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By Daniel RItz
During the reading of a seemingly routine general municipal election resolution for the November City Council elections in pre-determined districts 1, 2 and 3, City Attorney Patrick Munoz launched into a lengthy explanation of the city’s adherence to the state law districting timeline.
This was provoked by Councilmember Lewis sourcing the publication of a timeline which she claimed showed that Dana Point had been unnecessarily hasty in approving the process to pass a resolution of intent. She stated this proved Dana Point would have been allowed to remain with at-large elections during the 2018 elections season.
“I think it would have behooved us,” Lewis said, “to do additional studies and resident polling.”
Councilmember Muller asked if the supposed timeline mattered to the Orange County Registrar.
To this, Munoz passionately responded that the timeline, as described by Lewis, was legally inaccurate and had no legal effect to the Registrar’s office.
“Everything Councilmember Lewis said is false,” Munoz said. “The Registrar cared about one thing, there was a date that it would like to have the map by. There is no law that the Registrar must have an ordinance in place by that date.”
The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) is the law,” Munoz continued. “The Registrar’s dates are simply a preference. This Council chose to take part in the safe harbor period established by the CVRA. You were, repeatedly, made aware that you were not required to act this way.”
“We aren’t rushing, this is an unfortunately short timeline,” Munoz said. “I didn’t make this law up. There are a lot of terrible laws. Unfortunately, with this law, there is this tinge of racism and bigotry…”
Councilwoman Lewis said that she had “no idea where that (accusation) came from.”
She then apologized to Munoz and the Council.
“I take total responsibility,” Lewis said. “I went off the information I was supplied by the Registrar. If you are saying, what the Registrar said, has nothing to do with it, I take responsibility for that.”
District elections for districts 1, 2 and 3 will move forward on Nov. 6.