It Is Time for Santa Ana to Lead — So That Anaheim Will Have to Follow

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Santa Ana wards, Angelica AmezcuaAnaheim’s City Council has decided to attempt to preserve the ability of Anaheim Hills to determine the composition of the City Council by adopting the “Santa Ana plan.”  The allure of this plan for them is that it gives the appearance of representation of all areas of Anaheim without its substance.  Anaheim Hills residents would be able to use their power as a wealthy voting bloc to choose the representatives from West Anaheim, North Anaheim, Central Anaheim and South Anaheim that are most palatable to Anaheim Hills.

This was such an obvious and devious fallback position for the reactionary members of the City Council that the Democratic Party of Orange County resolution on Anaheim districting specifically rejected adopting this approach, before it was even offered.  (I know that it’s in the resolution because I wrote that section.)

Anaheim’s big argument to Judge Franz Miller, who is tasked with deciding whether this remains discriminatory, will be that “if Santa Ana does it, it must be OK.”

Well, it’s not OK, but there is a fair point to be made here: Santa Ana shouldn’t do it either.  Now, to be fair, it’s not nearly as large a problem in Santa Ana as it is in Anaheim.  Santa Ana’s counterpart to Anaheim Hills would probably be Floral Park, in the Third Ward previously represented by Carlos Bustamante and now represented by Angelica Amezcua.  But Floral Park’s hold on Santa Ana is nothing compared to Anaheim Hills’s hold on Anaheim.

One can show this with a meticulous review of various election results, or for now one can follow Cynthia Ward’s observation that in the past election Floral Park was the one harmed (if one wants to call it that) by this system, where this most conservative part of Santa Ana ended up represented by its third choice for its Councilmember, because the rest of the city preferred Amezcua — without knowing anything about her.  (This may have had to do with the 2010 candidacy of Al Amezcua, to whom Angelica Amezcua is unrelated, or to the campaigns of two other Amezcua’s running much larger campaigns in other parts of the city.  Local control really has its advantages, doesn’t it?)

If Santa Ana’s City Council takes this moment to take this stand, passing a resolution of intent to reform their own system of district voting in time to pass along the news to Judge Miller before the July 9 hearing, it would be a profound and striking statement that Santa Ana will not let itself be used to justify the suppression of Anaheim’s Latino population.

I’ve heard discussion over time about Santa Ana getting rid of this odd system.  (Doing so may also mean that the city’s Vietnamese population may finally elect a member of Council on its own.  If that’s what the numbers dictate, good!)  If they have any inclination at all to do so — and to not be used as an example to justify Anaheim’s desperate grasp for continued power — now is the time to act.

Some of the members of Santa Ana’s City Council have higher political ambitions.  Well, if you have higher political ambitions, you want to do things that are memorable and that gratify the public.  This refusing to let Anaheim hide behind the skirts of Santa Ana would be both.

They’ll have to act quickly, of course.  But they can.

About Greg Diamond

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Runs for office sometimes, so far to offer a challenge to someone nasty who would otherwise have run unopposed. Someday he might pick a fight intending to win it rather than just to dent someone. You'll know it when you see it. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. A family member works part-time as a campaign treasurer. He doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he hated. He does advise some local campaigns informally and generally without compensation. If that changes, he will declare the interest. He also runs a less frequently published blog called "The Brean," for his chosen hometown, where he is now fighting with its wealthiest and most avaricious citizen-donors. This just seems to be his way.