OBSERVER A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South June 4, 1971 250 Let it slide, Clyde Austin The shrill cry of the outraged politico-bird went echoing through the capitol chambers on May 12, “Redistricting?! They call that redistricting?!” Fort Worth Sen. Don Kennard, with great presence of mind, announced, “A half-wit six-year-old with crayon in hand, blind-folded, could have come up with a better plan.” Other comments from liberal legislators on the House Redistricting Committee’s new congressional map cannot appear here as they violate this publication’s policy on gratuitous obscenity. “Is anybody happy with this plan?” I asked a representative. He meditated deeply and was then seized by inspiration. “Talk to Clyde Haynes,” he said. Rep. Clyde Haynes was the chairman of the congressional redistricting subcommittee. Rep. Clyde Haynes wants to run for Congress. Rep. Clyde Haynes, under the plan drawn by his subcommittee, is now eligible to run for the seat currently held by Cong. John Dowdy. Cong. John Dowdy is ill, under federal indictment for bribery and perjury and has just been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. There are other aspirants to Dowdy’s seat, to wit, Sen. Charles Wilson, former Yarborough aide Benton Musselwhite and Secretary of State Martin Dies, Jr. All three of those gentlemen come from Angelina County. According to the Haynes plan, Angelina County is no longer in Dowdy’s district. REP. BILL BASS of Van Zandt was philosophical about the plan. “I don’t have too much sympathy for these guys who are running around crying,” he said. “The team’s got the power and obviously they’re not going to use it to help their political enemies. Redistricting isn’t justice, it’s politics. We’re all politicians and this is part of the way the game is played.” But the plan affects people as well as politicians. Almost without exception, the House congressional plan siphons off excess urban population to keep rural legislators in office. Under the House plan, incumbents would have to face one another in only one instance Congs. Bob Price and Graham Purcell are drawn into the same district. Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio were especially shafted, according to their delegates. Rep. Zan Holmes of Dallas, a member of the Redistricting Committee who voted against committee approval of the plan, said, “I object because this plan does not start in the cities and move out. . . . The urban areas are being short-changed. We would have only two districts within Dallas proper, for instance, where we have enough population to justify three districts wholly within Dallas County and a total of five in the Dallas-Tarrant County area combined. Even with the new county-line district \(which straddles Dallas and Tarrant districts in Dallas and Tarrant.” All three Houston representatives on the committee Tom Bass, Ray Lemmon and Bill Blythe voted against approving the committee’s plan. The plan originally lumped five congressional districts into a six-county, at-large district with the individual district lines to be drawn later by the full House in floor debate. Rep. Delwin Jones of Lubbock, chairman of the Redistricting Committee, said on the 12th that he would prefer to let a House-Senate . conference committee work out the lines. But when the bill came up for debate on May 20, Jones had prepared a committee amendment which divided up the Houston area to the satisfaction of most of its representatives. A downtown district, including most of Houston’s blacks and chicanos, seems tailored to a congressional campaign by Sen. Barbara Jordan. Congs. Bob Eckhardt and Bob Casey lost only insignificant slices of their districts, and Jack Brooks picked up some hunks of Pasadena. The shifts work against the chances that liberal Sen. Chet Brooks might challenge Casey. The San Antonio delegation was most unhappy Henry Gonzalez’ district in central San Antonio was left intact, but the rest of Bexar County got split up between 0. C. Fisher of San Angelo and Abraham Kazen of Laredo. Rep. Guy Floyd of San Antonio touched off some of the funniest dialogue of the session with his plaints. “Mr. Jones, now look at this district here where you’ve got a great big ball at one end and then a little-bitty strip of land and then a great big ball at the other end,” he lamented. “Now the courts say that the districts have to be compact and
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