Judge Franz Miller has decided to let the ACLU/Jose Moreno/Amin David lawsuit against Anaheim move forward to a March 2014 trial. He has also set an October 1 date to hear City of Anaheim motions for a stay, dismissal or bifurcation.
The salient aspect of the lawsuit to impose single-member council districts is the overwhelming focus on race and ethnicity. It is driven by a noxious state law, the deceptively named California Voting Rights Act, that treats voters as nameless members of racial or ethnic groups rather than as individual citizens, and seeks to make racial/ethnic considerations that organizing principle for how we elect our local governments.
Proponents of single-member council districts employ a number of slogans and incantations to advance their cause of carving Anaheim up electorally based on racial/ethnic criteria, in order to achieve a desired racial/ethnic outcome.
One endlessly-repeated catchphrase is “Only three Latinos have been elected to the Anaheim City Council in the city’s 156 year history.” Here’s video of the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, Anaheim City School District Trustee Jose F. Moreno employing it at the June 11, 2013 Anaheim City Council meeting as if it is the coup de grace that ends of debate:
[NOTE: the discussion in the first minute of the video revolves around the disagreement between former Councilman Lorri Galloway and CVRA attorney Robert Rubin – one of the lawyers arguing Moreno’s lawsuit – over whether she is a bona fide Latina.]
This claim — which is echoed ad nauseum and unthinkingly in the media — lacks credibility because it rests on the false assumption that Latinos have been a significant portion of Anaheim’s population throughout the past century-and-a-half.
The rapid growth of Anaheim’s Latino population is a comparatively recent phenomenon that has occurred in the last 30-40 years. Presently, Anaheim’s population is 52% Latino, a modest increase from 47% in 2000.
In 1990, Anaheim was 31% Latino, but in 1980 that percentage was only 17.2%. [Prior to that, the U.S. Census used different ethnic and race characterizations, so a precise match up isn’t available. However, according to the 1970 U.S. Census, Anaheim’s population was 89.2% white, which means its Latino population was probably less than half what it would be in 1980.]
Since only a very small percentage of Anaheim’s population has been Latino for most of the city’s 156-year history, complaining that only three (or four, depending on one’s theory of race and ethnicity) Latinos have been elected to the Anaheim City Council during that time is not only meaningless, it is intellectually dishonest. It’s akin to complaining, in early 1990s, that “only one Vietnamese has been elected to the Westminster City Council since the city was founded half-a-century ago!”
Not that intellectual dishonesty will stop proponents of single-member council districts from waving that misleading claim like a bloody shirt.