Thursday, October 06, 2005

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.'

MAP(S): COUNCIL DISTRICT PROPOSALS: 1.14 S 2.14 T



1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company




1 Comments:

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