The city of Palmdale was ordered to pay the plaintiffs $3,563,259 for the fees and costs related to a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit for which the city recently lost an appeal.
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The move comes amid a court-supervised settlement conference being held between representatives for the Santa Clarita Community College District and the plaintiffs in a similar lawsuit facing the college’s governing board.
Related article: COC, Plaintiffs To Host Settlement Talks In Voting Rights Lawsuit
Palmdale could still seek a review of the appellate court decision to the state’s Supreme Court. An attorney for the city indicated Palmdale City Council members would direct him as to whether the city would seek a review of the appellate decision.
“I would hope that the Santa Clarita Community College District board members would look and see what happened to Palmdale this morning to the tune of over $3.5 million and recognize that it would be irresponsible for them to use taxpayers funds in that same sort of amount to fight only for their own board seats,” said Kevin Shenkman, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the Palmdale suit, and three suits facing local governing boards.
College of the Canyons officials said they intended to fight the lawsuit in court, a plan that might have been abated by an 11th-hour meeting the day before the trial was to start.
They have declined comment on the story, citing the fact that it’s ongoing litigation.
After a two-hour closed door session Tuesday night, attorneys for the community college district requested a settlement conference Wednesday in court.
If a settlement is not reached by Friday afternoon, then a trial is scheduled to begin Monday.
The lawsuit facing the SCCCD claims Hispanic voters in the Santa Clarita Valley are being disenfranchised by the district’s at-large elections due to the existence of racially polarized voting.
No California Voting Rights Act lawsuit has been successfully defended in California.
The Santa Clarita Community College District has pushed the case to the brink of trial, the last of three Santa Clarita Valley entities to deal with such a suit.
The city of Santa Clarita and the Sulphur Springs School District both were hit with lawsuits alleging a California Voting Rights Act violation around the same time as COC’s governing board.
As part of its settlement agreement, the city agreed in February to move its City Council elections to match up with the November primary and adopted cumulative voting.
Sulphur Springs School District officials agreed also in February to settle a lawsuit alleging a California Voting Rights Act violation with a remedy that includes districts, officials said after an hourlong closed session discussion during their governing board meeting.
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Source: Santa Clarita News