Councilmembers Opposed To Single-Member Districts Not Allowed To Officially Sign Ballot Arguments

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.

No comments

  1. The mayor’s kindness campaign apparently does not include the ACLU or any person who disagrees with him. That opposition to by-district elections will not be tolerated reeks of a totalitarian city government. Since when does the ACLU dictate the rules for governing Anaheim? And why did lunacy prevail among council members to accept this agreement proposed by the bullying ACLU? Don’t be surprised to see council members goose-stepping to their seats tomorrow evening.

  2. Lifelong Anaheim resident

    Three of the council members have strongly opposed the district based system. They’ve made it clear that this settlement got their support because it allowed the question to go to the voters and fully dismissed the case against the city. The cost to taxpayers is nearly $2M and to continue fighting could have made it exponentially higher. I’m glad they settled even with these draconian limitations but will vote against the measure. Also, shame on Tait for standing with the plaintiffs the day after the settlement vote and “Congratulating them on their victory” … against the people of Anaheim. I pray he doesn’t win reelection.

  3. So apparently you are afraid that there are no other literate, competent people in Anaheim, besides 3 Council Members, willing or able to step forth and write a ballot argument, yet they didn’t voice objection before, or with their vote approving the settlement? What devisive, shallow absurdity!

    • Matthew Cunningham

      BBRW: nooooo, I am not “afraid” of that.

      But you do seem more comfortable debating straw men than addressing any points I actually made.

  4. You are totally uninformed on the issue if you believe the other council members have not voiced their opposition before – they have consistently voiced their opposition to this lawsuit. And I don’t see anywhere in Matt’s post that he believes they are the “only” people capable of writing an oppose position – the point of the article for those incapable of discerning the difference is that the plaintiffs demanded that they relinquish their rights to do so in favor of stacking the deck with a support position by Tait and Brandman using their elected titles. I’ve heard the other council members at the dais loud and clear that they are voting for settlement because it allowed the question to go to the voters in exchange for full dismissal – Jose Moreno made this about civil rights and yet he refuses to implement those same civil rights for the parents of the school board – where he serves as CHAIRMAN! Tait and Moreno should be ashamed for attacking Anaheim’s electorate and city leadership over this issue when neither pushes for the same standard at all levels of government.

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