In a column that appeared in the Sunday, September 1, paper, Bob Dunning writes that he sent a note to Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida “asking what she thinks about our sudden move to district elections.”
Mr. Dunning notes: “The councilwoman did not mince words with her answer.”
“Several years ago the school district was sued and hired a demographer,” she began.
“The results showed no concentrated areas of under-represented folks.”
Bob Dunning then responds in his own words: “No surprise there. Whether it’s dumb luck or good planning, Davis does not have under-represented groups concentrated in a geographic area that could potentially constitute a voting district. As such, if under-representation exists, it won’t be fixed by district elections.”
Unfortunately the comment by Gloria Partida is factually incorrect. She told me that her email to Bob Dunning was based on a comment made by former DJUSD Boardmember Sheila Allen during public comment.
Moreover, Mr. Dunning apparently published these comments and furnished his own opinion without checking the factual accuracy of the statement himself.
The Vanguard verified the facts with DJUSD Public Information Officer Maria Clayton and what emerges from those facts is a vastly different story than the one told by Mr. Dunning.
The bottom line here is this: the district was not sued. The district did not hire a demographer. And the conclusion – not based on a demographic analysis – is at best dated and therefore not applicable to the current conversation.
“I can verify that the District was not sued,” writes Maria Clayton in an email to the Vanguard.
Instead, what happened is that the district received a later dated November 16, 2011, from the YCOE (Yolo County Office of Education) Superintendent on behalf of the Yolo County Committee on School District Organization (County Committee). At that time, they made a request of each school district to reconsider whether they should move their election system from at-large to district elections.
Each district was asked to send a response by the end of February 2012.
“At its meeting on February 2, 2012, the Board received a presentation on the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) from legal counsel that included his presentation, some initial reference maps, and a copy of a letter from YCOE,” Ms. Clayton stated.
After review and discussion, “the Board did not believe it had liability under the CVRA to require a transition to By-Trustee area elections.”
Importantly, they “did not hire a demographer to do a full assessment at that time.”
It is important to understand that this is not a letter of demand like the one sent by Matt Rexroad to the city. This was from the County Office of Education, simply requesting the district to make an assessment.
In addition to the factual inaccuracies on technical details, it is important to understand there is also a massive contextual error here. This occurred in 2011 to early 2012.
At the time, they were using data apparently from 2000 to evaluate whether to make the change, The presentation states, “If your District already elects ‘by-trustee area’ then your District should be updating its trustee areas using the recently released 2010 Census data.”
The elections it analyzed were from 1994 (Prop. 187 on illegal immigration), 1996 (Prop. 209 on affirmative action), 1998 (Prop 227. on bilingual education), 2003 Prop. 54, the 2003 Special Election and the 2006 Insurance Commissioner race.
Those elections now go back 13 to 25 years.
A further reason why the temporal context is so important – in 2012 when the district analyzed whether it should go to district elections, they made the determination, absent a formal letter, that they did not have liability. Seven years later, the district re-analyzed the data and came to the opposite conclusion.
You might ask yourself, what changed? And the answer is: a lot. The unwritten story by Bob Dunning, by the mayor pro tem, and really even by the school district and city is one of huge demographic change.
To illustrate just how much this has changed: a presentation prepared by Redistricting Partners on January 27, 2012 found that district in 2000 to be about 70 percent white in terms of VAP (Voting Age Population) – 2.4 percent African American, 18.5 percent Asian, and 10 percent Latino.
Using just the 2010 census data, last week, the district demographics showed the VAP as 58.2 percent white with 24 percent of the population being Asian and another 11.5 percent Latino.
That’s a huge change in a decade and the trend is only increasing the minority population.
The bottom line is the fact that the district in 2012 came to the conclusion they did not face liability and now, seven years later in 2019, they came to the opposite conclusion – this has everything to do with that rather large demographic shift in Davis over the last two decades that has moved Davis from about 70 percent white to current estimates of 55 percent white.
Thus, the unwritten Davis story here is one of demographic shift over the last two decades.
—David M. Greenwald reporting