In case you haven't noticed, the map that the Redistricting Commission voted to forward to the city council on Tuesday night has one major change: It would place both Vonciel Jones Hill and Dwaine Caraway in District 4, meaning that the two council members would have to run against each other the next election to keep their seats.
"I'm not running against her," said Caraway just now, when we called to ask him what he thought about this whole thing. "Please don't print that. Don't give me an aneurysm, now."
What he meant, of course, was that his district doesn't change, but Hill's would, something that Caraway maintains was deliberately done on the part of Hollis Brashear, the commissioner for District 5 appointed by Hill herself.
"I was safe and happy where I was," he said. "They invaded my house. They invaded my house. So that's something that they did." He said Brashear fought hard to put a small portion of Bar Harbor into District 4 in map 16 -- a portion where Brashear and Hill both live. Basically, Caraway said, "they abandoned their district to come into mine."
It's not that he's concerned about winning any race in the future, Caraway added. What upsets him is the weakened representation for Dallas's black community. When two African-American council members are "pitted together" in one race, he said, African-Americans will lose a council seat. "We lose representation on the planning commission, the park board," he said. "We lose representation on each and every board that comes under that.
How do you put yourself in someone else's area and then not understand that the fact that it's retrogression?" Caraway asked, probably rhetorically. "We went backwards."
A couple of commission meetings ago, longtime activist Marvin Crenshaw, one of the men responsible for 14-1, lectured the African-American commissioners on what he called "fighting among yourselves" and urged them to "get it together." But Caraway, who has attended and spoken at many of those meetings, maintains that Brashear was the only one fighting against the broader black community's interests.
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"There are four African-Americans on the commission, and only one renegade," Caraway said. "... You had one bandit that was out there. You just had one. The African-Americans and the Hispanics and the Anglos had come together, and that's how the unity map was formulated. The only one that was not in attendance to those meetings with the African-Americans, the Hispanics and the Anglos was only Hollis Brashear and his representatives ... We met. We were were together. ... He was the renegade."
Caraway also denied that his presence at the redistricting meetings was meant to sway the process. "You never saw me there at the meeting trying to direct nothing," he said. "I tried to be encouraging, suggest to them to do what we're gonna do, we're gonna work, and my door's going to be open after all this is over so we can see how we're going to work together.
"I think the politics came in with the presentation of District 5," Caraway concluded, "and I do fault District 5 for the loss of a potential African-American seat that we had because they played nothing but ruthless shenanigans. That's where the shenanigans have always been, and that's where they continue to be."
We'll call Brashear and Hill tomorrow to get their thoughts on the shenanigans. Till then, keep in mind: We've been here before.