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.
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.
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.