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The Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections held its next-to-last meeting last night (I’ll post the video when it is available). It’s main business was voting on recommendations about the structure of the Anaheim City Council — specifically, whether to expand the size of the council, and whether to continue electing members at-large or switch to a single-member district basis.

The underlying dynamic has been a united bloc of CAC members appointed by Mayor Tom Tait and former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway,  who have been coordinating from the get-go with a left-wing coalition led by OCCORD and UNITE-HERE Local 11 to achieve a recommendation for 8 single-member council districts. The other the six committee members are more disparate and have not approached the matter with the same single-mindedness; half of them were appointed midway through the process to fill vacancies left by resignations.

[This has been the case from the very beginning when the CAC elected its chair and vice chair. Martin Lopez (a Galloway-appointee and secretary of the UNITE-HERE Local 11 union) nominated Tait-appointee Vivian Pham (a liberal Democrat who has only lived in Anaheim for two years and provides major funding for OCCORD) to be chair — before she had even arrived at the meeting.  The motion was seconded by Tait-appointee Bill Dalati (another Democrat and a past council candidate). Pham then nominated Dalati for vice chair, which was seconded by Lopez. It was clearly plotted out ahead of time.]

OCCORD and UNITE-HERE ran one of their human wave drills, mustering 15 or so bodies to the microphone during public comments to rattle of scripted support for eight single-member councils districts. This is part of their attempt to create, for the CAC’s public record, the mirage of broad support for single-member council districts among Anaheim residents.

The professional facilitator hired to run the last two meetings where draft recommendations have been voted on, segregated last nights voting on council structure into two separate ballots: one on the size of the council, followed by a vote on the at-large v. single-member district.

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Vivian Pham

Vivian Pham

The Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) on Elections is chaired by Vivian Pham, a liberal Democrat who had only lived in Anaheim for two years when Mayor Tom Tait chose her last fall as one of his two appointees to the CAC (the other being another Democrat, Bill Dalati).

I eventually came to the opinion she was almost certainly coordinating with the left-wing coalition, led by OCCORD and UNITE-HERE Local 11, that is lobbying the CAC to recommend electing the City Council by single-member districts. After all, in her capacity as its Community Development Officer, Wells Fargo has funded OCCORD’s activities to the tune of at least $80,000. Furthermore, it is hardly a secret Pham is solidly in favor of single-member council districts.

Other observers of the CAC process have reached the same conclusion, and any doubts I may have had pretty much evaporated during last week’s CAC meeting (you can watch the video here).

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When you boil it down, the ACLU’s attempt to litigate the City of Anaheim into replacing the at-large system of electing the city council with single-member council districts is really about race; specifically classifying citizens on the basis of their race and designing a system of representation that is based on race.

The ACLU alleges the current system violates the California Voting Rights Act, disenfranchises Latinos and demands increasing the number of Latinos on the council via single-member council districts.

It is clear to anyone who has been paying attention tat the left-wing coalition pushing single-member districts views the world through race-colored glasses. The internal logic of this thinking inevitably leads us to away from the “content of our character” ideal articulated by Martin Luther King, Jr., pushing us backward to absurd spectacle of an increasingly inter-racial society arguing over what someone’s “real” ethnicity is.

And the mangling of color-blindness was on display in these paragraphs from the Voice of OC’s story on yesterday’s decision by Judge Franz Miller to delay hearing the lawsuit until July:

The city challenges the validity of the lawsuit in court documents, arguing that members of minority groups have consistently been elected to the City Council. According to the city, 10 seats have been up for election since 2002, with seven of those seats filled by either “Asian” or “Hispanic” council members.

One of those council members is former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, who is Spanish and Filipina, a mix that ACLU attorney Robert Ruben said doesn’t meet the criteria for Latina under the Voting Rights Act.

What a sad, infuriating spectacle. But not an unexpected one. When racial bean-counting is the coin of the realm for acquiring political power and “representation,” should we be surprised when such argument breaks out over whether or not someone is really Latino (or Asian or whichever ethnicity is deemed in need of increased “representation)? If single-member council districts become a reality in Anaheim, we can expect more of such demeaning spats.

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A Record-Setting Term
Mayor Tom Tait may be on his way to setting a record for most high-ranking city staff to quit or be fired on in a single term. Barely more than two years in office, he’s already been through two city managers, a police chief and a city attorney. He canned City Manager Tom Wood mid-way through 2011, and City Manager Bob Wingenroth elected to get of out Dodge and submitted his resignation yesterday. City Attorney Cristina Talley, whom Tait favored, was pushed out several weeks ago. Police Chief John Welter called it a day last week.

This is not the way to build a stable, successful city government .

The smart thing to do at this point would be to bring back either of two former city managers, Jim Ruth or Dave Morgan, as the Interim CM until an executive search for a permanent city manager is completed( assuming they’re willing). The opportunity to be Anaheim City Manager should draw a slew of qualified resumes…,the operative word being should. When Bob Wingenroth was competing for the permanent spot, response to the call for applicants was underwhelming, probably due to council dynamics.

The Mayor of Santa Anaheim
Yesterday, the city issued a press release about how, as part of the Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service, Mayor Tait visited GOALS and Grandma’s House of Hope.

“Mayor Tait’s visits represented the city’s appreciation to all those who volunteer throughout Anaheim, and mirrored similar visits of appreciation by mayors across the United States,” said the press release.

Hold the phone: Grandma’s House of Hope is located in Santa Ana, not Anaheim. Taking nothing away from Grandma’s House of Hope, but shouldn’t it have been possible to find two sites in Anaheim for the Mayor of Anaheim to visit?

Guess Who Came To Dinner?
Anaheim City School District Trustee Dr. Jose F. Moreno was spotted at the Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim gala dinner on Saturday. He and his wife were table guests of Mayor Tom Tait.

Keep in mind that Moreno is suing the city of which Tait is mayor. He is the lead plaintiff in Moreno v. the City of Anaheim, a lawsuit aimed at forcing the city to adopt a single-member district system for electing the city council. This was three days before Moreno’s lawsuit was due to be heard in court. Since all involved, including the mayor and city council, will likely be deposed, it isn’t very prudent for the Mayor of Anaheim to have as his table guest someone who is suing the City of Anaheim.

Today, the OC Superior Court Judge Franz Miller granted the City of Anaheim’s request for a stay of the ACLU’s litigation to force a switch from at-large election of council members to a single-member district system.

The judge stayed the lawsuit until July 9 in order to give the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections the opportunity to complete its work, and for the City Council to take the CAC’s report under consideration for action.

UPDATE: The city had two motions before the court today. One was a motion to dismiss the ACLU’s lawsuit – I believe that’s what a request for a “judgment on pleadings” is — was continued until July 9.

The other motion was for the stay, which Judge Miller did grant. The court case is now scheduled for July 7. A conference for July 9, at which the city will to present a “detailed time line for any proposed city election.”

From the OCCourts.org website:

Reasoning: Deny reqst for j/n as untimely; ct has inherent power to stay proceedings in the interests of justice and to promote judicial efficiency (Freiberg 33 A4 1484, 1489; although ct should consider traditional factors of judicial economy, MP hardship, and RP prejudice (Rivers 980 FSupp 1358, 1360), where, as here, there are separation of powers considerations (see Connecticut Indemnity 23 C4 807,814), that factor has particular importance; cts should defer when practical to legislative solutions to potential constitutional problems, especially where the democratic process is invoked; if ct finds current voting scheme for city council unconst, ct will either order a particular scheme or order Anaheim to come up w/ one; re the former option, Anaheim correctly notes it is not reqrd to adopt a particular scheme, just a const one; re the latter option, that appears to be what Anaheim is moving toward now; reqstd say time is de minimis; a serious timeline/game plan is necessary to ensure any problems are remedied with all due speed

The city’s legal fees, which the pro-single member district faction and the Vichy Anaheim-types find so objectionable, shouldn’t move much in the interim. Given the sum the city spent litigating the Angels name change, it strikes me pound-foolish to engage in hand-wringing over a legal bill related to Anaheim’s governing structure for the next 100 years.

UPDATE: Voice of OC’s Adam Elmahrek was at the hearing and has more details here.

The OC Register published an interesting article on Sunday regarding a steep decline in crimes-solved statistics during the last decade (sorry, it’s behind the OCR paywall).

Predictably but prematurely, the dementors of the Anaheim politics are crowing. Cynthia Ward, in typical hyperbolic fashion, headlines her postThe Register Blows The Lid Of More Dirty Secrets of the Anaheim Police.”

That’s not what the OCR article does, but as usual, she and her fellow travelers see what they want to see. For example, Ward writes:

“What is clear is that even when APD numbers appear to reflect better rates of crime-solving, it’s because of a shift in reporting standards, not an increase in actual criminals pulled off the streets.

Taken in context with her salacious headline, Cynthia implies the APD is cooking the books, while doing less crime-fighting than advertised – neither of which can be reasonably concluded from Kyle’s article.

The article is very, very long and chock-full of details and information that is well-worth pondering and investigating further. But in essence, what appears to be the case isn’t cooking the books, but more accurate and consistent application of standard FBI crime definitions. The more reasonable conclusion to draw from Kyle’s article is that pre-2002 compilation and reporting of crimes-solved statistics left something to be desired:

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DPOC logoWhile the OC Republican Party slumbers, the Democratic Party of Orange County is lending its voice to the left-wing coalition pushing to abolish Anaheim’s current at-large system for electing the city council, and carve the city into eight single-member council districts.

My friends at TheLiberalOC. com posted yesterday that the DPOC Central Committee approved a resolution of support for this scheme, which is being quarterbacked at the political level by a confederation of OCCORD, UNITE-HERE Local 11, Los Amigos and the OC Labor Federation — with the ACLU covering the litigation front.

Hmmm.

Democratic Party of Orange County: left-wing.

OCCORD: left-wing.

UNITE-HERE: left-wing.

Los Amigos: left-wing.

OC Labor Federation: left-wing.

ACLLU: left-wing.

Anyone seeing a pattern, here?

Given that constellation of support, it’s safe to say this plan for eight single-member council districts isn’t intended as a recipe for limited government and greater liberty in Anaheim.

I published a series of posts delving into the origins, funding and self-proclaimed mission of OCCORD, one fo the left-wing groups spearheading the drive for electing the Anaheim City Council from single-member districts.

You can read those posts here, here, here and here.

Another major cog in that coalition is Local 11 of the militant union UNITE-HERE, which represents “more than 20,000 workers employed in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas and convention centers throughout Southern California.” UNITE-HERE also feels it vital to point out that it “boasts a diverse membership, comprising workers from many immigrant communities as well as high percentages of African-American, Latino, and Asian-American workers. The majority of UNITE HERE members are women” — because, as well know, it is absolutely imperative that we identify ourselves by skin-color.

UNITE-HERE is the mothership of OCCORD. As I noted in an earlier post, OCCORD founder and Executive Director Eric Altman led UNITE-HERE’s strategic affairs department for 15 years before starting OCCORD. UNITE-HERE provides funding for OCCORD, and UNITE-HERE Local 11’s second-in-command, Ada Briceno, is the chair of OCCORD, whose current and former staff members have also served stints as UNITE-HERE organizers.

I see the staff of UNITE-HERE Local 11 at every meeting of the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections. Working hand-in-glove with OCCORD, UNITE-HERE is running a drill of getting bodies up to the microphone during public comments to say how their lives will be better if there were single-member council districts – the goal being to use the public record of CAC meetings to claim broad public support for single-member council districts.

Once the public comments are done, those folks have gone and the meeting settles down to the regular agenda, most of the remaining audience is composed of UNITE-HERE and OCCORD staffers.

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The ACLU yesterday sent a letter to the City of Anaheim calling on them to establish a civilian police oversight board. The OC Register published the story yesterday afternoon.

In a classic publicity maneuver, the ACLU first sent the letter to the OC Register, which began working on a story — before anyone at the City had seen the letter or was even aware of it.

OCCORD LogoAs I posted yesterday, one of OCCORD’s funders is The New World Foundation, a radical, New York City-based non-profit that funds left-wing organization in the United States and around the world.

OCCORD’s grants came from the NWF’s “New Majority Fund” – which is its largest funding vehicle. The ambitious agenda of the New Majority Fund is  “building electoral majorities that can reverse the rightward trend across America” and helping groups like OCCORD to “grow in scope and scale to influence the broader political climate and reshape government at the municipal, county and state levels.”

Indeed, OCCORD’s mission fits perfectly into The New World Foundation’s larger goals, self-consciously casting itself as an agent for rolling back conservative politics and governance in Orange County.

In April of 2012, Norma Rodriguez, an organizer for the San Diego-based Center on Policy Initiatives (another recipient of financial support from the New World Foundation’s New Majority Fund) posted this OCCORD job opportunity:

“OCCORD- Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development is  a sister organization of CPI’s in Orange County, they are hiring a Researcher and Policy Analyst, please forward on to colleagues in OC or colleagues interested in moving there!!”

OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman

OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman

In the job posting, OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman told potential applicants [emphasis added]::

“OCCORD is hiring a campaign-oriented Researcher/Policy Analyst.  We’re looking for a good strategic thinker who will keep digging until they find the information they need and who can communicate the relevance of their findings to multiple audiences ranging from policymakers to grassroots leaders.”

Altman concludes with this revealing caution [emphasis added]:

Oh, and since this is Orange County, the epicenter of the modern American conservative movement, we need someone who doesn’t mind fighting  an uphill battle…”

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New World FoundationLast week, we examined OCCORD, its funding and its role in the left-wing coalition trying to influence the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Election to endorse single-member council districts.

Some may question describing OCCORD as a politically left-wing organization. As to that, my previous post traced the group’s genesis as an off-shoot of the left-wing union UNITE-HERE, and their continuing close relationship in terms of strategizing and organizing. It doesn’t stop there.

A significant source of  funding for OCCORD is The New World Foundation (NWF), a New York City-based non-profit with assets of more than $30 million. According to its website, The New World Foundation “believes global and national social change begins at the local level. We seek to help progressive community activists in the United States and around the world build stronger alliances for social justice, civil rights, economic and electoral issues since 1954.”

The New World Foundation has given OCCORD at least $30,000 since 2008. The money comes from the NWF’s New Majority Fund, the purpose of which is “building electoral majorities that can reverse the rightward trend across America” and help recipients of its funding to “grow in scope and scale to influence the broader political climate and reshape government at the municipal, county and state levels.”

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IMG_6494The Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections and Community Involvement meets again this Thursday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Anaheim Central Library, 500 West Broadway. On the agenda: an overview of the cost of Anaheim elections and the size of the city council, plus a staff update on the ACLU lawsuit against city.

If past CAC meetings are any guide, Orange County Labor Federation Political Director Julio Perez will be there as part of the ongoing union effort to drives bodies to the meetings to call for single-member districts during public comments, in order to create the impression of overwhelming public support for this scheme.

Readers may remember Perez, a liberal Democrat, was the union candidate in last year’s 69th Assembly District primary. At his campaign kick-off, Perez said, “There’s not less money in the economy, there’s just less money in government coffers.” Jeepers.

Perez and other union staffers want Anaheim carved up into single-member council districts because it would make it easier to elect liberal and union-supported candidates to the Anaheim City Council, where they can push for left-wing policies like the “living wage” and a gate-tax and oppose any efforts to outsource city services to private sector providers.

Chairing the Citizens Advisory Committee will be Vivian Pham, a political supporter of Julio Perez. Last year, Pham  (who was appointed to the CAC by Mayor Tom Tait) contributed $100 to Perez’s Assembly campaign:

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The Democratic Party of Orange County on Monday sent out this e-newsletter trumpeting the accomplishments of new party Chairman Henry Vandemeir. First among the “important issues” for which Vandemier is hailed for “taking a visible stand” is “Fair Elections” liberal-speak for single-member council districts:

Newly Elected DPOC Chair Hits The Ground Running

In just six short weeks, Henry Vandermeier, newly elected chair of the Democratic Party Orange County (DPOC), has covered a lot of ground. Under Henry’s leadership, DPOC has been out in the community taking a visible stand on such important issues as Fair Elections, Immigration Reform and LGBT rights in the Vietnamese community. A Council of Clubs initiative has been launched to work more closely with the many Democratic Clubs chartered throughout Orange County. And, a Strategic Plan designed by Henry has been adopted by DPOC to lead the party through the next two years.

As I’ve posted previously, the Left in this county has its eye on the ball and correctly sees the ACLU litigation and the Citizens Advisory Committee process as the opening to advance their agenda.

If you asked OC GOP regulars what they think about the distinct possibility electing the Anaheim City Council by single-member districts, the response would probably be, “What?”

IMG_6494The Voice of OC posted this story today on the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections and Community participation. I was struck by this passage about CAC Chair Vivian Pham:

Chairwoman Vivian Pham said city staff has refused to provide information relevant to forming council districts by ignoring her requests for specific speakers to present information. Latino activists and an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit have demanded council districts to better represent Latinos. 

“I feel that the presentations we have had are more fluff. I feel like they’re distracting us from the real issue of districting,” Pham said. “We can’t make an informative decision because they won’t give us the information.”

Fluff? Has Ms. Pham been paying attention at these CAC meetings, which have featured a parade of experts sharing data, information and experiences directly relevant to the CAC’s mission (which is not solely focused on districts).

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San Berdoo council districts

Proponents of council districts like to say “Anaheim is the largest city in California without council districts” as if that isolated fact were an argument in and of itself. Anaheim is also the largest city in the California with a major Disney theme park. So what?

In my experience, denizens of the Left think that sort of rhetoric is extremely compelling. How many times have we heard them argue “The United States is the only major industrial democracy in the world without (fill in desired liberal social program du jour),” as if “everyone else is doing it” is a reason to do anything.

Be that as it may, let’s take a look at these other, more progressives cities that elect their councilmembers by districts:

Los Angeles: a broke metropolis of 3,792,621 with 15 council districts. Broke and getting broker. Under the thumb of public employee unions and various left-wing pressure groups (larger cousins of the coalition pressing for single-member districts in Anaheim).

San Diego: a city of 1,322,553 with nine council districts. Ground zero of the municipal pension bomb.

Stockton: a city of 201,707 with six council districts. The largest American city to file for bankruptcy. Ever. And ranked one of the most dangerous cities in America, to boot.

San Bernardino: a city of 209,924 with seven districts. Filing for bankruptcy. And with a rising crime rate.

Santa Ana: a city of 324,528 with six districts. A fiscal basket case.

Riverside: a city of with seven districts. Another city in dire fiscal straits.

Oakland: a crime-ridden city of 395,817 with seven councilmembers elected from districts and one at-large councilmember  . Another progressive citadel staring at a pension time bomb of its own making.

Boy, a real collection of real exemplars of fiscal probity! Why wouldn’t the citizens of Anaheim want to emulate their example!

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The Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections and Community Involvement — CAC, for short — will meet for the sixth time tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Ponderosa Family Resource Center, 2100 Haster Street.

On the CAC agenda: a presentation from Orange County’s rock star Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley on voter participation and outreach.

The CAC will also hear from the Aly Zimmerman, the assistant city manager of the City of Vista, on that city’s Community Outreach Committee. Vista was under similar legal threat of forced conversion to council districts about 10 years ago regarding similarly alleged disenfranchisement of Hispanic voters (there were no Latinos on the council). As the CAC heard at its December 13 meeting, Vista mounted a vigorous voter outreach program that increased Latino voter participation. Since then, two Latino candidates have won election to the council.

And all without having to go to council districts. Imagine that.

Here is the complete agenda packet.

Can you find the diversity in this photo?

Can you find the diversity in this photo?

Chris Nguyen published a new post at OC Political that contains interesting lessons for the City of Anaheim, which is being sued by the ACLU and three litigants (who simultaneously shed crocodile tears about how much their lawsuit is costing taxpayers).

Nguyen asks whether Santa Ana might also be a target for a California Voting Rights Acts lawsuit. In Santa Ana, the seven councilmembers are elected to represent the district in which they reside, but they are voted on at-large.

The ethnically-homogeneous Santa Ana City Council is entirely Hispanic — it’s funny how that lack of diversity seems to bother none of the folks who are so agitated about Anaheim — despite the city’s significant number of Asian voters. Nguyen writes:

Santa Ana’s Asian population is highly concentrated in the western portion of the City.

In the redistricting plan adopted at the beginning of 2012, Ward 6′s border with Ward 3 moved south, and increased the Ward 3 Asian population by 16%. The relatively square Ward 4 became much more rectangular by yielding most of its western territory to Ward 6 and picking up the southeastern portion of Ward 6. This increased the Ward 4 Asian population by a whopping 209%. However, these changes decreased the Ward 6 Asian population by 27%.

Prior to the 2012 redistricting, 46% of all Santa Ana Asians resided in Ward 6, 24% lived in Ward 3, and just 5% in Ward 4. With the new districts, just 33% live in Ward 6, 27% live in Ward 3, and 17% live in Ward 4.

Ward 6 is represented by Mayor Pro Tem Sal Tinajero; Ward 3 by newly-elected Councilwoman Angelica Amezcua; and Ward 4 by Councilman David Benavides.

At last weeks meeting of the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Commission on Elections, an attorney who was very involved in Modesto’s experience with CVRA litigation and move to council districts shared an interesting and relevant fact. When the city moved from an at-large system to a district-system, one of the new districts was a “majority-minority” district; i.e. a majority of voters were members of “protected classes.”

Rather than follow the underlying theory behind CVRA — that under such circumstances,voters will vote their skin color — this district elected a very conservative, white, NRA-supporting senior citizen.

All of this should be precautionary to those who are pushing Anaheim to cave in and enact council districts right now. Governance is a serious issue, and I am amazed at the rashness of calls to jam through council districts poste haste.

Megaphoning for socio-ethnic justice for a peacefully diverse environment.

During public comments at Tuesday night’s Anaheim City Council meeting, former Los Amigos President Amin David asked how much the city had spent defending itself against the ACLU lawsuit seeking to force a switch to a district-based system of council elections.

He neglected to mention he is one of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit.

The answer to Amin David’s question was $144,000 as of the end of September.

During the campaign, Anaheim City School District Trustee Jose Moreno took council candidate Jordan Brandman to task about council districts, lambasting him for supporting a citizens commission to examine in a deliberate manner, rather than rushing to place a slapped together proposal on the November ballot.

“When we asked you to discuss district elections, and to be really clear that we want district elections now, to not go through the expense of a lawsuit, which is general fund money, but to rather have the council vote to put it on the ballot…”

Moreno’s point was that folks like Brandman were costing the city money in litigation costs by not preemptive lay bowing to the lawsuit.

That, by the way, is the line generally taken by the defeatists the among Anaheim activists, who have bought into the conventional wisdom that resistance is futile and a quick surrender is the least expensive option.

Leaving aside the validity of that conventional wisdom — which I do not buy — let’s consider David’s and Moreno’s concerns over how much their litigation will cost the city, because it is uniquely within their power to do something about it.

They could simply suspend their lawsuit until the citizens commission completes its work, forwards its recommendations to the Anaheim City Council, and the city council takes action regarding those recommendations.

Putting their lawsuit into suspended animation — not dropping it — would stop the clock on the city’s legal expenses.

In fact, it’s my understanding the city has asked them to do exactly that — and they refused.

Keep that in mind next time Jose Moreno, Amin David or anyone supporting their litigation sheds crocodile tears over “the cost to taxpayers.”

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