No Anaheim Charter Amendments in November

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray (Photo: Chris Prevatt)
Anaheim City Council – Special Meeting 8-8-12 (Photo Chris Prevatt)

In a move that just about all of the attendees at the Special Meeting of the Anaheim City Council expected, the gang of three anti-democracy Council members killed two proposals for charter amendments on the November 2012 ballot. The proposals called for a vote by the people on whether to ban the Council from making future tax giveaways without a vote of the people, and whether the representation on the Council should be broken down into district specific elections.

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

The proposal to set up 6 council districts that would directly elect their representation on the Council was in response to an ACLU lawsuit alleging that the current at-large election process violates the California Voting Rights Act. It was hoped that by placing the district measure on the ballot would stall, and possibly resolve, the lawsuit.

Jason Young
Jason Young addresses the Anaheim City Council at the August 8, 2012 Special meeting in support of the “Let the People Vote” charter initiative. (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

Hundreds of speakers addressed the Council in a Special Meeting held in an Anaheim High School Auditorium. The speakers addressed the recent police shootings that sparked a near riot at the July 24th Council Meeting as well as the two proposed charter amendments.

There was disagreement among supporters of the proposal for district specific council elections over whether six or eight council districts were more appropriate. The proposal before the council was for six council seats, which could have been changed if the council majority wanted to.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

Mayor Tom Tait stated repeatedly that he felt that the best way to support democracy was to, let the people vote on the issues. He felt that delay would only foster continued public unrest and division in the city.

Council members Kris Murray, Harry Sidhu, and Gail Eastman (attending via telephone from Michigan) were not interested in letting the people vote in November on the proposals. The Murray-Eastman-Sidhu majority marched in jack-booted lock-step to oppose any restriction on their ability to dole out tax payer dollars to their developer contributors.

On the issue of district elections their position was initially signaled by their emergency closed session meeting last week where they decided to place Councilwoman Kris Murray’s proposal for an appointed “Citizens Commission” to review and discuss all proposals and prepare possible charter amendments relating to the city governance structure for the June 2014 primary election. The proposal called for each council member to be able to appoint two members to the commission.

Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

Such a plan was opposed by Councilwoman Galloway who expressed concern that such a structure allowed the current majority to ultimately dictate the commission findings through their appointed cronies. The majority decision also sets up a charter amendment vote in a lower turnout primary election, providing the opponents (their supporters) a better opportunity to defeat a district election proposal when it gets on the ballot.

Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

Rather than take an actual vote on whether to schedule the vote on district elections, the majority, on a motion by Kris Murray and seconded by Sidhu, voted to table the matter indefinitely. This action allows them to weakly claim that they did not actually vote no on establishing council districts.

Councilwoman Murray claimed that her proposal actually allowed for more democracy because it would allow for all communities to participate in the creation of a charter amendment proposal. I guess we can call her concept of public participation Crony Democracy.

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

The other tragic result of their action is that the city will be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend against the ACLU suit where the chances of prevailing are highly unlikely. So far, the ACLU has prevailed in every similar voting rights lawsuit. The taxpayers of Anaheim can thank Councilwoman Kris Murray for kissing goodbye a million dollars or more in legal fees, when they could have settled the matter with a vote.


  1. Santa Ana which has a larger percentage of hispanics then Anaheim has at-large elections and has elected hispanics councilmembers and mayor for years. How can the ACLU argue at-large elections violate voting rights? Their frivalous lawsuit will be thrown out of court.Voting Districts will only work in large cities like Los Angeles. Small cities who elect their councilmembers at large are not violating any voting rights law. What are these lawyers smoking?

    • One thing that I think you are not pointing out is that Santa Ana may be an at large election, but council members must live within a district to be elected. This model would still not be in compliance of the 2001 Voters Right Act.

      And I think that Anaheim is far from a small city. I believe it is the largest in Orange County (that one I am not sure on). But Anaheim is very very big. It is very possible to have a lawsuit.

      • Yes it is the largest city in the OC. Tenth largest in the state. And all cities its size or larger have district elections. I looked up what cities those were so I could rattle ’em off in my speech. LA, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, and Bakersfield.

        Some time this week, evidently with a push from Disney, the fascists of Anaheim suddenly realized it was uncool to be AGAINST districting – that it put them on the wrong side of history. So now their position is, “This may be a very good idea whose time has come. Let’s put together a big commission made up of our friends, and study the hell out of it for a really long time! Then, if our friends say okay, maybe we’ll let the people vote on it in the June 2014 primary election (which of course will be low turn-out.) (And even if it passed in June 2014 it’s unclear it would take effect quickly enough for Nov. 2014.)

        THIS is the new improved “no on districting” position, the position of those who just want to retain their power a few more years any way they can, the position voted into law by Murray, Eastman and Sidhu, and articulated perfectly by Jordan Brandman (whom Adam E has inaccurately characterized as “backing districting.”)

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