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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Murrieta's 1 Man, 3 Cowards, and a Deserter

By Douglas V. Gibbs
AuthorSpeakerInstructorRadio Host

After the smoke cleared during the special city council meeting in Murrieta, California on May 8, 2017, the true nature of the members of the city's council was revealed.

Murrieta is among the latest cities to receive a dreaded letter from Malibu, California-based attorney Kevin Shenkman threatening that if the city does not abandon its at-large mode of voting for members of their city council, they are allegedly in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) of 2001, and will be sued for refusal to comply with Shenkman's extortion.  No city or school board has ever successfully defended itself against Shenkman's attack, and only one city has actually fought back.  Palmdale.  After years of litigation and appeals, and money lost in attorney's fees, Palmdale finally settled, paying out $4.5 million.  And, to add insult to injury, a judge also declared the elections held during the litigation were illegal.

Now, with that victory in his pocket, Shenkman uses the Palmdale case to push other cities into immediate compliance.  He might as well be saying, "on your knees" as he does so.

Tonight, the Murrieta City Council met, each member present agreed that the move by Shenkman is extortion and wrong, and then all but one cowardly gave in because they were worried about placing a few million dollars of taxpayer monies at risk.

Really?  Isn't this the city that spent much more than what they'd lose to Shenkman for the wrong reasons in the property rights case against Calvary Chapel Murrieta?  Yet, now they have a chance to fight tyranny for the right reasons, and they fold like a bunch of lawn chairs?

Rick Gibbs is always on the wrong side of the issues, so his vote to begin the process of moving towards splitting the city up into voting districts was of no surprise.  He's termed out, anyway, and will be gone after the next election.  Kelly Seyarto, newly elected after being gone for a very long time in local politics, proclaimed he was angry about Shenkman's threatening letter, and against what it was demanding, and then gave in because of the money issue.  Note, Seyarto was among the people behind the creation of the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority that created the lawsuits by landowners regarding the takeover of their lands in the name of conservation without due process, or anything close to just compensation.  The third vote to give in to Shenkman tonight was Randon Lane, who also proclaimed he was against what Shenkman was doing, but gave in because of the money issue, and likely to protect his burgeoning political career.

In short, Rick Gibbs, Kelly Seyarto, and Randon Lane represent the coalition of cowards on the Murrieta City Council.

Alan Long was a no-show.  Someone asked me tonight, "Why is it that whenever the tough votes are on the table, Long is never present?"  He's a coward like the others, but it turns out he's also a deserter.

When the going gets tough, Alan Long vanishes.

The only member of the Murrieta City Council willing to stand firm on his values and principles in tonight's vote was Jonathan Ingram.  His testimony against Shenkman nailed it, and was laced with a variety of accurate references to the U.S. Constitution.  Ingram, while recognizing that Shenkman's threat is extortion, just as the other council members present said they believed, was the only one willing to put his vote where his principles were.

The coalition of cowards, unlike Ingram, abandoned their constituents for the safety of cowardice.

Gibbs and Seyarto didn't surprise me, but Lane is a big disappointment.  I thought he had a pair.  But, he has political aspirations, and so he is trying to vote in a manner he believes is safe, and in a manner that won't hurt whatever his next run for an office is going to be.

The thing is, Shenkman has admitted that what he is doing is “extorting” local governments.  He's taking advantage of cities, with the expectation that they will be too cowardly to stand up to him.

Earlier tonight, I had written that I believed Murrieta would finally be the city that stood against Shenkman and told him to take a hike.

I was wrong.  The coalition of cowards stood firm against the citizens of Murrieta, and gave in like the gutless turds that they are.

It's not over, yet, however.  This can still be turned around.  I urge all members of local groups (MTRA, Women's Federated, Constitution Association, and more), and all concerned citizens, to begin packing the Murrieta City Council meetings.  Hundreds need to begin showing up, demanding that the council change their direction, and follow Ingram's lead against Shenkman's extortion of Murrieta.

The madness has to stop.  Why not make Murrieta the brick wall that stops Shenkman's extortion?  If the city was willing to lose tens of millions for the wrong reasons with land-grab cases, why can't they stand up for the right reasons with less than $5 million on the line?

Simply put, will Murrieta stand by the vote of cowards?  Or man-up, and stand firm against extortion and tyranny?

Rick Gibbs, Kelly Seyarto, Randon Lane (and even Alan Long, if we can find him), the ball is in your court.  Ingram is willing to stand up to Shenkman as he did in tonight's devastating 3-1 vote.  Are you?

Remember, the Supreme Court tossed part of the federal Voting Rights Act in 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder. In doing so, the Court emphasized the importance of evidence in determining whether there is racial discrimination in any particular jurisdiction.  Shenkman cannot prove racism.  He has no leg to stand on, if only someone was willing to kick his feet out from beneath him legally.  This is your chance, Murrieta.  Stand up to tyranny, and stand with your constituents.  Don't give in to bullying and false threats.

Fight back and take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.  The confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch provides greater hope in fighting Shenkman's extortion.

And, let's send appeals to Sacramento. They can use the Shelby County v. Holder as incentive to amend California's voting rights act, calling for higher standards of proof of racism, or at least to remove the monetary incentives that reward shysters like Shenkman for their exploits.

Don't be a coalition of cowards.  Stand up to Shenkman, and defeat him once and for all.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary


Ryan "Gryph" Kelly said...

Sorry, Doug. That's the way the cookie crumbles. There are no consequences for cowardly politicians other than being voted out and that's not much of a consequence at all. Just look at how the power brokers in DC take care of their own with promises of cushy jobs and pensions.

Anonymous said...

I just moved back to murrieta and have no clue what's been going on, but I can tell u is that I did make changes to canyon lake while living their by getting people involved

Anonymous said...

My city—West Covina—is going through this process. Two councilmen and numerous residents wanted to fight the lawsuit. Three councilman did not citing the cost to fight. City council is in the process of hiring a consultant to draw up districts. Meanwhile, West Covina has a group of residents who are attempting to fight districts via a referendum.

West Covina has a history of voting for candidates of various ethnic groups on and off the council. A few years back West Covina voted to continue with at-large districts. The plaintiffs in our city are the same people who backed the election—and the radical former mayor we voted off the council in the last election. In short, three plaintiffs nullify the vote of a large San Gabriel Valley city—and they don’t have to prove a thing. California is becoming a banana republic.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gibbs fails to mention that Temecula voted last week to start the process of moving to district-based elections. Their are eight local cities that already have district-based voting: Moreno Valley, Eastvale, Menifee, Corona, Hemet, Wildomar, Redlands and Banning. Cities are switching in order to comply with the CAlifornia Voting Rights Act. Attorney Shekman is a civil rights attorney and the at-large system is deemed to be more fair to Latinos and other minorities. Latinos comprise 25% of Murrieta's population.

Anonymous said...

Dont know why the same people get reelected when clearly they don't have the best interest of us taxpayers in mind for our city. Its what better for there own interest. Dont care if this guy is a civil rights attorney,Im my opinion he's a bully going city to city filing suits. There is nothing fair with any attorney that does this.