SALE Extremely Low Financing Available on Repossessed Lands The Veterans Land Board of Texas will have a bid sale on 75 repossessed tracts of land on October 17, 1984, at 10 a.m. in Austin. All tracts are available for bids by veterans and some may be bid on by non-veterans. These lands are located throughout Texas and: are at least 10 acres will be awarded to the highest bidders will be financed by the Veterans Land Board with interest rates as low as 9.25% \(interest rates for nonwill be financed with 30-year assumable, fixed-rate loans Bidders need not be present at the bid opening on October 17. All winners will be notified by mail within one week after the sale. For more information on the tracts available, bid procedures and application forms, please call the Veterans Land Board at: 1-800-252-VETS or 512/475-4704 GARRY MAURO CHAIRMAN VETERANS LAND BOARD declare at-large voting systems illegal and order a change to a non-discriminatory system. In a typical case, the Mexican American community had been trying for years to get the city council in Corpus Christi to change its at-large voting system. According to Juan P. Gonzalez, chairman of the Coalition for Better Government, the system made it almost impossible for Mexican Americans to be elected to the council. In addition to having to win a city-wide vote, council candidates often ran on well-financed tickets which were inaccessible to most minority candidates. “The tickets had the resources to get people elected. If you were not on one of these tickets, you just didn’t have a chance,” said Gonzalez. In 1982, MALDEF filed a lawsuit against the city alleging discrimination in its voting practices. In January of the next year, Judge George Kazen of Laredo declared the at-large system illegal and the two sides worked out a replacement system. The current plan allows for a nine-member city council, with five council seats elected from single-member districts and the mayor and three members elected at-large. Since the change in the system, the makeup of the council has changed dramatically. The former council was made up of four white men, one white woman and one black man. The new council contains three Mexican Americans, one black man, two white women, and three white men. The changes weren’t simply in numbers, said Gonzalez. “There has also “It opens up the opportunity for blacks and hispanics to participate in political discussions on the local level.” been a dramatic change in the type of people being nominated to boards and commissions. There is more concern about issues related to the Hispanic community, things which would not have received much attention from the previous council.” Gonzalez went on to say that he believes the new system has received a warm reception from most of the parties involved. “There seems to be a consensus among all the council members, even the members who served under the old system, that this plan works a lot better, that it provides better representation.” WHETHER A city or school district abandons a discriminatory at-large election sys tem because of a dilution lawsuit, preclearance, . or a voluntary effort to comply with the Voting Rights Act, a change in the system almost always leads to an increase in the election of minorities. Nine of the ten major cities in Texas have now discontinued use of at-large voting, and minority representation has increased. \(The exception is suit. When Lubbock went to single member districts last year, a Mexican American and a black were added to the council, which has historically contained no minority members. In Port Lavaca, New Braunfels, and Pleasanton, Mexican Americans also were added to allwhite city councils. Helen Gonzales, an attorney in the MALDEF office in Washington, believes the new systems promote new interest in the minority community. “It has a very positive impact. It opens up the opportunity for blacks and Hispanics to participate in political discussions on the local level, either by electing minority candidates or majority candidates who are concerned with issues affecting the minority communities.” In addition to forcing change through lawsuits under Section II of the Voting Rights Act, the act also monitors changes in election systems. This is done through Section V of the act, a process known as preclearance. When any political subdivision under the jurisdiction of the Voting Rights Act votes to change its election system, it must submit the changes to the Justice Department for approval prior to the changes taking effect. If the Justice Department decides the changes would dilute minority voting strengths, the department can refuse to “clear” the change and the current election system would remain in effect. According to the ACLU report on Voting Rights, this provision was necessary because lawsuits are not always effective enough in eliminating voting discrimination. Also, when the courts ruled against a voting procedure, local jurisdictions would often simply switch to a new discriminatory device. The report goes on to cite the case of the all-white primary in Texas. “From 1927 to 1953,” says the 18 SEPTEMBER 14, 1984
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