A Double-Take on Congressional Redistricting `Democratic’ Legislature Serves the GOP Austin Redistricting the word has grown sour to some throughout the state. In Austin, in the final days of the special session, it was as if the legislators didn’t want to hear it any more. In the House, after two weeks of fighting on the various plans, it was Speaker Billy Clayton who finally pushed a plan through with points of order crushed and the House clock marking away time before the session ended. With only 72 hours left, the time limit pre-set in which the House can still send legislation for final approval to the Senate, the Clayton bill crossed the wire. It was not easy, though. Some loyalist Democrat opposition had held out, using delaying tactics that they seemed to think up as the evening wore on and midnight approached. Had they held out the 72-hour-rule would have applied and they would have killed the bill. Clayton won out at each step, however. And when the final vote was about to be taken, after a two-hour wait between the second and the third, final reading he wasn’t about to let 50 conveniently missing legislators spoil his victory. He ordered sergeants-at-arms and Department of Public Safety officials to find them or at least enough of them to have a quorum, and they did just that. One by one, they brought in five of them, enough for the vote to be taken and the fight was over in the House. In the Senate, there was anticipation of a Lloyd Doggett filibuster. When he stood up to speak against the bill, reporters and spectators alike all searched for a nice place to sit or just to lean. Ruining a Mess .. As the legislature passed the pro-Republican congressional redistricting bill, some of the Democrats relieved their political hysteria with black humor. After the House had passed an even more pro-Republican bill than the Senate had sent over to them, Sen. Carl Parker of Port Arthur said, “Would you agree with that? The House took a sorry bill and ruined it.” By Ruperto Garcia But nothing came. The senator from Austin merely explained what it had come to. “If we send this plan back,” he said, “another one just like it will come back. I suggest that there is little that can be done, here or in another special session.” Then he sat down, after only a few more words of opposition to the plan. It was a token effort for the record; he voiced what loyalist Democrats had thought along the way, but were afraid to admit a Republican Governor had gotten a Democratic House and Senate to support what loyalist Democrats viewed as a Republican plan. “[Clements] deserves great credit for the effective use of his office on the redistricting issue,” said Doggett. Clements said that the plan was “right for Texas.” WEEKS AFTER the redistricting plan has passed, the word still lingers. Soon enough the plan should hit another stage before final approval: review by the U.S. Justice Department. Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department reviews all redistricting plans from states with a history of racial discrimination, which includes Texas. Meanwhile, outside the Justice Department’s door the legal suits are brewing. Already, the Mexican American nounced they feel the plan is discriminatory against Hispanics. Said MALDEF’s San Antonio attorney, Jose Garza, to the Corpus Christi Caller: “The plan discriminates against Mexican-Americans because it fails to ensure a ‘safe’ minority district in either the 23rd district, headed by Abraham `Chick’ Kazen from Laredo, or the new 27th district.” In the new plan, the 23rd would be 53% Hispanic and 4.1% black; the 27th would have 53% Hispanic and 3% black. MALDEF feels that a 64% minority population would give Hispanics a better chance of electing their own congressman. Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department should take into account past percentages of voter turnouts to determine how feasible the election of a minority congressperson actually is within a certain district. The League of United Latin American doorstep to find out whether the redistricting plan will get Justice Department approval. Tony Bonilla, LULAC president, said that LULAC would “protest the reapportionment plan” during the proceedings before the Justice Department. Even Cong. Jim Mattox of Dallas was talking suits “It’s obvious to me that there’s a constitutional challenge in the thing,” he told the Forth Worth StarTelegram. Mattox referred to the placement of Dallas-area blacks in a single district as “segregation, apartheid.” Others, however, are trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. Cong. Bill Patman of Ganado had strong bases of support taken out of his 14th district. Both Nueces and San Patricio counties were removed into the newly created 27th district efficiently removing a large portion of the minority vote. Currently Patman’s district is 39% Hispanic and 6.4% black; under the new plan, there is a 20% Hispanic population in his district, with 11.5% blacks. Milam County, another source of Patman’s Democratic support, was also removed. In its place the southern, conservative half of Williamson County, which includes Round Rock and Georgetown near Austin, was added. Patman’s wife, Carrin, had attended most of the redistricting hearings and . . . A Mere Trifle Millie Bruner, a member of the Democratic National Committee and a staffer of Sen. Oscar Mauzy of Dallas, watched the redistricting sagas as an insider, usually from the side of the Senate chamber on which the press is seated. Realizing that a pro-Republican bill would pass, she said ironically, “I’ve decided I might as well adopt the attitude, ‘Oh, well, it’s only for ten years.’ ” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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