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As part of the settlement between the city and the ACLU the left-leaning group’s lawsuit seeking single-member districts for Anaheim City Council elections, the city has to pay the ACLU’s legal costs, which are reportedly to be $1 million. Single-member council district proponents are now trying to shift blame to the councilmembers who oppose single-member districts — which utter nonsense. From today’s OCRegister.com:

Mayor Tom Tait said that the cost of fighting the lengthy lawsuit could have been avoided if the City Council in August 2012 had approved his call for similar ballot measure. 

First of all, it was Jose Moreno, Amin David, Consuelo Garcia and the ACLU who sued the City of Anaheim, not the other way around. They initiated the litigation. They forced the legal fight. The legal costs incurred by both sides are the result of a deliberate, freely-made action by the plaintiffs and the ACLU.

Furthermore — and this is the crucial truth that the media has missed and single-member district proponents are glossing over — the litigation continued for as long as it did because the plaintiffs and the ACLU had no interest in putting single-member council districts on the ballot. This is from a September 4, 2012 letter — nearly a month after Mayor Tait’s failed attempt to put single-member district on the ballot —  from the plaintiffs’ attorneys to the city’s attorneys:

We told you that Plaintiffs would not postpone litigation on the possibility that the City might put a measure to the voters in November 2012, and that the City should instead consider a negotiated resolution to a court action, which would allow the election system to be changed without subjecting the question to a vote of the entire electorate, which is equivalent to an at-large election in its discriminatory effect on Latinos.

And from the same letter:

Still, the City took no positive action toward unconditionally changing the election system. It put on the agenda for the next scheduled Council meeting, on July 24, 2012, a resolution to submit the matter to voters at the November 2012 election — precisely the type of “referendum” that we told you repeatedly the Plaintiffs would not accept as the basis for settling or delaying the lawsuit.

And more:

Moreover, the schedule established by Resolution No. 2012-090 and incorporated in the City’s request for a nearly one-year stay of litigation would provide the City the absolute ability to avoid the risk that the Court could compel the City to change its election system before the 2014 elections.

And:

As we have discussed with you on numerous occasions in informal communications, Plaintiffs will not accept such a ballot measure as a basis for resolution or even delay of the lawsuit.

The mayor’s claim is directly contradicted by the plaintiffs’ attorney. The plaintiffs and the ACLU had no interest in putting single-member districts on the ballot – they wanted the court to impose them directly on the people of Anaheim without their consent. According to the plaintiffs’ attorney, even if the council had supported Mayor Tait’s proposal, it would not have stopped the clock on the litigation. it would still have gone forward and the legal costs would have continued to mount, because the plaintiffs were not interested in going to the ballot — which they viewed putting the matter on the ballot to be discriminatory against Latinos.

Given that they had opposed placing single-member council districts on the ballot as having a “discriminatory effect on Latinos,” it is strange that the plaintiffs are today celebrating the same thing as a “victory” for Latinos.

If the plaintiffs had been amenable to putting single-member council districts to the voters, this settlement would more than likely been reached long ago, and Anaheim taxpayers would have saved a great deal of money. The fault lies with the plaintiffs’ stubborn insistence on bypassing the voters in favor of the imposition of single-member districts by judicial fiat.

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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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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