City of Palmdale continues to violate residents rights

mean-judge-e1409250187636Minority residents of the City of Palmdale were awarded a multi-million dollar settlement, with City of Lancaster residents, because the federal government found they were victims of harassment and intimidation.  The residents live in low-income housing and it was found the L.A. County Sheriff’s department, were unlawfully searching resident’s homes.  Latino residents were simultaneously embroiled in another lawsuit, claiming their voter rights were being violated, due to elections being held “at-large”.  A judge found in favor of the residents and the City of Palmdale is appealing.

Local cities, Compton and Cerritos, faced similar concerns by the Latino residents, who are seeking to have representation, on the dais.  Compton avoided a lawsuit by changing to district voting, before being forced by the courts to do so.

The City of Palmdale has a Latino population of approximately 54.4 percent and an African-American population of 14.8 percent, yet neither ethnicity is represented on the council.  Counsel argued these ethnicities haven’t run for office in the last 21 years, to which the courts dismissed that notion.

The lawsuit found the City of Palmdale in violation, and the courts postponed their June election, enacted term limits and the city responded by filing an appeal.

Neighboring City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, who is an attorney, joined as co-counsel to work on behalf of the residents, in spite of his city having at-large elections.

In my opinion, R. Rex Parris is the last person who should be representing minorities, based on how he personally feels about them.  Parris has publicly called for profiling residents who own pit bulls and most recently, Parris and his colleagues have asked their staff to do a study to close the Palmdale Metrolink station to keep transients out.  Parris claims the homeless in Downtown Los Angeles are encouraged to poach services from his city.  Parris also doesn’t want to pay towards the intimidation lawsuit; although it is known the Sheriff’s work at the behest of the city that contracts with them.

To bring this closer to home, one of our own Los Angeles city council members is against non-blacks, taking over seats, he feels should be kept African-American.  Current council President Herb J. Wesson made sure during the city’s redistricting that at minimum two council seats would “stay black”.

“Brothers and sisters, it was me against 12 other members of the council,” Wesson continued. “I had no backup. I had no faction. And I did the very best I could with what I had. I was able to protect the most important asset that we as black people have, and that’s to make sure that a minimum of two of the council people will be black for the next 30 years.”

The Los Angeles Times author, David Zahniser, went further by saying some of Wesson’s most candid statements did not make it onto the DVD passed out by activists. At one point, he (Wesson) said Asian Americans did not get their own council seat because they “live all over.”

“The lawyers indicate that in a lot of ways, it’s damning,” said David Roberts.  “It shows that race was used as a predominant factor in drawing these lines, and we’re expressly prohibited from doing that.”

Would this mean any other ethnicity, in perhaps Council District 10, would automatically not have a chance, since Wesson made it that way?  His colleague, Curren D. Price Jr., had a helluva fight this last election, fending off Ana Cubas for Council District 9.

Why are some city council members hell bent on keeping certain ethnicities off the dais, by circumventing their voting rights?

Requests to the City of Lancaster and Palmdale, along with the L.A. County Sheriff’s department, have gone unreturned, with regard to whether the residents have received compensation in their intimidation suit.


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About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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