Under a humid, rainy Tuesday morning sky, chamber members gathered for an unusually impassioned discussion during their monthly breakfast at Mike and Anne’s restaurant. The subject of those discussions centered around the information given by Chief City Clerk, Anthony J. Mejia, concerning the proposed implementation of a district-based electoral system for our city elections.
Before Mejia spoke, John Vandercook, stepping in for Laurie Wheeler who is on a much deserved family vacation, welcomed the business owners over coffee and breakfast. First to speak was Jennifer Maimone, owner of Dual Crossroads, who gave a tutorial on “Google My Business”, a free platform that helps people find your business on the internet, which was very well received by the members.
Mejia then explained the situation before the city regarding the implementation of district-based elections. Mejia detailed how the city arrived at the unfortunate decision to proceed with implementation rather than go down the road of extremely expensive litigation with the lawyer (Kevin Shenkman) who is threatening a California Voters Rights Act lawsuit. The City Council voted to move forward with implementation feeling they had no choice financially, however none of them want it and it appears that many citizens agree. Mejia’s main objective was to get out the message that they have been given a very short time to make this happen and so the forthcoming meetings are very important as the council seeks resident input on how to draw the districts. They want to know what is important to you.
Said Mejia, “for example if you want us to consider areas of attendance for the elementary schools and middle school, we can make sure to try and avoid breaking those areas up. Or if there is a neighborhood that you are a part of, let us know and tell us what those general boundaries are.” He went on to say, “for the business areas, if you want us to consider not breaking up Mission Street, for example, we need to know that.” Mejia added “if we don’t get that feedback from the community, the demographer will just have to draw the lines based only on the requirements under the CVRA law.”
What was made obvious is that the upcoming public hearings are of vital importance and that citizens are asked to attend to give input. Mejia has put together a website specifically on this subject that is updated daily. www.southpasadenaca.gov/districts
Chamber members expressed their dismay with many discussing the ways in which this is wholly unfair and unwarranted in a city the size of South Pasadena. Dan Evans, a pillar of the community, advised citizens to get engaged “by making it clear to your legislators that we don’t like it. It’s going to take grassroots action with your assemblyperson, with your Senators to make it clear that we do not like the extortion lobbying of the trial lawyers and we’re going to hold you accountable at the next election.” He went on to say that “our democracy is being overturned by lobbyists in Sacramento who do not represent you.”
“The only good thing I can see in this situation,” said Vandercook after the meeting, “is that the city is really coming together on this issue.”
South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce holds Shop Talks the first Tuesday of the month at Mike and Anne’s at 8am. All are welcome.