Sunday, March 02, 2014

Latinos And Election Of Council Members By District

A long piece by Jill Cowan in the Daily Pilot Saturday afternoon titled, "At-large voting: Latino handicap?", HERE, will certainly generate some interesting discussion in Costa Mesa political circles.

A bill proposed by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, would force all General Law cities with populations over 100,000 to elect council members by district.  In my view, this is a major over-reach by the State government.  If the objective is to provide more "representation" to our large Latino community, perhaps it should begin by getting out their votes.  History shows us that the large mostly-Westside population of Latinos seldom turn out at the polls, nor do they put forward candidates for commissions or committees.

If the goal is to have each geographic area of the city "represented", we don't need this new law to do it.  Wendy Leece, Eric Bever and Allan Mansoor have represented the Westside in recent years.

However, if the Hernandez bill is an attempt to guarantee that one particular ethnic group is "represented", then perhaps we need a law that requires EVERY ethnic group have proportional representation on the City Council.  Of course, I offer that as an example of the absurd...

While I agree that we have seen few Latinos run for office - Cowan mentions Mirna Burciaga's failed campaign a few years back - simply forcing the city to elect council members by district would not necessarily result in more Latinos participating in the process.

I began paying attention to local politics about the time Chris Steel and Allan Mansoor were elected.  Mansoor became the darling of the far right radicals among us.  He was named an honorary Minuteman, for goodness sake.  He is notorious for tossing Benito Acosta out of a council meeting and having him arrested after cutting short his time at the speaker's podium.  We are STILL paying legal fees on the lawsuit that resulted from his hasty, ill-advised act.  During his tenure, with the urging of current councilman Gary Monahan, the Job Center was shuttered, forcing day laborers back onto street corners - and it generated even more legal problems.

For most of the last decade a big part of the political agenda in Costa Mesa was driven by the persistent drumbeat of one racist individual, who took credit for both getting Steel elected and then, later, rejected by the voters.  He crows about getting Paularino Park - in his Mesa North neighborhood - turned into a passive park, forcing mostly Latino soccer players to find another venue for their after work exercise.  Fortunately, that campaign stopped right there.  Although that person continues to spew racist views from his blog and elsewhere online, his influence in the city has diminished - a good thing for all of us.

OK, BUT...
I DON'T necessarily have a problem with Costa Mesa council members being elected by district.   But the votes should be limited to residents within each district, not at-large, the way it's done in Newport Beach.  Candidate Lee Ramos, (shown here with his campaign manager, Dennis Popp) quoted in Cowan's article, seems concerned that by doing so we might "limit the talent we have in the city."  Of course, since he's part of the cabal controlled by country club cronies Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, having been appointed to two very influential committees by them, I'm not surprised at his reaction.  If we were electing council members by district today he might be running against Monahan, who has shown to be virtually unbeatable each time he ran.

I DO have a problem with the State TELLING us how we must elect our council members.  Because of the strong liberal orientation in Sacramento, I won't be surprised if the bill proposed by Hernandez passes.  What I also have a problem with is that this bill will only add fuel to the fire for those in the community advocating a change to a Charter form of government.  Considering how the current council majority plays fast and loose with the existing rules, I shudder to thing of the damage they could do under a Charter form of government.

It's going to be interesting to 1) see what kind of discussion Cowan's article generates in the community and, 2) whether the bill Hernandez initiated gets passed by the state legislature.  It's an election year and his seat is up...

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Blogger Gericault said...

I think it's a stupid bill.

3/02/2014 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

So what is Popp saying? That there is no persons on the Westside that have "talent?", or are qualified to be representatives on council? Is he saying that the only ones worthy are the ones that live in the "upscale" areas? Granted the Westside has a large Hispanic population, but is he saying they are not intelligent enough to represent their area?

This is the man who represents Ramos, who the boyz are pushing only because he speaks Spanish and they think he will garner votes? His comment sounds a little racist to think the only talent comes from the white areas.

Su candidato no representa a la comunidad latina en el westside.

3/02/2014 09:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Popp should move to South Sudan. With a literacy rate there of approximately 20%, he'll finally be hailed as the brilliant writer he believes himself to be.

It's going to take more than some token Spanish catch-phrases for Ramos to get elected. Everyone knows he's really talking "Rig-Speak," not to mention all the baggage he has from his days at the Fairgrounds. Yep, Lackey Lee is already well on his way to defeat.

3/02/2014 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

We hear Jimbo is quite upset because Capitelli won't drop out to make way for Ramos. What's up there mein Rigmarshal- you can't control Capitelli?

3/02/2014 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Some thoughts:

1) The residents of any one neighborhood may not have someone that they consider a good leader. Is limiting candidates to that region the best plan for representation?

2) Gerrymandering was invented for the very purpose of subverting geographic rule.

3) Regardless of how you structure the architecture of elective politics, those with a significant interest will game the rules. Unions, Parties, you name it. I have friends and acquaintances whose living rely in that concept.

4) You don't get it both ways. If you want to lose the shackles of the state you need a charter. Just because you have a seething hate for the current council majority doesn't diminish the need for cutting the cord that ties us to Sacramento. It is time to accept some level of common interest as opposed to your blind opposition.

3/02/2014 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I repeat ... It's a stupid bill....and a stupid Charter doesn't change that.

3/02/2014 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I don't have any more of a "seething hate" for the council majority than you have your arms firmly wrapped around them better to give their fannies a big smooch, but both scenarios might seem possible to some folks. I don't have any more "blind opposition" than you have "blind alligeance". I don't like what they're doing and, more particularly, how they are going about it.

I've attended most of the Charter committee meetings and, so far, have found few reasons to replace our form of government and give up the protections provided to us as a General Law City.

Yes, the bill Hernandez is proposing is onerous, but it may not pass. We'll see. And, while I don't like the State TELLING us to do it, I don't have a big problem with electing our council members by districts, depending on how those districts are constructed. You mentioned Gerrymandering - kind of like how Rohrabacher's districts have been constructed in the past.

And, by the way, I find it more than a little disconcerting that "your side" describes everyone with an opposing viewpoint as "haters". You sure don't hear that kind of stuff coming from the folks who frequently speak against them. Oh, yes - Tim Lewis told Righeimer he was "full of s**t" recently, but that wasn't so much "hate speak" as it was a fairly accurate description.

3/02/2014 11:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

As a big supporter of Mensinger, Krochman bears a measure of responsibility for any damage he's done or will do.

3/03/2014 05:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Great post, Geoff

3/03/2014 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

Which "district" in Costa Mesa gets out the most voters at election time? I'd venture that the Westside turnout is rather low when compared to Mesa Verde, let's say. Sadly, voting trends in Costa Mesa do not reflect ethnic diversity.

3/04/2014 08:44:00 AM  

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