until his colleagues proposed an alternate 10-4-1 map last week, said he's "never been afraid of an all single-member district system.' He contended that the alternate map, designed to benefit Hispanic districts, shredded neighborhoods in his Oak Cliff district. "In either system the southern half (of Dallas) wins, because we get increased representation,' Dr. Tandy said.

Council members Al Lipscomb and John Evans said they had problems with the 14-1 "unity' map. Both said neighborhoods in their districts were carved up. "That map needs to be thrown away and start over,' Mr. Evans said. "I hate to see them cut up communities of interest.' Some council members said they were still bitter that their colleagues failed to support the revised 10-4-1 map. - "The whole process was corrupt,' said council member Jerry Bartos, a 10-4-1 supporter. "We hired an attorney and spent $1 million plus to fight a case we didn't want to win.' "I'd say it would be much like entering a marathon and when you see the finish line, sitting down and waiting to get beat.'

PHOTO(S): Charles Tandy. . . "There is no consensus in there on a map" of council districts.

CHART(S): (DMN) Settlement Points.

PHOTO LOCATION: Tandy, Charles.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Lipscomb blasts `new leadership' He says whites using blacks to cause rift

Lipscomb blasts `new leadership' He says whites using blacks to cause rift
David Jackson Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: MAY 8, 1991

City Council member Al Lipscomb criticized what he called a "new leadership' of blacks Tuesday, saying its members were being used by the white business establishment to divide Dallas minorities. Mr. Lipscomb singled out a group of minority lawyers and businesspeople who met with the U.S. Justice Department to oppose the 10-4-1 City Council election plan. Some of those people later helped organize a "unity rally' April 24 at City Hall. Mr. Lipscomb said organizers did not consult him or Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Diane Ragsdale, the council's only two minority members. Nor did they talk to Marvin Crenshaw or Roy Williams, the black plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit against the city, Mr. Lipscomb said. "The organizers called it a unity rally but only wanted to have a certain segment of the black community,' Mr. Lipscomb said during the Dallas Community Leadership Luncheon at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church.
He said the "new leadership' was helping the white business establishment paint black elected officials -- including himself, Ms. Ragsdale and County Commissioner John Wiley Price -- as "radicals.' "United we stand, divided we fall,' Mr. Lipscomb said. The minority lawyers who met with the Justice Department and helped organize the rally said whites had nothing to do with those efforts. The lawyers said they were not trying to slight anyone and wanted only to inject new voices into the successful fight against 10-4-1. One of those lawyers is Kevin Wiggins, a Dallas Park Board member. He said the delegation never really thought about consulting the minority council members or plaintiffs because they already were so involved in the lawsuit. "I guess we knew that Marvin and Roy had already talked to the Justice Department, and I supposed Diane and Al had also,' Mr. Wiggins said. "This was really an attempt to present some different voices.' Cheryl Wattley, another lawyer who met with Justice Department officials, said that instead of criticizing each other, minorities should celebrate the department's decision Monday to reject 10-4-1. - The department ruled that the city's 10-4-1 proposal -- calling for electing 10 City Council members by district, four by regional quadrant and the mayor citywide -- was unfair to blacks and Hispanics.

Many minorities now are urging the City Council to settle the lawsuit with a 14-1 plan, calling for election of 14 council members by districts and the mayor citywide. "I think as a community we should be celebrating the ruling of the Justice Department and that 14-1 appears to be the plan the city will have to adopt,' Ms. Wattley said.

After the luncheon, Mr. Lipscomb softened his rhetoric. He said it was an issue of communication and protocol, not division among blacks. "I think after today that won't happen anymore,' Mr. Lipscomb said. "This is trivial compared with the big picture' of minority voting rights.

During his speech, Mr. Lipscomb noted that one member of the new leadership mentioned the encouragement of City Council member Harriet Miers. "It wasn't necessary, they contend, to seek advice from the African-American plaintiffs or council persons,' Mr. Lipscomb said. "After all, they had been briefed by Anglo attorneys and given a mandate from an Anglo council person.' Ms. Miers said her call last month for more minority involvement in the voting rights lawsuit was not directed at any one person or group. "I urged the entire minority community to come forward and be heard on it,' she said. "I didn't urge just one segment.' Mr. Price said Mr. Lipscomb's remarks did not reflect a division between black political and business leaders. "I th ink what he's saying is there are Anglos in this community trying to validate what they see as the African-American business leadership,' Mr. Price said. "What we're saying is that it's OK to have African-American business leadership, but when it comes t o political leadership you've got to go to our elected officials.' Kenneth Lowe, a businessman who was part of the delegation to the Justice Department, said this kind of debate is healthy for any community. "Any differences we've got, we can take care o f,' Mr. Lowe said.

The Rev. Zan Holmes, pastor of St. Luke, spoke privately with Mr. Lipscomb after his speech. Mr. Holmes said later that the issues are unity and communication among minorities.

PHOTO: Al Lipscomb LOCATION: Lipscomb, Al.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Miers to head State Bar

Miers to head State Bar Council member beats lawyer from Houston
Chris Kelley Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: MAY 3, 1991

AUSTIN -- Dallas City Council member Harriet Miers has defeated a Houston lawyer to become president-elect of the 55,000-member State Bar of Texas, the organization announced Thursday. She is the first woman to hold the post.

Ms. Miers, an at-large council member, spent about $60,000 in her campaign against William Wilde of Houston. She garnered about 55 percent of the vote in mail balloting April 15-30.

She could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Ms. Miers has served one term on the City Council. She announced previously that she would not run again so she could seek the bar post.

She is a member of the Dallas law firm Locke Purnell Rain Harrell; in 1985 she became the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association. She was named Outstanding Young Lawyer of Dallas in 1979.

Ms. Miers will become president-elect of the State Bar in June, when the group gathers for its annual meeting in Houston. She will be president in 1992-93.

Dallas candidates historically have had a difficult time winning the post. Darrell Jordan of Dallas won in 1988 only after his opponent, Oliver Heard of San Antonio, was caught in a police raid of a nude modeling studio. Mr. Heard told police that he had stopped there to use the restroom.

Before Mr. Jordan, the last Dallas lawyer to serve in the position was Morris Harrell, who was president in 1970-71. Mr. Harrell, a name partner in Ms. Miers' firm, also served in 1982 as president of the American Bar Association. Ms. Miers is a Dallas native who has served on the Mayor's Task Force on Crime and the ad hoc committee to review the city of Dallas' budget process. She also worked as a steering committee member for the city's 1985 bond election and has represented the city on econom ic development trips to Japan, China and Spain. She was elected to the council in 1989.

She has served on numerous boards, including the Community Council of Greater Dallas, Child Care Dallas, Goodwill Industries of Dallas and the YWCA. - She received her bachelor's degree from Southern Methodist University in 1967 and her law degree from SMU in 1970.

PHOTO(S): Harriet Miers . . . is first woman to become president elect of the 55,000 member State Bar of Texas. PHOTO LOCATION: Miers, Harriet.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Council fails to vote on 10-4-1 map Plan's chances could be hurt

Council fails to vote on 10-4-1 map Plan's chances could be hurt
Lori Stahl Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: APRIL 30, 1991

The Dallas City Council abruptly canceled a meeting Monday to change the 10-4-1 election plan, a development that supporters and critics said could jeopardize its approval by the U.S. Justice Department. The council's failure to revise the 10-4-1 map came after a key council member, Dr. Charles Tandy, unexpectedly withdrew his support.
Dr. Tandy rejected the substitute map scheduled to be voted on Monday evening after spending about three hours "agonizing' in a closed-door meeting with 10-4-1 supporters and Oak Cliff leaders.

Opponents of 10-4-1 said they interpreted Dr. Tandy's decision as the plan's death knell. They said the council's inability to muster enough votes for the new map would help convince federal officials that support for the plan has eroded. "It's a total victory,' said Hispanic lawyer Ralph Rodriguez, a proponent of the 14-1 configuration whom 10-4-1 supporters had tried to convert with their new map. "The 10-4-1 coalition on the City Council dis-integrated tonight.' Supporters of 10-4-1 acknowledged that Dr. Tandy's rejection will hurt chances of getting clearance from the U.S. Justice Department.

But they said they believe the plan is not dead. "I think it was a deplorable move on his (Dr. Tandy's) part,' said the council's leading 10-4-1 proponent, Glenn Box. "If I could say it any stronger I would.' "This significantly reduces its chances of being approved,' Mr. Box said. "We had a chance to submit a plan today that would have been a great plan for Hispanics in the 1990s.' But Dr. Tandy, who left City Hall without appearing in the council chambers, said his decision was based on concern for Oak Cliff. "I fully expected to support the new map,' he said.

The map was designed to increase the likelihood that Hispanics would be elected to the council by decreasing the size of three districts.

But Dr. Tandy said the changes came at the expense of neighborhoods in his Oak Cliff district. "I just couldn't walk out of there knowing that the community I live in and have represented is split and gerry-mandered to an - extreme degree,' he said in a phone interview Monday night. "This has been absolutely the most agonizing day I've ever spent.' Mayor Annette Strauss, who held the private meeting with Dr. Tandy in her office, announced the cancellation in a packed council chamber where people were waiting for the meeting to start. A murmur went through the stunned crowd, which then burst into applause. The meeting was canceled 20 minutes after it was set to begin. Many of those in the audience were minorities who planned to voice their opposition to the new 10-4-1 map. Dr. Tandy was the swing vote on whether to send a new map to the U.S. Justice Department, which is scheduled to rule on the re-districting plan by next Monday.

Under a 10-4-1 plan, 10 council members would be elected from single-member districts, four from regional quadrants and the mayor citywide. Under a 14-1 configuration, the mayor would run at large and all other council members would be elected from districts.

Council member Harriet Miers, who said she was "leaning against' supporting the new 10-4-1 map, criticized her colleagues for calling off the public meeting when it became clear that they lacked Dr. Tandy's support. "This is an unconscionable action in my judgment,' Ms. Miers said. "It means that they didn't want a public discussion.' More than 50 people signed up in advance to address the council.

At one point during the long meeting in Mrs. Strauss' office, Dr. Tandy said, he asked 10-4-1 supporters for a two-day extension to try to develop yet another 10-4-1 map that would address his concerns about Oak Cliff neighborhoods. But the plan's supporters refused to wait any longer, he said. In addition to the mayor and Dr. Tandy, several other officials attended the meeting in Mrs. Strauss' office, including council members Jerry Bartos and Mr. Box, Oak Cliff leaders Bob Mc-Elearney and Corky Sherman and City Attorney Analeslie Muncy. Mike McKool Jr., the city's lead attorney in the case, said he would call Justice Department officials Tuesday morning to tell them not to expect a substitute plan. "Obviously, we're disappointed that we're not able to to respond to the concerns raised by the Justice Department,' said Mr. Mc-Kool. "I still think we have a chance and we're going to try for pre-clearance.' Dr. Tandy said he still supports 10-4-1 in concept, but opposes the version that was to be voted on Monday because it increases Hispanic representation "at the expense of communities of interest in Oak Cliff.' "The center of Oak Cliff is taken out,' he said.

But some council members questioned Dr. Tandy's motivation.

Some said they believed he wanted to preserve a white district in Oak Cliff under a revised 14-1 plan.

Critics of a 14-1 map drawn by a re-districting commission in February said that map was gerry-mandered and under-represented whites in Oak Cliff.

In the past few weeks, 14-1 supporters have been drawing new maps aimed at addressing those concerns. "I think that has to be the key -- that 10-4-1 would not promote a white Oak Cliff district,' said council member Diane Ragsdale. "I hope Dr. Tandy realized that a smaller district (under 14-1) is more responsive to the white Oak Cliff perservation than a larger district (under 10-4-1).' - Dr. Tandy said that was not a factor. "Never has that ever been a goal,' he said. "The goal has been not to break up the neighborhoods.' "There will be many people who either don't understand or don't like it,' he said. "The only thing I can say is I did the best I could with the facts I had in hand.'

PHOTO(S): (1. 2. The Dallas Morning News: David Woo) 1.Annette Strauss . . . announces Monday night that a hearing on a new 10 4 1 map is called off. 2. City Council member Diane Ragsdale hugs Mavin Crenshaw Monday after a meeting on a new 10 4 1 redistricting plan was canceled. Mr. Crenshaw, a plantiff in the Dallas voting rights suit, and Ms. Ragsdale back the 14 1 plan for council elections.

PHOTO LOCATION: 1. NR(C). 2. Ragsdale, Diane (cf 45366).

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Foes of 10-4-1 in DC Council members lobby against plan

Foes of 10-4-1 in DC Council members lobby against plan
Lori Stahl Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: APRIL 24, 1991

A delegation of City Council members went to Washington on Tuesday to lobby against the 10-4-1 municipal government system, while talks continued in Dallas on changes to broaden support for it. Four council members who oppose the plan, and one who has voted for it reluctantly, were to meet with U.S. Justice Department officials. The council members, Jim Buerger, Al Lipscomb, Lori Palmer, Diane Ragsdale and Harriet Miers, could not be reached for comment Tuesday eveningAll but Ms. Miers have voted against the plan. Ms. Miers said that she voted for it only to ensure that the plan, which Dallas voters have approved, would receive a legal test. She has said she favors the competing 14-1 plan.

Under 10-4-1, 10 council members would be elected from districts, four from regional quadrants and the mayor citywide. Under 14-1, all but the mayor would represent districts.

In the past week, several contingents on both sides of the redistricting issue have met with Justice Department officials, who will decide the fate of 10-4-1 by May 6. Federal law requires that the department approve changes in local election plans.

Plaintiffs in the 3-year-old voting rights lawsuit against Dallas said they continue to oppose 10-4-1.

At a City Hall news conference, Marvin Crenshaw and Roy Williams said they were "not in the loop' on talks to reach a compromise on 10-4-1. They said they talked to Mayor Annette Strauss and council member Glenn Box about a settlement on Monday but still support a single-member-district system.

Last week, some parties in the redistricting fight began private talks aimed at reaching a settlement before the May 6 deadline. The talks focused mainly on changing the size of three districts to increase the likelihood that Hispanics would be elected from them.

The council is scheduled to review a revised 10-4-1 map depicting the new Hispanic districts at a special meeting on Monday.

Mike McKool Jr., the city's lead attorney in the case, said the new map would show two single-member districts that are 65 percent Hispanic and a quadrant seat that is 56 percent Hispanic.

To get those ratios, the districts could vary up to 16.4 percent in population from other districts, he said. Mr. McKool said there - is legal precedent for a variation that large, but opposing attorneys have said that it would be subject to legal challenge.

If the council does not agree to substitute the new map for the one currently under review, the argument for 10-4-1 is weakened, Mr. McKool said. "The chances of (Justice Department) preclearance without making the changes are much smaller,' he said. "I'm going to tell the council that if it wants a reasonable chance of success with Justice, they need to make some changes.' Although Justice Department officials theoretically would have another 60 days to review 10-4-1 if the city submits a new map, Mr. McKool said officials have indicated they probably would need only an additional two or three weeks.

PHOTO(S): (The Dallas Morning News: Milton Hinnant) Marvin Crenshaw (left) and Roy Williams, plaintiffs in the Dallas voting rights lawsuit, speak at a news conference Tuesday at City Hall. The two said they had talked to Mayor Annette Strauss and council member Glenn Box about a settlement but still back a single member district plan. Some city officials seek a compromise on 10 4 1.

PHOTO LOCATION: Williams, Roy (cf 45254).

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Feud between city, judge goes public Buchmeyer oversees housing suit amid furor

Feud between city, judge goes public Buchmeyer oversees housing suit amid furor
David Jackson Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: APRIL 21, 1991

As far as a federal judge and the city of Dallas are concerned, fairness is in the eye of the beholder. The way some city officials see it, U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer has substituted political preference for legal judgment in the areas of public housing and political redistricting.
But people who sued the city over those issues say the judge has been forced to do things Dallas officials have shunned: assure civil rights for blacks and Hispanics.

Bitter feelings have bubbled near the surface since 1989, when Judge Buchmeyer held the city financially liable for a segregated public housing system.

Now, thanks to a dispute over a private telephone conversation between Judge Buchmeyer and Mayor Annette Strauss, the feud has gone public. Critics such as City Council member Glenn Box openly refer to "King Buchmeyer,' while civil rights lawyer Mike Daniel said the attacks on the judge were the product of "white Southern trash.' All of this is happening while Judge Buchmeyer continues to preside over an $118.7 million settlement of the public-housing case to be paid out over eight years. The judge also may do further work on the City Council redistricting case.

Judge Buchmeyer, citing pending litigation, has declined to comment on his role in city issues. "The judge is quickly becoming the focus now of another round of battles,' council member Harriet Miers said. "I don't think the continued hostilities that we are experiencing over fundamental fairness issues is good for the city in any of its particulars.' Mr. Box and council member Jerry Bartos, who have accused the judge of lying to cover up a private phone conversation with Mrs. Strauss, said they may seek to have Judge Buchmeyer removed from all cases involving the city. Mr. Box and Mr. Bartos support the 10-4-1 council election system. Mrs. Strass favors the 14-1 election system ordered by Judge Buchmeyer. "As long as we're in litigation, we wan t to feel like we're on a level playing field,' Mr. Box said. Attorneys involved in civil rights litigation say the city is the prejudiced party. They accused the city of unfairly attacking Judge - Buchmeyer in retaliation for his rulings on behalf of blacks and Hispanics. "Judge-bashing has been one of the primary weapons of civil rights resisters for 50 years,' said Bill Garrett, an attorney for the Hispanic intervenors in the council redistricting lawsuit.

Some council members agree. They said that the telephone conversation in November between Judge Buchmeyer and the mayor was insignificant and that the judge's enemies are using it to discredit him. "The fundamental issue is that Judge Buchmeyer has ruled in favor of the disenfranchised in this city,' said council member Diane Ragsdale. "That's the bottom line with respect to all of this.' Mr. Box said he is not the only one who believes that the judge has exhibited bias against the city. "There's plenty of people in the city attorney's office who feel that way,' Mr. Box said. "I personally guarantee you they have expressed it to me many times.' Mr. Box did not cite examples, saying he learned of the incidents in private conversations or in closed sessions of the council. "There are a lot of situations where we could have been and should have been treated differently' by Judge Buchmeyer, Mr. Box said. "I know that's a little vague, but that's all I can say.' City Attorney Analeslie Muncy was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Marvin Crenshaw and Roy Williams, two African-Americans who sued the city in 1988 over voting rights, said the city is unfairly attacking a judge who cannot defend himself because the cases are pending before him. They also accused the city of trying to cover up what they call its past abuses of minority rights. "The city's out of step and out of time with all of these situations they've been accused of, and they're guilty,' Mr. Williams said.

Mr. Crenshaw said Judge Buchmeyer has been dragged into a dispute not of his making. "If there's a war going on, there's a war between those who want to keep the city 20 or 30 years behind and those of us who want to be progressive, who want to move the city forward,' Mr. Crenshaw said. "That's who the war is between.' In a 1989 ruling, Judge Buchmeyer, citing a set of what he called "tragic facts,' ruled that the city segregated public housing through the use of the Dallas Housing Authority.

By that time, Judge Buchmeyer had written another opinion on racial discrimination in Dallas, this time on voting rights. Judge Buchmeyer wrote that minority participation in Dallas politics has been a question of "what blacks and Hispanics have been permitted to do by the white majority.' He struck down the city's 8-3 election system, which allowed the mayor and two council members to be elected at large.

Judge Buchmeyer eventually ordered a May election under a 14-1 single-member district system. Critics said the judge should have permitted an election under the 10-4-1 system, which provided for 10 single-member districts and four regional seats with the mayor elected at large. Voters approved that plan in 1989.

Many minorities favor a 14-1 system with only the mayor elected at large, which they say will provide them better representation. - Voters narrowly rejected the 14-1 plan in December.

During that campaign, Judge Buchmeyer was frequently attacked.

Those attacks escalated this month when news of a conversation he held with Mrs. Strauss became public.

According to sworn statements, Judge Buchmeyer told Mrs. Strauss in a Nov. 27 telephone conversation that even if voters rejected 14-1, the law would obligate him to order a 14-1 election for May. Mrs. Strauss made the judge's intentions a campaign issue but denied having spoken directly with him. In a statement, Mrs. Strauss accused the judge of telling her to deny that their conversation took place. The mayor admitted lying during the campaign about not having spoken with the judge. Council critics contend that Judge Buchmeyer lied to an appellate judge who reviewed and dismissed a complaint over the conversation with the mayor. Judge Buchmeyer wrote that he spoke first to "all of the attorneys' involved in the case. But City Attorney Muncy and a hired lawyer said the judge never spoke to them about the phone call. Others involved in the case said Judge Buchmeyer didn't tell the mayor anything more than he had told attorneys. They added that Judge Buchmeyer could not have permitted a 10-4- 1 election because the system has not received federal approval.

Mr. Daniel, an attorney who worked on the housing case and who also represents Mr. Crenshaw and Mr. Williams in the voting-rights case, accused the city of "mean, nasty judge-bashing.' "Who they would really like to take it out on is the black and Hispanic community,' Mr. Daniel said. "What they're saying is he's broken the code of the white Southern gentleman.' Al Lipscomb, one of two African-Americans on the council, said some of his council colleagues have wanted Judge Buchmeyer off the redistricting case for a long time. He said the effort is self-defeating. "Buchmeyer's not the problem,' Mr. Lipscomb said. "The problem is those tragic facts.' Mr. Bartos, a 10-4-1 supporter, said he saw the phone conversation with the mayor as an effor t to manipulate the election. "It's very troubling,' Mr. Bartos said. "A judge should not work with either party in an election to try to influence its outcome, by even one vote. "It feels like the city has a relationship with the judge that has been dam aged to the extent that the city would not likely get a fair and impartial hearing in his court,' Mr. Bartos said.

Mr. Daniel, who works with lawyer Betsy Julian in the redistricting case, scoffed at that portrayal. He noted that when Judge Buchmeyer ordered the 14-1 election, he allowed the districts to be drawn by the city's redistricting commission using 1990 census figures. "Mike and Betsy didn't ask for that,' Mr. Daniel said. "The idea that the city has been tried unfairly has no basis in fact.' "Buchmeyer didn't create and maintain West Dallas,' Mr. Daniel said. "Buchmeyer isn't the one who drew the the lines under 8-3 so that only two blacks could get elected.'

PHOTO(S): 1. Glenn Box . . . openly refers to the federal judge as "King Buchmeyer.' 2. Jerry Buchmeyer . . . has declined to comment, citing pending lawsuits.

PHOTO LOCATION: 1. Box, Glenn. 2. Buchmeyer, Jerry.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Strauss criticized for lying. City Council credibility damaged, members say

Strauss criticized for lying City Council credibility damaged, members say
David Jackson Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: APRIL 4, 1991

Dallas City Council members said Wednesday that the credibility of government has been damaged by Mayor Annette Strauss' admitted lying and her allegation that U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer told her to do so. "I think the integrity of the process is very important, and it potentially could have been violated,' council member Charles Tandy said. "I think everybody was kind of appalled.' Council members also said the controversy demonstrates the need to resolve the minority voting rights lawsuit, which was the subject of the Nov. 27 conversation between the mayor and the judge. "This is just a very unfortunate situation on top of an already confused one,' council member Harriet Miers said. "We need to put this whole issue to rest. It poi nts out how badly we need some solutions.' In a sworn affidavit obtained Tuesday, Mrs. Strauss said Judge Buchmeyer told her to lie about a conversation they had 11 days before voters rejected the 14-1 election plan, on Dec. 8. Judge Buchmeyer told Mrs. Strauss that if voters rejected the plan, he would order a May election under 14-1. He issued that order Feb. 1.
During the referendum campaign, Mrs. Strauss spoke repeatedly about the judge's intentions, but she said she had not spoken directly to Judge Buchmeyer. She attributed her statements to attorneys who had spoken to the judge.

But in her affidavit, submitted as part of an investigation into a complaint against Judge Buchmeyer, Mrs. Strauss admitted lying about not speaking to the judge. She said the judge had told her to deny their conversation took place.

Opponents of the 14-1 plan lodged a complaint against Judge Buchmeyer, contending he had improper conversations with parties to the voting rights lawsuit before his ruling.

An appeals court judge who reviewed that complaint declined to censure the judge. But he did call the conversation "ill-advised.' In a letter responding to the complaint, Judge Buchmeyer said his conversation with the mayor was not improper.

He said in an interview Wednesday that he could not talk about - the matter because the voting rights case is pending. "As much as I would like to comment, I cannot do so,' Judge Buchmeyer said.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said the conversation did not affect the case and accused Judge Buchmeyer's critics and the media of "judge-bashing.' Mike Daniel, who represented plaintiffs Marvin Crenshaw and Roy Williams, said his clients were the only ones who could have been harmed by the conversations between the judge and the mayor. But Mr. Daniel said it was no problem. "The city is the one that wanted the contact. The party that stood to be prejudiced is us,' Mr. Daniel said . "Now the city is trying to use it to embarrass and harass the judge.' But Glenn Box, a council member who campaigned against 14-1, said the judge's conversation with the mayor prejudiced supporters of the competing 10-4-1 election plan.

Mr. Box said he was disappointed that the mayor had called the judge and said he was outraged that the judge told the mayor what he would do if voters rejected 14-1. "It lends further credence to our claim that he is a biased and a prejudiced judge,' Mr. Box said.

Critics also have accused Judge Buchmeyer of misleading the appeals judge who investigated the complaint by saying that he had contacted "all attorneys' in the case before speaking with Mrs. Strauss. City Attorney Analeslie Muncy, in another affidavit, said the judge never contacted her. She said it was improper for him to talk to the mayor about his intentions. Judge Buchmeyer said he contacted Mike McKool Jr., who now is the city's lead attorney in the lawsuit, even though Mr. McKool was n ot retained by the city until a week later. Mr. McKool declined to comment on any conversation he had with Judge Buchmeyer about a phone call from Mrs. Strauss.

Mr. McKool said the city retained him Dec 3. He said Ms. Muncy contacted him so he could start analyzing the city's options in case the referendum failed.

Tom Pauken, a 14-1 opponent who was a party to the complaint against Judge Buchmeyer, said he would continue to push for the judge's removal from the case. Mr. Pauken is running for the congressional seat vacated by Dallas mayoral candidate Steve Bartlett. "I don't believe the judge has told the truth in this matter from the beginning,' Mr. Pauken said.

He said he sympathized with the mayor. "She's not experienced in matters of law. She did not know she was doing anything improper when she called him,' Mr. Pauken said. "I think the principal responsibility lies with Judge Buchmeyer.' Mrs. Strauss refused to comment Wednesday.

During an interview Tuesday, the mayor said she acted in the best interest of the city.

On Feb. 1, Judge Buchmeyer ordered a council election May 4 under a 14-1 system, 14 single-member districts and the mayor elected citywide.

The city appealed the case on behalf of the 10-4-1 plan voters endorsed in 1989. That system, which many minorities oppose, calls for 10 single-member districts, four larger regional districts and the mayor elected citywide.

On March 15, an appeals court overturned Judge Buchmeyer's order, - giving the city time to pursue federal approval of the 10-4-1 system.

Council member Al Lipscomb said the controversy surrounding Mrs. Strauss and Judge Buchmeyer should not distract people from the real issue, minority voting rights. "That's the big picture,' Mr. Lipscomb said.

PHOTO(S): Annette Strauss.

PHOTO LOCATION: Strauss, Annette.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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$150,000 allocated to pursue 10-4-1 fight. But city shuns controversial ex-rights official

$150,000 allocated to pursue 10-4-1 fight But city shuns controversial ex-rights official
Published: MARCH 28, 1991

The Dallas City Council voted Wednesday to pay attorneys up to $150,000 more to fight for the 10-4-1 election plan but agreed that William Bradford Reynolds will not be among them. The vote came after more than 50 speakers decried the former U.S. assistant attorney general's track record on civil rights.

The council voted 6-5 to continue paying the attorneys.

Mayor Annette Strauss drew a round of applause after assuring the audience even before the public testimony began that the council already had decided not to hire Mr. Reynolds.

But the brief show of appreciation quickly gave way to a litany of complaints about the city's willingness to consider hiring the former U.S. Justice Department official.

As speaker after speaker stepped to the podium, council members were asked to defend spending $150,000 more on legal fees in the redistricting case while other pressing problems need attention.

Speakers told stories of living in neighborhoods with unpaved roads and of people being evicted from their homes because applications for small housing loans from the city were rejected. "How do we have the audacity to call ourselves an international city?' asked Cheryl Wattley, a lawyer who unfurled a scroll that she said contained more than 1,000 signatures on a petition calling for the council to reject Mr. Reynolds.

The former head of the federal government's civil rights division during the Reagan administration has been criticized for his opposition to affirmative action programs and school busing. Mr. Reynolds, now in private practice, has said he has an excellent civil rights record. On Wednesday night, the council first voted 7-4 against a measure offered by council member Diane Ragsdale, a 10-4-1 opponent, to stop paying all outside lawyers representing the city in the case. The second, and decisive, vote was on a plan offered by Mrs. Strauss to pay $150,000 to Johnson & Gibbs, the local law firm hired by the city, but with the caveat that "no additional outside attorneys will be hired.' Mrs. Strauss said she objected to Mr. Reynolds' involvement because it amounted to lobbying. By contrast, the additional $150,000 merely permits local attorneys to continue trying to get - Justice Department clearance of the election plan, she said. "There's nothing new happening today -- it's just a continuation of the legal test (of 10-4-1),' Mrs. Strauss said. "It's taken a heck of a lot of moral courage to do that.' Mrs. Strauss and council member Harriet Miers have been asked repeatedly to withdraw their support for 10-4-1 because they have said they person ally oppose it. But both have said they believe it deserves a legal test because voters approved it in an August 1989 referendum.

Ms. Miers voted against the mayor's plan Wednesday because, she said, she wanted to be consistent with earlier votes against hiring outside attorneys to do city work.

Council members Glenn Box, Charles Tandy, Max Wells, John Evans and Jerry Bartos voted for the measure with Mrs. Strauss.

Mr. Box, the leading council proponent of 10-4-1, said the council was wrong to ignore the advice of lead attorney Mike McKool. Mr. McKool, a lawyer in private practice, told the council in a closed session that he needed Mr. Reynolds' expertise to help counter a lobbying campaign waged by 10-4-1 opponents to try to sway the Justice Department. "I hope they (city attorneys) can continue to pull the rabbit out of the hat and work miracles for 10-4-1,' Mr. Box said.

But several members who voted against spending the additional $150,000 said they were worried that Mr. McKool still would find a way to lobby the Justice Department.

Several also chided City Attorney Analeslie Muncy for hiring Mr. Reynolds to do preliminary work with money from her own budget. Ms. Muncy told the council that Mr. Reynolds had written one letter and made several calls on the city's behalf. Council member Lori Palmer, who voted against spending any more money on the suit, said the request to hire Mr. Reynolds represented "a significant miscalculation and misjudgment.' "The extent of that has made me question the overall judgment of our attorneys,' Ms. Palmer said. Ms. Muncy also told the council that the city has already spent more than $1 million on the redistricting case. The total bill will probably rise by at least $1 million more if plaintiffs attorneys ask for more money, as anti cipated, she said. A year ago, U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer ruled that the current council system, with three at-large seats, discriminates against minorities. He ordered May 4 elections under the 14-1 system. The city appealed, and on March 15, t he 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside Judge Buchmeyer's ruling and canceled the elections. The appeals court judges said they wanted to give the Justice Department time to review the 10-4-1 plan.

The U.S. Supreme Court later this week is expected to review a request to lift the stay of the May 4 election and may make a decision early next week.

PHOTO(S): William Bradford Reynolds . . . has been criticized for his opposition to affirmative action programs and school busing.

PHOTO LOCATION: Reynolds, William Bradford.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Hispanics discouraged by prospect of 10-4-1. Plan would not deliver 3 seats, some say

Hispanics discouraged by prospect of 10-4-1 Plan would not deliver 3 seats, some say
Lori Stahl Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: MARCH 24, 1991

For most of his 38 years, Luis Sepulveda has been troubled by the deterioration in his west Oak Cliff neighborhood. He has often wondered whether his children are being exposed to harmful chemicals from nearby industry. Or whether the city could do more to battle crime, to fill pot-holes or to raze condemned buildings.

He's not a politician; he's a neighborhood baseball coach.
Physically disabled, he devotes much of his time to working in the neighborhood. Until recently, he was thinking about trading in his baseball cap for a place on the ballot.

Mr. Sepulveda, a political unknown, was going to run for the Dallas City Council under the 14-1 plan. Now he's among several Hispanic candidates on the verge of concluding that a campaign under 10-4-1 is probably futile.

Their strategies reflect the views of many Hispanics that the 10-4-1 plan won't deliver the three seats to Hispanics -- two single-member districts and a quadrant -- that proponents say.

This month, a federal appeals court called off the 14-1 elections scheduled for May. The appellate judges said they wanted the U.S. Justice Department to have time to consider the 10-4-1 configuration. Under that plan, approved by Dallas voters in August 1989, 10 council members would be elected by district, four by quadrant and the mayor at large. Under 14-1, a plan later rejected by voters, the mayor would run at large, and all council members would be elected by districts. The plan's supporters, and detractors such as Mr. Sepulveda, agree that its fate probably hinges on what Justice Department officials, who must grant approval before elections can be held, think the 10-4-1 plan will accomplish for Hispanics. "They don't dispute tha t African-Americans are going to control four seats, so it really comes down to the Hispanics, which is a much more complicated issue,' said Mike Mc-Kool, the city's lead attorney in the battle to win approval of 10-4-1. Some Hispanic leaders say there i s a lot of evidence that many people think the proposed Hispanic districts are the weakest link in the 10-4-1 plan. - They note: * Although the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the May elections to give the Justice Department time to review 10-4 -1, one member of the three-judge panel said during the hearing that he was concerned about treatment of Hispanics under that plan.

Judge E. Grady Jolly said that 10-4-1 "looks like a fair plan' on its face but that its "weakness' appeared to be the two districts drawn for Hispanics. * The 10-4-1 plan is really two plans. When the City Council asked the Justice Department to approve the system, it sent two maps to Washington -- a preferred plan and an alternate.

Both maps contain two Hispanic single-member districts, but the city's second choice offers slightly better odds to Hispanic candidates because the percentage of Hispanic residents in them is higher. "I viewed the second map as an admission that the first one is bad,' said Bill Garrett, the attorney representing Hispanic intervenors in the city's 3-year-old re-districting lawsuit.

Mr. McKool said: "It's an acknowledgment that you can get better numbers for Hispanics under the second map, have to gerry-mander. It was a compromise.' * The city has tried to have Hispanics removed from a voting rights lawsuit filed by two African-Americans who said the current election system diluted minority voting strength. "That's a recognition that Hispanics had a better claim for defeating 10-4-1,' Mr. Garrett said.

Mr. McKool said that the proposed exclusion was a legal strategy and that "the council has instructed us not to do it for political reasons, and that's fine.' * Two council members who supported Justice Department review of 10-4-1 threatened to withdraw their support if the city continued to say the plan would give Hispanics and African-Americans "an equal opportunity' in the electoral process.

Mayor Annette Strauss and council member Harriet Miers, both of whom support 14-1, said they were willing to send the 10-4-1 maps to the Justice Department because voters approved the concept in a 1989 referendum. But they said assertions that it would promote equality were inaccurate.

Proponents of 10-4-1 say Hispanics could win two single-member district seats under that plan -- one in Oak Cliff and the other in the inner city -- as well as one quadrant seat. They cite statistics showing that Hispanics are a majority of the population in those districts.

But Hispanic opponents say such statistics are misleading.

Hispanics who are citizens and of voting age constitute far below the 65 percent generally considered the threshold of a "safe' district -- that is, a district specifically designed to represent a certain minority group.

Hispanics would make up 55 percent of the voting age population in the Oak Cliff district and 47 percent of eligible voters in the inner-city district under the city's preferred plan. They would make up 46 percent of the voting population in one quadrant, which remains the same in both plans submitted to Washington.

Some Hispanics say those margins aren't enough to ensure that they would be able to elect the candidate of their choice. But 10-4-1 proponents disagree. "It wouldn't be as persuasive if the population growth were - stagnant,' Mr. Mc-Kool said. "The feeling is that while two of the districts are not what we call safe for Hispanics, they clearly are dominated by Hispanics. .So what you end up with is, you say the Hispanic population is growing extremely rapidly, and by mid-decade, they will have control of all three districts.' African-Americans, meanwhile, represent more than 60 percent of the voting-age population in four districts -- including one quadrant -- under both 10-4-1 maps. "The blacks don't do that bad under 10-4-1, but for Hispanic s, it's horrible,' said Domingo Garcia, who was considering a City Council bid for an Oak Cliff seat under 14-1.

Demographics aside, some Hispanics also complain that boundaries for their districts are similar to those of white incumbents Charles Tandy and Lori Palmer -- making the districts almost unwinnable for Hispanic challengers. "Dr. Tandy, with (white voters in) Kessler Park and Stevens Park, can probably defeat any Hispanic that runs,' said Tom Lazo, president of the Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which has supported the 14-1 plan. "Lori Palmer, I don't think, would be that much different. Her voter base is still pretty much intact. She would be tough to beat. "These people are saying three Hispanics will be elected?

They're blue-skying.' That conviction is so deeply held that several Hispanic men who, like Mr. Sepulveda, planned to run under the 14-1 plan said they probably won't mount a campaign if elections are held under 10-4-1.

Ricardo Medrano, a former City Council member who planned to run in the inner-city Hispanic district under 14-1, said he would bow out under 10-4-1 if Ms. Palmer ran for re-election.

Mr. Garcia, who made a strong showing last year in an effort to unseat state Rep. Steve Wolens in Oak Cliff, said he "strongly doubts' he will mount a campaign against Dr. Tandy. "I think it would be an extremely remote possibility that you'd have a viable Mexican-American candidate run for that district under 10-4-1,' Mr. Garcia said. "Under a 14-1 appeared a Mexican-American would be elected -- it was just a question of which one.' Mr. Sepulveda, who planned to run for the same Oak Cliff seat as Mr. Garcia, agreed: "Do you think I'd stand a chance against Dr. Tandy? I'm not going to get into anything I can't win.' A fourth Hispanic, lawyer Chris Luna, said he still planned to run if elections were held under 10-4-1. But Mr. Luna, an associate with the downtown law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, said he, too, thinks the 14-1 plan offers better assurances of Hispanic representation on the council. "I think I can build a coalition in either district,' Mr. Luna said. "There wer e some candidates who were focusing sole-ly on Hispanic issues, and I think they would have a harder time under 10-4-1.' But if some Hispanics think they would lose the two single-member districts to white incumbents, they think the Hispanic quadrant sea t is winnable -- at a price.

Mounting a campaign to cover a quarter of the city will be costly. For that reason, some Hispanics say, the victor will be whoever gets the support of the downtown business establishment. "That's what I think is repugnant to the 14-1 advocates -- the strings-attached mentality,' said Dallas Park Board member Rene - Martinez, who initially supported 10-4-1 and later supported 14-1 after elections were ordered under it. "There are others in the (Hispanic) community that realize you've got to have a relationship with the business community,' Mr. Martinez said. "I still feel 14-1 offers the best opportunity, but I just wish we would have an election.' But the prospect of whites from outside the quadrant playing a decisive role in that campaign is more than some Hispanics can tolerate. "He would be hand-picked by the Anglos like Al Gonzalez, and we would have no input,' said Guillermo Galindo, chairman of Barrios Unidos, a grass-roots political organization. Mr. Galindo was referring to the last Hispanic to serve on the council. Mr. Gonzalez won an at-large seat with backing from some business leaders.

Mr. Lazo from the Hispanic chamber said he thinks business leaders would try to field a Hispanic candidate for the quadrant seat to prove that one can be elected under 10-4-1. "If people don't believe there are power brokers in this city, they're very naive,' Mr. Lazo said.

Some Hispanics say a 10-4-1 election invariably would lead to more legal wrangling, regardless of what happens with the quadrant seat. "If indeed those incumbents ran and those incumbents were re-elected to the exclusion of Hispanics, we would file another lawsuit,' said Diana Orozco, past president of the Mexican-American Bar Association. "We'll have more evidence.'

PHOTO(S): 1. (The Dallas Morning News: Richard Wright) Political unknown Luis Sepulveda of west Oak Cliff was going to run for the Dallas City Council under the 14 1 plan. Now he's one of several Hispanics on the verge of deciding that a campaign under 10 4 1 is probably futile. 2. (State Edition, Page 34A) Mike McKool 3. (State Edition, Page 34A) Domingo Garcia

MAP(S): Proposal for 10 4 1 System: 1. The Preferred Plan 2. The Alternate Plan 3. District A 4. District E 5. District A 6. District B (1 6. DMN)

PHOTO LOCATION: 1. Political Candidates S (cf 44623). 2. McKool, Mike. 3. Garcia, Domingo.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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Monday, October 03, 2005

10-4-1 protested at council

10-4-1 protested at council
Law firm OK'd for election suit
Lori Stahl Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE
Published: August 10, 1989

At the final City Council meeting before Saturday's election, council members Wednesday faced a "silent' protest from opponents of the 10-4-1 council plan and, in an unrelated vote, committed $100,000 to defend Dallas' municipal election system in court.

The council voted to spend up to $100,000 to hire a Baltimore law firm to help defend the city in the suit, which charges that the city's current method of electing council members is discriminatory. The suit is scheduled to go before a federal judge Sept. 5. On Saturday, voters will decide whether to replace the system of electing eight council members from single-member districts and three, including the mayor, at large. The 10-4-1 plan, Proposition 1 on the ballot, calls for 10 members to be elected from single-member districts and four from geographic quadrants. The mayor still would be elected at large.

Regardless of what voters decide, a federal judge will review 10-4-1 and other options during a hearing on the lawsuit. The suit, which was filed before the charter election was scheduled, seeks a system in which all members could be elected from single-member districts.

Council members Diane Ragsdale, Lori Palmer and Al Lipscomb voted against hiring the firm, Piper & Marbury. All three oppose the 10-4-1 plan.

"Ms. Ragsdale and I are supposed to pay for that?' said Mr. Lipscomb. "That would be like paying for our own handcuffs.'

Ms. Palmer said the 10-4-1 plan -- which city attorneys likely will be defending in court if it is approved by voters -- is "regressive' and would not increase minority representation on the council.

Ms. Palmer said she believes that U.S. District Judge Jerry Buch-meyer will implement a fairer system than 10-4-1.

Council member Harriet Miers, who is a lawyer, defended the decision to hire an outside law firm.

"We don't pay our city attorneys to be experts in every minute area of the law,' she said.

Assistant City Attorney Paul Pearce said Piper & Marbury has a national reputation for successfully defending other election systems with at-large components.

Council discussion of an unrelated matter was briefly disrupted when about 16 protesters rose from their seats in the audience and put paper bags over their heads. The bags bore hand-painted messages saying that the re-districting plan on Saturday's ballot is unfair to minorities.

The protesters left the council chambers as Mayor Annette Strauss was asking them to remove the bags or be escorted away by police. Outside the chambers, organizers said they simply wanted to register their opposition to the re-districting plan. In recent weeks, some of the same protesters have chanted, sung and worn chains to illustrate their view that the proposal is regressive.

Illustration: PHOTO(S): (The Dallas Morning News: Richard Michael Pruitt) Opponents of the 10-4-1 redistricting plan protest silently by wearing paper sacks over their heads during Wednesday's Dallas City Council meeting.

PHOTO LOCATION: Dallas, Texas-City Council (cf 33086).

Copyright 1989 The Dallas Morning News Company

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Miers barred from a vote by the city council: Conflict of Interest

Housing suit plan backed
But Miers blasts proposed accord
David Jackson, Craig Flournoy Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE
Published: June 21, 1990

A majority of Dallas City Council members emerged from a closed-door meeting late Wednesday and said they were confident that a $118 million proposal finally will settle a landmark public housing desegregation lawsuit. Before discussing the proposal, the council decided to bar City Council member Harriet Miers from participating or from voting.

The decision followed a recent recommendation from City Attorney Analeslie Muncy, who said that Ms. Miers has a conflict of interest because she and her mother own several vacant lots in West Dallas that would benefit from the proposed settlement.

On Wednesday, Ms. Miers said she was "upset about the timing' of Ms. Muncy's recommendation, noting that she has been chairwoman of a council committee appointed to settle the lawsuit since December.

Ms. Miers also blasted the proposed settlement as a "blank check' that would leave city spending in the hands of a federal judge and unfriendly civil rights attorneys.

"If we enter into this agreement, we're turning over many basic city services to a federal court to supervise and to plaintiffs' attorneys who have made a career out of criticizing this city,' she said.

But other council members said Ms. Miers' interpretation of the proposed settlement was wrong.

"We wouldn't allow the judge control over our budget -- that's a deal-breaker,' Glenn Box said. "We wouldn't allow any open-ended costs -- that's a deal-breaker.'

In August, U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer ruled that the city helped build a racially segregated and unequal system of public housing in Dallas, obstructed a 1987 court-approved settlement and now must pay to create a desegregated system.

Judge Buchmeyer also added the city to the list of defendants in the case.

The case began in 1985 when seven poor black women sued the Dallas Housing Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The suit said thousands of federally subsidized apartments here remained segregated by race and are unequal in condition because of discrimination by government officials.

Mr. Box said he was confident the council would vote next week to approve the revised version of the settlement given them orally on Wednesday. Echoing that optimism were Mayor Annette Strauss and council members Lori Palmer, Max Wells, Diane Ragsale and Al Lipscomb.

"It's promising,' said Ms. Ragsdale, deputy mayor pro tem and one of two African-Americans on the council. "I feel hopeful we can get this thing moving.'

Council member Charles Tandy said that although he plans to vote against the settlement, he believes one is close to resolution. "As far as I'm concerned, I'd like to see what the Supreme Court says about it,' he said.

Mr. Lipscomb, the other African-American, said that questions remain but that he was confident they could be answered by Mike McKool Jr., the private attorney representing the city.

"We gave Mr. McKool his marching orders to get with the plaintiffs,' he said.

Mr. McKool said that although the plaintiffs' attorneys have not agreed to "every last provision,' a settlement is near.

"We have general agreement among all the parties,' he said.

Mr. Wells, a banker, said he wanted more information about the plan's financing. But he, too, expressed optimism: "I think we can get there.'

Attorneys for the plaintiffs could not be reached for comment.

Yet Ms. Miers said her colleagues were making a crucial decision about the city's future without having a written copy of the details.

"How can they know what's in it if they don't have a document?' she said.

Other council members said Mr. McKool briefed them in detail using his copy of the proposed settlement. They said all council members will get their own copies Friday, for review before next Wednesday's vote.

Under the latest settlement offer, the city would spend about $118 million over the next eight years to upgrade conditions in and around Dallas' minority-occupied public housing projects and to increase the supply of housing for poor families, according to Mr. McKool and Mr. Charles Tandy.

The plan would establish a low-income housing fund totaling $22 million, according to Mr. McKool.

However, Mr. McKool said that the number of apartments that will be renovated or demolished and replaced at the mostly vacant and dilapidated West Dallas public housing project has "not been pinned down.'

Judge Buchmeyer has scheduled a hearing to begin Monday to assess damages if the city and the plaintiffs cannot agree on a settlement. But council members said they are confident the judge will delay that hearing a few more days to allow a vote two days later.

Illustration: PHOTO(S): 1. Harriet Miers; 2. Analeslie Muncy; 3. Glenn Box; 4. Diane Ragsdale

PHOTO LOCATION: 1. Miers, Harriet. 2. Muncy, Analeslie. 3. Box, Glenn. 4. Ragsdale, Diane.

Copyright 1992 The Dallas Morning News Company

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Meirs fundraising in the runoff

Coffers of Poss, Miers top rivals'
Data show Place 5, 9 hopefuls' funds at least double runoff opponents'
James Ragland Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE
Published: May 13, 1989

Community volunteer Mary Poss has raised nearly twice as much money as lawyer Glenn Box in their race for the Place 5 seat on Dallas City Council, but she has bankrolled nearly half the campaign with her own money, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday.

And in the Place 9 at-large council race, lawyer Harriet Miers has raised more than five times as much as her runoff opponent, insurance executive Jim Garner. The four candidates were required to file the campaign reports eight days before the May 20 runoff election.

The reports, which cover campaign contributions and expenditures between April 28 and May 12, show that Mrs. Poss, a former bank executive, raised $16,470 -- including a $10,000 personal loan -- and spent about $20,252 during that period.

Mr. Box had not filed his report with the city secretary by late Friday but said he had mailed the report. Mr. Box said he raised about $4,000 during the latest filing period and spent about $7,000.

Since the beginning of the year, Mrs. Poss has raised about $100,319 -- including $42,000 in personal loans to her campaign -- and spent about $97,092. During that period, Mr. Box has raised about $56,000 -- including about $10,000 in personal loans -- and spent about $61,000.

In the Place 9 contest, Ms. Miers collected about $29,660 in the latest filing period and spent about $23,000.

Mr. Garner did not file a report Friday but said he had raised and spent about $10,000.

Since January, Ms. Miers has raised about $174,000 -- including a $20,000 bank loan -- and spent about $138,000. Mr. Garner has raised and spent about $42,000.

In the May 6 election, Ms. Miers topped all candidates in the Place 9 race by capturing 40.1 percent of the vote. Mr. Garner came in second with 27.6 percent.

In the Place 5 race, Ms. Poss finished first with 47.6 percent of the vote, followed by Mr. Box with 28.1 percent.

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Miers, Garner face runoff in Place 9

Miers, Garner face runoff in Place 9
James Ragland Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE
Published: May 7, 1989

Jim Buerger scored a decisive victory Saturday in winning the at-large Place 10 seat on the Dallas City Council, while the citywide contest for Place 9 will be decided in a May 20 runoff.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting unofficially, Mr. Buerger had 56.9 percent of the total vote. The next highest vote-getter was former Dallas Police Chief and former Sheriff Don Byrd, with 30.8 percent. In Place 9, lawyer Harriet Miers led the field with 40.1 percent. Civic leader Milton Tobian conceded the second runoff spot to insurance executive Jim Garner in a statement at 11:05 p.m. Mr. Garner had 27.6 percent, while Mr. Tobian had 24.8 percent.

Mr. Tobian said he has not decided whom to support in the runoff but said Mr. Garner already has asked to meet with him.
"I need to think about it,' Mr. Tobian said. "I haven't made up my mind yet.'

In Place 10, political analysts had expected the race to be a two-man contest between Mr. Buerger and Mr. Byrd.

But as results trickled in late Saturday, Mr. Buerger's early lead continued to grow. At 10:45 p.m., Mr. Byrd called Mr. Buerger to concede the race.

"Well, I guess it's all over but the shouting,' Mr. Byrd said from his home.

Mr. Buerger called his election "a victory for Dallas.'

"Dallas has bottomed out,' Mr. Buerger told dozens of supporters at a victory party at the Hyatt Regency. "It's on its way up. I'm committed to making sure every citizen has a chance to be a part of the city. That's the Dallas of the future. Our victory today is a victory for Dallas.'

In Place 9, Mr. Tobian's constituency could be pivotal to the runoff race. Both Mr. Garner and Ms. Miers have said they would like his support.

Mr. Tobian said that both Mr. Garner and Ms. Miers had aggressively sought the more conservative vote, while he was perceived as being the more liberal candidate. The way his constituency votes in the runoff could be a deciding factor, he said.

"Garner and Miers were targeting the same constituency,' he said. "Both were heavily targeting North Dallas.'

Mr. Garner, 44, who ran unsuccessfully in 1983 and 1987 for council seats, had said before Saturday that he thought he could win outright, but Saturday night said he was glad to make the runoff.

"Ms. Miers has outspent me five or six to one,' Mr. Garner said. "We're just pleased to have done so well with the resources we had.'

Ms. Miers said her runoff campaign will mirror her election effort.

"We'll do exactly what we've been doing, talking about the issues the people of Dallas care about, creating jobs for our people, an educational system we can be proud of, adequate and affordable housing and basic city services,' she said.

As for getting Mr. Tobian's endorsement, Ms. Miers said, "We'll take any endorsement we can get.'

Ms. Miers, 43, was elected the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association in 1985. She led the pack in fund-raising and said she had broad-based support.

In Place 10, three other candidates -- retired businessman and self-styled taxpayers' advocate Frank Bodzin, 73; retired postal employee Ted Martin, 78; and the Rev. LeRoy White Jr., 32 -- never mounted significant campaigns.

With drugs and crime emerging as the top issues in the race, Mr. Buerger and Mr. Byrd each tried to paint himself as the strongest law-enforcement candidate.

Mr. Byrd, 61, was endorsed by the Dallas Police Association, but Mr. Buerger, 49, countered by aligning himself with top law-enforcement entities in the city, including the Greater Dallas Crime Commission.

Mr. Byrd was acquitted on a charge of driving while intoxicated in 1983, but lost his bid for re-election to a second term as Dallas County sheriff in 1984. He said he has quit drinking alcohol but believes the previous DWI incident tainted his image.

"I was a tarnished candidate to start with,' he said. "But I think we've overcome a lot of that.'

Mr. Buerger, who spent about $1 million in an unsuccessful bid for mayor two years ago, is chairman of the mayor's Adopt-A-Block Commission -- a campaign that he designed to fight the root causes of crime in inner-city neighborhoods.

Staff writers Kevin B. Blackistone, Nancy Kruh and Gayle Reaves contributed to this report.

Illustration: PHOTOS 1.As a young supporter of Harriet Miers, Jordan Smith, 7, plays with a balloon, Idelle Rabin congratulates Ms. Miers (right) Saturday night. (DMN - John Rhodes) 2.Jim Buerger watches election returns at his campaign headquarters Saturday night. (DMN - Juan Garcia)

LOCATION: 1. Miers, Harriet (cf 31372). 2. Buerger, Jim (cf 31369).

Copyright 1989 The Dallas Morning News Company

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Miers as City Council candidate

Council candidates spar at forum
James Ragland Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE
Published: May 17, 1989

Place 9 Dallas City Council rivals Harriet Miers and Jim Garner and Place 5 hopefuls Mary Poss and Glenn Box squared off at separate Dallas Press Club "hot seat' forums Tuesday as a prelude to the runoff election Saturday.

The candidates spent less time at debating the issues than challenging each other's background and experience and questioning the significance of each other's endorsements. Ms. Miers and Mr. Box touted their endorsements announced Tuesday by the Dallas Firefighters Association, while Mrs. Poss and Mr. Garner boasted of their backing by the Dallas Police Association.

All four candidates agreed that public safety is the No. 1 issue in the city.

In the Place 9 at-large contest, Ms. Miers said that her first-place finish in the May 6 election showed that her support was citywide and "a mile deep.' She collected 40.1 percent of the vote; Mr. Garner came in second with 27.6 percent.

Calling crime her top concern, Ms. Miers said she would work to reduce it by hiring more police officers and stimulating economic development to create more jobs.

Mr. Garner said crime also is his top priority. He said he supports hiring more police officers and expanding community-based police efforts such as Operation CLEAN, a strategy that involves dislodging drug dealers by saturating drug-infested areas with officers.

Ms. Miers also said she supports development of a downtown mall, perhaps by using city funds. Mr. Garner said a downtown mall is not a priority for him and he opposes using city funds for such a project.

He also said he would have "difficulty' in supporting payment of the estimated $1.8 million in operating costs for the new Dallas symphony center, which has almost doubled in cost from its original estimate, while Ms. Miers said she would support the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.

On DART, Mr. Garner said he believes the embattled transit agency ought to return 25 percent of its revenues to member cities. He also said he opposes DART's possible use of the Santa Fe railroad line in East Dallas.

Ms. Miers said she believes Dallas Area Rapid Transit should be given a chance to work, and she said she opposes use of the Santa Fe railroad line through East Dallas but believes it could be used if a consensus of neighborhood residents supported the option.

Both candidates said they support a plan to restrict alcohol at Dallas parks, and both said they oppose a proposed 5 percent surcharge on tickets at Fair Park to finance the South Dallas/Fair Park Economic Development Trust Fund.

In the Place 5 contest, both candidates agreed that crime is the No. 1 issue. But the most volatile issue was DART's proposed use of the Santa Fe railroad line.

Mr. Box, who finished second to Ms. Poss May 6, accused her of waffling on the issue.

Both candidates said they opposed use of the Santa Fe because residents oppose it and it was not included in the original DART plan approved by voters in 1983.

Mr. Box said he would work to defeat DART if the agency proposed using the Santa Fe line, while Mrs. Poss said she was undecided.

"That decision will be made June 27' when DART's new service plan is due, Mrs. Poss said. "I have not made that decision. DART needs a mass transit system.'

Said Mr. Box: "The citizens of Dallas need to know that DART will keep its promises. If they're going to go back on their word, the citizens of Dallas ought to have a chance to vote again.'

Illustration: PHOTO(S): (DMN: Milton Hinnant) 1. City Council Place 9 candidate Jim Garner makes a point as opponent Harriet Miers takes notes Tuesday during a Dallas Press Club "hot seat' forum.; 2. Mary Poss . . . says she has not decided whether to work to defeat DART if the agency proposes using the Santa Fe line.; 3. Glenn Box . . . accuses his opponent of waffling on DART's possible use of the Sante Fe rail line for rapid transit.

PHOTO LOCATION: 1. Garner, Jim (cf 31510). 2. Poss, Mary (cf 31510). 3. Box, Glenn (cf 31510).

Copyright 1989 The Dallas Morning News Company

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HARRIET MIERS Reflections of a lawyer-politician Part 2 of 2

Would she have run for City Council this fall if she had not been elected State Bar president? Miss Miers sidesteps the question adroitly, saying the chance to head the bar "was really a very good solution to what would have been a very difficult question. I couldn't have run (for council) as an at-large candidate,' since, under 14-1, only the mayor is elected citywide. But some of her friends think she may feel some relief at leaving council politics. "My personal sense is, that could be the case,' says Dallas attorney Darrell Jordan. "Harriet has not told me that. I'd imagine she feels comfortable dealing almost exclusively with legal issues.

There'll be some politics, too, but . . . I get the feeling she's pleased that that chapter in her life is coming to a close.' Ms. Miers views the State Bar presidency as a "once in a professional lifetime' chance. It is one that promises its own share of headaches, coming at a time when lawyer-bashing seems to be in vogue. "I told her it was almost a thankless task she was about to engage in,' says Dallas attorney Hayden Cooper. "We have so many lawyers and so many problems.' One major issue, that of requiring Texas lawyers to do a given amount of pro-bono work, will be due for a State Bar report to the Legislature during Ms. Miers' term. Pro-bono always has been one of her pet concerns. "I have a very strong belief in the justice system and that it can work,' she says. "I think the participants in the system have a tremendous obligation to make it work.' She often frets that "we are losing a generation of children' in the fraying fabric of social injustices.

Ms. Miers, who was tapped to run by the State Bar's board of directors, won with nearly 55 percent of the vote. Some 20 percent of the lawyers in Texas are women, and doubtless many of them felt it was high time for a woman to head the State Bar. Still, Ms. Miers - ran against a male candidate from lawyer-heavy Houston, and she was no shoo-in for election. "I never saw her gender as a disadvantage (in the race),' says Mr. Jordan, who served as State Bar president in 1989-90. "But it's not necessarily an advantage, either.' The legal fraternity is still, in many cases, just that. To some male lawyers, Ms. Miers notes dryly, her candidacy "was a hard pill for them to swallow. "When there hasn't been a woman president before, that's an issue ,' she says. "(But) it will never be talked about again.' "As far as the good ol' boys,' says John Estes, a partner in Locke Purnell, "yes, you've got diehards here and yonder. But most lawyers have accepted women in the profession.' While she enjoys bei ng a role model for women lawyers, the quiet, ladylike Ms. Miers nevertheless has a strong traditionalist streak. "She's been able to retain her femininity while bashing down walls,' says friend Charlene Howell. "I think of her as steel and silk.' "An ir on fist in a velvet glove,' says Mr. Cooper. "In my judgment, part of her achievements are attributable to her not being a feminist,' says Morris Harrell, dean of Dallas trial lawyers and also a partner in Locke Purnell. Then he pauses to reconsider: "He ll, maybe she is a feminist. I don't know.' "She is in no way a militant,' her friend Ann Simmons says. "You wouldn't find her marching in a demonstration or carrying a picket sign . . . She is conservative.' Ms. Miers' professional success is "something she made herself,' Mr. Estes says. "She's a remarkable person and a remarkable woman.In that order.' *

Away from the demands of council chambers and law office, Ms. Miers tries to save a little space for herself. She still loves to play tennis, but seldom can make time for a match. She does manage to get in some jogging, though not as often as she thinks she should. She enjoys reading for pleasure, but is snowed under by legal briefs and council documents. Her council work and State Bar duties have superseded some of her civic involvement. Ms. Miers has some 50 credits on her resume, including the YWCA board, League of Women Voters, Greater Dallas Chamber and SMU Law School Board of Visitors.

Though she likes movies, she only occasionally escapes to a theater. She does, however, entertain at home, and says with a laugh that some of her more frequent guests "probably get tired of seeing my vegetable casserole and my cheesecake.' She has never married, but she has, as her mother puts it, "been keeping company' with Judge Hecht for several years. Ms. Miers is close to her family and especially dotes on her seven nieces and nephews, one of whom currently shares the house with her and a lively little terrier, Susie-Q. Having children of her own is "clearly something that you miss,' she admits. "It's kind of a matter of choices. You decide at the time what seems to be the right thing for you. "I would not change the choices I have made. I do love children, and I think families are extremely important. That is something I certainly would have, I'm sure, enjoyed if it had happened that way earlier . . . (But) I don't have regrets about not taking a different direction.' - Harriet Miers doesn't believe in wasting much time on might-have-beens. As she says, with quiet certainty, "I just really believe I've been extremely fortunate.'
PHOTO(S): 1. Harriet Miers at the offices of Locke Purnell Rain Harrell 2. Harriet Miers (1 2. DMN: Juan Garcia) 3. Harriet Miers with supporters during her '89 run for City CouncilCHART(S): Self Portrait: Harriet Ellan Miers (DMN)PHOTO LOCATION: 1. NR(C). 2. Oversize Photo File, 7 91. 3. Miers, Harriet.
1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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HARRIET MIERS Reflections of a lawyer-politician Part 1 of 2

Joyce Saenz Harris THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL) Published: JULY 28, 1991

Depending on who is talking, there seem to be three women named Harriet Miers in Dallas. One is the hard-nosed career lawyer, a partner in the Dallas firm of Locke Purnell Rain Harrell, who has just become the first woman president-elect of the State Bar of Texas. This Harriet Miers is a commercial litigator with a reputation for being tough, smart and shrewd. She is a tireless champion of the law, one who yearns to set society's wrongs aright.

Another Harriet Miers is finishing her two-year term as an at-large member of the Dallas City Council. To her colleagues, she often comes across as dour, cold, uncompromising and uncommunicative -- a maverick and a cipher.

And then there is the Harriet Miers her friends and family know, the one who seldom reveals herself to fellow council members. This one is warm, sensitive, humorous, loyal, the favorite aunt of everyone's children. She is a model of self-sacrifice, a woman whose moral code will not allow her to act against her conscience.

Which is the real Harriet Miers? * The answer is elusive. For Harriet Miers essentially is a shy person with a protective layer of quiet, unassuming reserve.

Over time, she also has developed a lawyerly caginess that enables her to play her cards -- personal, political and professional -- very close to the vest. She weighs her words judiciously, seldom allowing an incautious phrase to escape. "People who see Harriet as a litigator don't see her tender, personal side,' says Nathan Hecht, a Texas Supreme Court judge and a close friend. "And family and friends don't see her going into the courtroom to duke it out.' The vast difference in perception is most marked when Ms. Miers' council career is the subject. "I know her less today than I did the day after she was elected (in 1989),' says Jerry Bartos, a City Council colleague who frequently has been Ms. Miers' opponent. "I'd say she is the consummate loner.' "She's independent. She's a thinker, not a clone,' counters council member Al Lipscomb, who also has had run-ins with Ms. Miers. - "She's a very independent thinker,' echoes Mayor Annette Strauss.

But, in acknowledging Ms. Miers' "loner' status, the mayor gives a Zen-like answer: "It is difficult -- because the right answer is not right for everybody.' For Harriet Miers in particular, two years in political office seemed to hold few right answers. She regards her council service, as she does most things in life, as an educational experience. But she admits it's been frustrating. "The most disappointing aspect about being in public office has been observing the impact of politics,' she say s. "You see decisions that are more political than what I might view as the right result.' Ms. Miers, 45, gives the impression she might have been happier if the City Council had worked more like a courtroom. She is most comfortable within the legal system, within its codified precedents and presentations of fact-based logic.

But on Dallas' City Council there were, as she puts it, "Eleven different people with 11 different agendas.' Personalities clashed, and questions of fact and logic often surrendered to raw emotion and ego.

As an at-large representative, Ms. Miers says, "I'm committed to make decisions based on the facts of the particular issue, and what I believe is in the best interest of the city.' She pauses, firmly setting her small, square jaw: "Not one part of the city, but the entire city.' "When she said she was running to represent all of Dallas, she meant it,' says Judge Hecht. "She took the job, viewing the people of Dallas as her client, and she tried to represent them all.' To some, however, she seemed to play the role of devil's advocate. "There was no communication, no coalition,' Mr. Bartos says, citing Ms. Miers' coolness toward fellow council members. "In politics, you have to build coalitions, and you have to communicate.' His blunt assessment of her effectiveness on the council: "Zero.' Mr. Lipscomb says, more diplomatically, that Ms. Miers' "toughness might have repulsed some of the men' on City Council. "She picks up on details. Nothing gets past her,' he says. "She's not a person that you can predict -- but that is her right.' Ms. Miers has a reputation for studying issues carefully before she votes. But she has switched her stance on some crucial issues, and council insiders perceived her moves as indecisiveness. Such key votes included the city's stand on the Wright Amendment; the public-housing desegregation lawsuit settlement; and Dallas' recent, bitter redistricting battles.

Two months ago, Ms. Miers publicly criticized the fact that council members fought to preserve their districts under the 14-1 plan. Her attitude, while idealistic, struck some observers as a bit naive. Says Mr. Lipscomb: "That is a political reality in all redistricting. The incumbents always try to protect themselves.' Ms. Miers reviews her own council term in typically dispassionate fashion. "I'd like to say I'm not doctrinaire,' she says. "I'm not going to be influenced by how my vote is perceived. "I want to be respected, and I want to be viewed as being true to my convictions,' she adds, her flat Texas drawl turning steely. "But I don't much care what people think. I can't afford to.' * She may never win the title of "Most Popular' on the City Council. But Harriet Miers' friends think she's wonderful. - The Rev. Ronald Key, pastor of Valley View Christian Church, says Ms. Miers is "not above doing the small things to serve others. She would come up Sunday mornings to make coffee for t he Sunday-school classes.' Ms. Miers has served on the missions committee and taught children's classes, and she continues to do pro-bono legal work for her church.

Other friends describe Ms. Miers as always kind, generous and thoughtful. "She's very low-keyed and puts the spotlight on others, not on herself,' says Ann Simmons, executive director of the Dallas Bar Foundation and a friend of Ms. Miers' for nearly two decades. "People will come to her for advice, and she is a good listener. "I've heard people say she's a loner,' Ms. Simmons adds. "That image comes from not jumping on the bandwagon with the majority, or with the most popular idea. She has th e courage to stand for her beliefs -- even if she's the only one standing there. "Harriet does not act on emotion, but on intellect. That's not to say she doesn't feel things deeply. But she's a very rational-type person.' Moreover, friends say, she serv es her profession and her city without self-aggrandizement and without regrets for the private cost such commitment exacts. "I don't think she'd expose herself to the rigors of public life unless she were doing it as an opportunity to express her persona l beliefs, her convictions and what's important in life,' says Rev. Key. "She has a very quiet, substantive way of expressing her faith.' "One of the great mistakes City Council made the last two years was to waste the time and energy of Harriet Miers,' says Charlene Howell, a friend and campaign worker. "There were so many things she wanted to do for the city.' Ms. Miers' City Council service has "taken a toll on her, I can tell,' says Ms. Simmons. "She has really given of herself. She sacrificed her personal life . . . but she keeps on hanging in there.' * She was born in Dallas at the very start of the baby boom, just before V-J Day 1945. Harris and Sally Miers had five children spread over some 20 years. Harriet Ellan was their fourth and a blond, "perfect angel,' her mother says. "She never disobeyed. Her mind was always open to instruction and learning,' Mrs. Miers says with pride. "There was no "teen-age' period with Harriet.' The family lived in North Dallas, and Harriet graduated from Hillcre st High School in 1963. Though she enjoyed athletics and lettered in girls' tennis, she was socially shy and unsure of her talents. "I never had the natural ability to be brilliant,' she says, self-deprecatingly. Yet she was a dedicated student who eventually earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics at SMU. As a girl, she had dreams of becoming a physician. "Being a medical doctor was my view of the most service-oriented profession in which you could be involved,' Ms. Miers says, a little wistfully. "I really came out of high school believing I wasn't bright enough to be a doctor. Career days at high school, you just got no encouragement.' Much later, after she had become a lawyer, she realized she was indeed bright enough to have tackled medicine. But by then, she says, "I had so much invested in the legal education, I just - concluded it would be irresponsible to throw all that away.' Instead, she financially assisted her younger brother, Jeb Stuart Miers, in becoming a physician himsel f.

In 1964, Harris Miers had suffered a severely disabling stroke that left his wife, Sally, to pick up the pieces of his real-estate business. Meanwhile, Harriet completed her freshman year at SMU, but there was no money for her sophomore year. She had resigned herself to leaving college and taking a job at Texas Instruments. "My mother,' Ms. Miers says, "was so troubled by the fact that I was going to have to drop out that she called the school and explained the situation. The school officials at SMU were wonderful.' The administration put Harriet on scholarships, financial aid and a work-study job -- "so I got to go back.' Still, it "was a horribly difficult time for Mother,' Ms. Miers remembers. Mr. Miers was virtually helpless and, after he wa s released from the hospital, his wife cared for him at home until his death in 1973. The business, medical and legal issues surrounding Mr. Miers' disability were thorny and unfamiliar to his wife. "But she wound up finding a wonderful lawyer who was really her salvation, in terms of . . . being able to hold onto some of what my father had been involved in,' Ms. Miers says. "There's no question that the family owes a tremendous debt to that lawyer. "It was also a lesson,' she adds, "that there's powe r in the law.' * Her mother's struggle was one thing that pushed Harriet toward SMU Law School. Another was that none of her alternatives seemed very alluring.

Her work-study job had given her experience as a data processor in the fledgling computer field, but she wanted a "more people-oriented' career. She was qualified to teach, but found her student-teaching at W.W. Samuell High School "very sobering . . . I had some very bad experiences during that semester. "That left law school. So that's where I went.' Of the 140 students in her law-school class, she was one of perhaps a dozen women. She worked on the Southwestern Law Journal and Moot Court Board and pledged Kappa Beta Pi, a women's law sorority. She spent the summer of 1969 in San Francisco, clerking for the firm of famed trial lawyer Melvin Belli.

When she earned her law degree in 1970, the firm of Belli, Ashe offered her a job in San Francisco. But "family and people that I care about' kept her in Dallas, and for the next two years she clerked for Judge Joe E. Estes in U.S. District Court.employs nearly 200 lawyers.) Clerking for Judge Estes also got Ms. Miers interested in litigation. When she came to Locke Purnell, she was first put to work on corporate-law cases, which she didn't enjoy much. Then came some cases in commercial litigatio n, and it became her specialty.

Her success led the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers to name her its outstanding member in 1979.

Part of the reason Ms. Miers liked commercial litigation was her sense that it was a field where one could win cases on cold facts, - and "you're dependent less on theatrics.' Eventually, she found that "there is emotional involvement in commercial cases,' too. But she doesn't always need to perform with L.A. Law-style flair, since her cases -- which may involve corporations or individuals -- often are mediated or settled out of court. "I have never seen myself as involved in drama or talented as an actress or anything like that,' Ms. Miers says, referring to courtroom histrionics. "My older sister was involved with drama, and I've always drawn a comparision between the two of us . . . I don't believe I have an artistic bone in my body.' Still, her legal career has forced her to overcome her natural shyness, to develop a certain strait-laced combativeness that has carried over into her political life as well. "Harriet's a very persuasive speaker, and that's a colossal development in her career, ' says Dallas attorney Barbara Lynn. "She was very shy and soft-spoken. Now she's tough and quick on her feet.That was a struggle for her.' * Many friends and colleagues admire Ms. Miers for breaking down barriers in the legal profession: She was the first female lawyer hired by a major Dallas firm and, in 1985, the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association. As the first woman president-elect of the State Bar of Texas, she now is preparing to serve as president in 1992-93.
PHOTO(S): 1. Harriet Miers at the offices of Locke Purnell Rain Harrell 2. Harriet Miers (1 2. DMN: Juan Garcia) 3. Harriet Miers with supporters during her '89 run for City CouncilCHART(S): Self Portrait: Harriet Ellan Miers (DMN)PHOTO LOCATION: 1. NR(C). 2. Oversize Photo File, 7 91. 3. Miers, Harriet.
1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company

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