The City’s Official Factual Information About Measure C — 6 Council Seats

By Robert Haugh

There’s a lot of info about Measure C floating around. Some of it is accurate and some of it isn’t.

So, here’s the official factual information from the City’s website.

March 2020 Ballot Measure C – District Elections

Santa Clara will have a Special Election on March 3, 2020, which is also the election for the California Presidential Primary. Measure C will appear on the ballot asking Santa Clara voters to decide whether to amend the City Charter to elect council members by district. The City Council placed Measure C on the ballot following the recommendation of a Charter Review Committee composed of seven Santa Clara residents from across the city.

Measure C reads as follows:

If Measure C is approved by the voters, Santa Clarans would:

Elect City council members by district (except the mayor who will be elected citywide);

  • For the 2020 election, establish six districts in which each council member represents each district;
    • Only Council Districts 1, 4, 5 and 6 will be on the November 2020 ballot.
  • Beginning with the 2022 election, establish three districts in which two council members represent each district;
  • Require Council candidates to be residents of the district they represent for a minimum of 30 days prior to the filing deadline to run for office;
  • Require the mayor, chief of police and city clerk to be a Santa Clara resident for a minimum of 30 days prior to the filing deadline to run for office; and
  • Require an independent redistricting committee that would set the boundary lines of the three Council districts.

Background

The City held its first district-based election in November 2018 as required by a ruling of the Santa Clara Superior Court following a lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act. The court ruling did not amend the City Charter which still states that council members are elected “at-large, by seat”. The City Charter can only be amended by the voters.

In November 2018, Measure N asked voters if they wanted to engage in a public process to draft City Charter amendment language. Voters passed Measure N with 70.4% approval. Measure C is the result of the public process conducted by the Charter Review Committee.

36 comments

  1. its interesting that some compare Watanabe’s 13K vs Hardy’s 3K – remember that Watanabe’s 13k was a race spent on the entire city whereas Hardy’s 3k was for her small district I think if we were to do the math – Watanabe spent less than Hardy per voter. So the comparison fails to impress me or change my opinion on Measure C – I will still be voting Yes. We are a small city, racism is a tactic the haters are using, the niners have and will continue to try split our city so they can take control. Its called Divide and Conquer. More fool all of you for thinking different. The niners are the type of people who say Blue one year will Call Red the next year in the hope to get what they want which is to control the city.

    So many of the people giving advice on how we need to run our city don’t even live here. A judge who doesn’t live in our city, has no understanding of the demographics of our city made a decision that most don’t even like.

    People should keep asking simple questions – why are the niners so hell bent on having a say in our city politics? After all aren’t they a football team and nothing more? or is it they have their own agenda. Why do so many of you focus on the agenda of 4 women on council when really you should be asking why are the niners so financial vested in getting a result they clearly want?

    Vote Yes on C and if need be tell the Niners to go back to SF after all they don’t even call themselves the Santa Clara niners.

    • Because it was a bad fact the stacked six white, one Asian Charter review Committee (the Mayor is now calling the Committee “Diverse,” not kidding) had to confront in their march to develop racially discriminatory Measure C.
      You really need to watch the Committee meetings. You can’t believe it.
      In answer to your query, they offered that the City administered poll with over 400 respondents with 65.8%supporting six districts, couldn’t be trusted because of its methodology.
      So get this, instead of doing new polling, the Committee elected to rely on the anecdotal. You know, like, “Well I was at the Arts and Wine Festival and I was talking with a resident who initially felt that six districts were better than three, but he came around to supporting three.” That’s how it was. Like saying, “I’ve never gotten a flu shot and I’ve never got the flu therefore no one needs to get flu shots based on my personal experience”
      Sheesh

    • Regarding the Online Survey we conducted as part of this process:

      The survey was the starting point for the committee. However, it is important to note the survey is not a ‘survey’ or ‘poll’, the way you might think of someone doing a poll or ballot question. Responses were viewed on the same level as the people who came in and give verbal testimony or wrote in emails: Basically, a way for us to quickly collect several hundred “5 minute input” sessions from the citizenry.

      It is true that the online survey results were about 2/3’s for 6 districts. What we found was that, in general, when first asked about the number of districts, people generally broke by that proportion. However, when engaging with additional information (such as with paper surveys where people could ask questions), things generally broke the opposite (1/3 for 6, 2/3 for 3).

      We also had… not an insignificant number of people come up and say they were for 6 districts but they also wanted to vote for multiple members and be able to vote in every election :|. This reminds me of the classic west wing clip about polling questions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYNKuJvIFpQ

      So yes, that poll was part of the consideration. If I recalled, it completely put to rest the discussion over a 2 district system as well as provided some interesting discussion points into more novel solutions (My favorite was using overlapping districts), even if the reality of the timetable and mission of the committee didn’t allow us to dive into them…

  2. SE Hinton, a couple of things that might interest you:

    The 2017 CRC process (which I was not involved in) was charged with doing a lengthy process to properly evaluate the Santa Clara election structure and propose a new system. They did extensive research and worked with analysts. I don’t know if they considered proposing competing solutions. Unfortunately, the solution they thought up was narrowly defeated. That, unfortunately, left us in “limbo”

    Measure N and the 2019 CRC was structured differently. Since we were now under a judicial order, we were tasked with doing a “Quick and Dirty” solution so we could quickly get back to our elections being governed by our charter. Our mission was explicitly NOT to do a deep dive.

    I know competing measures was considered for Measure N (A measure for 6, 3, and 2 districts, as well as elected vs rotating mayor), but the council decided that was too confusing and put a single measure on the ballot (“Move to some number of districts with an elected mayor”). The 2019 CRC was formed to, on a VERY compressed schedule, to propose a way to quickly implement Measure N and get us back to charter-run elections.

    I know we at least briefly touched on having multiple options on the ballot, but given the compressed schedule, and that the council didn’t want to do that for Measure N, it was not pursued.

    It is also important to note that those who were against 3 Districts were (and are) pushing the logic of “The city can move to 6 districts by ordinance, no need for a vote”, (Which I strongly disagree with: Our election system should be voted on) and thus were not pushing for having competing measures.

    The tl:dr; of this is: This is the proposal to get us out from the court order and back to Charter-run elections. I, for one, would enthusiastically support the city forming a group to do a deeper look at the overall problem, but that doesn’t mean I think we should leave the charter knowingly broken while that plays out.

    • So, because you had a compressed time, you couldn’t reason out that 6 districts had the advantage of lessening the cost of campaigning, thereby lessening the impact of special interest/dark money, thereby opening the field to more candidates and responsive to fixing the illegal discrimination by the City. But you opted to go with three districts which makes the goals above more difficult or impossible to achieve. Of course, a seven member committee composed of six white people was merely coincidental. Right?
      Maybe this thing should have been referred to the youth commission. This was easy and the Committee botched it.
      Unbelievable.
      Vote No on C.

      • Actually it is the reverse: Because we were on compressed time, the only item we really got to dive into with details was 6 vs 3 vs 2 districts. It also meant that once we had fleshed out the pros/cons of 6 vs 3 (and saw that was where the support was), we didn’t really have time to conduct follow on outreach to further clarify.

        The compressed schedule meant we had to be hyperfocused. This has pro’s and cons. For example, the surveys had a lot of innovative ideas floated (I recall one that was “you could do overlapping districts), but the schedule meant we really couldn’t consider anything but the basic ones we started with. I would have also liked us to spend more time on redistricting protections, or some of the other auxiliary issues rather than just the number of districts :(.

        As for the makeup of the committee, you’d have to ask the council. I’d assume they did not consider ethnicity to be an important criteria in their selection. Although they did try a different approach to appointment this time (Each councilmember got to select the member from their district, and the rest of the council pretty much approved that selection without comment). A set of 7 individual decisions as opposed to appointing as a whole might have resulted in a not very holistic view of the appointments.

        • Thank you Ben for giving us your thoughtful comments and tone.
          I think you must appreciate how the selection process and the final product looks to many of us (and certainly to La Raza, Asian Law Caucus and NAACP, Secretary of State) on the outside. Those facts of process and product are locked in.
          We’ll see what happens.
          Vote No on C.

    • Benjamin, you suggest some are saying “The city can move to 6 districts by ordinance, no need for a vote”. I don’t believe you can change the charter w/o a vote. I believe the council could put a measure on the ballot w/o a review committee, however.
      I was surprised a judge can change our charter. That’s a big deal as I understand it.

      • Mr Hmyers: The judge can’t change our charter. He can order that we not follow it however, which is what happened.

        The city cannot change the charter by ordinance. However, the argument being put out by Councilmember Raj Chahal, and I believe it was stated in a comment hear by CRC Chair Suds, is that the city could adopt a 6 member district process by ordinance. The charter would not change, we would simply be ignoring it because of an ordinance. I recall the fact that adoption by ordinance might be possible coming up on the committee. This argument is essentially “State law says we can do this by ordinance, so it doesn’t matter what the charter says”.

        You are correct that the council can put an item on the agenda without a committee. Should Measure C fail, I expect there to be a discussion on if the council wants to try adopting an ordinance to do districts and not updating the charter vs putting another ordinance on the November 2020 Ballot without additional public input process.

        • Ben, thank you for your input. I learned today that with regard to how the measure is placed on the ballot that there is the impartial analysis prepared by the City Attorney that is part of the package submitted to the ROV and printed in the booklet shared with all of the residents. Here is the link to the impartial analysis:

          https://www.santaclaraca.gov/home/showdocument?id=65333

          I hope the link works. The other thing I found out is that pursuant to CA Election Code Section 9295 that there is the ability for outsiders to do a pre-election challenge to the analysis. In the case of Measure C no one did. So if the the 49ers wanted to do their civic duty, the time was last November when the ballot was being prepared to submit to the ROV.

          Learning this reminded me of a SCUSD school board election in 2012 where Jodi Muirhead’s ballot statement was challenged by incumbent Ina Bendis as to Jodi’s statement. In the end, the Court ordered Jodi did have to change some language. So it happens. In the case of Measure C, it didn’t happen. Until now. Why? There is a lot of misinformation being spouted by people who don’t live in Santa Clara. Why?

          When I ran for office in 2016, I found Santa Clarans to be well-informed, not afraid to ask questions and care about who represents them. The Council Majority, Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Councilmembers Teresa O’Neill, Debi Davis and myself, have worked hard to listen and do the right thing. We heard the Charter Review Committee’s recommendation and voted 4-3 to put it on the March 3 ballot. We believe it gives an even better opportunity for people to run for office in their districts on limited budgets and the ability for residents to vote in every election.

          What is also happening is outside interests are getting involved. Why? One of the arguments I hear in support of smaller districts is there will be an inability of outside interests to get involved. Yet, we have a multi-billion $$ NFL team trying to influence the outcome of Santa Clara’s election with $317K put towards independent expenditures but residents I speak to believe it is a lot more than that based on the continual TV commercials and colorful mailers. Who is to say they won’t do it in a district? Who is to say they aren’t already doing it?

          Vote YES on C!!

          • Ok. Let’s go to those messy “merits.” Please explain how 3 districts will likely attract more minority candidates than 6 ordered by the court?
            BTW, the measure c election is city wide, as you know. Therefore, since the 49ers are not funding a particular district candidate, your conclusion that special interest money will be more influential in 6 districts vs 3, is observably false.
            Sheesh.

          • Kathy Watanabe
            You continue to spread misinformation like others. City resources and are being used in a bias effort to pollute the vote.

            You are being a hypocrite because measure A in 2018 was endorsed by you and was funded/supported by outside influences ( like out of state influences) , not grassroots or home grown. Am I wrong ? It’s on file with the city. You also had developers help your campaign in 2016 that’s special interests.

            You may sit on a dais but it does not mean you can mislead the public. I respect you, we can disagree….but if you really were dedicated to an honest transparent measure to approve you would have listened to the PEOPLE that 60%+ of Santa Clarans wanted.
            Yet this data is abandoned because it does not fit the narrative. I know I would have listened to the community input that was ignored for a sudden 3 district plan.
            The judges orders were clearly stated yet it feels like we are going backwards and spending tax dollars like it grows on trees.

              • Not on your 460’s the developers that funded you via expenditures. If you have those it’s easy to win. $13,000 is not shoestring budget when you have special interests funding on the sidelines like dark money. Karen Hardy’s $3,000 is a shoestring budget no outside interest
                My $3,000 In 2016 and $10,000 in 2018 is shoestring with no outside funded sources.
                When you say niners funding candidates or measures same can be said about developers doing same for you and measure A. It’s the expenditures the same ones you are calling Jed York out for.
                Can we call a spade a spade ?

          • As to your query why outside interests (La Raza, Asian Law Caucus, NAACP) are involved? I’m pretty sure, and not going out on a limb here, that since the City has been found liable for race discrimination in the conduct of its elections, in the wake thereof selected a charter review committee to address that Court judgment appointing six old guard white people and but one minority, who devised a plan over the court ordered six districts to restrict minorities from being elected to Council (Measure C), I think it’s obvious. Your plan hinders the ability of their members to get elected.
            I’m surprised that you are surprised.
            Vote NO on C.

  3. Anthony B. — Manco/49er’s are simply an example-in-the-flesh. Clearly the 6 district configuration is vulnerable to big money interests, in whatever form money might take (input billionaire company name here). The 49ers have made this vulnerability obvious. So it isn’t really about them, at least not exclusively. It’s just that they were the ones who tried to spend $300,000 without first filing the legally required Fair Political Practices Committee 409 form. (More thoughts in my comments below.)

    • 6 districts is harder to stack the deck. less of a controlled experiments id say

      proof is in the pudding, in 2018 two grassroots candidates won not funded by developers nor the niners.

      Both Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy won with limited campaign money. Not to mention Raj was first minority elected proving the remedy worked.

      The same money interests you describe about 49ers can be said about the developers funding the council majority in 2016 and 2018 elections. Its a double edge sword. And in 2018 people voted for grassroots candidates in District 2 and 3 showing signs Santa Clara is moving away from heavily funded candidates.
      I feel if you are heavily funded, you owe someone something

      Trust me i dont want sports franchises or developers funding candidates, but this is the world we live in, Best we can do is run grassroots campaign. As much as York is despised for his contribution, they are on the right side of history that is all I am trying to say.,

      • Picking the single example of Raj winning in 2018 doesn’t show that districts were necessary for a minority to win. Hosam Haggag, a Muslim, won a citywide race for Santa Clara City Clerk (and city elections official) in the same election. He earned it by spending many hundreds of volunteer hours working to make Santa Clara as a whole better, actively participating in public meetings as an interested resident, engaging in spirited but civil debate on many different issues, often with the common theme of how to improve transparency in government. Santa Clara voters respect that.

        Not too long ago, Otto Lee won a citywide Council race in neighboring city Sunnyvale with similar demographics to Santa Clara. Otto’s web site says he spent his childhood in Hong Kong before immigrating to California at age 15. Sunnyvale is currently going through a similar debate about Council districts, but Otto won citywide long before that and has now moved on to run for County Supervisor. Why would he do that if he believed the playing field is not fair to minority candidates?

        Some talk about how old white males dominate politics. If that’s true, how is it that, without any court interference, on the recent day that Patty Mahan resigned, 6 of 7 Santa Clara Council members were female? Once again, Santa Clara voters respect integrity and qualifications, rather than blindly voting based on a single attribute like sex, religion or national origin.

        As for those citing chapter and verse from the CVRA court case decision, I should note that this decision is being appealed. I’m interested to see how the decision may change once the dust from that settles, particularly in light of the fact that even when a professional demographer actively tried to gerrymander Santa Clara in a way favorable to minorities as part of research into whether districts would help, she was all but unable to do so. Santa Clara is simply too naturally diverse for that to work, even under heavy artificial influence. We should all be proud of that. Minorities might have a much stronger argument for districts in parts of the country where the population is much less diverse.

        Meanwhile, I will continue to vote for and support the candidates I think are best qualified and most honorable, regardless of where they were born, what color their skin is, what religion (if any) they are, what party ties they have, etc.

  4. Every time anyone presents facts on reasons to Vote No on C someone throws out the 49ers. You either are bashed for supporting No on C or you are called a 49er candidate or 49er sympathizer. We can’t keep using the niners as an excuse. Yes they transparently put money into a political committee that is right now on the right side of history. (if they violated the dark money ordinance, fine them or explain the consequences- they still admitted to it)

    The California Secretary of State, NAACP, LaRaza all have come out against it. Do we need more ?

    The judges orders clearly state in plain english, that we are not allowed to go back to ‘at-large elections’ that his remedy is a standing order. It is not like a gallon of milk that will expire in the fridge. It was all the ingredients to make cookies leaving it up to Santa Clara to be responsible adults and make the cookies. Yes it’s a metaphor but it is true.
    I went back to visit one of my constitutional law professors I had in college (I needed electives and thats what i chose) and he agree’s that it is a standing order, a judgement. Our city attorney may be trying to “inherit the wind” or take this all the way to the supreme court, but I feel his advise is wrong on the verdict and remedy.
    Read Judge’s orders Page 9 section IV The Remedies Phase Disposition. Don’t believe me…. read it again and seek out answers, we can’t be boxed in on a measure like this that it is either 3 districts or nothing and right back to ‘at-large’….. that is false.

    what it has come down to is bully tactics, aggressive behavior and cruel intentions. If you tell the truth, you are negative or you are a problem. You state numerous facts you become a pariah and are chastised. You state an opinion they take it seriously.

    When Copernicus felt the earth was not the center of the universe they wanted to discredit him. We all learned the earth revolved around the sun. In this situation we have been calling for districts for years pre lawsuit letter (circa 2011). It’s taken millions of dollars and countless hours of time to get where we are now. We got 6 districts the judge spared us from 7. We got a fair deal. The city itself submitted the 6 district map to the judge in Summer 2018. HE ACCEPTED THE 6 THAT THE CITY PROPOSED….. now the city changes its mind that they want 3. One excuse I often hear is the charter review made the decisions for council to pass. If you have a majority on council You can stack a deck to win in go-fish or poker on any committee. Remember this that a majority of Santa Clarans in the data that asking how many districts, overwhelming it was over 60%. Yet we threw out those numbers cause it didn’t fit the narrative those in higher power wanted. That isn’t fair to ask what the people want…. then the people give an answer and they do THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE and spend taxpayers money.

    On the planning commission if we disagree…we disagree, but we won’t insult each other or run each other down. We can state a flaw in their decision or facts or have a robust discussion on an item. But afterwards we can talk to each other, respect each other and even ask how family etc is doing. What I see on council is brick walls around the majority. They won’t sit with opposition they wont talk with opposition and they will not accept feedback from the opposition. I give credit to O’Neill because she bends an ear. She communicates while Others do not accept your existence, ask many not just me. When someone is wrong they are wrong and sometimes when we say that to someone it isn’t to be malicious it is to save them face. I want them to succeed and do the right thing, but when you do the wrong thing it’s fair to give criticism.

    Now I know i will be ridiculed or accused of some bogus claims. There will be ‘but the 49ers’ or he is a niner supporter. Say what you want I ain’t owned. I am independent. But I know one thing…. I am on the right side of history.

  5. J. Byron Flake, If you had a few clients you wouldn’t need to schill for the niners. Back to the emergency room!

  6. J Byron. Really? Which is more pretentious, calling yourself J Byron or the blather you spout?
    And according to your FB page you don’t even live in Santa Clara, you live in San Francisco.
    As in SF 49ers?
    How about you solve your own sidewalk-crapping city’s problems and let us deal with ours?
    Maybe you can tell us what the 49ers have to gain. And don’t try to BS us into thinking there’s nothing behind the curtain. There sure to hell is, we just don’t know what they have to gain. And twits like yourself insist it isn’t relevant.
    I suspect it would make a big difference if we knew what was up, but as they say, follow the money. Maybe it leads to J Byron.

  7. John F. — Major eyeroll — the committee Chair’s ethnicity is not white and there is another name associated largely with the Filipino community though I have no idea about the named person’s actual background. You are just trolling. My complaint with Measure C is that often it seems City staff/administrators/elected-persons are so used to the details whatever they are talking about that they forget (?) to explain the underlying importance of whatever they are attempting. For example, while this particular committee is, indeed, called the “2019 Charter Review Committee,” everyone neglects to say “-Hey, citizens, guess what? We can’t really do ANYTHING with the charter unless you guys -regular citizens- agree to let us change things. So that means we HAVE to come up with a Measure- ” Instead, the message is something like “Hey we’d like to rethink districts in the City because we were told the old method was no good by a judge and the new 6-district alternative was not vetted by citizens. So come tell us how many districts we should have” which is fairly ridiculous because the average citizen has no idea how many districts there -SHOULD- be. To get proper input, the city should have hired an independent analyst (like the ones that draft our California voting packets every election!!!! these folks are professionals!!!!) to analyze the financial and other impacts of various redistricting configurations and then that analysis should have been passed to citizens to digest. AFTER that, the City should have explained that a Measure was NECESSARY because the city charter can’t be changed without a vote. BTW, the Measure SHOULD have had at least two (2) LEGALLY ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATIVES — i.e. pick from two alternatives that differ from the old Council Seat arrangement. Instead it’s “Hey either accept 3 districts or we’ll be in a legal limbo.” This last bit, in my mind, tells me that the Charter Review Committee did NOT adequately fulfill its mission. However, again, we now have proof, in the form of $300,000 from Manco/49ers, that the 6 district arrangement is too susceptible to outside big money group lobbying. (And that is why I’m holding my nose and voting for Measure C.)

  8. People make a big deal about the alleged discrimination involved here. Maybe there’s a simpler explanation for why Santa Clara hasn’t had more minority Council members. Whether we’re talking about seats on the City Council or on the Charter Review Committee or on the many Santa Clara Commissions, I’m reminded of claims that Wayne Gretzky once said something along the lines of, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Or in politics, if you don’t apply/run for an opening, you should not complain when you don’t win that race. That’s true regardless of any district system.

    Instead of asking how many minorities have won Santa Clara races, we should be asking how many even entered those races and what can be done to encourage more qualified and honorable people from ALL backgrounds to run for public office. Expanding (or reducing the cost of) programs like Leadership Santa Clara might be one example.

    Some claim that money keeps people from running for office, but there are multiple examples of local candidates winning citywide races on shoestring budgets and ways for independent expenditures to help good candidates of any background.

    • “Alleged” discrimination? It was, rather a fact found by the court. That can is tied to Santa Clara’s tail through 2019 at least.
      As to your fallacious statement that there are “multiple examples” of candidates who ran for office on a shoestring budget and won in Santa Clara, please name one who was a minority. I’ll help you. None.
      Vote No on Measure C.

    • Thank you for your comment. As councilmembers we should always be looking to encourage residents to get involved in commissions and be future City leaders. I recently met a young man of color who has aspirations to be involved in local government and encouraged him to apply for a commission as I felt he was well-suited. Thankfully, the councilmembers agreed after interviewing him and he is currently serving and, hopefully, a future leader of Santa Clara. There are scholarships that residents interested in attending the Leadership Santa Clara program can apply for. I was happy to learn that the candidate for District 1 that served on the recent Charter Review Committee is now attending the Leadership Santa Clara program. Hopefully, another future City leader.

      I am proud to say that I am one of those candidates you mentioned who ran a citywide campaign on a shoestring budget. I raised about $13K. And after all the results were posted, it was even better to know that I won every precinct in the city. I ran against 4 men – 2 of whom were Asian American. So the election for Seat 6 in 2016 was NOT racially polarized. I also capped my donations at $100 and DID NOT TAKE any monies from endorsements I received from South Bay Labor, DAWN, etc. I was not beholden to special interests, developers or corporations. I had helped Jamie McLeod run for re-election and learned a lot from her campaign.

      There are many programs out there geared to elect women like EMERGE and a few others to support women that want to run for office and how to go about it. As leaders we have access to how to be better leaders but I also feel as leaders we need to plant the seeds for the future leaders of tomorrow.

  9. Disclaimer: I served on the Charter Review Committee.

    Mr. Hmyers:
    If Measure C fails, we will continue to have the old ‘at-large’ system written into our charter. For the 2020 election, we will continue to be bound by the court ruling. After this, opinions diverge:
    * The City Attorney states that the ruling was only through the 2020 election, and unless it was extended by the judge the city would be bound to return to At Large elections once the ruling expires. This would likely result in the city immediately being challenged in a new lawsuit (as the system will still be deficient).
    * Others (including, I believe, the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit) contend the ruling is perpetual, and will stay in force as long as the charter language is not amended.

    As a practical matter, the City Council could try one more time for voters to make a change in the 2020 election before the court order expired. Alternatively, one councilmember (Raj Chahal) is convinced the city could bypass voter approval and adopt his preferred six district system via ordinance.

    S.E. Hinton: The committee was called the “Charter Review Committee”, and most of the announcements were clear this was about a charter amendment. To quote my own post from Nextdoor: “Charter Review Meeting September 26th – We want YOUR input!
    Hello! The Charter Review Committee, charged with implementing Measure N, will be meeting Tomorrow, 7pm, at the Mission branch.”

    Maybe you are confusing this with the very rushed court-mandated districting process that happened when first drawing the 6 districts back in July of 2018? I think everyone agrees that was far from ideal, and Measure C includes some rules about how districting will work in the future :).

    J. Byron Fleck: I assure you everyone (in the Charter Review process at least) was aligned that the previous, at-large system from before the court order was horrendous. However, that doesn’t mean that the court-ordered solution is the only alternative. The court did its job, which was to demand that we stop using a broken system and provides us with a well tested, if flawed, alternative to use until we can find a political solution to the problem.

    The political process we went through was both to see which of the options would work best for Santa Clara, and what concerns Santa Claran’s cared most about in the making of that decision. I’ll be honest, I went in expecting 6 districts to be the result, but the concerns that bubbled up out of the public meetings were a desire to have voters weigh in to the council in every election and a desire to have more than one Councilmember you vote for, in case one gets sick or resigns.

    Thus you ended up with Measure C, which still moves to districts but creates overlapping terms (much like the Senate) so that everyone can vote every election and you have two members who represent you.

    • Thank you, Ben. So, as you set forth, the rationale for Measure C, was to ensure representation of a particular district in the event one or the other representative resigned by illness or otherwise.
      Respectfully, you can’t be serious.
      Your Committee was established in the wake of a damning finding by the Court that the City intentionally, knowingly excluded minorities from serving in elected office. Neither the action nor its ruling was brought over the question of vacancy in office. Respectfully, what you are offering is an excuse, not a reason, justifying a wholly botched Committee decision by five white people where but one person on the seven member Committee was a minority.
      Surely you must concede that six districts (over three) ensures candidates require less campaign money to run for office, thereby opening the field to more candidates, making the field more inclusive and simultaneously lessening the impact of special interest and dark money.
      So, as you state, you and your four committee members who gave rise to the embarrassment of Measure C, were motivated more by consideration of a rare (or otherwise easily remedied under the existing charter) vacancy in office issue notwithstanding the obvious policy benefits of six districts over three and notwithstanding the City had just been slapped with millions for its illegal discriminatory conduct and notwithstanding the fact that the City Attorney told you explicitly on September 26, 2019 that if your Measure C was passed by voters, the City would likely be sued again.
      Can you now appreciate why your action is correctly viewed as racist? Where you had at hand the ability to recommend an inclusive scheme which expanded the field to more candidates and diminish the influence of special interests/dark money, you knowingly decided to forego those public policy benefits because you deduced addressing a vacancy in office was a more important matter.
      That is patently ridiculous to anyone outside the five white people on the Committee. Shameful.
      Vote NO on C.

      • That is not what I said at all.

        Measure C was the result of trying to balance competing desires, including:
        * A system that does not disenfranchise voters (and in particular, absolute avoidance of ways that would violate the CVRA)
        * A desire to participate in Council elections every election
        * A desire to have multiple direct representatives
        * A desire to pick a system that would appease current opponents and bring the city away from costly lawsuits
        * A desire to have a system that requires less buy in and encourages greater civic participation
        * Other competing desires to avoid the mini mayor issue, redistricting issues, splitting of the city, encouragement of ‘neighborhoods’, etc.

        I can say that I, at least, went in without a predetermined outcome in mind. I was fully expecting that a majority of the citizens were in the “We are fed up with this, just pick the system that makes this (and any lawsuits) go away”, and that we would be just approving a 6 district system. We extensively discussed the above and sought public input. The public input went in a direction I was not expecting, and we crafted the recommendation to try to balance what we were hearing from the community.

        At least those who showed up to give input.

        I would like to clarify a few things:
        First, the job of a good election system is NOT to determine outcomes. The goal is not to define the makeup of the elected body. Instead, it is that the citizenry can select representatives to ensure that the citizenry is able to select representation of their choice. When this comes to subgroups voting together, it is important that people are not disenfranchised by the system. And if those groups are protected classes, it is also a legal issue under the CVRA. This is an important distinction: We are trying to address the problem of people not being able to select representatives of their choice, not casting judgement on the criteria the voters have chosen to use to select those representatives.

        Second, on the history: Our committee was charged with implementing Measure N, which was an advisory measure that was asking about the approach to change the charter away from the at large system, and yes it was prompted by the CVRA lawsuit.

        I remember when Measure N was proposed, it was considered to put multiple measures on the ballot (2 vs 3 vs 6 districts, and elected mayor vs rotating mayor). However, it was decided that would be too confusing and Measure N was placed on the ballot with very generic “Move to Districts with an elected mayor”. Thus, our committee was both working off an ambiguous set of requirements and very limited in the options we could consider.

        This is important to your point of “the city getting sued again”. The way it was explained, if we did anything except stick to the strict safe harbor provisions of the CVRA, another lawsuit was possible. The only way to fall into that safe harbor was to use districts and have a rotating mayor (no elected mayor). This option wasn’t really available to us. And even if it was, the fact there could be a lawsuit against other systems does not mean they would be illegal (And thus, if the city valued having an elected mayor or less districts, that is acceptable as long as it does not disenfranchise. It simply means that there is an avenue for people to claim it does, while systems under safe harbor cannot be challenged).

  10. I assume you will publish what happens if Measure C fails, right?
    Some of the No on C arguments kinda make sense if you look at it a certain way.
    But, there is no way I would vote no on C without knowing why the 49ers are spending all this money to defeat it.
    The issues with the 49ers and Santa Clara are mostly zero sum in nature. And if the 49ers buy this election like the did the Measure J election what will they gain? Will it hurt us as much as the J campaign? Would we be fools to fall for it again?
    We hear a lot about transparency, how about some NFL transparency?
    So far, crickets.

    • What do the 49ers have to do with the merits of Measure c? Presumably, you read the ordinance and can reason out it’s discriminatory intent, no?
      Read the damn measure!
      Vote no on C!

  11. I’m pretty sure those “community discussion” announcements made by the City never mentioned “city charter” or the fact that only citizens can change the charter. Instead they announced “districting” discussions which, frankly, most citizens found baffling. If the City had been as “transparent” as they say they want to be, this important fact would ha e been up front and center. I’m voting for C mainly because I distrust Manco/49ers more than the City. But I resent the non transparency of our City politicians in this instance.

    • BS. While the City website is “true” as to the facts selectively presented on its website, the website is egregiously notable for the important facts omitted.

      Such as:
      – The Charter Committee was appointed by Council. Of seven appointments, the Council chose 6 white residents and but one minority resident.
      – The Charter Committee majority who passed what is now Measure C, were all white.
      – The City Attorney said in the September 26, 2019 Committee meeting that if the voters passed Measure C, the City would likely be sued again.
      – The City omitted on its website that for over 60 years, no minority had been elected to Council until the court ordered six districts.
      – The City did not link the Court’s easy to read, 10 page Statement of Decision and Judgment finding the City’s conduct discriminatory and illegal. The findings are horrific.

      Frankly one would have thought we were done with this racist bs years ago. By not telling it all, the City’s website may as well have been generated in 1965 Alabama.

      If you purport to speak the truth, speak all of it.

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