So far, there's been little indication that the council has any interest in reopening the debate over the new council-districts map approved (barely) on October 5 and dispatched to the Department of Justice three weeks later. As you may recall, six council members did ask Mayor Mike Rawlings to add a "redistricting alternative" to the council agenda by no later than December 14. That was on October 27, and since then, nothing -- save for rumors that Delia Jasso's got a new map, which she won't confirm or deny. But ... I do see that Jasso's not about to let it go.
She's written a Letter to the Editor, which appears in today's News, in which she acknowledges she's "persisting in drawing a map that the full Dallas City Council can support -- not with a vote of 9 to 6 -- and that ensures Hispanics are represented." She writes:
I hope the council recognizes that the existing map has diluted the percentage of Hispanic voters in District 1. The narrative that was sent to the Justice Department defines Districts 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 as "safe" for incumbents. An amended map would satisfy Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The 2010 census shows a 42 percent Hispanic population in Dallas. With plenty of time and thought, we could have done a better job of drawing new lines for Districts 1, 3 and 4. Instead, there was a requirement to vote the day a map was introduced.
Adding precincts creates an unproven Hispanic District 1. We can resolve these concerns within 60 days after the Oct. 24 submittal of the map to the Department of Justice, as Voting Rights Act guidelines allow.
Ultimately, the Dallas City Council may vote on an amendment to the map. I feel that I have done as much as possible to correct the imbalanced apportionment of council seats.
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I've got calls out to the mayor's office and Redistricting Project Manager Yasmin Barnes Tolliver to see where Jasso's proposal currently stands. (Update at 11:21 a.m.: Tolliver writes that "the Redistricting Office has not received a new map being referenced in the letter to the editor.")
Update at 12:07 p.m.: Paula Blackmon, Rawlings's chief of staff, confirms that Jasso did indeed "bring over a new amended map to the mayor's office" yesterday.
But, she says, it's not official: "It's a map showing precinct lines being moved with some numbers." She has asked Jasso's office and the Redistricting Office to get together "to make sure it meets the criteria."
But before it could go before council, the council would have to vote to approve suspending rules that keep previously voted-upon items from reappearing on a voting agenda for one year. And 10 members would have to vote in favor of suspending the rules. Then, says Blackmon, "we have 30 days to put it on the agenda, and we're working through that. I will know more later."