But here in Oklahoma, so far all the public has seen from the redistricting efforts of the state House and Senate are some static PDF maps dealing with congressional redistricting from the House. The Senate hasn’t publicly released any maps.
Transparency has been the big buzz word this session. But all the redistricting work has gone on behind closed doors.
A new House map is expected to be unveiled Friday.
Oklahoma should join other states and release the data and the geographical files, typically called shapefiles, for all to see.
Here’s what Texas offers:
Florida goes one better, and lets the public draw their own maps using a tool called MyDistrictBuilder.
Here’s why the data is important: With the map shapefiles, you can layer other important information like voter registration and demographic information on top of each redrawn district to get a fuller picture of the represented areas. The Texas Tribune put out some good maps earlier this week doing just that.
Today is the deadline to register for the Gov 2.0a conference here in Oklahoma City.
This is the second year of the conference on open government, technology and citizen engagement. I attended last year and was very impressed with the lineup. This year’s lineup looks equally (if not more) impressive.
The conference starts Friday morning at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. It continues throughout the day and concludes with several keynote speakers Friday evening, including Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Tom Walker of i2E; and Hillary Hartley of NIC Inc.
On Saturday, the conference splits in two. One part, Mash-It-Up Camp, is geared more toward a tech audience. The other event, City Camp, will cater more to a government and community audience. My job straddles both worlds, but I plan to be at City Camp on Saturday.
For more on the Gov 2.0a conference, just check out their website. The conference is organized by a great group of local folks: Sid Burgess, Derrick Parkhurst, David Glover, Lindsey Coster and John R. Wood.
From Sunday’s paper:
BY PAUL MONIES
Published: May 1, 2011
Minority children are now the majority among children in 11 Oklahoma counties, including Oklahoma County, the state’s largest county.
That’s a big change from a decade ago, when just four** Oklahoma counties had “majority-minority” child populations.
Hispanic children and children of two or more races accounted for most of the state’s under-18 population growth in the last decade, according to an analysis of census data by The Oklahoman.
Also, the racial gap has widened between children and adults, another indication of a demographic shift that could change the face of Oklahoma. In almost half of the state’s counties, the gap between the share of white adults and white children exceeds the statewide average of 17 percentage points.
William Frey, a demographer at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, calls the differences between child and adult populations a “racial generation gap.” Oklahoma ranked sixth in the United States for the largest racial generation gap. Arizona was first.
“Change in the nation’s child population over the 2000s show the sharp distinction between the country’s aging white population and its growing, youthful new minority populations,” Frey said in a recent report. “These gaps could signal emerging cultural and political divisions across generations.”
Overall, 44 percent of Oklahoma’s children were minorities in 2010. That compared to 27 percent of adults who identified themselves as minorities. In 2000, minority children made up 35 percent of the child population. Almost 23 percent of adults were minorities.
For the analysis, minorities were anyone not identifying themselves or people in their household on census forms as white. Hispanics can be of any race, according to U.S. Census Bureau definitions.
Some of the demographic changes could be attributed to how people report race and ethnicity, said Patricia Bell, a sociology professor at Oklahoma State University.
“Some of that is not necessarily population growth or change, it’s re-identification where people identify themselves differently,” Bell said. “Sometimes when you have a couple who are of different races, they leave the race of a child blank on the form and the Census Bureau makes the assignment.”
Other changes could come from migration or differences in birthrates in rural or poverty-stricken areas, Bell said. Some white and black college graduates with children have left the state for job opportunities in the last decade. Also, the Hispanic growth in Oklahoma has been rapid, but the share of Hispanics in the state remains lower than neighbors such as Kansas and Texas, she said.
“It can be a combination of migratory patterns for women and children as well as birthrate,” Bell said. “People who have a multiracial background are more likely than before to identify themselves in some category that they didn’t use before.”
Changing child demographics
In the last decade, the number of children in Oklahoma increased by 4 percent to almost 930,000. By contrast, the adult population grew 10 percent to 2.82 million.
Oklahoma was among 27 states that had increases in their child populations.
Among children in Oklahoma, the growth was uneven across the state. The child population grew in 36 counties and fell in 41 counties.
The child populations in Canadian, McClain, Marshall, Logan and Wagoner counties all grew by more than 20 percent. It fell by more than 20 percent in Tillman, Grant and Cimarron counties.
Since 2000, the number of Hispanic children (of any race) grew by more than 62,000, or 89 percent.
At the same time, the number of children of two or more races grew by almost 27,000, or 49 percent, and the number of Asian children increased by 4,400, or 41 percent.
The number of American Indian children grew by more than 6,300, or 7 percent.
To contrast that, the state’s population of white children fell by nearly 57,000, or 10 percent, during the last decade. The number of black children fell by more than 6,700, or 8 percent.
In his report, Frey said similar shifts are happening across the country.
“Slower growth among whites owes in part to their lower fertility rate — about 1.9 births per white woman, compared with 3.0 births per Hispanic woman — as well as a relatively low contribution to population growth from immigration,” he wrote.
Child advocates said the demographic shifts among children have policy implications in Oklahoma.
“If we want a progressive, educated and healthy workforce, we have to look at the demographics within our state and assure that we have the needs to move forward to where we want Oklahoma to be,” said Linda Terrell, executive director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.
Terrell said one of the biggest needs is educational support for bilingual programs. She cited a recent case of a woman in Cleveland County whose daughter had been treated for chronic earaches. Once a translator became involved, it turned out the woman wasn’t following medicine instructions.
“Once we got that language barrier taken care of, the baby was better,” Terrell said. “That’s just one kind of extra supports we need to make sure our children are cared for properly.”
**The four counties in 2000: Adair, Cherokee, Harmon and Muskogee.
The Legislature has two big jobs this year: balance the state’s budget and redraw the boundary lines for Congress and the state Senate and House.
So far, it’s been fairly quiet on the redistricting front, at least publicly. But behind the scenes, you can be sure there’s a lot going on.
The “easy” part–Congressional redistricting–is on its way to completion. Unlike a decade ago when the state lost a seat, the congressional plan was easier this year because Oklahoma stayed at five seats. The House approved a congressional redistricting bill earlier this week. Here’s what the proposed map looks like, according to House Bill 1527: (click for larger version)
A closer look at the map shows there are not a lot of differences between the current congressional district lines and the proposed changes. Essentially, the state’s lone Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren in the 2nd Congressional District, now gets Marshall County on the Texas border and
gives up gains some suburban Tulsa territory in Rogers County. There also are some changes to Rep. Tom Cole’s 4th District and Rep. James Lankford’s 5th District, mostly around Tinker Air Force Base. Rep. Frank Lucas picks up more population in fast-growing (and solidly Republican) Canadian County, courtesy of Cole. Around Tulsa, the 1st District’s Rep. John Sullivan picks up a little territory to the west in Creek County.
If you want to try making your own map, check out the free site, Daves Redistricting. Without any nods to current allegiances, politics or the Voting Rights Act, I made my own quick-and-dirty version of congressional redistricting. I had one requirement for my map: each district had to stay within the county lines.
My take: It’s a lot harder than it looks.
Even with all the tools available on Daves Redistricting site, I managed to leave out about 900 people, who have effectively been disenfranchised by my map. (A court would surely throw out my plan!) Also, I have Lankford’s 5th District (yellow below) with about 10,000 more residents than it should have. Ideally, each congressional district should have 750,270 people, according to the latest Census data. Lucas’ 3rd District is in purple, Cole’s 4th District is in red, Boren’s 2nd District is green and Sullivan’s 1st District is in blue.
Here’s my map: (click for larger version)
Under my map, all of Oklahoma and Logan counties are now in the 5th District. Boren’s 2nd District moves westward on its southern section, picking up Ardmore. Cole gets all of Canadian County and Pottawatomie County. Lankford gets the so-called “Tinker Notch” in Oklahoma County. To replace the loss of Canadian County, Lucas takes in population north of Tulsa and in northeastern Oklahoma.
For some more Oklahoma congressional redistricting options, check out this message board for political map junkies.
Lawmakers now have about five weeks left in the session to complete the harder redistricting task for the state House and Senate. Capitol reporter Michael McNutt has an update on that here.
The main things to watch for in legislative redistricting are how they will redistrict seats with declining rural populations and which seats are held by term-limited lawmakers. Oklahoma Watchdog has more on that here.
You can also try your hand at redrawing legislative districts at Daves Redistricting. I haven’t tried that option, yet, but it doesn’t seem like an easy task. Each new House district should have about 37,142 residents. Under House rules, you’re allowed to deviate from those ideal numbers no more than plus or minus 3 percent, or about 1,100 people. Ideally, each new Senate district should have 78,153 residents.
For more on redistricting in general, check out the following sites:
- Oklahoma House of Representatives Redistricting
- National Conference of State Legislatures Redistricting
- U.S. Census: Redistricting Data
- Redistricting the Nation
- Election Data Services
- Brennan Center for Justice: A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting
- The Redistricting Game
The U.S. Census Bureau today finished rolling out redistricting population totals from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It had until April 1 to do so, meaning it finished a little ahead of schedule.
The Census also released some new information on where the population center of the United States is now. That’s the point where if the country were a flat sheet of paper, it would balance according to population. (That also assumes each person is the same weight.) Here’s their map of that new point, near Plato in southern Missouri, and how the population center has shifted over time.
The agency also released similar information for all the states. Oklahoma’s population center for 2010 is just outside the town of Sparks in Lincoln County.
I created a map using GeoCommons for all the state centers of population. You can view it by clicking on the image below or going here.
Dozens of federal, state, tribal and local agencies will show off the latest in GIS projects and mapping on Wednesday, March 2, on several floors of the Capitol Rotunda in Oklahoma City. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All told, more than 50 organizations will be at the Capitol to explain how they use GIS in everything from conservation and education to energy, city planning and public safety.
This will be the 17th GIS Day, which is organized by the Oklahoma Geographic Information Council. For more information on the council, check out their website, where they’ve posted some pictures from GIS Days in prior years.
Update: From Mike Sharp, Oklahoma Geographic Information Coordinator:
One of the key theme’s emerging from our elected officials at the state Capitol this year is focused on a more open and transparent government.
Government at all levels deals with an enormous amount of information, so it follows that making government more open places an emphasis on government making more of its information open and available to its citizens.
For many years, the Oklahoma GIS Community has been a leader in making location-based data available to the citizens of our state.
With over 80 percent of all government data having a location-based component, it is important that we continue to develop the infrastructure to not only deliver but to easily consume this vast amount of information. Through today’s technology, we have many open source and commercial Geographic Information System tools to not only deliver but to bring together a wide variety of information sources and display the result in an easily understandable format that has been in use for centuries … a map.
Whether it is a government official wanting to manage government-owned assets or a private consultant looking for business opportunities in our state, the bringing together of location-based data into a map provides an ideal platform to assist them in their decision-making process.
The U.S. Census Bureau last week released the first batch of Oklahoma data from the 2010 Census. Here’s a list of what we covered in print and online:
- Oklahoma Census: State Hispanic population grows 85 percent since 2000
- Population growth in suburbs, declines in rural areas will have political ramifications
- New metro boom towns include Piedmont, Blanchard
We’ve added those stories to our existing Census continuing coverage page on NewsOK, too.
If you get a chance, check out the map I created using census data at the tract level for central Oklahoma. I pulled out eight central Oklahoma counties and plotted the growth for each census tract over the last decade. In this map, the size of the bubble shows how many people each tract added, with the smallest bubble representing a population decrease: (Adobe Flash required)
I also made another version, above, that shows the same information, but this time uses shaded census tracts instead of bubbles. I think the bubble map is easier to figure out, but if you think differently, let me know in the comments below.
In both of these maps, I went with the raw population change by census tract. I could have gone with percent change over the last decade, but there were some sparsely populated tracts that added (or lost) a handful of people, so that threw off the ranges of percent change. I went with the actual population change to get a better idea of just which census tracts these new residents were going to (or leaving).
I’m a big fan of Geocommons, the service I used to make those maps. One of the conditions of using their free (for now) service is that you have to make your data available to the public. Since all of this data originally came from the U.S. Census Bureau, you can search for “Oklahoma” in Geocommons and make your own maps based on the data and GIS files I uploaded to the site.
To get started, read this helpful user guide on the Geocommons site.
Finally, a big thanks goes out to Investigative Reporters & Editors and USA Today, who provided some of the population comparisons to the 2000 Census in the data I used. For more on what other papers are doing with their census data, check out Anthony DeBarros’ blog.
The state’s new data site is here, and from my initial test drive, it’s pretty good.
The data portal is something that I called for in a post last year, so it’s nice to see it come to fruition. With the launch, Oklahoma joins dozens of other states and countries with a central data archive.
The site was made possible by legislation that came out of the 2010 Legislature. Senate Bill 1759, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, and Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, set up the framework and requirements for the data site.
Oklahoma’s site uses the Socrata data engine, which allows for customizable data visualizations, maps and data downloads.
For example, this morning I downloaded the state’s 4th Quarter payroll. I wanted to take a look at overtime payments, so after downloading a type of file called a .csv (for comma-separated value), I was able to import the data into Microsoft Access. That task took fewer than 10 minutes.
The 28.5 MB payroll file has more than 266,000 records from the 4th quarter. You could also import the information to the new versions of Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which allow for up to 1 million records (the older versions of Excel limit you to 65,000 records in a worksheet).
Just browsing the data sets on the site works well, too. Here’s a Google Map of fire stations in Oklahoma:
I’ll have more on the site in future posts, but it’s looking good so far. Take the site for a spin yourself and let me know what you think in the comments section below.
- A call for data.ok.gov
- Open data legislation fails in the Oklahoma House
- Government 2.0 conference in OKC
The bill filing deadline for the Legislature was last week, so those who follow state government are wading through the more than 2,000 bills or resolutions filed. The session kicks off at noon Feb. 7.
As is the case every session, expect these initial bills to be changed significantly along the way. Some will die after not being heard in committee. The language in some will magically reappear later in the session under another bill number, sometimes by another member. It’s like a giant game of Whac-A-Mole.
If you know of any that should be added to the list, drop me a line in the comments section below.
Click on the bill number for the full text
Subject: Records of county officers
Summary: This takes some authority away from county clerks and puts each county office holder in charge of destroying records after a period of time.
Subject: Electric Utility Data Protection Act
Summary: Regulates data disclosures from those new electric “Smart Meters” that are popping up all across the state.
Subject: Public bodies
Summary: Would make the Legislature subject to the Oklahoma Open Records and Open Meetings Act. It adds an exception to the law for correspondence between lawmakers and constituents (but not correspondence between lawmakers and lobbyists). See the FOI Oklahoma blog for more.
Subject: Public bodies
Summary: This is similar in scope to HB 1085 above.
Subject: School district information online
Summary: This would add more information to the School District Transparency Act, which passed last year and puts certain financial information of school districts on a website. The site is supposed to be up and running by the end of this month.
Brumbaugh’s bill would expand the disclosure to “direct and indirect costs” of education, including contributions to the Teachers Retirement System. It also directs the state Department of Education to create “benchmarks” to compare the costs of private and public education.
Subject: First responders and recording devices
Summary: This would make it a crime for first responders such as police, ambulance drivers and paramedics to take video or pictures at an accident scene and post them to public websites or send them to other people. It appears this is in response to the scuffle caught on tape a few years ago between a paramedic and a trooper.
Subject: Exemption to attorney-client privilege
Summary: This would take out an exemption for attorney-client communications if they are between a public official or agency and its attorney.
Subject: Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission
Summary: Adds the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission to a list of other law-enforcement agencies whose information or evidence are not public if used by the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Subject: Open Books
Author: Sean Roberts
Summary: Adds to the information on the state’s Open Books website by amending the Taxpayer Transparency Act. It would require each agency to provide a “line-item expense report” of all spending.
The bill also amends state law to prohibit elected agency directors from giving raises to employees in the period from just before an election until swearing-in day. It would appear to outlaw the raises that went on in the “lame-duck” period for departing agency heads that I wrote about in December.
Summary: Requires public employees who lobby for state agencies to register as lobbyists with the state Ethics Commission. Currently, agency lobbyists are exempt from registration requirements.
Subject: Public records
Summary: Adds a section to the Open Records Act that expressly stops government entities from asking requesters to fill out forms to request records. It also prohibits government from asking the purpose of a request or requiring a name of the requester.
Subject: Public records
Summary: Adds a time period to the Open Records Act. Currently, public bodies must provide “prompt, reasonable access” to records. This bill would set up 30-day and 60-day deadlines. It sounds good in theory, but in my experience, many agencies or governments would want to use that entire 30-day period to respond.
The bill also expands the Open Records Act to cover private contractors who do business with the state. Another section of the bill requires that “convenience fees” assessed for online services go to the state agency to recover costs before they go to the private contractor providing the online website. This would appear to hit the state’s website operator, NIC Inc.
Subject: Public records; DPS audio/video recordings
Summary: This would add public employee birth dates and employee ID numbers to the list of exempt information under the Open Records Act. Terrill tried–and failed–several times last year to get this passed. He had lots of support from employee associations such as the Oklahoma Public Employee Association and the Oklahoma State Troopers Association. This is the subject of a pending Oklahoma Supreme Court case.
The bill would also set up a fee schedule for dash-cam videos and other records from the state Department of Public Safety.
Joey Senat, associate professor of journalism at Oklahoma State University, has more on this bill over at the FOI Oklahoma Blog.
Summary: This is a shell bill called “The Oklahoma Sunshine Act of 2011.” There’s no other information in it right now other than an effective date of Nov. 1, 2011.
Subject: Oklahoma Public Events Network
Author: Jolley (Murphey in the House)
Summary: Directs the state’s public television network, OETA, to develop a C-SPAN-like network called the Oklahoma Public Events Network. The bill does not provide a funding source.
Subject: County assessor fees
Summary: Would allow the state Board of Equalization to set up a fee schedule for copies of Geographic Information System files or other electronic records prepared and maintained by county assessors. This has been a subject of several lawsuits in the last few years. The charges for such data vary widely among county assessors in Oklahoma.
Property owners would not be charged for records relating to their own property. The revenue from the fees would go back to each county assessor.
Subject: District Attorney records
Summary: Would give district attorneys the authority to destroy files and evidence of investigations after a certain period of time. Current law allows DAs to destroy records on actual cases after a set period of time. This bill would expand that to records of an investigation.
Subject: Economic development
Summary: Adds the State Regents for Higher Education and state colleges and universities to an expanding list of agencies that are allowed to keep records confidential that pertain to “economic development.” Among the agencies already enjoying this exemption are the Commerce Department, CareerTech and the Oklahoma Film and Music Office.
Subject: Open records
Summary: This is similar to HB 1941 described above in that it prevents government from requiring the public to fill out specific forms or identify themselves in records requests.
Subject: Open Meetings
Summary: Adds a new category to the Open Meetings Act called a “limited-support body.” It defines that as a unit that receives less than 15 percent of its funding from public funds. It exempts such “limited-support bodies” from the Open Meetings Act under certain circumstances and also allows them to conduct meetings via teleconference.
Subject: Court records
Summary: Prevents courts from sealing divorce records or other marriage and family records under Title 43, including child custody records. Those records could remain sealed if they are required by the Oklahoma Constitution or another statute.
Summary: Creates the “Private Attorney Retention Sunshine Act.” It would require state agencies to put out bid notices on their websites if they want to hire private attorneys for legal work that costs more than $5,000. For legal work expected to cost more than $500,000, more information has to filed with the governor’s office.
My former colleague Julie Bisbee and I wrote about this issue in 2009. Previous bills on the subject have not survived.
Subject: DPS records
Summary: Allows the Department of Public Safety to destroy records that have already been copied onto microfilm or scanned into a computer system.
***Full disclosure: I am a board member of FOI Oklahoma Inc.
In case you missed it, you should check out our stories and interactive map that launched over the weekend.
The Oklahoman staff writer Bob Doucette and NewsOK’s Nick Tankersley, along with several other reporters and editors, put together some statistics on Oklahoma City homicides from the last four years.
- Oklahoma City Homicide Map
- Minorities, men make up most Oklahoma City homicides
- Mother seeks justice for slain son
As well as a look back at recent homicides, the map and data will be updated by our Breaking News reporters in 2011 and beyond.
For those interested in the technical side of things, Nick built the homicide map using Django, an open-source application that was developed to help newsrooms put interactive web pages, databases and maps together quickly. This isn’t the first time we’ve used Django for a newsroom application. Our “story walls” from the State Fair and OU and OSU games also were built using Django. Digital Managing Editor Alan Herzberger has more on the Story Walls here.
We’ve also used Django internally to enter election results and to keep track of candidate biographies for the 2010 elections. Nick created a public search for those candidates on our Politics page in the fall.