My View: Some Disingenuous Arguments Floated in District Election Discussion

Having run through the math a few weeks ago, I am largely supportive of moving to district elections.  But I have to say I am a bit troubled that the California Voting Rights Act is written in such a way that people without real standing to challenge the civil rights implications of our local elections are still able to initiate the suit.

I am further troubled by a letter in the Enterprise by an individual named Jenna DiCarlo.  Read her letter and you would not imagine that she is the Communications Director of the Davis College Republicans, in charge of pro-Trump messaging as well as promoting the recent visit with Dinesh D’Souza.

And yet here we have her letter: “When the City of Davis received notice that they have been holding illegal elections that disenfranchise voters of color, I had hoped that the legal threat would be the encouragement the city required to make needed reforms. Unfortunately, their reaction was thoroughly disappointing.”

Illegal elections?  No.  There is a legal process by which the city has to react to such a letter in order to go to district elections.

But really, when has the Republican party worried about things that would “disenfranchise voters of color”?  If she were the communications director of the Davis College Democrats, maybe.  But there is something weird going on here.

She continues: “Instead of doing what they could to rectify their mistakes and give representation to all communities of color, the city of Davis is claiming “they do not have time” to fix the problem “in time for the 2020 elections.”

The problem is that the deadline passed for the city to change the election for March 2020.

She argues, “In essence, it is not convenient for them.”

The law does have timelines built into.  However, it is also worth noting that the council has yet to make a decision.  They have not voted to take any course of action.  Ms. DiCarlo is simply responding to the city manager’s communication based on their legal advice.

“In essence, it is not convenient for them. While it may not be convenient for the City, my concern is not really about what works for their timeline,” she continues.  “My concern is the civil rights of our community.”

Wow, her concern is the civil rights of our community?  Again, I am having a hard time believing that someone who is ostensibly pro-Trump and just worked to promote Dinesh D’Souza coming to speak is going to have that as a concern.  But perhaps we are pre-judging her and she is really opposed to the politics of Trump and the marginalization of people of color in the political process.

I actually agree with Ms. DiCarlo that the city should move the election to November.  There is higher turnout of people of color.  The other communities in this county have done so as well.

I very much disagree with her tone, however.  The city is faced with a new situation, there is a process to deal with it, the council has yet to take public comments, it has yet to have a public discussion and, most importantly, it has yet to make a decision.

She writes: “Why use the lowest participation levels to elect our city officials? Apparently, because it is convenient.”

She continues: “It is unacceptable for the city to pass a resolution adopting district elections, only to turn around and wait another three years to make the change.”

As I understand it, that is not off the table and may happen, but there are some legalities and moving parts that they have to deal with.

She writes: “Doing so would put the city in questionable legal standing, as they are knowingly and admittedly suppressing minority voters in another election because it is not convenient.”

As I understand it, they are permitted to do so under the law.  The law has a deadline for changing to district elections and the letter writer/would-be litigant missed that deadline.  Did they do it on purpose to attempt to force the election to November?  That seems possible.

She concludes: “That is not my Davis. My Davis is a loving community that defends those of all races, learns from the voices who have for too long been silenced, and empowers every resident of our city.  Let’s live up to the values of our community.”

And yet these seem to be words of a liberal activist, not the Republican Communications Director of the college Republicans.

So I think we deserve to know what is really happening here.  Is Ms. DiCarlo an agent of Matt Rexroad, an attorney and Republican campaign consultant?  And who is Mr. Rexroad really representing?

What is the game here?

I understand the law and what the city must do under the law.  I don’t like the idea that the system here is being gamed.  Something smells, starting with this letter.  I think we need some answers.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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75 Comments

  1. Bill Marshall

    Simply put, what is the most under-represented minority in Davis?  Conservative Republicans…

    And it is actually ingenious to get two POC’s, who may be conservative Republicans, to act as potential litigants, represented by a Republican… clever strategy…

    1. David Greenwald

      “California Voting Rights Act of 2001. Existing law, the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA), prohibits the use of an at-large election in a political subdivision if it would impair the ability of a protected class, as defined, to elect candidates of its choice or otherwise influence the outcome of an election.”

      1. Bill Marshall

        I understand the law, David.  I also understand that under the ‘color’ of the law, it can be utilized for other purposes…

        Try connecting dots…

        1. Alan Miller

          Hmmm . . . thanks.  But . . . wasn’t there a discussion here about how Asian’s aren’t a “protected class”.  And God knows I don’t know what that means or care, except as to what it means for this mess.

          1. David Greenwald

            They aren’t. I’m surprised you don’t know what that means since we just told you a week ago.

        2. Bill Marshall

          Per ‘Nextdoor’… L*** R***, Jr. [edited]

          Seeking representation for South Davis (context is Mace traffic issues)… nothing overt about “protected classes”.  Not sure, but am thinking Jim Stevens was last “southie” to be on the CC… he was (as I recall) a Republican.  Correlation, not causation… still, am more and more disinclined to think the “district election” thing has anything to do with “protected classes”.  A hoax, or misdirection, or something other than ethnic or socio-economic ‘equity’…

          But, that said, still thinking district elections are a fait accompli… although I oppose it…

    1. Bill Marshall

      Ironically, it was Republicans who tried to make sure Blacks (former slaves) WERE enfranchised during the reconstruction period… and restricted/forbade white voters from voting if they were ‘active in the rebellion’…

      Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, and from the wikipedia site, using his name to search,

      Wilson was the first Southerner to be elected president since Zachary Taylor in 1848, and his ascension to the presidency was celebrated by Southern segregationists.

      George Wallace was a Democrat.  Until he had to form his own party, for a chance for the presidency…

      Strom Thurmond was a Democrat, until he switched to Republican to support Barry Goldwater.

      Lincoln won election because the Democrats were split, on north/south lines…

      Lincoln never set out to free the slaves, initially… the EP was primarily a tactical maneuver to weaken the Confederate armies… the freeing was limited to those states ‘in open rebellion’… the EP did not free slaves in Union states… https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=34&page=transcript

      Lincoln is #1 on my “best presidents” list… he had his flaws, including physical, but he was a moral, decisive leader.

      This characterization of “party” vs. civil rights, historically, is bogus…

      I basically agree with Ron G’s 7:36 post (have some disagreement about precise dates) … seems he knows his ‘history’… true story…

       

  2. Ron Glick

    Aside from her rhetorical inaccuracies I hope Ms. DiCarlo has a bright future in California Republican politics. If the CA. Republicans are ever going to become relevant again they must return to the original and historic beliefs of the Party of Lincoln and start to be responsive to the needs of a diverse California. In California, the politics of Pete Wilson and Trump have reached a dead end. Perhaps Matt Rexroad and Jenna DiCarlo are leading the way up for the future of the CA. GOP.

    My guess is that at the end of the day our next City Council election will be November 2020.

    1. Bill Marshall

      My guess is that at the end of the day our next City Council election will be November 2020.

      I agree, but think it is unfortunate… there is a learning curve to being a CC member… having “newbies” coming in a short time (3-4 months) before a budget discussion/formulation is not necessarily a good thing…

      But, “it is what it is”… c’est dommage…

      1. Bill Marshall

        If she’s being ingenuous.

        I think the operative word is “they”… her, Rexroad, and the “potential litigants”… (and thank you, Sharla, for the ‘heads up’ as to possible motivations other than “protected classes”… another ‘dot’).

    1. Bill Marshall

      If she is the daughter of someone I’ve known for years, who is more than somewhat conservative, politically and otherwise, likely she is…

      But you don’t have to be registered to vote in order to express opinions… David’s “pic” was a tad violating VG policies… his bad (a potential form of “doxing”), not hers…

      1. Sharla Cheney

        [edited]
         My guess is that she is not registered here.  If she has been living in the dorms, then she couldn’t vote in City elections.  I wonder if she understands anything that’s going on in Davis at all or whether this is an attempt to grow her resume.

  3. Eric Gelber

    What is the game here?

    My guess is that the threatened legal action and the letter are simply conservative Republicans taking advantage of an opportunity to score points with minority groups, without harm to their cause, by smearing the progressive reputation of Davis. They can appear to be championing voting rights when, in the end, the impact of going to district elections will be negligible.

    1. Ron Oertel

      If that’s their “nefarious plan”, I doubt that it will be successful.

      This is one of the times that the absence of the conservative, former commenters leaves a gaping hole in the conversation.

      Here’s an idea – how about if the Vanguard requests an interview with her?

      From article:   I don’t like the idea that the system here is being gamed.

      (I think I’ll withhold my response, which isn’t necessarily limited or related to this particular article.)

       

    2. Bill Marshall

      Eric… thinking you’re reading too much into it, but you may be correct, but don’t think that is the main motivation… doesn’t make sense in the ‘global’ sense… see my post regarding political affiliation… Democrats are closely in danger of being the #2 ‘party affiliation’ in CA… Republicans have the #3 slot, already… “independents” (aka NPP) are the growing ‘party affiliation’… drawing from former Democrats (yeah, me) and former Republicans (more heavily)… can easily see where an initiative could pass in CA, to go like NV, and have a “none of the above” option… not helpful, but it might wake up both the traditional parties…

    3. Eric Gelber

      And here’s more of my cynical reasoning: While there likely aren’t significant concentrations of protected class voters in Davis, I suspect there is some degree of concentration of voters from conservative-leaning demographics—e.g., older white males. WDAAC comes to mind. So, district elections may ultimately benefit primarily Republicans.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Eric:  So, your theory is that there’s some conservative-leaning, older white males working behind-the-scenes in conjunction with this student?

        Also, I’m not sure that there is an overall conservative-leaning district in Davis.  There’s certainly some areas that pay more taxes/fees, since they are newer.  (I suspect that these are the areas that might resist an increase in parcel taxes.)

        1. Ron Oertel

          So far, there’s been nothing but speculation put forth.

          I’d suggest requesting an interview, and doing so BEFORE posting her photo and partial biography on this blog.

          I suspect that there’s a number of commenters on here with various “affiliations” (which for some reason, have not attracted the interest of the Vanguard). And yet, the Vanguard singles out a non-participant.

        2. Craig Ross

          You’re being incredibly naive.  You have political operative Rexroad sending a letter ostensibly on behalf of someone in South Davis.  Rexroad, a Republican, invoking civil rights as his justification.  Now you have the Communications Director from the College Republicans putting forth a letter to the local paper that could have been written by a liberal Democrat.  You’re level of proof required here is unbelievably high when it is pretty obvious what’s happening.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Craig:  The theory you put forth seems plausible, but again – I’d start with an interview request.  This person might not even be aware of the article, unexpected sharing of photos and information, and theories put forth.

          If this is the future of media, we’re all screwed.

        4. Eric Gelber

          So, your theory is that there’s some conservative-leaning, older white males working behind-the-scenes in conjunction with this student?

          No. I didn’t say that. My hypothesis is that this is intended to benefit conservatives by creating one or more right-leaning districts.

        5. David Greenwald

          “If this is the future of media, we’re all screwed.”

          Must be tough for you Ron.  You have the choice between a media source that doesn’t cover this stuff and a media source that doesn’t cover it the way you would like it to be covered.

          Find it interesting that Matt Rexroad reads the Vanguard, he’s been messaging me a lot the last few weeks providing information and tips on this story – which I appreciate.  On this – the cone of silence.

          I think we got this one right.

      2. Bill Marshall

        Good job, grasshopper… connecting the dots… you are attaining wisdom…

        But WDAAC will not exist ‘in time’ for census or districting…

        And your assumption that age, wealth has anything to do with political affiliation is tenuous at best, and narrowly biased on the other end… as a long-time poll-worker, many precincts, my observation is that, at least in Davis, there is little correlation, and definitely not causation… a lot of students are Republican… but more and more we’re seeing that all ages are dissociating from both Republicans and Democrats… they’re fed up with dealing with parties that have migrated to either 2nd deviation (intentional) on the bell curve.

        To quote (sort of) Patrick Henry,

        Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the Third — [‘Treason!’ cried the Speaker] — may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.”

        Right now, both the Democrats and Republicans seem to be intent on being their own “assassins”, via self inflicted wounds… they think more about pure ideology, than common sense and serving the entire public… in my NSHO

         

        1. Eric Gelber

          But WDAAC will not exist ‘in time’ for census and redistricting …

          No, but it will be included in some voting district at some point and will consist of a concentration of older white males. And yes, white men, particularly older white men, as a demographic group, are more conservative politically. Statistically, they form the strongest segment of Trump’s base.

  4. Tia Will

    I think there is another disadvantage to moving the election to November which may or may not be deliberate. As someone who works actively on campaigns, this has the potential to dilute my efforts. I cannot be both in Texas advocating for the Democratic presidential candidate for example and at the same time in Davis working on a local campaign. If a beneficial result were guaranteed, I would be completely on board. I do not see any such guarantee or even a reasonable likelihood in Davis.

      1. Bill Marshall

        And, Craig,

         people of color are far less likely to vote in June than November

        Again, sounds like a ‘personal problem’ to me… probably statistically correct, but doesn’t address the underlying issues or remedies… POC’s get the same info, same notice… a punch line from an old joke… “you no play’a the game, you no make’a the rules…” (think an Italian voice)… I frankly (tho’ I’m not) think everyone should view voting as a right, AND a responsibility… when folk bemoan the outcome of an election, I first ask, “did you vote?”… if the reply is no, end of discussion… I’m just ‘conservative’ enough that I believe in personal responsibility… and am ‘liberal’ enough to ensure that folk are able and encouraged to follow through on that responsibility.

        @ a 85% confidence level, we’re going to district elections, and Nov votes for CC… I have issues with those (previously posted), but it is what it is… I have to accept that, although, given a choice (with any chance of success), would oppose both… I’d vote no to both…

    1. Bill Marshall

      As someone who works actively on campaigns, this has the potential to dilute my efforts.

      Sounds like a ‘personal problem’ to me… I care not…

    2. Matt Williams

      Tia, Woodland votes in November (both city and schools), as does West Sac, and Yolo County.  They all seem to be able to live with November.  Why is Davis different?

  5. Alan Miller

    Again, I am having a hard time believing . . .

    Again, you said this already.

     . . . that someone who is ostensibly pro-Trump and just worked to promote Dinesh D’Souza coming to speak is going to have that as a concern.

    Isn’t Dinesh D’Souza a person of color?

    But perhaps we are pre-judging her and she is really opposed to the politics of Trump and the marginalization of people of color in the political process.

    Are those mutually exclusive?

    I actually agree with Ms. DiCarlo that the city should move the election to November.  There is higher turnout of people of color.

    Wait . . . what?  If people of color aren’t voting in primaries, it’s up to the system to fix this lack of participation?  Wouldn’t a better solution be to participate?  That goes for whatever, #ahem# “color” #ahem# you are.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Isn’t Dinesh D’Souza a person of color?

      As I recall, until maybe 20-30 years ago, folk from India/Pakistan were considered “white”, not “Asian”… for census purposes, affirmative action, etc., etc…

      We have a whole continent usually defined as EurAsia… the definition of “of color” (despite Kipling’s Gunga Din references) seems to be “morphing” over time… some now see Asians as NOT POC in some venues… I see people…  and fully expect to be trashed by folk saying I’m “insensitive”… yes, if discrimination exists, it should be ended…

      But if someone tries to tell me how to ‘feel’, how to think, “them’s fighting words”… I believe strongly in an admonition, that applies in many topics… “that all may be one”… not same thoughts, single mindedness,  but as to respect to people, their goals, their needs, and the body politic respecting different needs, background, I’m there, big time.

       

       

      1. Alan Miller

        “that all may be one”… not same thoughts, single mindedness,  but as to respect to people, their goals, their needs, and the body politic respecting different needs, background, I’m there, big time.

        Well, that is so 1960’s of you . . . and me.   Having learned that some POC are more equal than others over the last few weeks, I suggest POPC, “People of the Protected Classes”.  And remember, percentages don’t matter.  So, good luck figuring out who is and who ain’t.  Perhaps a Scarlet “P”?

        1. Bill Marshall

          Good points… particularly like the POPC… have you copyrighted that, or may I use, as well?

          Put “them” on a socially appropriate mechanical device, we could call those vehicles, POPCycles…

  6. Alan Miller

     . . . and, most importantly, it has yet to make a decision.

    Yes, better Ms. DeCarlo state her concerns after the City decides, that way, her concerns won’t be heard in time.

  7. Alan Miller

    And yet these seem to be words of a liberal activist, not the Republican Communications Director of the college Republicans.

    So I think we deserve to know what is really happening here.  Is Ms. DiCarlo an agent of Matt Rexroad, an attorney and Republican campaign consultant?  And who is Mr. Rexroad really representing?

    What is the game here?

    I understand the law and what the city must do under the law.  I don’t like the idea that the system here is being gamed.  Something smells, starting with this letter.  I think we need some answers.

    All usual acm snarking aside, I had a conversion with someone I will not name but certainly is in-the-know and connected and liberal.  Their take and understanding is that Rexroad and client see this as an opportunity to possibly capture a district or two in the outer rings of Davis where more conservative voters and Bay Area transplants live that could get a Republican or two on the City Council.

    1. Matt Williams

      Rexroad and client see this as an opportunity to possibly capture a district or two in the outer rings of Davis where more conservative voters and Bay Area transplants live that could get a Republican or two on the City Council.

      Alan, I disagree.  I think the motivation of the plaintiff is much more with geographic representation than political party representation.

      I am making an assumption about who the plaintiff is in that thought.  I could easily be wrong in my assumption.

      1. Eric Gelber

          I think the motivation of the plaintiff is much more with geographic representation than political party representation.

        Could be, but I don’t think that explains the involvement of the Communications Director of the Davis College Republicans or even Max Rexroad. Also, the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

        1. Matt Williams

          If I were looking for a politically wise lawyer to prosecute a CRVA case, Rexroad would be near the top of the list.  His creds are a good match to the issues.  Plus I suspect he would have special motivation in a Davis case.  Creds and motivation … that is a powerful pairing.

        2. Ron Glick

          Rexroad is an attorney who has a client and a pretty good case. Whatever you think of his history as an attorney is of no concern. Whatever you think of his motivations is of no concern to him either. This case will turn on the the facts and the law. One thing I’m sure of is that this lawsuit won’t be easily dismissed by the courts should the Davis City Council be foolish enough to waste a million dollars litigating the complaint.

          1. Don Shor

            should the Davis City Council be foolish enough to waste a million dollars litigating the complaint.

            Isn’t the city’s attorney on retainer?
            Also, wouldn’t folks want the city to take some time to discuss and consider how the districts are to be drawn, how many districts there are going to be, how the mayor is going to be elected, and possibly get input from the citizens before implementing a substantive change in the election process?

  8. Ron Oertel

    From article:  “But perhaps we are pre-judging her and she is really opposed to the politics of Trump and the marginalization of people of color in the political process.”

    Alan M.  “Are those mutually exclusive?”

    Excellent question.  Can one be a Trump supporter, but against the marginalization of people of color?

    If one believes that these cannot be separated, it’s a recipe for the divisiveness that’s occurring across the country. It also opens the door for manipulation of views. (Perhaps as alluded to, in this article.)

  9. Ron Glick

    “If she’s being ingenuous.”

    Perhaps you could ask her or Rexroad. Matt is usually pretty open about his objectives.

    As for the College Republicans they do have a history of trolling Davis by doing things to confront the general populace. Pointing out inconsistencies in free speech by inviting Milo and Skreli is but one example. This might be another case of them trolling but I stand by my previous analysis that this is good politics for the CA. Republicans and embarrassing for those that want to stand in the way.

    A good case can be made that if you are poor and spending half your income on rent the Democrats in control of CA. government with policies that keep housing prices high aren’t doing anything for you. Joel Kotkin has made this argument. The problem is that as long as someone thinks you are trying to deport grandma nothing else matters. If by forcing district elections in places like Davis the Republicans start to see beyond the current national Republicans and reach out to minorities perhaps they can start to rebuild in this state. Maybe they can pick up a seat through non-partisan districts and then try to move that person up if they prove themselves able. That is the traditional way of building up a party.

  10. Sharla Cheney

    Instead of getting involved in this campaign to push District elections in the small town near their campus as a show of support for supposed under represented voters, I wish the College Republicans would support their fellow students and come out strongly in support of DACA and immigration reform that creates a pathway to citizenship for these fellow students.  Do that and I might consider their interest as real and not  a campaign to divide and overwhelm the voting power of under represented voters.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Seems to me that many of the students who can afford non-resident tuition are better-off than many resident students. And might not want to start over in a country with fewer opportunities than they already have. Perhaps they’re just here long enough to get an education (which they’ll probably soon be able to get in their homeland instead, as schools improve there).

      Do a lot of students from south of the border enroll at UCD?

      In any case, non-resident enrollments are dropping like a rock. (Something like 17% fewer this year, than last year.)

      1. Mark West

        “In any case, non-resident enrollments are dropping like a rock. (Something like 17% fewer this year, than last year.)”

        The campus made the decision to accept fewer non-resident applicants this year, something some local advocates have been demanding, but that doesn’t say anything about the number of non-resident applications or the desirability of a UC education from those living outside the State or Country. When UC has difficultly filling the available slots with qualified applicants it will be news. Nothing even close to that has happened at present.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Also wondering if a a DACA student from another state would pay resident, or non-resident fees. If they pay non-resident fees, then Sharla’s statement would be incorrect for that sub-group.

        2. Ron Oertel

          And if all DACA students pay resident fees (even if they come from another state), is that fair to other non-resident students who have to pay full tuition costs?

        3. Sharla Cheney

          The DACA students I’m referring to are California residents. They are legal residents, under DACA.  They have drivers licenses, hold work permits, pay taxes.  Yet they are under constant threat by the Trump  Administration of cancelling their status and being deported.  If the College Republicans were truly concerned about under represented populations in Davis, they should start with helping members of their own student community, which I think is an actual problem.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Fair enough, Sharla.  It’s not a topic that I’m very familiar with, especially at UCD.  In fact, I misunderstood what you were referring to, at first.

          The circumstances which led up to that problem certainly haven’t been resolved, but that would take us further off-topic.  I’d like to see an honest discussion on that topic, sometime.  (Including how the current system facilitates the problem for “Dreamers”.) However, truth be told, I think it’s too emotionally-charged (and connected to racism, according to some) to ever have an honest discussion on this blog.

          I sometimes wonder if one can be against large-scale immigration (legal, or otherwise) without being called a racist. (Perhaps not on here, at least.)

      2. Ron Oertel

        Mark:  “The campus made the decision to accept fewer non-resident applicants this year, something some local advocates have been demanding,

        The concern (according to state audits) is that non-resident students were given priority at UC campuses.

        As a result, the state has provided another $25 million (I think), to admit more resident students.  UCD has offered admission to less than 300 additional resident students, compared to last year.

        Please let me know if you want me to post links to that information, again.

        Mark:  ” . . . but that doesn’t say anything about the number of non-resident applications or the desirability of a UC education from those living outside the State or Country.

        The article above does not address desirability.  Instead, it shows the following:

         “Overall, 8,824 international and 3,939 U.S. out-of-state applicants were admitted, representing respective declines from last year of 16.7 percent and 3.1 percent.”

      3. Ron Oertel

        The article above also addresses the TOTAL expected decline in enrollment this year:

        “The campus estimates it will actually enroll about 9,100 new freshmen and transfer students this fall, a decrease of about 4.5 percent from fall 2018.”

        I would think that this would be welcome news, for those who claim to be concerned about student housing.

  11. Ron Glick

    Don Shor: “Isn’t the city’s attorney on retainer?”

    If the city loses it pays plaintiff attorney fees. Probably 300-400 dollars per hour to Matt Rexroad.

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