Late last week, Anaheim's 11-member citizens advisory committee (CAC) on district elections wrapped up its final meeting, and its draft report of recommendations set to be delivered to the city council by the end of this month will suggest that the issue be put before the vote.
When the previous Anaheim city council majority passed a resolution in August to create the CAC to study elections, the move was handily criticized. Opponents called it a delay tactic in the wake of an ACLU lawsuit alleging that Toontown was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). It was also seen as an isolating maneuver against Mayor Tom Tait, who wished to put the issue of creating six districts before the November 2012 ballot.
Hell, I even labeled it a “sham” as the way it was to be structured would ultimately give the council majority a numerical and ideological advantage. It was intended to be all those things (and more!) but now that it's all said and done, CAC turned out not to be that whack!
At the previous, pivotal meeting, the 10 voting members deadlocked on the question of maintaining the current at-large system or switching to single districts. Vic Real, an appointee of former councilman Harry Sidhu, surprisingly voted for recommending districts and any hopes of a 6-4 majority vote for at-large was dashed away.
It was apparent at the last meeting that some CAC commissioners were none too pleased and attempted eleventh hour damage control. Sandy Day, an appointee of “Latin American descent” by current councilwoman Kris Murray, tried her best to amend the draft report at almost every juncture. She attempted to insert a rejected district hybrid model into the list of recommendations, but it failed to carry.
Sandy “If I May” Day also tried to strike language about non-partisan non-profits being among those the City Clerk would lead and work with in terms of helping to identify local leaders. Most of her efforts were unsuccessful and the draft report was kept largely intact with only the most modest amending.
Beyond the recommendation to put districts before Anaheim voters, the CAC report also includes the suggestion to expand the council size to either six or eight seats, something former Mayor Curt Pringle had even tried to do back in the day, at least with six, to no avail.
Longtime watchdog Duane Roberts' proposal to change the start time of council meetings to 7 p.m. was met with a 6:30 p.m. compromise. I can't count the number of times working-class residents have left council chambers early (or not shown up to at all) because they had to go home and set dinner ready for their families.
The number of neighborhood council meetings was seen as in need of an increase to up to a maximum of 12 times per year in order to promote civic engagement. Removing barriers to voter registration is just another recommendation contained in the report that deepens the process of formal representative democracy.
Coming out of a polarizing summer of unrest, Anaheim's electorate produced an all-gabacho city council that shifted further to the Right than its predecessor. What would have been the fate of Tait's charter amendment on districts at the ballot box in November? In such a reactionary climate, chances are it would have failed.
Now the CAC has produced a document calling for the same thing Tait did, only months later. Will the current council supermajority, led by Murray, kill its own creation and disregard its various recommendations like a parsley leaf on a steak plate at a truck stop diner?
As always: time will tell, cabrónes!
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz