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OC-Labor-FedOn August 7, the OC Labor Federation, via its Orange County Dignity PAC, contributed $10,000 to the Committee for District Elections, the committee running the campaign for by-district council elections.

So, we have another contribution from another liberal special interest group interested in carving Anaheim into single-member council districts. The OC Labor Federation joins OCCORD, San Francisco-based PowerPac.org and left-wing litigators from Northern California as funders of this effort to re-cast the politics of Anaheim city government.

Perhaps this will cause a few more scales to fall from the eyes of those Republicans who still refuse to see the campaign for by-districts in Anaheim for what it is: a campaign by the organized political Left to re-structure how Anaheim elects its council members in order to achieve permanent Democratic majorities.

single-member districts unicorn 3

Just close your eyes and listen to the Magical Single-Member Council Districts Unicorn!

This November, Anaheim voters will decide on two initiatives: whether to replace the current at-large council election system with the single-member district (or “by-district”)system being pushed by a left-wing coalition; and whether to expand the city council from four to six members.

Ballot arguments for and against the by-district initiative were filed on Monday. The pro argument is signed by Mayor Tom Tait and Councilman Jordan Brandman. I’ll comment in greater depth soon, but a couple of things jump out.

For months and months, the advocacy of single-member district by proponents has been racially-based: a relentless focus on the ethnicity of current and  former councilmembers and claims that at-large elections “disenfranchise” Latino voters. Indeed, that was the entire basis of the Jose Moreno/ACLU lawsuit that put this initiative on the ballot.

However, except for a very oblique reference to “reflecting our neighborhoods,” the ethno-racial appeals are entirely absent from the pro-single-member districts argument – no doubt reflecting a cynical awareness by the pro-districts coalition that for voters who haven’t majored in Chicano studies, calls to gerrymander city council elections to produce a pre-determined ethnic composition holds little appeal. 

Instead, the pro-argument promises that all things bright and beautiful will happen to Anaheim voters if they adopt single-member districts: cleaner streets, filled potholes, trimmed trees, whiter teeth, happier marriages and an answer to the question of whether intelligent life exists on other planets. OK – not the last three things, but that’s probably because it would have put them over the 300-word limit.

In any case, here is the Argument in Favor, followed by the common sense truth of the argument against.

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Jose F. Moreno

Jose F. Moreno

UPDATED: After consulting an expert legal mind about the nuanced language of the staff report, the settlement agreement’;s restrictions on single-member district ballot arguments isn’t as draconian as I initially concluded. I’ve revised the post accordingly.

Apparently, the commitment of single-member council districts to “authentic representation” doesn’t extend to free and unfettered debate with opponents.

Item 18 on tomorrow night’s Anaheim City Council agenda deals with placing on the November ballot the proposed charter amendments to re-structure the city council. One of those is the single-member council districts charter amendment, being put on the November ballot pursuant to the settlement agreement with the ACLU and plaintiffs Jose Moreno et al. Interestingly, the ACLU and the plaintiffs included some very political demands designed to tilt the campaign playing field in their direction.

According to the staff report:

As one of the actions being taken tonight, the Council should identify two or more members of the City Council to write the arguments. Agreement provides that the selected members must be those that “support a change in the City’s electoral system to ‘by-district’ elections.” This resolution prohibits Council members from using their City titles for identification as an author in the signature block of any written argument or rebuttal argument except for those Council members authorized by this resolution to write the argument in favor of the single member district Charter amendment measure. [emphasis in the original]

And indeed, the settlement agreement stipulates just that (page 2, second paragraph):

Neither the City Council , nor any of its members, shall file a ballot Argument against the [by-district] Charter Amendment measure pursuant to Elections Code 9282(b).

In other words, only councilmembers allowed to sign ballot arguments on this issue – in an official capacity, using their titles — are Mayor Tom Tait and Councilman Jordan Brandman – sort of a ballot argument-version of gerrymandering.

For folks who tirelessly portray themselves as speaking for “the people,” it’s very revealing that proponents have so little confidence in the appeal of single-member council districts to Anaheim voters that they proactively sought to exclude Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilmembers Gail Eastman and Lucille Kring from signing ballot arguments against by-district elections.

Jordan BrandmanI have noted on this blog numerous times of the disconnect between the lead plaintiff on the ACLU lawsuit seeking to force single-member districts on the Anaheim City Council while simultaneously doing nothing to bring them to the Anaheim City School District – in spite of the fact that the circumstance Jose Moreno says warrant them in the City of Anaheim are equally present in the ACSD.

Last night, a different advocate of single-member districts stepped forward to impel the ACSD to action. Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman attended the meeting of the ASCD Board of Education. During public comments, he invoked Section 35145.5 of the California Education Code and requested of the Board that:

“the following two ACTION items be placed on the Anaheim City School District Board of Education Agenda for your next regularly scheduled meeting on January 27:

1. Adopt a revised Board policy to shift to By-Trustee/By-Governing Board Member Area/Single Member District elections for the November 2014 General Election, and 2. Adopt a resolution seeking a waiver from the California Department of Education of the requirement that board member areas and adoption of a By-Trustee/By-Governing Board Member Area/Single Member District election process be submitted to the electors for approval in November 2014, as set forth in Education Code Sections 5019, 5020, 5021, and 5030, inclusive.”

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