Tag Archives: census

Legislature stiffs voters ‘of color’

Well, here we go.

Texas will gain two congressional seats as a result of the 2020 census. Who drove the state’s stunning population increase? Black and Latino residents, that’s who.

Are they going to reap any of the political reward for choosing to make Texas their home? Oh, no. The Texas Senate has hammered out a congressional redistricting map that does a fine job of protecting Republican (and overwhelmingly white) incumbents. There isn’t likely to be any majority African-American or Latino districts when all is finished.

That’s representative democracy at among its worst.

To be fair, it is important to note the bipartisan nature of this exercise that occurs every decade when they take the census. Democrats did the same thing to protect their own when they ran things in Austin. Now it’s Republicans’ turn. They have perfected gerrymandering, turning it into an art form.

However, it is galling to me to watch the Legislature stiff the ethnic and racial minorities who came to Texas voluntarily, to make it their home and for them to be denied any sort of political reward.

The Texas Tribune reports: In anticipation of federal challenges to the map, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who presides over the Senate, said in a statement Friday that the proposal approved by the chamber was “legal and fair” and represented a “commitment to making sure every Texan’s voice is heard in Washington, D.C.”

Texas Senate approves new congressional map protecting GOP incumbents | The Texas Tribune

Actually, Lt. Gov. Patrick, “every Texan’s voice” is not going to be heard equally when all is done.

He should just get ready for the lawsuits that are sure to follow.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Gerrymandering? Holy cow!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Wow! Take a gander at this Houston-area congressional district.

The caption atop the map says it clearly: gerrymandering is a serious problem.

I don’t blame Rep. Dan Crenshaw for it; he merely was elected to a district redrawn after the 2010 census.

Texas legislators who have worked on this issue have told me the alleged “goal” always is to create districts where residents share what they call “common interests.” For the ever-lovin’ life of me I cannot envision common interests between residents living in the far reaches of Crenshaw’s district.

I generally avoid a “both sides do it” argument on issues, but I cannot do so this time. Democrats have done the same thing to congressional and legislative districts that Republicans do now in Texas. When Democrats controlled the Legislature after the 1990 census, they drew a line separating the 13th and 19th congressional districts through the middle of Amarillo, which from 1991 until 1995 was represented by a Democrat elected in Potter County and a Republican elected in Randall County.

The Democrat, Bill Sarpalius, had a vastly different legislative view than the Republican, Larry Combest … which put Amarillo in the middle of a political tug-of-war that didn’t do the city much good.

That changed in 1994 with the election of Republican Mac Thornberry in the 13th District, which includes the Potter County portion of Amarillo.

The Legislature is going to make another run at redistricting again. The 2020 census has established that Texas will get two additional congressional seats. Will the Legislature find the wisdom to redraw the congressional boundaries that do not look as hideous and ridiculous as the Houston district represented by Dan Crenshaw?

Hah! I am not holding my breath.

Census should count ‘residents,’ not just ‘citizens’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I concede that I am not a constitutional scholar, but I recognize clear and definitive language contained within the U.S. Constitution when I see it.

For example, the Constitution declares that the census should be taken every 10 years and must count all those who live this country. It doesn’t say “citizens.”

So, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that a challenge to a Donald Trump administration effort to limit the census count to just citizens doesn’t have merit. Hmm. The court ruling doesn’t make sense to me.

The court ruled 6-3 — with the conservative majority holding firm — that the complaint was “premature.” The decision by the SCOTUS doesn’t preclude any future challenges, just stops this one at this time.

The court’s conservative majority comprises justices I presume to be “originalists,” meaning that they take the founders’ words as written literally. The founders were clear on who should be counted. That’s why they said the census should include all “residents.”

What does this mean? It means that if the Trump exclusion holds up, states — such as Texas, which is home to many thousands of residents who aren’t U.S. citizens — can be denied the congressional representation they deserve. In addition to counting all U.S. residents, we’re going to reapportion the House of Representatives alignment; Texas stands to gain as many as three more House members because of our state’s population growth since 2010.

As ABC News has reported:

Immigrant advocates who sued Trump over the policy stressed that the Court’s move does not mean the fight is over.

“This ruling does not authorize President Trump’s goal of excluding undocumented immigrants from the Census count used to apportion the House of Representatives,” said ACLU attorney Dale Ho. “The legal mandate is clear — every single person counts in the Census, and every single person is represented in Congress. If this policy is ever actually implemented, we’ll be right back in court challenging it.”

Yes, this ruling does involve undocumented immigrants. Indeed, that is the crux of the conservative argument in support  of the Trump exclusion. Let’s not forget to include the so-called “Dreamers” who were brought here as young children by their parents who entered the nation illegally. Those folks once again are being punished unfairly because of something they could not control.

The Supreme Court has punted on this issue for now. My hope would be that judicial conservatives stick to the principle that they believe the founders had it right when they inscribed the method for counting every person who lives in this country.

Count the ‘persons in each state’

It’s a given that Donald J. Trump doesn’t know the U.S. Constitution, the document he swore on oath to defend and protect.

With that established, let’s understand that when Trump says that census counters are not to count undocumented immigrants as part of the 2020 census, he is violating the Constitution … which he doesn’t understand.

Trump wants to limit the count of those who are living here to just citizens, actual Americans. No can do, Mr. POTUS. That 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the one that talks about equal protection under the law, has this to say about how states must be represented in Congress:

“Section 2: Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States, according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State … “

If you look throughout the 14th Amendment, you will not find a word in it that stipulates that only citizens can be among the “whole number of persons” counted in each state. The framers threw open the counted to be “persons.” Citizens or non-citizens, documented or undocumented immigrants. They all count the same, according to the U.S. Constitution.

That is the basis for progressive groups complaining about the restrictions that Trump is seeking to place on the census takers.

This kind of ham-handedness would have an impact on Texas, which stands to gain as many as three new representatives once the census is taken. The state also is home to quite a large number of undocumented immigrants, which you know about already. Many of those immigrants happen to be “dreamers,” the folks brought here as children when their parents sneaked into the country to pursue a better life for themselves and their families.

Trump is trifling with the Constitution in a way that is going to do harm to communities and to states. He must not be allowed to get away with this attempt to pilfer power from states that deserve a loud and clear voice within the halls of government.

Waiting for new ‘home town’ to spruce up its downtown district

I have devoted a lot of space and effort on this blog praising Amarillo civic and business leaders’ efforts to revitalize that city’s downtown business district. I still applaud those efforts.

It’s time to turn my attention, though, on the efforts being launched in Princeton, where my wife and I now call home.

Princeton sits astride U.S. 380, which runs east-west through the city. Just a bit north of that highway — which is undergoing a major makeover at this moment — sits a downtown district that is now in the sights of the city’s political leadership.

The work has just begun. City Hall has developed a master plan. The goal is simple and straightforward, as it has been explained to me by City Manager Derek Borg: The city wants to make downtown a destination for those who live here and for those who are visiting.

Princeton is in serious growth mode. Its population is exploding. I am reasonably certain that the next census will reveal a population that virtually doubles the 6,800 residents listed on the 2010 census.

Borg has revealed plans to redevelop the city’s Veterans Memorial Park, to reroute a major street through downtown and to use property tax revenue collected within the city’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone to improve public infrastructure.

Much of this mirrors part of the strategy that Amarillo has employed to help spruce up its downtown district and from what I have seen when we return to the Panhandle city, it is working.

It is my fervent hope that Princeton succeeds mightily with its own downtown revitalization effort.

I do not intend to douse the city’s downtown effort under a bucket load of icy water, but I do need to point something out that might work at counter-purposes with that effort.

The city wants to relocate City Hall to a location a good bit east of downtown along U.S. 380. It has purchased a significant bit of land where it intends to build a municipal complex. It will seek private business investment to add retail establishments and also plans to develop a magnificent park complex.

All of that will occur about three miles east of downtown.

Now, does that distract attention from downtown? Not necessarily. The city has access to marketing gurus who can assist it in its effort to sell downtown to more retail establishments while gussying up the downtown district.

To be candid, downtown Princeton, Texas has some distance to travel. Then again, so did Amarillo when my wife and I moved there in early 1995. That city is making great strides in its quest to revive its downtown district.

I do not see any impediment to Princeton doing just as well in its own effort to remake its central district.

We look forward to watching our new home town progress.

Census: No mention of ‘citizens’ in U.S. Constitution

With all this chatter and blather about the census and whether the government should ask whether U.S. residents are “citizens” of this country, I decided to turn to my handy-dandy copy of the U.S. Constitution.

So, I turned to Article I, Section, Clause 3 of the document with which Donald Trump needs to acquaint himself. It speaks to how the nation will count “free Persons” living within our national borders.

I was looking for a certain word. I looked for the word “citizens” in the Constitution. It’s not there. Not in this passage of the governing framework the founders built to create our government.

Donald Trump has given up his effort to include a citizenship question on the census forms that will be sent out. Indeed, the question seems to violate the U.S. Constitution, which refers to the enumeration of “free Persons.” That means residents. Not citizens.

The motive behind the citizenship question appears to be aimed at driving down the number of people living in this country. What does that mean? I guess it means to Trump and his fellow Republicans that a citizenship question would exclude non-citizen residents from being counted, which theoretically could deny Democratic-leaning congressional districts some elements of needed clout.

That brings up another question I believe is getting short shrift among those who debate this stuff in Washington, D.C. What would this have meant for those non-citizens who are in this country legally?

Trump has signed an executive order that he says will clarify and enhance the data gathering to determine how many non-citizens comprise the total U.S. population. My understanding is that the Census Bureau already keeps track of non-citizens.

For the government, though, to ask the question as part of its constitutional responsibility in counting all “free Persons” who live here would strike residents who must be counted … as the Constitution requires.

No love for Hillary from White House

The late state Sen. Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo, once told me that the Legislature’s decennial redistricting effort gave Republican lawmakers a chance to show how they “eat their young.”

It’s a cutthroat business, carving up a state into equally sized legislative and congressional districts. It has to be done once the census is taking every decade.

Well, it’s good to point out that Republicans aren’t the only ones who “eat their young.” Democrats do it, too.

http://nypost.com/2015/03/14/obama-adviser-behind-leak-of-hillary-clintons-e-mail-scandal/

A New York Post columnist reports that sources tell him that White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett leaked to the press Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account while she served as secretary of state.

Where’s the love from the White House? Not with Jarrett, apparently. It remains to be seen if the Post article can be verified by other, independent sources. A part of me isn’t surprised by what the columnist is reporting.

Remember ol’ Willie Horton? He was the murderer whose prison furlough was approved by then-Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who was his party’s presidential nominee in 1988. Then-Vice President George Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, hammered Dukakis mercilessly over that furlough, as Horton went out and killed someone during the time he was set free.

Do you remember who introduced that issue into the 1988 political campaign? It was a young U.S. senator from Tennessee, Democrat Albert Gore Jr., who was seeking his party’s nomination along with Dukakis. Gore ratted out Dukakis in a Democrat vs. Democrat game of insults.

I’m certain my friend Teel Bivins would enjoy watching this latest bit of political cannibalism.