Latino Groups Accuse Anaheim City Council of ‘Intentional Discrimination’

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Prominent state and national Latino groups have accused the Anaheim City Council of blatantly violating the federal Voting Rights Act when it decided last month to exclude the city’s only Latino majority council district in next year’s general election.

In a Dec. 3 letter to Mayor Tom Tait, the California League of United Latin American Citizens (CA LULAC) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) wrote that the council’s vote “evinces a discriminatory intent to deprive Latino voters of their ability to elect candidates of their choice, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the [federal Voting Rights Act.]”

(Click here to read the letter.)

Anaheim is transitioning from at-large council elections to a system whereby council members are elected by districts. The switch is happening because the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and Latino activists sued the city in 2012, alleging that at-large voting prevented the city’s Latino majority from electing their candidates of choice and violated the California Voting Rights Act.

To settle the suit, city leaders agreed to end at-large voting and carve the city into districts. The reasoning goes that residents in majority Latino districts would be better able to elect candidates of their choice when not competing with voters from more affluent, white neighborhoods like Anaheim Hills.

The approved districts map has two Latino plurality districts – wherein the Latino citizen voting age population is the largest but doesn’t reach over 50 percent of the district – and one district with a Latino citizen voting age population that is over 50 percent.

In a split 3-2 vote on Nov. 17, the council decided to put the two Latino plurality districts up for election, but excluded the only Latino majority district. They said that the Latino majority district already has representation because Councilman James Vanderbilt, who is half-Latino, lives in the district. They also claimed that the district has in the past been well represented because former council members have resided there.

Although the letter was addressed to Tait, he and Vanderbilt voted against excluding the district. Council members Kris Murray, Lucille Kring and Jordan Brandman cast the majority vote.

Last month, the Orange County Democratic Party’s central committee unanimously condemned Jordan Brandman, a who is a Democrat, for voting with the council majority.

MALDEF states in its letter than the council majority’s reasoning is faulty, and that the vote placed the city in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act, which is separate from the state law by the same name. According to the letter, the federal law “prohibits the use of any practice that is either intended to, or results in, the denial or abridgement of the right to vote based on race, color, or membership in a language minority.”

The Latino groups urged the council to reverse its vote – a second and final reading takes place at next Tuesday’s council meeting – “to avoid costly litigation.”

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • tehuti

    Once again the “usual suspects” on the Anaheim city council have proven why we actually need voting districts in the first place. They cannot be trusted and should be voted out of office or removed. Kring, Murray and Brandman are not looking out for the citizens of Anaheim. Not all of us anyway.

  • Cynthia Ward

    I can’t say enough good things about James Vanderbilt and he will serve the citizens of all of Anaheim very well as he has done since his election. BUT…with all due respect to him, while he does live in the 3rd District, he was not the selected candidate preferred by voters in the area. In 2014 the voters in central Anaheim chose a resident of central Anaheim for City Council, and it was not Vanderbilt or even Gail Eastman who also lives in the area. Dr. Jose Moreno took more votes than Eastman and Vanderbilt in the area which became District 3. In a nutshell, the people of central Anaheim already conducted their own by-district vote, selecting their top tier candidates as residents of their own area, and selecting one above all. But their selection of Dr. Moreno was overwhelmed by votes against Moreno in other parts of the City, in what has to be a huge life lesson on disenfranchisement. The fact that the leader chosen by OTHERS lives in the District does not matter. What matters is the opportunity for residents of District 3 to select AND SEAT their chosen candidate. Instead, Jordan Brandman and company stuck the most Latino and MOST DISENFRANCHISED District with the At Large system that failed them for another 2 years, while Brandman ADMITS it is specifically to prevent the election in 2016 of Jose Moreno, one of the catalysts of the ACLU suit and the leader left behind by the greater voting patterns of white folk in Anaheim Hills.

    Nope, nothing to see here, folks, move along…

    • David Zenger

      Excellent point: Moreno couldn’t get elected because of all the “Dangerous Commie is Coming” stuff spewed out about him by the Kleptocracy city-wide. And this latest stunt actually proves what all the deniers have been denying. Thanks guys. How much is this one going to cost US?

      The idiotic rationalizations that were sputtered from the dais were not necessary. Nobody believed the BS for a second, even if the puppets are fools enough to have believed their own silly rhetoric. Kring and Murray and Brandman should have just told the truth: they did it because they believed they could, without regard to consequence.

      They also did it because they were told to.

  • RyanCantor

    Please send the bill for this lawsuit to Anaheim Taxpayers, C/O Kris Murray.

    I’m sure it’ll just get tacked onto the last $2,000,000 she caused with her last stunt on this issue not two years ago.

    • David Zenger

      You know, this is the same consortium of clowns that laundered money through the Chamber of Commerce to pay a blogger to set up votive candles around a burned and mangled teddy bear on the Virgin of Guadalupe Day and then make up a hilarious post about it on their website.

      But there was no mockery of Latino memorials. No. It was all good clean fun.

  • Paul Lucas

    Maybe someone should lobby Lou Correa to get Jordan to reverse his vote. We all know Jordan is running at the behest and benefit of Lou anyway. Both Lou and Jordan endorsed the other two republicans over the democrats that ran last time and those same reps on the dais also endorse and work very close with Lou as well. So i would suggest you lobby Lou Correa to get Jordan to change his vote.

  • David Zenger

    When the chips were down and his vote on districting issues finally mattered to PringleCorp, Brandman showed his true colors, voting to traduce the very purpose of the settlement agreement to create individual districts in Anaheim.

    On the plus side, his foolish campaign to waddle off to Congress is mercifully over, and his political career in Anaheim is likely defunct too – unless somebody is willing to shovel in even more massive infusions of Kleptocash. Without it he would actually have to WORK to get elected, and that’s a lot tougher than plagiarizing fake reports and submitting phony bills to the County.