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Home » Santa Clarita News » Palmdale Lawsuit Leaves City Council Votes In Flux
Palmdale Lawsuit Leaves City Council Votes In Flux

Palmdale Lawsuit Leaves City Council Votes In Flux

In court transcripts obtained by KHTS AM-1220, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge clarifies his intent to halt Palmdale’s City Council election.

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However, in news releases, Palmdale officials are saying the judge’s order is subject to an appellate court, which means their election is a go.

The ongoing lawsuit, which alleges that the Antelope Valley city is holding an illegal at-large election denying minority voters’ access, is headed to the Court of Appeals days before the city intends to hold its elections for several offices, including for its City Council members.

“What the Court of Appeals is saying is that our appeal was unnecessary because the injunction drafted by the plaintiff’s attorneys, (Kevin) Shenkman and (R. Rex) Parris, allows the election to go forward and be counted,” said Assistant City Attorney Noel Doran in a recent city of Palmdale news release.

However, no such ruling took place by the appellate court, and transcripts from an Oct. 16 hearing prove the opposite is true, Shenkman said.

In transcripts from the Oct. 16 hearing, Mooney acknowledges that he can’t order the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s Office not to tabulate the votes.

“They’re not a party. I couldn’t order them to do anything,” Mooney said. “But I could enjoin (stop) the tabulation, which the court, I think, does have the authority to do.”

Mooney went on to say that the while a county office counts the votes, the city of Palmdale is the party that seeks certification, and that’s the process that he can enjoin.

“The court issued its order, which included the injunction, the tabulation and the certification — that is where it stands right now,” Mooney said. “And so that, I don’t see being changed by the court of appeal or denying the petition, the appeal.”

On Friday, both sides appeared confident their side would prevail as both the plaintiff and the defendant filed court-ordered briefs on potential remedies for the California Voting Rights Act violations determined by Judge Mark V. Mooney in July.

Palmdale city officials, who have not conceded any such decision and remain unwavering in their determination to hold a City Council election Nov. 5, have repeatedly stated that nothing is preventing them from holding their election.

The city of Santa Clarita and two local school districts have been hit with similar lawsuits, claiming that at-large elections are denying Hispanic voters access to the electoral process, a violation of the CVRA.

The city of Palmdale put out a news release Oct. 15 citing the fact that all elections are on, as scheduled, for Nov. 5, including the City Council election that was declared illegal by Mooney.

Mooney followed that decision Sept. 30 by granting an injunction, or a court-ordered halt, that prohibits Palmdale officials from tabulating or certifying the results of the City Council race.

City officials have appealed that decision, and believe that they can hold the election during the appellate process.

Shenkman said his firm, Shenkman and Hughes, will seek further action against the city if officials try to proceed with their illegal election.

“If they violate Judge Mooney’s order, as properly interpreted and clarified by Judge Mooney,

then they will be in contempt of court, and we will seek appropriate remedies for contempt,” Shenkman said.

Palmdale city spokesman John Mlynar has not returned several phone calls, and all correspondence with KHTS AM-1220 has been directed toward news releases he has written for the city.

Shenkman accused city officials of lying to the citizens of Palmdale with misleading rhetoric in their most recent news release.

“R. Rex Parris and Kevin Shenkman are making a mockery of our local electoral system at the expense of democracy and tax paying residents all so they can make a hefty payday,” said Palmdale city attorney Matthew Ditzhazy. “We encourage every Palmdale voter to cast their vote for every elected office and exercise their Constitutional rights the people have fought and died for.”

Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or drop us a line at community@hometownstation.com.

Source: Santa Clarita News

Palmdale Lawsuit Leaves City Council Votes In Flux

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About Perry Smith

Perry Smith is a print and broadcast journalist who has won several awards for his focused, hyperlocal community coverage in several different regions of the country. In addition to five years of experience covering the Santa Clarita Valley, Smith, a San Fernando Valley native, has worked in newspapers and news websites in Los Angeles, the Northwest, the Central Valley and the South, before coming to KHTS in 2012. To contact Smith, email him at Perry@hometownstation.com.
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