Measure L Is Entirely a Ruse for Power and Control

Measure L amends the Anaheim City Charter to require the City Council to establish voter districts. A candidate seeking a seat on the city council must live within a given district, and only voters residing within that district may vote for that candidate.

L PICCurrently, members of the City Council may live anywhere in Anaheim, and voters may vote for any candidate. What is the need to change the current process: to establish voter districts and to limit an individual’s vote to one candidate?

The “impartial analysis” of Measure L by the Anaheim City Attorney is, indeed, impartial (Houston, 2014). He explains the differences between voting for council members “at large” from voting for a single candidate. Absolutely nothing in his analysis provides any need or basis for changing the current election process. The entire text of proposed amendments to Anaheim’s City Charter can be read online (City of Anaheim, 2014).

The argument supporting Measure L by Mayor Tait and Council Member Brandman (2014) consists of banality (e.g., Anaheim is a great place to live; Council members will become more effective) and nonsense (e.g., Anaheim will become less wonderful [if Measure L fails]). But again, nothing in their non-argument establishes any need to change the current process for electing city officials.

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent by outside organizations to buy the people’s vote to pass Measure L. For example, the purpose of the Tides Foundation (2014) has nothing to do directly with Anaheim. It is dedicated “to make the world a better place.” The current list of outside special interests contributing to Measure L includes these groups:

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
  • Korean Resource Center of Los Angeles
  • Orange County Employees Association
  • Orange County Labor Federation
  • Voter Fund (San Francisco)
  • Tides Foundation (San Francisco, New York)
  • UNITE-HERE, Local 11
  • United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (Washington, DC)

Measure L could be regarded as addressing organizational decision making, of ensuring a shared contribution to city government from council members representing all areas within Anaheim. Sometimes decision making is based upon achieving goals, which is not the case with Measure L. To assert that Anaheim will become less wonderful if Measure L does not pass is hardly a goal. In fact, Measure L assumes decision making means power and control, never mind that no real need or goal has been identified or any cogent argument has been advanced for its passage.

Federal, state, and local governments are increasingly representing special interest groups wanting power and control. There is no question that outside political interests do not want Anaheim to remain the only large city in California with a majority of Republicans on the city council. And unions always want more power to control employers and more control of local governments.

The question Anaheim voters will decide is whether they want to award local decision making to outside interests that seek only power and control. The choice should be easy: Neither a need nor a compelling rationale has been presented to change the current process for electing Anaheim’s mayor and members of the Anaheim City Council.


City of Anaheim (2014). Text of Amendments to Anaheim City Charter, Charter Amendment Measure L. Retrieved from

Houston, M. (2014). Impartial Analysis by City Attorney, City of Anaheim, Measure L. Retrieved from

Tait, T., & Brandman, J. (2014). Argument in favor of Measure L. Retrieved from

Tides Foundation. (2014). About Tides. Retrieved from

—Hugh Glenn


  1. Matthew Cunningham

    Hugh, you are absolutely correct, of course. The “neighbors electing neighbors” and “bringing government closer to the people” is a lot of claptrap. I think Mayor Tait sincerely believes it – but that simply makes him sincerely.

    In Moreno’s case, the “neighbors electing neighbors” rhetoric is platitudes he tosses out for public consumption. What really motivates him is racial identity politics. He is working for a color-conscious society, not a color-blind one. For him and the many of the radicals promoting Measure L, authentic democratic representation is a function of skin color. It’s contradictory to the ideas of the Founders as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, to the nature of government in the American Republic.

  2. Matthew Cunningham

    Allow me to quote Cynthia Ward on the subject of by-district elections from a mere two years ago, before she checked herself into a re-education clinic to make sure she was on the same page as the rest of the revolutionaries:

    Cynthia Ward, 46 and a lifelong resident of Anaheim, is not one of them.

    “Do we want to create a lot of special-interest districts and become like Los Angeles or Chicago?” she asked. “You’re going to have people saying, ‘Hey, you got a substation, I want a park for my area.’ ”

    “Districts will create pork,” she added. “Just like Washington, but on a smaller scale.”

    Sometime later, Ward changed her stance to “districts are still awful but there’s no way Anaheim can beat the ACLU lawsuit so lets just surrender.”

    Sometime during the last year, she morphed her thinking to completely embrace the Tait-Moreno party line that by-district elections will be great for Anaheim.

  3. gabriel san roman

    “For him and the many of the radicals promoting Measure L, authentic democratic representation is a function of skin color. It’s contradictory to the ideas of the Founders as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.”

    Really now? Tell that to Thomas Jefferson’s slaves! Or Washington’s, or Hancock’s, or the slave owners John Adams defended as legal counsel!

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Ah, the classic response of left-wingers who see American history through Howard Zinn-colored glasses – and this coming from a guy who cooperates with a propaganda TV “news” channel funded by the Cuban and Venezuelan dictatorships.

      “The Founders were white, slave-owning racists and their so-called ‘ideals’ were phony! QED!” That’s all leftists like San Roman feel they need to say. Of course, there’s more to it, and San Roman’s characterization of the Founders amounts to a caricature. By reducing one of the most extraordinary groups of men in human history to mere slaveowners, progressives hope to dilute their moral authority regarding the proper form and function of constitutional government – against the restraints of which progressives have chafed.

      I’ll quote a more erudite man, Thomas G. West of The Claremont Institute , in response to San Roman’s progressive cant:

      This book {Vindicating the Founders] will show that America’s Founders well deserve the respect that citizens and schoolchildren still pay them, but which has long been out of fashion among America’s elites. The Founders wrote and approved a Declaration of Independence whose central proposition was that “all men are created equal.” They set up a government that did what no democracy had ever done before: It combined majority rule with effective protection for minority rights. It enabled a larger number of men and women to live in prosperity and liberty than any other nation has ever done.

      In spite of this undeniable success, many of our leading sophisticates today would rather talk about the Founders’ failures. Instead of the victories they won on behalf of freedom, we hear loud complaints about their supposed racism, sexism, and elitism. The Founding Fathers, we are told, did not really believe that “all men (and women) are created equal.” Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. Women and the poor were excluded from voting. So how can we take seriously the Founders’ supposed belief in human equality?

      These arguments are well entrenched in the conventional wisdom of our time. They are repeated endlessly in the media and in popular books, by professors and politicians, as in these typical statements:

      On blacks: “The sublime principles of the Declaration did not apply to them. They are for whites only.” (Writer Conor Cruise O’Brien) The “prevailing opinion of the framers” was that blacks were “so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect …and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.” (Former Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first black appointed to the Supreme Court.)

      On the poor: They were “defined …in a sense as an alien race that had to be held to close discipline.” (Yale historian John Blum.)

      On women: “In colonial society …a married woman had virtually no rights at all…. The Revolution did little to change [this].” (A college American history textbook.)

      On voting rights for the poor: “Most states had numerous [property] requirements that had to be met before a man could vote…. In general, the idea of voting rights or any other kind of rights was not something that particularly troubled the Framers.” (A college textbook on American government.)

      On immigration and citizenship: The Founders’ willingness to consider national origin in naturalization and citizenship policy was “quite obviously …inconsistent with the ideals of liberty and equality professed in …the nation’s ‘Creed.'” (Yale political scientist Rogers Smith.)

      In sum: “The American Revolution produced no significant benefits for American women. The same generalization can be made for other powerless groups in the colonies—native Americans, blacks, probably most propertyless white males, and indentured servants.” (Feminist historian Joan Hoff Wilson.)1

      It is surprisingly easy to show that these claims are false. We will see that the Founders believed that members of these supposedly “excluded groups” really are “created equal.” (By the term “Founders,” I mean those who served in notable public offices from about 1765 to 1800, especially the authors of constitutions, laws, and other important public documents.) We will see that George Washington was correct to call his political convictions “liberal.”2 We will see that the Founders were sincere in their professions of the rights of humanity and their commitment to popular government. We will also see that their actions were consistent with their opinions. The Revolution clearly improved conditions for blacks, women, and the poor.

      Other “excluded groups” could have become the theme of additional chapters—for example, Indians and religious minorities. Here, too, the Founders come off much better than we are usually told. I chose to focus on blacks (and other racial minorities), women, and the poor because those are the groups most often mentioned in the typical criticisms of the Founders. Relations between the races, between the sexes, and between haves and have-nots are at the forefront of today’s debates over justice and public policy.

      In spite of the constant criticism of the Founders over the past several decades by textbooks and scholars, most Americans still respect the founding as great and noble. I will show that there are good reasons for that once nearly universal opinion, now often dismissed as simple-minded patriotism—or evil patriarchalism. This does not mean that the founding had no defects. But some of what we disapprove of in their policies arose from necessary concessions to passions and interests that they could not tame (as in the case of slavery). We will also see that they had strong reasons to believe that what we easily condemn as antifemale (such as laws against easy divorce) arguably secured the equal rights of all better than today’s alternatives. Some of these reasons are now being rediscovered on the cutting edge of the latest social science research. As for the Founders’ principles, we will see that they were sincerely held and conscientiously implemented. Their policies and institutions were sensible if imperfect means by which the equal rights of Americans would be secured within the limits imposed by an imperfect human nature.

      Here are some of the conclusions reached in this book:

      On slavery: Every leading Founder acknowledged that slavery was wrong. Slavery was legal and practiced in every state in 1776; by the end of the founding era, more than a hundred thousand slaves had been freed by the outlawing of slavery in seven of the original thirteen states or by individual acts of manumission, especially in the South. Most important, the ground for the eventual total abolition of slavery was laid in establishment of the equality principle at the center of the American polity by Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, Washington, and other leading Founders.

      On the poor: Far from being indifferent to the poor, the Founders regarded the protection of private property rights as a necessary means for the poor to escape the kind of subjugation by the wealthy that they had experienced in Old Europe. And far from throwing the needy into the streets, the Founders maintained government-funded “safety-net” programs for them. Their property rights and welfare policies, which are often scorned today for their supposed indifference to the poor, were arguably more just and compassionate than ours.

      On women: Women were understood by everyone to be included in the “all men” (all human beings) who are created equal. In New Jersey, women voted in elections routinely during the 1790s and early 1800s, for the first time anywhere in world history. This fact, as we will see, is clearly connected to the Founders’ equality principle. So also was the idea, which grew during and after the founding era, that women and men have equal importance, but different roles, in the family and society. The best protection of women’s rights, in the minds of both the men and the women of the founding era, was the core private association of a free and civilized society: lifelong marriage and the family. The alternatives—permitting no-fault divorce, pushing women into the job market, and legitimizing the treatment of women (and men) as sex objects—were thought to dehumanize and exploit, not liberate.

      On the supposedly undemocratic electorate: Far from excluding the poor, the electorate in the founding era was the most democratic of any large nation in history. It included about 85 to 90 percent of free males. Those Founders who defended a property requirement for voting did so, not in opposition to, but on the basis of, the equality principle of the Declaration of Independence. They feared—as we will see, not without reason—that the propertyless poor might become the tools of influential and wealthy demagogues, distorting election results and endangering the survival of liberty. They changed their minds on this point as it became increasingly clear that the poor were not opponents but friends of the rights of mankind, including the right to acquire and possess property.

      On naturalization and citizenship: The Founders’ policy generously welcomed as equal citizens people from many nations and religions. However, there was a concern that immigrants might come in numbers too large, or from countries too despotic, to assimilate to the American way of life. There was also a concern that newcomers would not possess, or be in a position to acquire soon, the principles and habits necessary for democratic citizenship. Naturalization in early America was therefore limited primarily to those who had been formed by Western civilization. Still, the American way of life was informed by the universal principles of the Declaration. So although the Founders expected most immigrants to come from Europe, their principles made it possible for people of every race and continent to become, in Lincoln’s phrase, “blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh” of the Founding Fathers who came before them.

      This book began as a series of short essays on slavery, women, and voting rights published in connection with the Claremont Institute’s Salvatori program for high school teachers.3 When I first started to write, I did not expect my task to be very hard. Many of the typical objections to the Founders are crude and ill informed, and it is easy to answer them.

      I had long known that the evidence on the slavery question favored the Founders. What I did not know is that an adequate treatment of the question, including the embarrassing denial of citizenship to most free blacks before the Civil War, calls for reflection that goes beyond the work of those who have preceded me in vindicating the Founders. The same proved to be true of the question of women’s rights, which soon led into the Founders’ understanding of male and female sex roles, the evidence supporting their views, the question of feminism, and other controversial topics. In several cases—including property rights, women and the family, and welfare—a full and fair treatment of the Founders’ led to a confrontation between their approach and today’s approach. Most of the topics treated in this book, as the reader will see, sooner or later compel us to choose between two competing visions of equality and liberty: the Founders’ view, and today’s.

      This confrontation between what I call the Old and the New Liberalism leads beyond the defensive stance with which this book begins. We are accustomed to put the Founders on trial, to ask why it took so long for Americans to recognize the equal rights of racial minorities, women, and the poor. Eventually, we become aware that from the point of view of the Founders’ principles—the principles of the Declaration and the Constitution—the question becomes whether we can justify our departure from the founding. We will see that our easy assumption of moral superiority rests on shaky ground.

      The scholarship informing this book is meant to be factual and objective. It tries to present a historically accurate picture of the Founders’ real views and policies. But the truth does have implications that bear on the choices facing us today. I have not shied away from those implications.

      Jefferson thought that the chief value of studying the past is

      rendering the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty…. History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future; …[I]t will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.

      Jefferson was describing the kind of history that Thucydides and Winston Churchill wrote: loyal to the truth but unafraid to distinguish between justice and injustice, honor and villainy, greatness and degradation. That is the kind of scholarship to which this book aspires.

  4. gabriel san roman

    There’s a bloviator in you after all. The constitution referred to Indigenous people as “savages.” Classy.

    • GSR- Interesting that you choose to live and benefit in a country you clearly hate and lack respect for.

      • gabriel san roman

        If you noticed, Matt’s intellectual short cut to thinking in the form of a copy and paste job didn’t include “on Indians.” What’s wrong with me citing the actual language used to describe them in the constitution? It’s history. Now, as for your intellectual laziness, instead of wondering about perceptions of me, you could tackle the true hate and lack of respect that comes every election cycle with race-baiting ads like T-Rack’s. But you don’t.

        • Matthew Cunningham

          This is a fairly predictable tactic from a leftist like GSR. The Founding Father wrote the Constitution to limit federal power and restrain its growth. As such, the Constitution functions – or did function – as a shackle on the Left’s vision for for government. You can find that in the writings of leading progressives going back the late 19th Century. Tearing down the moral authority of the Founding Fathers is part of how the Left undermines the moral authority of the Constitution as a bulwark against the growth in size and power of the federal government. If the Founders were merely a bunch of racist, aristocratic slave-owners, then the fruit of their labors is morally tainted and can be disregarded when convenient to do so.

          GSR pushes aside the truly historic and revolutionary nature of a written constitution born from the philosophy of natural rights and the belief in equality before the law, and instead zeroes in on a contemporary reference to the Indians as “savages” – ignoring that the Founders were also men of their time using the language of their time to describe people who (from their perspective) comparatively primitive.

  5. gabriel san roman

    Why would I bother debating 1776 or your knee-jerk reactionary comment? It’s interesting though to see Matt reduce “savages” as just a mere “contemporary” term and not a racist one that accompanied racist policies against the Indigenous people of this land to this very day. (Trail of Tears anyone?) Telling indeed. Whenever this blog (or F. Moreno and the Mayor for that matter) tries to square district elections one way or another with 1776, I just roll my eyes.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Yeah – who cares about the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence and the American Founding, anyway? What could Americans possibly learn by studying and understanding the founding of their country, right Gabriel? It was just a bunch of racist white guys, wasn’t it? I mean – you already know everything, right?

      • I think a lot can be learned which is why I’ve studied it intently. But judging by you and your commentator’s blah, blah reductionism, there’s little to be gained in considering the subject here. Carry on with your next Anaheim-related distortion!

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