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Dallas Redistricting Battle Erupts at City Council

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A proposed redistricting Dallas map would increase the number of predominantly Hispanic City Council districts at the expense of predominantly black districts. (Published Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011)

    The task of drawing new City Council district lines is before the current council, and several members do not like the proposed map.

    A special Redistricting Commission appointed by the City Council devised the recommended map after months of public meetings and input.

    New Redestricting Plan Draws Criticism

    [DFW] New Redestricting Plan Draws Criticism
    A proposed redistricting Dallas map would increase the number of predominantly Hispanic City Council districts at the expense of predominantly black districts. (Published Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011)

    Members of the commission presented their plan to the City Council at a briefing Wednesday.

    It creates a unified district in the Dallas Pleasant Grove Area, which had been carved up into four predominately black districts before.

    The Pleasant Grove area has become predominately Hispanic, and creating that new district puts current black Councilmen Vonciel Jones Hill and Dwaine Caraway in the same district.

    "I do not agree with the map that has been proposed," Hill said.

    "The elevation for more Hispanic representation is in order," Caraway said. "Now, the diminishing of African-American representation is not acceptable, so we have to come to a pretty general compromise on what’s best."

    Results of the 2010 Census show a 20 percent increase in the city's Hispanic population with a decline of just 1.7 percent in the black population.

    The white population declined by 16 percent.

    Of the 14 City Council districts in the proposed map, five are majority Hispanic and three are majority black. One more is a minority-opportunity district where the white population is less than 50 percent.

    "There are eight minority districts and one minority coalition district, which means that by definition, there is no retrogression," said Billy Ratcliff, vice chair of the redistricting commission.

    The current City Council is made up of seven white members, four blacks and three Latinos.

    Two of the white members have been elected from districts that would have a much smaller white population in the new map.

    Councilwoman Pauline Medrano said the council would study the plan in much greater detail over the next few weeks.

    "I think it's a good plan," she said. "I think it's a compromise plan that's been submitted today, and I think there will be some adjustments."

    A final City Council vote on the map is scheduled for Oct. 12.

    The U.S. Justice Department will then review the plan for compliance with the Voting Rights Act, which regulates minority representation.

    Former Dallas County Justice of the Peace Charles Rose warned the council that the black community will take its case to Washington it fails in Dallas.

    "We will be at the Justice Department because the fact is, we expect four black districts," he said.