|STAFF REPORT: NCSL NATIONAL REDISTRICTING SEMINAR
Report from senior planner Joey Perry regarding the National Redistricting Seminar given by the National Conference of State Legislatures January 26-29, 2001 in Dallas, Texas. Ms. Perry attended the seminar, which was billed as a "cram course on reapportionment and redistricting."
Ms. Perry informed the Commission that the NCSL is not having another of the same kind of seminar she attended, but a conference on redistricting the weekend of March 23rd. At approximately the same time, the Rose Institute is planning on doing some other type of redistricting seminar that is not related to, but coincides with the NCSL.
Ms. Perry began her presentation with a hand-out for the Commission, and by informing them that the NCSL held their semi-annual redistricting seminar in Dallas, the weekend of January 26-29, 2001.
Ms. Perry noted the majority of the states in the United States do not have Redistricting Commissions as we do here in the City; therefore, many of the comments were directed towards legislators who would be drawing the district boundaries themselves. Ms. Perry suggested to keep that in mind while reading through her hand-out. Also, Ms. Perry noted that everyone agreed redistricting is a political process, as well as a mathematical process.
Presentation by Senior Planner Joey Perry:
Ms. Perry wished to begin with the "Advice from the Gurus," who were people involved in redistricting in the past. Ms. Perry stated she would then give information about the census and when census data would be released; briefly talk about complying with the Voting Rights Act; discuss redistricting criteria; and discuss a redistricting simulation exercise she attended. Additionally, Ms. Perry had the opportunity to participate in a mock redrawing of congressional districts in Florida.
Ms. Perry outlined the following advice from people involved in redistricting:
1. Draw a fair plan and one which doesn't defeat incumbents.
2. You can do anything, but you can't do everything.
3. Any change to one district impacts other districts.
4. Every citizen gets to be in a legislative district — however unpleasant it may be.
5. However bad your new district looks, as an elected official, don't complain about your new district out loud.
6. Keep in mind you might get sued.
7. Document everything, and keep it.
8. Loose lips sink ships.
9. Use your attorneys.
10. Must have competent mapping staff.
11. As a legislator, be prepared to spend lots of time at the computer yourself. Be familiar with the data.
12. Show colleagues on computers — one at a time.
13. Try to draw lines as straight as you can.
14. Take lots of testimony.
15. Display maps and take testimony on them.
16. The public should have access to draw maps.
17. Listen to your colleagues so the plan can pass.
18. Have fun!
19. Don't presume to anticipate what really matters to folks. It's always easy to add territory that doesn't add people.
20. Don't underestimate how important a district can be to a legislator.
21. Don't assume the deal is done until the final vote is counted.
22. Watch out for those who want you to do their "dirty work" but won't support your plan.
23. Don't let redistricting matters spill over into other issues.
24. Your friends and allies can become your biggest adversaries.
25. Manage information flow — select variables and data sets based on factors you think are important.
26. Assume you'll make enemies in the process — and no permanent friends.
27. The goal is to get the bill passed. Get other legislators to think about bottom line.
28. Don't become a redistricter unless you are sadistic.
- Ms. Perry went over census data that she expressed had been gone over in October with the Commission. Ms. Perry explained there were three types of census data will be released on a "flow" basis. One is a TIGER file; one is PL94-171 data which is the redistricting data; and the other is the PL104-119 data that is rather new.
- Ms. Perry explained the Census Bureau adjustment decision will be made in late February, and that the senior census staff will be looking at the data from the census, and will be comparing it to the data accuracy coverage survey that occurred after the census.
- Determinations will be made based on census staff recommendations, and director decisions. See chart in hand-out.
- Ms. Perry noted that President Bush and his new Secretary of Commerce do have the ability to block the release of adjusted data.
- Ms. Perry discussed the Office of Management and Budget Federal guidelines for race, and expressed that the racial data that was allowable to fill out was the multi-racial data for the Census 2000; the first major program where multi-racial options were available.
- Populations were categorized with the traditional five categories and in addition, categories for individuals that selected more than one race. See chart in hand-out.
- Groups in local jurisdictions should be included if they make up more than 1% of the population.
- Ms. Perry stated Hispanics are not considered a racial category, but an ethnic category. The City had traditionally subtracted out the Hispanic population first so that we have, e.g., Hispanic population; non-Hispanic white; non-Hispanic black; non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander; non-Hispanic American Indian; and white. Therefore, non-Hispanic would be a separate category.
- Commissioner Camarillo wished to express that there is a significant undercount regarding the Hispanic population, and during categorization people get lost; especially Spanish, or Hispanic.
- Ms. Perry discussed problems with complying with the Voting Rights Act, and that it is somewhat contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment. Ms. Perry expressed the Fourteenth Amendment states that you have to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to vote, "one man - one vote." However, the Voting Rights Act states you need to take into account communities of interest, ethnic groups, and racial groups in drawing boundaries.
- Ms. Perry expressed that getting communities of interest to help develop the plan from their own neighborhoods is better than asking them to draw a whole redistricting plan.
- Ms. Perry noted that the "Gingles" criteria really is part of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, and it is not totally clear whether the City falls under that criteria. The City Attorney is currently looking into that.
- Deputy City Attorney Lisa Foster wished to clarify that the "Gingles" condition clearly does apply to the City under Section Two. Under Section Two, any action the City takes cannot result in any dilution of voting strength of a particular group. Section Five that Ms. Perry referred to has a little bit of controversy which the City Attorney is looking into, and at the next Redistricting meeting Assistant City Attorney Les Girard will speak to that from the City's perspective.
- Ms. Perry suggested it was a good idea for the Commission to identify the redistricting criteria early on, and that of course some of the criteria required to use are identified in the City Charter.
- Ms. Perry summarized the constraints on redistricting; the sources for it; and possible measures of compliance. See chart in hand-out.
- Ms. Perry referred to the traditional redistricting criteria and said that it was listed on the bottom of the chart. Also, in the yellow handout there is an article on how to draw redistricting plans that will stand up in court.
- Lastly, Ms. Perry summarized the "Redistricting Simulation Exercise Summary," and where do you start drawing districts? Ms. Perry stated the last pages of the hand-out (pages 12, 13, 14, and 15) were words of wisdom in response to the questions and answers taken throughout the seminar. Emphasis was on becoming familiar with the information; always have legal counsel with you; be careful of what you say because it can come back to bite you; be cautious of the process and stick to it; document everything; be accessible to the public; define your criteria; know your software plan before you begin; pay your GIS folks well; and very importantly, set deadlines.
- Commissioner Camarillo wished to stress that the Voting Right Acts protect groups as a class — not the elected officials.
REDISTRICTING COMMISSION ACTION: (Tape location: A246-B130.)