Friday, December 16, 2011

Another Look At Single-Member Districts

Bill McCalpin's "" asks the question, "What would happen if Richardson had single member districts?" and comes up with the same answer that "The Wheel" came up with when that question was examined after the last city election in May.

Spoiler alert: the answer is that single member districts probably wouldn't have much effect on election results.


Nathan Morgan said...

The seat of political power rests in the hands of those community organizers with access to resources to contact voters and sway their opinion.

In Richardson, these community organizers acquire personal contact information through association and name recognition with key groups, including a variety of certain volunteer organiztions, the Chamber of Commerce and City Hall.

Several first-hand accounts of such breeches in public trust have surfaced. These include the contact database walking away on a personal laptop of a top level associate at the Network of Community Ministries with ties to the Richardson Coalition and Neighborhood Integrity. Uncontrolled, personal contact information has been shared across departments within City operations from Parks, Police & Fire, HOA's, the Senior Center, Corporate Challenge, and more. Those engaged in virtually any contact with organizations having association with the city have become unwitting recipients of political propaganda through an elaborate intelligence gathering and distribution network.

Leadership Richardson, a cooperative program between City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce serves as the recruiting, indoctrination and training camp for future political appointees and the ones chosen to perpetuate the will of personalities entrenched in a political society that has controlled Richardson public policy for decades. Many leaders of organizations in Richardson received their indoctrination through this publicly supported operation. Graduates receive instant recognition from the army of devotees, loyalists and recipients of political pay off that has grown in strength and influence over the years through this textbook communal development model.

The impact on the opinion of the average voter that has been and can be exacted by this political machine cannot be trivialized or underestimated. The ability to sway elections across the City's so-called "representative" districts is profound.

Richardson's north west District, Place 4, has been pointed out as the hub of this community engineering operation. A windshield tour of Richardson is the easiest way to confirm this area of town receives the most public funding for neighborhood projects.

Proponents of the "at large", or the every Council District member is elected by the entire City method of selecting representatives argue that consensus on issues is easier to achieve among Council members when they all pull in the same communal direction.

Proponents for single member districts, where Council members are selected only by the residents of the District they represent, say citizen demands would be better served if the influence exerted on elected officials by a powerful political machine centered in Place 4 was not a prominent factor affecting their election to office.

Richardson's communal approach to electing representatives to serve in local government has resulted in a centralized concentration of power over public policy outside the individual Districts.

The best argument favoring single member district selection of District Council members is the same one used by the proponents of the at-large method.

Individual factions emerge that argue and wrestle over public policy and resources making consensus more difficult to achieve.

Today in Richardson, that describes the HOA's and neighborhoods, with those in the north west sector, having the most advanced community activist network ruling the roost.

Political subdivisions were established to prevent such unbalances. Districts representatives need to be elected by the residents of the District without outside influence.

Mark Steger said...

Nathan: "Districts representatives need to be elected by the residents of the District without outside influence."

As explained in the linked articles, analysis indicates that the council makeup would most likely have been the same even if Richardson had single member districts. You've said nothing to rebut that analysis. You did add another condition, "without outside influence," which suggests that you want more than just single member districts, maybe some kind of campaign finance reform. The Supreme Court frowns on trying to put restrictions on who can spend money to influence elections.

Nathan Morgan said...

Mark, You are reading into this something other than what I said. I'm not trying to rebut your analysis. I'm simply talking common sense.

I didn't say residents of one Districts couldn't buy influence in another, or financially support the candidate they want elected in another District.

I said I don't think it right that residents in one District should be able to vote for a representative of another. There is a difference.

Obviously, if another District was successful at getting their guy elected in another District, that candidate would be beholden to their supporters from that other District. That's also common sense. And, by the way, what the situation happens to be as it stands...with the extra benefit of being able to also actually cast a vote for their chosen candidate. That's the unbalance of which I write.

This "most likely" the same business is pure speculation. You can count the numbers of those who participated in the current arrangement, but you can't predict the magnitude of the influence residents in other Districts would have on their ability to sway the election in another District if the playing field were level.

You are right, the Court has struck down most attempts to place restrictions on campaign finance and the consequential purchasing of elections. But, so far, they've pretty much agreed with the single member district approach to limiting the votes that elect a representative to only those who reside within a given District...and, for similar reasons such as that which exists in Richardson.

Nathan Morgan said...


Then, there is the matter of PAC's coordinating their efforts with candidates. That's a campaign law violation on the Federal level, and for good reason.

What about our local PAC's coordinating their efforts with candidate campaigns? Where does that sit on the scale of local legality?