The attorney suing the Santa Clarita and two local school districts over an alleged California Voting Rights Act violation filed an injunction to stop Palmdale from holding its Nov. 5 election.
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“We’re going to ask the judge to put a stop to the city disregarding the judge’s ruling,” said Kevin Shenkman of Shenkman and Hughes. “We’ve asked the city of Palmdale to remove the notice of election that they have up that says they’re going to have an at large election on Nov. 5.”
Judge Mark V. Mooney issued a statement of decision July 25 finding in favor of the plaintiffs in a civil rights discrimination suit against the city of Palmdale.
Judge Mark Mooney found the city of Palmdale was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 with its at-large election.
Palmdale officials vowed to fight the move, according to a statement from the city’s attorney.
“Lawyers Shenkman and Parris are using a poorly drafted statute as a pretext for a huge attorney’s fee windfall at the expense of the taxpayers,” said Palmdale city attorney Matthew Ditzhazy,in a statement released shortly after the decision. “This lawsuit has never been about white, black or brown—-only green.”
The defendants have 15 days to file an objection, a deadline that passes Saturday.
The plaintiffs asked several times to settle, which would have stopped any pay for the lawyers on either side, Shenkman said.
The experts looked at Palmdale’s City Council elections since 2000, during which time only one Latino and no blacks had been elected, and found there was racially polarized voting.
“The failure of minority candidates to be elected to office does not by itself establish the presence of racially polarized voting,” said Mooney, in his six-page finding. “However, the regression analysis undertaken by both experts nevertheless established a clear history of a difference between the choice of candidates preferred by the protected class and the choice of the non-protected class.”
Shenkman and Hughes and the firm managed by R. Rex Parris, who’s mayor of Lancaster, are involved in alawsuit against the city of Santa Clarita and two local school districts.
Lancaster officials are holding a special meeting tonight to look at districting, according to a city official who was not authorized to talk to the media.
The Election Policy Committee Town Hall Meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in order to host a “discussion to assess the current city of lancaster election policy,” according to the city’s website. The address is 44933 Fern Ave.
“It’s at the judge’s discretion what the judge does with it,” Shenkman said of his latest motion. “He’s supposed to rule on it no more than 50 days.”
A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30 for the judge to look at legal remedies regarding his statement of decision.
The only similar precedents that exist are in federal cases, Shenkman said.
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Source: Santa Clarita News