Complaint Alleges Racial Bias in Palmdale Elections

Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2013

Latinos and African Americans make up about two-thirds of the population of Palmdale. But since the city’s incorporation in August 1962, not a single black resident and only one Latino has ever served on the City Council.

That’s the backdrop of a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Antelope Valley civil rights activists alleging racial bias in city elections in this High Desert locale. The complaint argues that Palmdale’s system of at-large council seats dilutes the influence of minority voters.

“Latinos and African Americans are locked out of the political system in the city of Palmdale,” said Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman, who is representing plaintiff Juan Jauregui, a Palmdale resident. Three local black activists and the NAACP have also said they will join the case, scheduled to go to trial in May.

The litigation is the latest in a series of racially themed conflicts in the Antelope Valley as blacks and Latinos have moved into once mostly white areas. Housing programs and police practices have been flash points as activists have challenged policies they perceive as unfairly targeting minority residents.

Plaintiffs say the city’s at-large election system violates the state’s 2001 Voting Rights Act, which guards against disenfranchisement of minorities. They seek a change to district-by-district voting.

Palmdale is fighting back. In court documents, city attorneys argue that because blacks and Latinos are a majority of registered voters in the city, they are “in a position, numerically” to elect the mayor and City Council members.

The lawyers also insist that district voting would not have helped minority candidates who lost. “They simply had very little support from voters, and no drawing or gerrymandering of districts would have resulted in a district which would have elected them,” the attorneys said.

Moreover, in November 2001 Palmdale’s residents voted against a measure to introduce district voting. {snip}

{snip}

Traditionally, low voter turnout among blacks and Latinos in Palmdale’s municipal elections has shrunk their voting power compared with that of whites, who turn out in greater numbers, statistics show.

The majority of Palmdale Latinos voted yes for district elections in 2001, but the measure was defeated because 66% of whites opposed it, according to data compiled by a city consultant and cited by Shenkman.

{snip}

Race isn’t everything, agreed Darren Parker, who as chairman of the California Democratic Party’s African American caucus helps recruit potential minority candidates to run for local office, but he said High Desert cities need black voices in leadership.

“I don’t believe that anyone who doesn’t get up in the morning and look like me can really walk in my shoes,” Parker said.

{snip}

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  • Jss

    How many of these Hispanic and African residents of Palmdale have a crime free back ground and pay taxes? I strongly disagree with the concept of universal sufferage. Why should people who only take and never give to their community/nation have any say in how it’s run? Not that I want to ban women from politics and voting but I would like to keep criminals and leeches from doing so.

    Fine. Lets just ban White people from everything except paying taxes? I bet if that really happened diversity would still be blaming all their failures and mounting misery on racism.

    • The__Bobster

      I say you get one vote for every thousand dollars of taxes that you pay.

  • The__Bobster

    Race isn’t everything, agreed Darren Parker, who as chairman of the
    California Democratic Party’s African American caucus helps recruit
    potential minority candidates to run for local office, but he said High
    Desert cities need black voices in leadership.
    __________

    Yeah, race isn’t everything …….. unless you’re a grievance-collecting Zulu. Then it is.

  • bigone4u

    To twist a common phrase just a bit, once an area goes black, it never goes back. To invent a new phrase, once an area goes brown, its down. The blacks and browns need to be careful though in how many of the occupiers they send in. If ALL the whites leave, who’s going to pay for the benefits they vote to give themselves.

    • Ted

      We all know the answer to your question. They’ll just follow whitey to the next town, rinse and repeat.

      • RHG

        Yep, the cancer just spreads to the next white area.

      • NM156

        Or the left will just incorporate the city, town, or suburb that whitey has fled to with the town they abandoned: http://www.amazon.com/Spreading-Wealth-Robbing-Suburbs-ebook/dp/B007X5ZDUW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

      • bigone4u

        I will soon be moving to a mostly white rural area for many reasons. One good thing is that minorities do not like the peace and quiet of the country. That like lots of noise and chaos. I am expecting the area to remain largely white unless a major industry moves in or the feds force minorities into the area with Section 8 or whatever new scheme they can dream up.

  • HamletsGhost

    Palmdale was one of the white flight exurbs of those trying to escape L.A.’s predictable slide into the 3rd world. The commutes for people who still kept their jobs in L.A. county were worthy of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis as people endured bumper-to-bumper commutes over the local mountain passes about as fast as the proles in that movie trudged to their stations. All so that they could afford a home with a lot for their kids to grow up in, free of crime.

    All gone now, according to the article. Two-thirds minority, and it took only about 20 years thanks to the federal Section 8 sledgehammer.

    • Jefferson

      In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, only wealthy people have the luxury of living in neighborhoods that are not predominantly Mestizo or Black.

    • NM156

      Whitey must live in Lancaster then. I haven’t been to the area in a decade, but it’s hard to swallow those demographics about Palmdale. The blacks who evacuated South Central must have fled to the desert. Really mind boggling.

  • Holding municipal elections in non-general election years seems like a great tactic.

  • So CAL Snowman

    May the best man for the job win . . . unless he’s White.

  • HadEnough

    Fifty years from now, instead of reading stories like these every couple of weeks, you’ll be running into them daily. The country will be paralyzed with idiotic lawsuits like this. Taxes will rise dramatically to pay for municipalities’ legal defense costs. Hey, liberals, thanks fellas!

  • jay11

    Coming to small towns all across this once great land.

  • StillModerated

    Traditionally, low voter turnout among blacks and Latinos in Palmdale’s
    municipal elections has shrunk their voting power compared with that of
    whites, who turn out in greater numbers, statistics show.

    Well, there’s that, and the high numbers of felons among “minorities.” You can bet your bottom dollar that the NAACP are being egged on by white socialists.

  • RHG

    I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in this small town (at the time) and it was a nice place to grow up in. Sad to see how things have changed for the worse there.

  • NM156

    Where do the whites live then? Lancaster? Defense workers have to live somewhere.

  • George

    All adult citizens not disqualified may vote. Blacks & Hispanics make up two-thirds of the city’s population.

    Both groups nationwide voted overwhelmingly for one presidential candidate in both 2008 and 2012. They did so based not on the mulatto-in-chief’s policies, which are antithetical to their ‘values’, but rather because of his race.

    If they could come out in droves to put an Affirmative Action hire in to public housing in Washington, why can’t they do the same in Palmdale? If they gathered up their ACORNS, surely they could put politicians-of-colour into local government office. Sure, one-in-eight black males has at least one felony conviction, but that still leaves seven-eigths of them enfranchised. That still leaves 62% (an absolute majority) of the local population as (minority) voters. That means, in theory, that with ‘at large’ voting, 100% of the elected offices could go to coloureds.

    The fact that this hasn’t occurred requires an explanation. I submit to you that the explanation is simple: blacks and hispanics can’t be bothered to get off their duffs to vote unless there’s a bandwagon to jump on.

  • pcmustgo

    “I don’t believe that anyone who doesn’t get up in the morning and look like me can really walk in my shoes,” Parker said.

    I feel the same way about non-whites who don’t “get” and “feel” the whole reverse racism thing as a a white does.

  • generalquagmyer

    Have never quite understood the phenomenon of large numbers of blacks appearing suddenly in the desert towns of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties over the past 25 years or so. Might have something to do with the tendency of Latinos to not put up with their B.S. in the Los Angeles area. Encountered a goup of girls stalling traffic by walking down the middle of a street while I was passing through Blythe a few years ago. They don’t seem to be interested in anything at all except pestering whoever will tolerate them wherever they are, even after they’ve been driven out of somewhere else.
    If you want a functional society, you’ve got to have white people paying taxes and running things, and plenty of jail space for our two favorite minorities.

  • “I don’t believe that anyone who doesn’t get up in the morning and look like me can really walk in my shoes,” Parker said.

    That statement is so true. I really feel sorry for self-aware blacks like him. Chris Rock is an idiot, but he hit the nail on the head when he said that the poorest white man in the world would not trade places with him, rich as he is.

  • SFLBIB

    Re: “…no drawing or gerrymandering of districts would have resulted in a district which would have elected them…”

    This is how Newt Gingrich first got elected to congress. The Democrats arranged for a black district to be gerrymandered to ensure a black candidate would be sent to congress. Well, it did, but at the cost of siphoning Democrat votes away from other districts, thus allowing Republicans to win in those districts, Newt being one of them.

  • sbuffalonative

    Let’s see if I have this right.
    If whites are the majority in any system, we have to force the government to increase the number of minorities and decrease the number and influence of whites.
    If minorities are the majority in any system, we have to force the government to maintain minorities as majority representatives and artificially suppress the number of whites.

    Heads they win. Tails we lose.

  • Shattered

    Southgate, CA went through this after the Watts riots. They replaced their functional white government with a mostly black and then hispanic one. The result is the once prosperous city degenerated into an economically and socially ruined one with local government corruption scandals, poor wages and massive unemployment, the highest overall sales tax rate in the state, high crime with streetgangs controlling almost every block, and predictably a non-hispanic white population that declined to only 0.9%.

  • Eric Shun

    Another NAM elected official that didn’t work out so well…

    http://www.floridatoday.com/usatoday/article/1933813

    Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges that he accepted more than $200,000 in bribes and various gifts from businesses seeking city contracts…