The ACLU is demanding the city turn over a trove of documents, voice-mails e-mails, and text messages – both official and personal — from a small army of current and former councilmembers, staff, city commission appointees and private citizens, often pertaining to circumstances, events or issues not even tangentially related to “racially-polarized voting.”
It’s sort of like litigation carpet bombing, and it done in support of the racially-driven lawsuit the ACLU is arguing on behalf of lead plaintiff and Anaheim City School District Governing Board member Jose Moreno – the goal of which is to impose on Anaheim citizens a single-member council district system for which they have not asked.
The letter from ACLU attorney Bardis Vakili claims:
“The documents identified herein are relevant to a central issue in the case – the lack of accountability of Anaheim’s city council to Anaheim’s Latino community, resulting from the continued maintenance of an at-large system after being advised that the system dilutes the vote of the Latino community.”
Like I said, from the perspective of the plaintiffs and the ACLU, this is all about the color of a person’s skin.
Some requests sound like informational fishing expeditions; others give one the distinct impression the ACLU knows exactly what it is looking for (and already has it), for example:
- Any and all emails sent and received by Gail Eastman to or from a Yahoo Email group for residents of an area referred to as the “Colony.” This includes, but is not limited to, an email sent July 25, 2012.
- Any and all e-mails sent or received by Lucille Kring between July 1, 2012 and August 1, 2013, including emails in which at least one of the recipients was Jason Young. This includes, but is not limited to:
– an e-mail sent on or around October 10, 21012 mentioning Curt Pringle;
– an email sent on or around October 26, 2012 mentioning Disney campaign spending;
– any emails referencing a meeting, encounter or event in or around April 2013 in which Lucille Kring, Kurt (sic) Pringle, Bill O’Connell, and/or Ajesh Patel were present;
– an email from Kurt (sic) Pringle to Lucille Kring regarding a May 29, 2013 fundraiser at the Catch Restaurant in Anaheim.
Wow, these crack ACLU legal eagles really have their fingers on the city’s political pulse: they misspell the name of the person they imagine is orchestrating everything that happens in Anaheim government.
That embarrassing (for the ACLU) faux pas aside, what does an apparently GardenWalk-related “meeting, encounter or event” have to do with whether or not the right amount of Latinos have been elected to the Anaheim City Council?
Then there are the requests that are lazy, ignorant or both:
All form 460 and Form 700 documents submitted to the city of Anaheim by all candidates for Anaheim City Council or Anaheim mayor since 2000.
It should take the ACLU legal team all of a minute to find the section of the city’s website where all these wonderful documents are just a mouse-click away.
The Coming Media Narrative
Reading the letter produces the sneaking suspicion this widely cast net isn’t solely about the lawsuit per se, but part of a larger political strategy to browbeat the Anaheim City Council majority into capitulation. The ACLU conspicuously demands information pertaining to political participants who have been tangential or totally AWOL from the council districts controversy – such as Disney and SOAR — while overlooking those political players who have been intimately and energetically involved in the issue, such as OCCORD and UNITE-HERE. Why? Left-wing groups like OCCORD and UNITE-HERE have been far more involved in the council districting issue than Disney, SOAR or Bill O’Connell, and yet the ACLU focuses on those with little involvement in the issue over which it is suing the city.
[If the ACLU were really interested in finding examples of outside manipulation of the process, it should ask for “any and all text messages” received by Citizens Advisory Committee Chair Vivian Pham during the CAC’s critical April 18, 2013 meeting that set the recommendations sent the to City Council, during which Ms. Pham was texting throughout the meeting.]
My guess is the ACLU is laying the groundwork for a media narrative, communicated through willing accomplices like the Voice of OC, that crafts a paper mache diorama of Anaheim campesinos oppressed and disenfranchised by greedy corporate interests. Cherry pick an e-mail or text here and there from a mountain of communications, and package them up in to negative articles for the Voice of OC or other outlets that have been targeting the council majority, in hopes of demoralizing them into raising the white flag.