My letter to the editor published in the Greenville Herald Banner 10.03.10 with additional notes AND info on submitting YOUR testimonies for the public record.
I attended the Texas Redistricting committee hearing last week in Richardson. I testified, saying that although I'm a member or organizer for several different grassroots groups I was there to represent myself and I felt confident that I was speaking for millions of Texans.
1. I urged them to be fair, independent and non-partisan, do what is best for Texas. 40% of Texans consider themselves politically independent.
2. I urged them to get this worked out before the session starts and to not let this issue bog it down. There are many vital issues to address and we don't want valuable time wasted fighting over this.
3. I urged them to put blindfolds on and do NOTHING to protect ANY seats. Too many have been in office for far too long, and if their district gets redrawn, they can run for office like anyone else. I urged them to be open and transparent about the entire process, no back room deals.
I neglected to mention one issue, frankly because I couldn't imagine that it WAS an issue. The longer I sat (I was there for over 4 hours) and listened to comments from committee members (half of whom were not present at any given time), and the testimonies, the more I realized that it WAS an issue. Carving out districts for "communities of interest". There are some genuinely racist folks in ALL groups, but I truly believe the vast majority of Texans are color blind. We look past skin color or last name and judge people based on their character.
The voting rights act was mentioned as the legal basis for this practice. If the lines are drawn fairly and impartially to keep cities and towns together as much as possible, no one can claim they are being disenfranchised.
I really don't understand how any one group thinks it should have some special benefits from or access to the government. Our representatives should represent ALL of us. Doing what is best for an entire county or city will benefit ALL the residents. If government was limited to its proper role, there wouldn't be such a fight to get our snouts in the trough.
What if I insisted that as a homeschooling family they should carve out districts that represent us - so that we can have our own representatives in office- how ridiculous does that sound? It's just as ludicrous to think that your skin or heritage warrants that type of treatment. Groups don't have rights; individuals in groups have individual rights.
Do what's best for Texas! Who cares if the Feds think we should draw lines differently? As long as it's fair and impartial there should be no complaint. It's been over 30 years since it was enacted This KEEPS the wounds open, keeps us divided - let's heal, come together, work together, grow up and get over it. As some testifying put it, "we work together, go to school together, shop together, play together, it's time to move on".
Additional notes not included in letter to the editor:
Rep. Marc Veasey, Ft. Worth, hurt his cause and his people when he exhibited such a disgraceful, arrogant and unprofessional attitude. I was shocked to watch how he disrespected people with his body language, facial expressions and words. When Barbara Harless spoke about the Constitution and the members' oaths they had taken, he covered his face, turned away and began typing on a keyboard. He was the acting chair at that time. It was utterly disgraceful.
The fact that half the time half the committee wasn't there and that so many didn't even seem to pay attention to the people who took time out of their busy lives, took time from work to come and testify was very disappointing and disturbing. THEY are our elected public SERVANTS, we hired them to do a job and we expect them to take it seriously.
Do the right thing and follow the simple Golden Rule.
To enter your testimony into the public record without attending a hearing in person: (you can do this with any committee, just find the clerk listed on the committee web page.) http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/MnuCommittees.aspx
Mail your testimony to the clerk of the committee:
Clerk of the Committee on Redistricting
Texas House of Representatives
Austin, Texas 78768