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Part of the settlement reached in January between the City of Anaheim and the ACLU (representing ACSD Trustee Jose Moreno and two other plaintiffs), the city agreed to pay ACLU’s legal fees in an amount negotiated between the two parties.

Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council approved paying the negotiated amount $1.22 million. You can read the staff report here; a summary of the plaintiffs’ attorney’s rates here and of the city’s attorneys’ rates here.

Over at TheLiberalOC.com, “Editorial Staff” tries to paint this as a futile waster of money:

The amount is on top of the $1.25 million in legal fees the city had incurred fighting the inevitable. The only thing gained by the council majority’s opposition to the lawsuit was to delay the implementation of a new district election process, and it’s presentation to voters for approval in November.

Why so much effort, and waste of taxpayer funds, to stop what was clearly inevitable? Simple really; to protect the status quo so that members Murray and Eastman would get one more shot at four-year terms on the council before the implementation of districts. The entire battle, all of the posturing and positioning, all the legal fees, was so that the current power base in Anaheim would have four more years to raid the public piggy-bank to reward the rich and powerful interests in Orange County’s largest city.

I suppose that is one way to look at it, even if it is the wrong way – on several levels.

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What’s been buzzing around Anaheim for a few weeks is bleeding into the media (OC Register and VOC): during tonight’s closed session, the Anaheim City Council is expected to settle the ACLU’s lawsuit (for which the lead plaintiff is Anaheim City School District Trustee Jose F. Moreno) to replace the city’s at-large council elections with a system of single-member council districts.

As part of the settlement, it is expected the City Council will agree to carve the city into four single-member districts and then put it to the voters. The judge can’t impose single-member districts by judicial fiat since Anaheim is a charter city; it requires amending the city charter, which can only be done by a vote of the people.

There’s no reason single-member districts couldn’t be placed on the June ballot in hopes of obtaining a”yes” vote that would put single-member districts in place for the November council elections. My guess is the ACLU, the plaintiffs and the rest of the single-member district Coalition of the Left prefer a November election on the grounds its higher (and more Democratic) turnout increase the odds of voter approval.

As readers know, in 2013 the council voted to create four at-large council districts (which doesn’t require amending the charter), and to place on the June ballot measures asking voters to a) incorporate at-large council districts into the city charter and b) whether they want to increase the council to six members. City staff was subsequently instructed to create districts for both a four- and six-seat council, for the city council’s consideration and adoption.

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That’s the vibe that emanates from much of the audience nowadays at Anaheim City Council meetings. The cadre of agitators who have designated themselves as the collective vox populi of Anaheim have a very unkind manner when it comes to anyone who disagrees with them.

The most egregious recent display was William Fitzgerald vomiting out an anti-Semitic, homophobic rant at Monday morning’s special council meeting. Fitzgerald has always been like that. The difference is he’s no longer the exception and the nastiness he embodies has increasingly become the rule in the peanut gallery.

Here’s Los Amigos Founder Amin David speaking a few minutes after Fitzgerald:

 

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.

OCCORD LogoI’ve attended most of the Citizens Advisory Committee meetings, and as I’ve noted in previous posts, it was clear from early on that a left-wing coalition was forming to push the CAC toward recommending a switch to electing the Anaheim City Council from single-member districts; that is, Anaheim residents would only have a vote within their council district, and have no voice in the election of the rest of the city council.

The leading members of this left-wing coalition are UNITE-HERE (a militant union representing workers in hotels, food service and similar sectors), Los Amigos of Orange County,  Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (commonly known as OCCORD) and the Orange County Labor Federation.

What is OCCORD?

OCCORD is a 501(c)3 founded in 2005 by Eric Altman, a former union organizer. Since then, it has been a fixture on the Left-side of the Anaheim political spectrum. Earlier, its main focus was lobbying the city to impose low-income housing set-aside requirements on developers. Last year, OCCORD was in the thick of the protests against the GardenWalk hotels agreement, in support of the effort of the Take Back Anaheim initiative and  in favor of the ACLU’s lawsuit seeking to force the city to move to single-member districts.

OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman and another OCCORD staffer, Clara Turner, have been fixtures at CAC meetings, distributing fliers full of data-points and graphs designed to buttress OCCORD’s advocacy of single-member council districts.

It’s Board of Directors is stacked with union activists, and also includes Amin David, one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit seeking to impose single-member districts on Anaheim.

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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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