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A Few Goings On …

23 days until the blogging calendar opens up some more. In the meantime ...

» Sen. Mario Gallegos still in grave condition today.

» Mayor Parker recommends Janiece Longoria for Port Commish, while Jack Morman seems to want Steve Stewart. Interesting since the Longoria-Corgey fight over a board spot was a notable loss for the Mayor in 2010. Also interesting since it may not be a given that she wins this fight.

» The Republican candidate for Ft. Bend County Commissioner is nailed for voting twice in two states for the same election back in 2008. As a fan of the incumbent County Commissioner Richard Morrison, I could not be more pleased by this. And it bears pointing out that the single biggest restriction that Republicans want to put on voters would have done absolutely nothing to prevent it.

» I'm woefully behind on catching up with Kuff's interviews on bonds and referendums on this year's ballot. Any supporters of them, feel free to start swaying me. My starting point for things like that is generally negative and the only solid "Yes" so far is Prop D, the Library bond, (nerd that I am) and the city's Prop 1 & 2 that clean up the charter.

» El Paso schools find innovative ways to game the test.

» Oh, and there was a debate of moderate importance the other night. Funny how Republicans suddenly insist upon a Vice President being polite. We've come a long way since 2004.


Hard-Hitting Stuff …

» Chron: A year after election, Precinct 2's Morman has 'sea legs'

Andi Morman, the commissioner's wife and a high school economics teacher, said her husband vents less about work these days. He's able to solve problems in a way he couldn't in the courtroom. "If it's a Precinct 2 issue and it's something that needs to be fixed, I can go out and fix or make sure it gets fixed," he said. "That's refreshing."

The biggest family change in the last year, Andi Morman said, has been their schedule, though she has welcomed the chance to get more involved in community events. The Mormans' kids, Jordan, 5, and Jack, 3, have welcomed that, too - they were thrilled to ride in parades, for instance. They are less excited by their father's many evening and weekend phone calls.

Consider this to be either a datapoint against the "liberal media" mythology ... or a suggestion that John Williams is secretly ghost-writing homilies on the elected class for other reporters at the Chronicle.


Interim Map for Harris County Commissioners Court

We have an interim map for the county. Here's a first attempt at filling in the blanks of Dave's Redistricting App with the map shown in the judge's order (pdf). Click the image below for a bigger view. I'm in the process of Google-fying the map for later today. For now, Pct 2 is the darker blue of the districts.

It's basically a status quo map that does away with the population deviations, making it suitable for 2012 purposes. The outcome of the full Section 2 lawsuit is still pending. You can get a visual sense of the difference from the plan that passed Commissioners Court here.

Since Precinct 2 is the district under the most dispute, here's what it looks like under this map:

Pct 2 Demographics

Total Population

Hispanic ... 61.1%
Anglo ...... 27.0%
Afr-Am ...... 8.5%
Asian ....... 2.4%
Other ....... 1.1%

Voting Age Population

Hispanic ... 56.3%
Anglo ...... 31.4%
Afr-Am ...... 8.8%
Asian ....... 2.6%
Other ....... 0.9%

The baseline for the map was 60.0% Total Population Hispanic and 55.2% Voting Age Hispanic. Both of those bars are cleared by more than a full point.

The most relevant election data for the district is as follows:

CONTEST       D       R     WINNER
2010-GOV ... 49.7 - 48.5   Bill White
2008-PRES .. 47.6 - 52.4   John McCain
2008-SEN ... 51.3 - 46.8   Rick Noriega


Harris County Redistricting: The Demographics [UPDATE]

I'm still refining the Google version of the Harris County Commissioner Precinct map. For now, though, here are the demographics, reformatted from the PDF map of the draft plan ...

         Anglo            Hispanic         Afr-Am            Asian
1 Total 187,320 (18.0%)  392,565 (37.7%)  400,005 (38.4%)   55,840 ( 5.4%)
  18+   161,903 (21.4%)  251,869 (33.4%)  291,693 (38.6%)   45,263 ( 6.0%)

         Anglo            Hispanic         Afr-Am            Asian
2 Total 310,908 (31.4%)  566,738 (57.2%)   81,577 ( 8.2%)   26,037 ( 2.6%)
  18+   248,936 (35.7%)  366,570 (52.5%)   58,219 ( 8.3%)   19,642 ( 2.8%)
  CVAP  260,519 (50.4%)  194,774 (37.7%)   48,851 ( 9.4%)   12,349 ( 2.4%)

         Anglo            Hispanic         Afr-Am            Asian
3 Total 416,970 (40.0%)  356,206 (34.2%)  149,009 (14.3%)  113,576 (10.9%)
  18+   327,376 (43.2%)  235,551 (31.1%)  103,277 (13.6%)   86,772 (11.4%)

         Anglo            Hispanic         Afr-Am            Asian
4 Total 434,628 (42.8%)  356,031 (35.0%)  144,754 (14.2%)   73,095 ( 7.2%)
  18+   347,415 (47.4%)  228,580 (31.2%)   97,792 (13.3%)   54,280 ( 7.4%)

I added the CVAP numbers for Pct. 2 since it is obviously the one of most interest for Hispanic numbers. I'm hoping to do the same for Pct. 1, but I believe the numbers for Total Population and 18+ Population are demonstrative enough to conclude that it meets the criteria for a VRA district. Expect to hear about this from people with a greater interest than I have in it.

The biggest reason? It's retrogressive. Some context missing from the PDF of the plan is what the district looks like in its current format, as of the 2010 Census data. In order to shed some light on that, I ran those numbers from the Lege Council's data and got the following.

           2001     2010 BASELINE       2011 PROPOSED
          -------   ---------------     ---------------
Total               888,572             991,395
Anglo     (36.9%)   248,481 (28.0%)     310,908 (31.4%)
Hispanic  (52.1%)   533,812 (60.0%)     566,738 (57.2%)
Afr-Am    ( 7.8%)    83,886 ( 9.4%)      81,577 ( 8.2%)   

VAP                 626,274             697,829
Anglo      (41.5%)  203,286 (32.5%)     248,936 (35.7%)
Hisp       (47.6%)  345,683 (55.2%)     366,570 (52.5%)
Afr-Am     ( 7.6%)   58,788 ( 9.4%)      58,219 ( 8.3%)

CVAP                462,610             522,280
Anglo               219,504 (47.4%)     260,519 (50.4%)    
Hispanic            183,729 (39.7%)     194,774 (37.7%)
Afr. Am.             43,701 ( 9.4%)      48,851 ( 9.4%)

First things first, since it's been a while ... if you're wondering how the CVAP count for Anglos can be higher than the 18+ counts for Anglos, read this. It has as much to do with the counts coming from a non-Census survey (the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, to be precise) as it does the fact that datapoints from as far back as 2005 are included in the counts. While it's an obvious curiosity for Harris County in particular, the percentage shares that the ACS gets for Total Pop and 18+ Pop are typically within a couple of points of being in line with the apples-to-apples Census percentages.

The 2001 basis for Commissioner Precincts (taken from here) is how the district looked when it was created last decade. Comparing it to that, it looks like Pct. 2 is improved on Hispanic numbers. But the baseline for comparison should be the 2010 numbers for the existing district. On that basis, this map looks problematic.

At first glance, it seems possible to me that the issue of retrogression could be fixed without necessarily altering the partisan desires of those on Commissioners Court in drawing the district. But if it goes through Commissioners Court as-is, I wouldn't expect it to come out of the other side of the legal process the same way.

ADD-ON: The County Attorney's site now has a link for redistricting info.

SIDENOTE: I know I've written this out somewhere else before, but just a methodological note for CVAP in particular ... the counts are generated by me. My method is to visually check all Census block groups that are fully contained within the district and to make judgment calls on those that are split. In the case of Pct. 2, I feel that the Hispanic numbers are at the high end due to including a higher degree of split block groups that were majority Hispanic than I might otherwise feel comfortable including. From there, I run the list against the Census Bureau's counts for each block group. It's not perfect, but checking it against how the Texas Legislative Council does it for State House districts, it's proven to be a reliably accurate method against that yardstick.

UPDATE: A quick election comparison for the existing Pct. 2 vs the proposed draft Pct. 2 ...

  • Existing Pct, 2 - 2010 results: Bill White won 49.4% - 48.7%
  • Proposed Pct. 2 - 2010 results: Bill White lost 45.6% - 52.6%

Harris County Redistricting: Two Birds, One Stone

ยป Chron: Eversole not ruling out another run for office

Let's face it, political trials are always tricky beasts. You never know when a widely acknowledged con-man or woman is going to get 3 years in prison, or if they'll walk free due to the real crime being what's legal (or, at least, impossible to prove). Such is the case with Jerry Eversole, Harris County's most ethically challenged County Commissioner.

So what if we have Jerry Eversole to kick around again in 2014? Last weekend, I drew what a map might look like if the Commissioners opted to just wash their hands clean of Jerry Eversole. But if that's not the case, then the map might be in need of some tweaking. Maybe.

For the sake of argument, here's a revised version of that previous map, with the "Hispanic district" stretched out include as many Humble precincts as possible to maintain Eversole's old base of support (he now lives in the Heights). Just for good measure, I extended the 1960 boundary along the northwest up to Cypress Creek. Rationale being that if there's any effort to maintain a competitive district for Eversole, he'll likely win the arm-wrestling for a few GOP add-ons. Whether it's those or from somewhere else (or, at all), we shall see. Bottom line is that the previous version of the Hispanic district has been plussed up for a GOP candidate to consider running in.

The result is that the Hispanic district can still be maintained with 55% Hispanic population, Eversole's home precinct, and his Humble electoral base. In this particular drawing, the district is 54% Hispanic, but that likely bumps up a bit once the Census numbers are in. Easy to assume that it's 55% Hispanic by then. Electorally, the district is 57-42 Obama. It may be safe to assume that the district was 50-50 in 2010 considering that the county's baseline vote for Dems dropped about 7 points. In short, this is a toss-up district, a Hispanic district, and allows the other County Commissioners off the hook over whether Eversole should return. It takes care of an awful lot of birds with one stone and essentially lets the voters decide Jerry Eversole's fate in 2014.

If anything, I suspect there may be a requirement to construct a Hispanic opportunity district that is 55% Hispanic among Voting Age Population. That would make Eversole's re-election scenario hazier as the district would get a lot surer for a Democratic candidate as you pack on Hispanic precincts within Harris County.

Morman's district is a bit more GOP friendly (67-32 McCain) while Radack's is still maybe not as much the GOP lock that he might like (58-42 McCain). I'll leave that for them to determine how to split any differences. I don't pretend to know what the dynamics are for the commissioners to want to do something along these lines. But if there's any obstinence by the Justice Department to ensure a Hispanic seat that doesn't retrogress the current situation, it might be something to consider.


Redistricting: First Take for Harris County Commissioner Precincts

First take at what Harris County redistricting might look like for the four County Commissioner precincts. There are some big assumptions that lead to what kind of map you end up drawing for these jurisdictions. Mine assumes that Jerry Eversole is no longer needing to be protected. I don't know if that scenario is warranted, but one thing becomes clear when trying to draw a 2R-2D map - it's awfully hard to defend the argument that the Hispanic population in Harris County is too diffuse for a single opportunity district. The green district below is about what it would take to accomplish that and as you can see, the counterargument may be that it lacks compactness. The connecting precincts in the northeast corner might be a particular issue in need of finessing if this plan were to become a reality.

With Roads:

With blank background:

The composition of the precincts is as follows:

Precinct 1 (purple): Anglo - 16%; Black - 49%; Hispanic - 27%; Asian - 8% // Obama - 82%; McCain - 18%
El Franco Lee maintains a safe African-American opportunity district. The black percentage in the precinct could use some improvement given the numbers available in Dave's Redistricting App, but the population shift within the county may mean that the precinct might need to take on an Anglo Dem area like Meyerland. That'd be defensible as a coalition jurisdiction, especially since I found myself adding Montrose to it in the first place.

Precinct 2 (green): Anglo - 27%; Black - 12%; Hispanic - 58%; Asian - 4% // Obama - 60%; McCain - 39%
The fact that there is no problem drawing a >55% Hispanic district in Texas may force the issue of the partisan composition of the 2011 precincts. Recall that the existing Precinct 2 is a function of the late Commissioner Jim Fonteno. He had represented a Baytown and Crosby region that was historically Democratic in the past, adding Hispanic precincts over time. As demography and partisanship settled, the district grew to the 50-50 swing district that we now know it to be. Trying to find a way to take the basic structure of Pct. 2 and making Jack Morman safer for the next decade will, by default, represent retrogression of the Hispanic population's voting strength. So it makes some sense in this particular scenario to just draw a better Hispanic district and define the Anglo GOP ring around the county more faithfully.

Precinct 3 (pink): Anglo - 61%; Black - 7%; Hispanic - 23%; Asian - 9% // Obama - 40%; McCain - 59%
Knowing that Steve Radack will be the one drawing these lines, I'm not certain that he'll leave things to chance with a district under 60% GOP. So there is some obvious self-interest on his part to seeing the district made a little safer. Noting the situation with intra-county population shift in Pct. 1, losing Meyerland would help a little. Losing Gulfton would help more. We'll see soon enough if the population shift is warranted for that to happen. Otherwise, where Radack & Morman agree to draw the line in Champions Forest is a pretty big open question.

Precinct 4 (orange): Anglo - 69%; Black - 6%; Hispanic - 20%; Asian - 5% // Obama - 33%; McCain - 67%
Nothing terribly surprising about the way this region is put together. About the only anomaly I accounted for was leaving Pasadena fairly whole, as I suspect their city leaders will argue for that and staying whole with the other refinery towns in the southeast. The fact that this district contains a few Hispanic pockets due to this is another telling indicator of the fact that a Hispanic opportunity district for Harris County may be inevitable.

As time permits, I'll try to draw a map that protects three GOP County Commissioners. I expect that to be tough and it should demonstrate the challenges of improving on this from a partisan GOP perspective.


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