Cuban-American Redistricting Plan Unnecessary


As the Wizard of Oz said, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

That’s what a Cuban American special interest group wants the County Commission to do while they are considering redistricting – pay no attention to who helped it draw their map.

Fat chance.

The man behind the curtain in this case is Dan Lewis.  He is a former Miramar commissioner, former candidate for Fort Lauderdale mayor and political consultant.

Lewis is “working with” the Cuban Americans for a Better Florida, according to Brittany Wallman of the Sun-Sentinel.  She wrote that when she looked at the group’s proposed redistricting plan, she could “note his company name on the map”.

The problem with this is pure politics.

Some people love Lewis and think he is a computer and political genius.

Others hate him.  They believe he worked against them politically.

Another problem some have is that Lewis is the campaign strategist for Sheila Alu, a Sunrise commissioner running for county commission. Some believe that the Cuban American group’s redistricting map is very helpful for Alu.

District 1 encompasses parts of five cities and does not fulfill the desire of the commissioners to avoid gerrymandering.  It takes in some condominium areas in Sunrise and Lauderhill.  It avoids Weston, where voters might be hostile to Alu since she spent years competing with that city for school construction money.

Alu said she has nothing to do with the Cuban-American plan, even if it favors her.

“I haven’t seen the Cuban American map,” Alu said. “I don’t support any map other than the map that the County Commission chooses to accept…Which map they choose doesn’t matter to me.”

Besides what looks to some like gerrymanders for Alu, the Cuban American map is unfair to the commission’s only Republican – Chip LaMarca.

I don’t believe redistricting should protect incumbents or favor particular challengers.  But the political reality is that incumbents are not going to vote for a plan that is heavily tilted against them.

LaMarca’s new District 4 contains almost 12,000 more Democrats than Republicans.  That’s twice the margin of Ds to Rs than is currently in LaMarca district!

The Cuban plan makes it tougher for LaMarca to get re-elected. It leaves the commission open to the charge they are gerrymandering the only Republican off the Board.

The map is also unfair to black Commissioner Barbara Sharief.  In return for making her District 8 a “Hispanic” access seat, Sharief’s re-election is made harder.

The Cuban proposal would have District 8 contain 18 percent black voters and 46 percent Hispanic voters.  Not exactly fair to Sharief!

The district currently is close to even — roughly 43,000 blacks and 42,000 Hispanics.

Could District 8 elect a Cuban even under the proposed Cuban plan?  The district would remain heavily Democratic, while many Cubans are Republicans.

And Hispanics in Southwest Broward are diverse.  There are Columbian-Americans, Venezuelan-Americans and Puerto Ricans.

In addition, there are Brazilian-Americans, who come from South America but speak Portuguese.  And there are ther immigrant groups.

I think it is profoundly insulting to say that Hispanics can only get elected if the game is rigged in their favor. After all, Nick Navarro, a guy with a heavy Cuban-flavored accent, got elected sheriff…twice.

We’ve got one heavily black seat, now held by Commissioner Dale Holness.  The seat is compact and represents a stretch of central Broward that has many similarities.

Commissioners should not gerrymander during redistricting. They need to stand up to the pressure to carve out additional seats based on ethnic quotas.

29 Responses to “Cuban-American Redistricting Plan Unnecessary”

  1. Kevin says:


    under the case Bartlett v. Strickland issued by the USSC a few years ago, a legislative body does NOT have to pass “minority access seats” if one single minority group cannot comprise at least 50% of the population. Combining minority groups is ineffective, according to the Court.

    So, the County Commission could reject such a map and have little to fear in a lawsuit.

    If, however, it were possible to draw a 50% Hispanic district that could actually perform to elect a Hispanic candidate of choice, then that would be another story entirely. Also, the Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965, makes absolutely no legal distinctions between nationality groups of Hispanics (nor between nationality groups of blacks, for that matter). It should, of course, but it does not.



  2. Give Me A Break says:

    Dan Lewis is slimy and EVERYONE at the county knows he is behind the Cuban American map…no secret! Dan should work the old fashion way and get Alu elected (Lord, I hope Berger or someone else defeats her!)

    The County commissioners should keep politics and consultants out of the process and go with maps that are legal, include the Fair Districts priniciples and be sensitive to communities of interest….VOTE NO ON ALL PUBLIC MAPS BECAUSE THEY ALL HAVE HIDDEN AGENDAS!!

  3. Real Deal says:

    The law says that every group deserves to be represented fairly. When it comes to districting this is the only sense of fairness relevant to the law. If the map the County selects does not meet the requirements of the Voter’s Rights Act and related laws it will be challenged. That is a fact. Lawyers are already preparing pro bono to bring those lawsuits. Intentionally discriminatory maps that place the interests of incumbents over those of the people will be challenged.

    In the case of Hispanics they now make up 25% of Broward’s population. They may not be denied a majority Hispanic district when one can be drawn simply to create a second Black district for the political convenience of an incumbent. Especially not when Blacks only have 26% of the population. It just won’t fly.
    The county will come to terms with these realities one way or the other. Either they will implement a map in everyone wins and the law is upheld or they will choose lawsuits and the political unrest that a discriminatory decision produces. A map of proper and fair design can be produced to earn at least 5 of the commission’s 9 votes. In the end In the end I believe the Commission will do the right thing not because they want to, but to avoid the lawsuits.

  4. SRP says:

    Brazilians are not Hispanic. Latino yes, but not Hispanic.

    The definition is not as clear as you make it appear.

    Hispanic comes from Hispania, which is the name of the Iberian Peninsula, containing both Spain and Portugul.

    Many U. S. government agencies define “Hispanic” as someone from Central or South America of the Spanish or Portuguese culture.

    However, your comment caused me to think. I changed the paragraph in question to what I believe the people would prefer.

  5. get a life! says:

    By the way, although hispanics are 25 percent of the population countywide, they are not all democrats and they are spread throughout the county. Doesn’t take a genius to understand that. Everyone would love for them to have a seat, guess what, the hispanic D that ran last year lost badly and even lost the hispanic vote. There is a hispanic access seat now, it takes the right candidate to win who appeals to whites, blacks, hispanics and all ages. Diana did, Barbara did, maybe someone else will years from now.

  6. Nick Steffens says:


    You claim that the Cuban/Dan Lewis map is bad because it gerrymanders in order to get to its goal, but then say that it’s unfair that Commissioner Sharief would not be able to get re-elected it that District. Supposedly, pursuant to the Fair Districts Standards, the Commission should not consider the electability of incumbents, but rather drawing geographically compact maps while maintaining rights of minorities.

    The same thing goes for Commissioner LaMarca – Republicans are not a community of interest here or anywhere. If he wants to continue on the Board, he will have to seek election in the seat where his home is located.

    I tried to draw a map with a Hispanic majority (based out of SW Broward) and it’s literally impossible. I submitted a map with two African American majority districts, but they are BARELY a majority. I submitted the maps more to show what lines would have to look like in order to achieve this objective – I think this idea is lost on the majority of the commissioners. I intend on clearing this up next week.


    You are right about the Fair Districts standards.

    The reality is that as long as the county commission draws the boundaries, the new districts will protect both Democratic majorities and incumbents. Incumbents are not going to vote for their own political suicide.

    By the way, the same thing will happen in Tallahassee unless a judge orders them to do differently.

    If we want this to change — and I do — all new districts have to be drawn by an impartial, bi-partisan committee that is independent of the incumbents

  7. Commissioner Sheila Alu says:


    I have nothing to do with with the Cuban American map. Dan works for several people. I don’t know why you would jump to the conclusion that this map has anything to do with me. I support whatever decision the County Commission makes on districting. Staff has submitted 5 different maps, which all have Sunrise in district 1. Why would I support any other maps? You should have called me and given me the opportunity to respond before lumping me into this issue.


    I never even thought about the maps.

    A number of folks interested in the maps asked me why I wasn’t writing about Lewis’ role and you. As I wrote, “Some believe…”

  8. Dan Lewis says:

    Not that your analysis is ever wrong Buddy, but you were a little short on being right on more than a few points.

    First, my company draws districting maps all over the country for clients– not only in Broward. We do this because of our technical expertise and experience drawing literally hundreds of districting maps over the years. Further, you will recall that I was accepted as a demographic and mapping expert in the 2002 Federal districting litigation by all the parties (Democrats and Republicans). You also know that our clients include both governmental as well as private clients. Finally on this point, you cast a false and pejorative light on our roll somehow being ‘behind the curtain’. There are clear and precise attributes copyright notices on all our work.

    Second, all districting map drawing is inherently ‘political’ in that there is no perfect district scheme. Choices are made between competing interests on almost every boundary line. This is true whether the map is being drawn by politicians or interested individuals or so called independent committees or commissions. If you don’t believe this – please try to draw a legally sufficient map yourself. Finally on this point, the districting map in Broward that will eventually be selected will be the map that earns five(5) votes – which will only happen after some compromises. Likely no one will be completely satisfied – that is, unfortunately, the nature of this exercise.

    Third, the Hispanic Community – by and through the CABF has submitted not one but four (4) maps. After their first map was submitted, the CABF met with each county commissioner and based on those meetings and interactions, they submitted two additional maps. Another round of consultations occurred resulting in a final 4th map. All their maps feature less than a 1% population differential, are compact, provide for cities over 50,000 population to have multiple commission representation, boundered on major natural boundaries, provides minimal disenfranchisement of existing voters (it is noteworthy that all existing commissioners have been elected from their districts) from their currently elected commissioner, and satisfies all the Fair District objectives. The Hispanic maps are all more compliant with federal guidelines, Commission policy (where not contradictory) and Fair District goals than any of the other submitted maps to the County including those from Staff. Further, I understand that some of the other maps before the Commission have a population deviation of greater than 5% which in past case law is non-compliant on its face.

    Fourth, your assertion that there are other political agenda with the Hispanic efforts is simply ridiculous. The Hispanic unity group’s leaders spent hours interactively working on the maps, moving lines, and adjusting districts based on all available data in an attempt to create a responsible and workable map serving all of Broward. Your comments demeaning that effort are both gratuitous and unfair. More so in that you didn’t even try to contact any of the leaders about their efforts, or apparently even taking the time to read their submittal documentation.

    Fifth, your comments collectively condemn the districting political process while at the same time making broad and inaccurate political calculations for Lamarca, Sharief, and Holeness. I’ll save the political analysis for another day, except for my professional belief that they all get re-elected from their respective districts as drawn in any of the Hispanic Maps provided they continue to proudly represent their constituents on the County Commission.



    I appreciate this response. is open to your comments anytime on any political subject you wish to address. Just let me know.


  9. Southwest Broward American of Cuban Descent says:

    Many latins whether that be Cuban, Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan, Venezualan; etc., that are citizens and registered to vote and actually vote moved to Broward County to get away from the overbearing Hispanic / Latin oppressiveness of Dade County.

    If we wanted to change things around to get hispanics elected by gerrymandering we would still be in Miami, South Miami, Kendall, Miami Lakes, Carol City, Coral Gables, Westchester, West Miami, Homestead, Naranja, Miami Springs, Doral, — well you get the point.

    We don’t want this. We moved to Broward County to be AMERICANS!!!!

    Lastly, if people in Broward knew who was in the Cubans for a Better Florida they would realize how many political spoils Hispanics have been doled out in Broward thanks to Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist over the last 10 years and call their bluff.

    This is just designed to push us back from where we moved from.

    No mas por favor!

  10. Chip OffDaMarca says:

    Someone is drawing new maps!?! Sure hope someone is looking out for the people in the Grand Old Party. Now back to scheduling appointments. It’s good to be the king(maker)!

    p.s. Dan Lewis–Call me

  11. Steve Geller says:

    A quick technical comment on the Fair District standards. In Broward, they are tough to follow.

    Fair Districts tries to keep Political Subdivisions intact. In Broward, that’s Cities. It also tries to follow major boundries that make sense, such as Interstates, major roadways, major rivers, etc. In Broward, because of past cherrypicking for tax base by municipalities, City boundries don’t follow major boundries.

    North Lauderdale and Tamarac send tendrils to the center of the County, Hollywood has property in the Middle of Dania, Davie has property in the middle of Cooper City, etc. If a map takes in complete cities, it has to ignore major roadways. If it follows major roadways, it can’t keep cities intact. Let’s see what happens.

  12. BORING says:

    Chip OffDaMarca is Broward Cleansweep and also is Red Broward and all are BREC hack Tom Lauder

  13. Cuban Americans for a Better Florida says:

    Mr. Nevins,

    Should you want to give your readers the truth, all you have to do is contact us.

    Thank you,

    Board of Directors
    Cuban Ameicans for a Better Florida

  14. Smart Move says:

    The question here should not be: Which is more important to Broward County, the political preferences of Barbara Sharief or the desire of 500,000 Broward Hispanics to have a chance to elect a representative who looks and sounds like them?

    Rather, the question should be framed as follows. How do we draw district lines so that Sharief gets her Black constuency which exists and Hispanics get their constituency which also exists. Aren’t both equally as valid?

    Why must this be a lose/lose rather than a win/win scenario? Nobody can rationally suggest that a Hispanic leaning district cannot be drawn in SW Broward. The Cuban maps have discredited that view four different ways. It can be done so let’s protect everyone involved, including Sharief. Make a map that gets everyone what they need to feel good in Broward. It can be done so just get on with it.

  15. The Hispanic Vote says:

    Dear Mr.Nevins,

    It is interesting that a reporter like you, having only few facts on this subject, can issue a statement about something that concerns everyone in the county.

    We live in a country whose constitution promotes equality for all its constituents and that is not the case for the Hispanic communities in Broward County.

    Even though the Hispanics represent 25% of the population, we have 0% representation in the county board of commissioners.

    Talk about fairness…

    I invite you and your readers to learn more about what the Hispanic Leadership in Broward County is doing.

    Go to the link below to access the front page article in El sentinel of Oct. 28, 2011.,0,3060487.story

    Best regards,
    Board of Directors
    The Hispanic Vote/El Voto Hispano

  16. Kevin says:

    There are two constitutional problems with some of these arguments:

    1. The USSC says that drawing “influence” districts (that is a district where a minority might be a plurality but NOT a majority) is NOT required by the Voting Rights Act or the 15th amendment, though of course the polity in question is free to do so (just not required to do so).

    2. In Johnson v. DeGrandy in 1994, the USSC made it pretty clear that the Voting Rights Act does not and cannot “referee” between the competing claims of blacks and Hispanics. Now I personally think that that is a stupid and naive assumption on the part of the Court, and ignores real life in places like South Florida, but there you have it.

    Basically, over the years the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, Congress, and various “fair” districting standards have made it absolutely impossible to draw an honest, bullet-proof districting plan almost anywhere. Thus the proliferation of lawsuits, consultants, and expert witnesses.

    Kevin Hill

  17. Counterpoint says:

    The unnamed Board of Directors of Hispanic Vote says the Hispanics have 0 percent representation on the county commission.

    Wasn’t Diana Wasserman-Rubin, born in Havana, on the county commission until 2010? She made no secret of her Cuban heritage.

    What other Hispanic candidates have run for county commission?

    This is looks like the Angelo Castillo plan.

  18. Give Me A Break says:

    This is not hispanic vs. black, this post is very disturbing…this is about equity, fairness and ensuring boundaries are drawn that favor voters, cities and like commmunities…10 yrs ago, district 8 was the “hispanic seat” and Dianna won…well, she did some bad things and Barbara won the “hispanic seat” although is disagree with it being called a hispanic seat because its the most diverse district of all 9. It takes the right candidate with the right message to win! POINT BLANK PERIOD.

  19. Counterpoint says:

    Angelo Castillo is trying to get through redistricting what he couldn’t win at an election.

  20. Mr. G says:

    I am so sick and tired of hearing about the hispanic vote, cuban vote etc. What diffrence does it make? I never hear about redistricting for the Jewish Vote, Chinese or Catholic Vote. This gets me sick to my stomach how we have to hear about hispanics, cubans this and that. I thought we were all Americans and have the right to vote!

  21. Southwest Ranches Hero says:

    It was A-OK when Diana Wasserman Rubin (HISPANIC BORN in CUBA) was the County Commissioner from the area.

    Before she was indicted no one brought out that she was hispanic — and it was not a problem.

    She and her second husband Rubin are crooked.

    I don’t know about her first husband Wasserman. He seems like a decent guy.

  22. DeeDee says:

    Although Hispanics deserve representation, they don’t need a district gerrymandered for them. The Jewish residents of Broward won seats on the county commission and School Board without gerrymandering because it was countywide elections at the time. As indicated here, Sheriff Navarro and several other Hispanics won without any unusual help.
    Commissioners need to remember that they represent all of us.

  23. Mr. H says:

    This is all very funny. Mr. G, please allow me to inform you that everyone Gerrymanders districts to to elect their constituents, in the hopes that such people would fight for and benefit their communities.

    Yes, the Chinese have done it in N.Y. and L.A. The Catholics push for theirs, as well. The Italian’s along with the Irish’s Emerald Society have their groups and push for their causes, districts and constituents. As far as the Jews, all one has to do is look at Debbie Wasserman-Schultz district. It takes in most of the Jewish condos from Aventura, in eastern Miami-Dade County to Kings Point in north westerm Broward County. Lastly, take a good look at Alcee Hastings “black” district.

    So you see Mr. G, In a free society everyone has a stake, passions run deep, people get involved in the process and at the end that’s what make’s us all Americans.

  24. Real Deal says:

    Districting is red meat, bear knuckles politics. Ethnicity and race absolutely determines voter preference and always has. People tend to vote for their own. Get off cloud 9. How you draw district lines plays totally into who wins 90% of the time.

  25. Real Deal says:

    Bare, that is……

  26. Real Deal says:

    Just as I predicted the County last night picked maps based on their own political needs and ignored every single rule they said they would follow in this process. Is anyone really surprised? The message to Hispanics is also clear. You do not count because you do not vote.

  27. Give Me A Break says:

    Give it up please! I was there and they actually did publicly pick their top choices and the Cuban map was picked by several…the good news is the final 2 maps, there are 3 seats where a Hispanic could be viable….DO YOUR RESEARCH!

  28. Political Voice says:

    This is all smoke and mirrors. There are numerous key people involved in this behind the scene and it’s intended to help Sheriff Lamberti.

    Sheriff Lamberti has lost the African American vote and orchestrated a plan to get the Hispanic vote in District 8 hurting Commissioner Sharieff, who beat Angello Castillo and helping themselves.

    Sheriff Lamberti has got the help of Rafael Lopez, BSO Lt., Freddy Avalos, BSO Detective, Fernando Gajate, BSO Captain, Frank Costoya who’s Wife is (Alba Costoya)BSO Attorney, Pepe Lopez BSO, Carlos Reyes (Former Rothstein Firm, Mike Fernandez, brother-in-law of Under-Sheriff Tom Wheeler, Angelo Castillo, Pembroke Pines Commissioner and his wife Lisa Castillo former employee of Commissioner Jim Scott to master a re-districting plan to smash out the black vote and gain hispanic voters.

    Also, the word is out that Sheriff Lamberti is desperate because he has no black community support. He is once again trying to use the black community through Wiley Thompson.

    In January, as part of Sheriff Lamberti’s master plan, Under-Sheriff Tom Wheeler will be out and Wiley Thompson will become the new African Amercian Under-Sheriff for a big show. You would think for a smart man, Wiley Thompson would avoid being used over and over again by Lamberti for the color of his skin. It’s jus ta big show by Lamberti.

    This is all wrong. These people will do anything to help Lamberti and try to save themselves. It is obvious, Lamberti is in trouble early in the election process and everyone knows it, including him.

  29. Pines Resident says:

    What a big surprise that our arrogant and disliked Pines Commissioner Angello Castillo has his nose and his wife Lisa’s nose in another scandal.

    Like we don’t have enough issues needing our attention in Pines and that we are stuck with him after he lost the County election against Barbara Sharieff a much better candidate.

    This is typical for such an arrogant Commissioner and wife trying once again to try and jury mandor districts for their own personal gain. Besides, we are working to get one or two good candidates to run against him in thenext election to finally get him out for good.

    Everyone should go to the next Commission Meetings and express their displeasure with his continued unethical and unacceptable behavior as our City Commissioner.