ACLU and Jose Moreno Cost Anaheim Taxpayers $2 Million

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.

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  1. The law was obviously not on the side of those who seek to preserve at-large voting and thereby keep Latinos out of office. I’m sorry Matt but the hardline anti-minority position that you espouse cost the voters and taxpayers of Anaheim a couple million dollars. That’s money that could have helped the homeless in Anaheim.

    • Lifelong Anaheim resident

      You are way out of line calling at large governance anti minority. If this was seriously about access for Latinos Jose Moreno would lead by example and move to have district based elections as a school board member of Anaheim City School District – which represents a population that is nearly 70 percent Latino and still has a school board elected at large. And presuming you didn’t read the plaintiff letter also posted on this site – Jose Moreno being the lead plaintiff – it was him and not the city that ran up the legal tab by refusing to let this issue go to the ballot to settle the case. It’s obcene to call people racists just because you disagree with them on districting. By that argument, every other city in OC is run by bigots who have not moved to put districting on their local ballots yet – Jose Moreno being the worst offender for suing the city before implementing them at ACSD.

      • I’m not sure who called Matt a racist, it wasn’t me. The effect of opposing at-large districts is anti-minority. I have previously posted academic research on this site which establishes this quite clearly. I am characterizing the effect as anti-minority, not the intent. If Matt says that he is not a racist. In other words if his claim is that his positions are not taken on the base of maintaining the power of the majority white population at the expense of minority opportunities and rights, then that is his position. I do not pretend to be a mind-reader. I have in fact asked him many times on this site to state his motivation more clearly and express whether he is willing to accept this anti-minority effect. His silence is disturbing. But on the facts alone, the effect of the position Matt supports for local districts is anti-minority and an unhealthy expression of democracy not in line with the thinking of Abraham Lincoln and our founding fathers.I also have no interest in defending Mr. Moreno.If he hadn’t brought the suit, then someone else would have. The City of Anaheim could have avoided this whole thing by complying with the law. Every County in the state, including Orange County, has done so and Anaheim is larger than many counties. Anaheim needs a responsible and fair approach to districting, including the school districts, yes. It’s time to move away from the old anti-minority mechanisms that are structurally built-in to our methods of election. The people who cost Anaheim $2 million are the people who think like Matthew Cunningham and will defend the old guard power structure at any cost.

        • Matthew Cunningham

          Glenn:

          I have been writing about single-member districts on this blog for nearly a year and a half, and have explained my reasons for opposing them at length. Since you’re new to this blog, I’d recommend you read what I have written on the topic.

          The “effect” of which you speak is only “anti-minority” if one reject color-blind government and sees citizens not as individuals but as members of ethnic and racial groups who can only be truly represented by members of their own ethnic and racial groups. That is at odds with the thinking of Lincoln and the Founders. If you disagree, I suggest you familiarize yourself with Lincoln and the Founders.

          The neighboring city of Santa Ana is 78% Latino. 100% of its seven council members are Latinos. According to your reasoning, the 10.5% of the population who are Asian, and the 9.2% who are white not represented on the council and therefore disenfranchised by Santa Ana at-large council districts system – and therefore single-member council districts need to be gerrymandered in order to produce an Asian seat and a white seat.

          Glenn, we will have to agree to disagree. We have very different views on the nature of representative government. I believe all men and women are equal before the law, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, creed or color. You apparently believe one’s pigmentation and national origin matters when deciding how we are represented.

  2. My question is where will these new Latino candidates emerge from and who are they?

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