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ALAN BELL, Capistrano Beach
Last week, a standing room-only crowd lambasted Dana Point’s Council majority and the city attorney for their handling of the districting issue that could leave all of us disenfranchised by 80 percent.
Despite the fact that most citizens are barely aware of this issue, they were all set to vote on whether to go with five districts or four districts plus an at-large mayor (which would double our paltry voting power). Every one of the five-district maps divided Capo Beach, Monarch Beach and smaller communities and HOAs throughout Dana Point. Thankfully, a roomful of pesky residents got in the way and slowed down the runaway train. The city attorney waved his tired warning, “you’ll be sued for millions!” to discourage Council from looking at the four-district scenario, but well-informed residents questioned why 147 California cities use that model.
With the rush to districting and the resistance to open forums (until Councilwoman Lewis and voters demanded them last night), citizens are suspecting that these maps were contrived to isolate politically active communities or people. Many speakers were suspicious that the city attorney sent a capitulation letter out after 15 days when 45 days were allowed.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Three Council members are up for election. Previously, the Financial Review Committee (FRC) recommended that our city attorney’s 16-year-old contract be opened to bidding. Councilmen Viczorek, Tomlinson and Muller opposed doing so or even looking at our annual $1.2 million legal fees. Then, these same three Councilmen disbanded the Financial Review Committee. As a trial attorney, and prosecutor for 38 years, I find this an appalling abuse of power.
And then, last week, that same city attorney recommended a vote on five districts vs. four when we have two more months to decide this within our “safe harbor” period. What’s the rush? Why no voter surveys? Why is this being railroaded?
Get informed; attend the information forums; stay awake, Dana Point, or your voting rights will be gone!