Last Tuesday, the Costa Mesa City Council voted to allow residents to decide in November whether they wish to ditch the current at-large voting process in favor of district voting. In a district voting process, the city will be divided into five sections and the residents in that section will vote for one person to represent them on the council.

The favorable vote was due primarily to the threat of a lawsuit by attorney Kevin Shenkman, who sees a wrong and is trying to right it. The wrong is that there has not been a Latino representative on Costa Mesa’s city council since the city has been in existence.

This process was started by attorney Kevin Shenkman, who alleged that the current system violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 by, according to the Daily Pilot report, “diluting the power of the city’s Latino residents to ‘elect candidates of their choice or otherwise influence the outcome of Costa Mesa’s council elections.'”

Now here’s the same story with a few slight twists:

Last Tuesday, the Newport Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees voted to allow residents to decide in November whether they wish to ditch the current at-large voting process in favor of district voting. In a district voting process, the cities will be divided into five sections and the residents in that section will vote for one person to represent them on the board.

The favorable vote was due primarily to the threat of a lawsuit by attorney Kevin Shenkman, who sees a wrong and is trying to right it. The wrong is that there has not been a Latino representative on the school board since it has been in existence.

Shenkman believes that the current system violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 by, according to the Daily Pilot report, “diluting the power of the city’s Latino residents to ‘elect candidates of their choice or otherwise influence the outcome of the school board’s elections.'”

It’s a little too close, dontcha’ think?

The difference in the second story will be the response by the school board club. They will not go gently into that good night, choosing instead to waste more taxpayer dollars on attorney fees to fight a potential lawsuit. I know this because this has been their response to similar situations for the 30 years I have been a resident of Costa Mesa.

There’s a school board meeting tomorrow night or, as it’s known in my house, “Groundhog Day” because it’ll be the same as it was two weeks ago and two weeks before that and two weeks before that:

  1. Unanimous rubber stamp approval of the minutes of the last meeting.
  2. Pretend to listen and care about the comments of concerned residents.
  3. Rubber stamp unanimous approval with no discussion of the Consent Calendar, in which gobs of taxpayer dollars will be spent with no discussion.
  4. Rubber stamp unanimous approval with no discussion of the Resolution Consent Calendar.
  5. School board club member reports – meaningless blather about the places they’ve been and the things they saw. Nothing about how any of this will help improve academic performance in Costa Mesa’s struggling schools. (And, um, yes, that would be nearly all of the schools on Costa Mesa’s Westside, which is overwhelmingly Latino and suffers from the at-large voting process.)
  6. More of the same from the overpaid bureaucrats positioned at the feet of the school board club members and the superintendent who, by the way, will have the least substantive comments of the evening.
  7. Pat each other on the back for another successful meeting.
  8. Adjourn.

If you’re thinking of going, keep your expectations low. Very low.

Steve Smith

 

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