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Redistricting on Commissioners Court agenda

Well, not quite, but if you look on Page 15 of the June 21 Court agenda you will see an item that says “Request for approval of an order adopting priorities and principles for redistricting of the four Harris County commissioner precincts and related matters as recommended by special counsel Andrews & Kurth”. This was pointed out to me by Judge Ed Emmett’s office after I sent them an inquiry asking where the County was in this process. Basically, the County has now hired Richard Murray and Gene Locke to do the numbers and legalities thing for them, as they had done for HISD and HCC. I presume Murray and Locke will make a presentation at a later date with their reports and possibly some plans, and we’ll go from there. In the meantime, you can see a couple of Greg‘s suggestions for how they might proceed. As this is the last of the maps to be drawn, I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

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4 Comments

  1. Karl Ittmann says:

    When will expansion of the County Commission be on tap? It strikes me as undemocratic (to be polite) that 5 people represent a county of 4-5 million. Given how entrenched the Commissioners are, it reminds me of the old USSR. Why 10-20 representatives and some reforms to eliminate district budgets?

  2. Karl Ittmann says:

    When will an expansion of the County Commission be on tap? It strikes me as undemocratic (to be polite) that 5 people represent a county of 4-5 million. Given how entrenched the Commissioners are, it reminds me of the old USSR. Why not 10-20 representatives and some reforms to eliminate district budgets? Given the demographics of the county, one African American and 4 white males seems a little unrepresentative.

  3. Karl,

    While I am very sympathetic to your argument, the Texas Constitution stands in the way. From Article V, Section 18, subsection (b) (see http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/CN/htm/CN.5.htm):

    “Each county shall, in the manner provided for justice of the peace and constable precincts, be divided into four commissioners precincts in each of which there shall be elected by the qualified voters thereof one County Commissioner, who shall hold his office for four years and until his successor shall be elected and qualified. The County Commissioners so chosen, with the County Judge as presiding officer, shall compose the County Commissioners Court, which shall exercise such powers and jurisdiction over all county business, as is conferred by this Constitution and the laws of the State, or as may be hereafter prescribed.”

    Thus, a Constitutional amendment would be required to change things. Which, for the record, I would support. But you have to get it through the Lege first.

  4. Karl Ittmann says:

    Thank you for the cite. Interesting and an illustration of how a constitution written by rural interests continues to operate in a radically altered context. One wonders if such a system can survive over time given the disparities in representation between large and small counties. An argument could be made on one-person, one-vote lines that it violates the US constitution or on minority rights grounds, but as you suggest change seems unlikely.