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Redistricting From Hell, or Texas

Anyone who recalls the the last round of redistricting in Texas, under the auspices of Tom DeLay, remembers bitterly divisive antics, partisan to a degree unrivaled in the past. It would hardly be likely that anyone would want to repeat that circus from hell. Yet the prospects for this round, in view of the recently begun census, has promise of some upward revisions for progressive representation.

Increases in population in the state are occurring at a rate that bests much of the rest of the nation, particularly in urban areas and among minority populations.

Much of the focus has centered on fast-growing North Texas, which could land one of the new congressional districts as well as a possible new legislative seat in Tarrant County. There has also been speculation that North Texas could get a new legislative district that has Hispanics or African-Americans in the majority.

State Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, a member of the Texas House Redistricting Committee, said urban areas such as Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington are "likely to be big winners as far as congressional and state legislative seats are concerned," in large part because of the state’s growth of Hispanic and African-American populations over the past decade.

"The reason that urban areas will probably wind up having more clout in the Legislature and Congress will be because of that growth," he said.

During the past decade, Texas’ population has increased by more than 16 percent, twice as much as the nation as a whole. Much of the growth in Texas has occurred in South Texas, along the Interstate 35 corridor, and in metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2009, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area posted the biggest numeric growth in the country — with 146,530 new residents — and is now the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country, with 6.4 million residents, according to the Census Bureau

Tarrant County has added 344,000 people since the 2000 Census, the fifth-highest total of any county in the nation, said Robert Bernstein, a spokesman for the Census Bureau. Tarrant now ranks as the 16th-largest county, with 1.7 million residents, according to the Census Bureau.

Texas has 10 of the 25 fastest-growing U.S. counties — Harris, Tarrant, Bexar, Collin, Dallas, Travis, Fort Bend, Denton, Williamson and Hidalgo.

The last redistricting saw Democratic representatives going to shelter in Oklahoma to avoid giving a quorum that the wingers needed to break down the party’s ability to represent the state. It’s not hard to imagine that a different group may be running for the border this time.

The State of Texas is showing its balky side as the effect of constant alienation of Faux and teabagger audiences from their government grows.

As of Friday, we rank several percentage points below the national rate — ahead of only Alabama, New York, Alaska, Georgia and Florida, according to data downloaded from the bureau’s website on Friday.

The "mail participation rate," as it’s known, is significant for census officials, who sent reminder postcards last week. The more people who respond by mail, the fewer workers the government must hire to walk door-to-door, gathering the basic information about residents’ age, gender and ethnicity. In fact, if 100 percent of Americans mailed in the form, the bureau estimates it could save $1.5 billion.

Just as the teabaggers have, as spocko told us earlier at Firedoglake, become noteworthy for asking the government to host their anti-government spending rallies at cost to taxpayers, the effect of distrust is to increase the government’s role through necessity. Of course, if the teabaggers don’t get counted, the areas represented better will be those with populations with a better understanding of the census’ function.

Shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone; they can’t figure this stuff out for themselves.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.

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