Thursday, October 06, 2005

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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1:39 PM  

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