Well if I die tomorrow, I will feel like at least I’ve seen it all now. My phone, email and text message notifications were going crazy until well after 1AM after the meeting, by residents as shocked and frustrated as I was. What was witnessed during the 1/10/22 council meeting is going to be hard to write about, but I do find the process cathartic. Let me just say right now, this is the most important report of 2022 and possibly the next ten years, hands down. I thank you for caring enough about The City of Upland, to read it.
There was a time when something being hard was reason enough to undertake it. There was a time when our leaders knew that and embraced it. Before I was born John F Kennedy said, “We do things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one we are willing to accept and one we are unwilling to postpone.”
JFK’s inspiring leadership and philosophy of doing things because they are hard, put men on the moon from 1969-1973. And without that kind of inspiration and leadership, the technology to send humans back to the moon was lost. It will be 2025 at best, before Kennedy’s vision will be replicated. So now that I’ve set the tone for this Upland Report, I’ll admit I lost an incredible amount of sleep after witnessing what happened at the public hearing.
I don’t remember ever feeling this worried about Upland before. It’s truly so troubling that Upland may be passing on citywide redistricting altogether, after the 2020 census. I have such a sense of bewilderment, that I can hardly articulate it. Missing the opportunity to redistrict after every 10-year census, is nearly unfathomable to me. Especially after electing an entirely new city council. I would have fully expected this from the Debbie Stone regime, but never from this new council.
I need to digress a minute to include events that started the morning of January 10th, before the public hearing that night. The day started off with a private message on Facebook from Reporter Stephen Scauzillo with the Daily Bulletin, who wanted to talk about The Upland Report article published on Sunday Jan 9th, 2022. I didn’t have time to call him on Jan 10th because I was super busy making the sample redistricting maps below, to submit to the city before the meeting, as well as, preparing my public comment for meeting.
If you’ve been a reader of these reports for a while, you’ll know that I am being nothing but consistent in my disdain for the city’s current election map. This is very well documented in this website that predates The Upland Report. Truly, the city’s ridiculous election map is one of the reasons there is now The Upland Report today.
Back in 2017, I started The Committe For Voter Awareness to expose the flaws in Upland’s current election map. I even emailed and spoke to a demographer named Douglas Johnson, who is the President of National Demographics Corporation. I reached out to Doug because he is someone who produces industry standard redistricting maps for cities throughout the state.
When Doug and I chatted on the phone about Upland’s map back in October of 2017, never once did he say there was nothing wrong with the city’s map. Never once did he say he could not improve it. Never once did he say it was impenetrable to a legal challenge. Instead, he thought he could improve it and would be happy to help, except, he couldn’t solicit Upland directly, they would have to solicit him. Unfortunately, that never happened in 2017, 2018 or 2019.
And here is where the story gets so ironic that it’s almost unbelievable. The city has now hired Doug Johnson’s company which has produced NO NEW MAPS because the council spent the entire public hearing on 1/10/22, debating the merits of simply keeping their existing map and doing NOTHING & NOT REDISTRICTING AT ALL!!!!!!!!!
This is the same map that pissed residents off so badly in 2017 & 2018, that everyone who voted to approve it, was voted out of office in 2018! Please look at Doug Johnson’s work product below, so you’ll realize that nothing he produces looks like a child drew it with a magic marker. The last map in the slide show will be Upland’s existing map, which looks like it was drawn by a child. It was produced by Compass Demographics and I have yet to even find a website for that company.
Please note that NONE of the normal maps have only 4-Districts. The reason a real demographer doesn’t use all straight lines to make a redistricting map, is because they have to cut out individual precincts to make each district have nearly equal population totals. Upland’s straight-line map that looks like a kite is so jacked up, District 3 now has 1,410 more residents in it, than District 1 does!!!! The 5-District sample map The Upland Report submitted to the city, has only an 80-person population difference between the largest district and the smallest district.
Since the city’s projector was “broken” and I couldn’t even show the council any 5 & 7 District Maps, I published them here where people will actually see them. During the public hearing the council reviewed only three maps, all with only 4-Districts, which were all produced by residents. I’ve never heard of a case ever in my life, where a city council would actually choose a redistricting map made by a resident. I now suspect the map the city is currently using, was a resident made map! Is the city paying the residents for their design work and free labor, while they have a professional demographer standing right there??? Is this a Monty Python movie or a freaking nightmare? Truthfully, I think it’s both!
The 5-minute summary video below will give everyone an idea of how dire this situation now is. As you’re watching, please keep in mind that there was no reason for a motion or a vote at all, since the council was only giving direction to their city staff.
Councilwoman Shannan Maust deserves some real credit, as she can be heard in the video above, seemingly pleading for more time to do due-diligence and to be able see other maps. And you have to give Janice Elliott mad props as she tried her hardest, to get some answers regarding what the legal process would be, to go from 4 to 5-Districts. The city attorney explained that he needed to know how Upland had arrived at their at-large elected mayor form of council and since he didn’t know, he couldn’t speak on that, until he did. That was a very fair answer since he is relatively new to the city.
But other members of the city staff, were telling the councilmembers all night, that they couldn’t go to a 5-Dstrict Map, without a costly citywide election. To settle the matter once and for all, I talked to an attorney today, who is incredibly well versed in municipal matters and who is an expert in this exact subject matter. What I learned was unless the residents of Upland had collected enough signatures, to put the issue of having an at-large elected mayor on the ballot, which is called an Initiative Petition, then the council is able to decide to go to a 5-District Map or 7-District Map, by a simple majority vote.
Initiative Petitions are so very hard to do, that the residents didn’t even do one when the city was trying to sell 12% of Memorial Park, to San Antonio Regional Hospital. Believe me, I wanted to do one so badly to recall Debbie Stone and it was far too daunting of a task. As of this writing and after much research of the documents that exist as far back as 1970, there appears to NEVER have been an Initiative Petition where the residents collected enough signatures of registered voters to put the question on the ballot and therefore, council CAN decide to go to a 5-District Map, with a simple majority vote.
Without citizen intervention now, the 4-District kite map from 2016 will be used for the next 10-years, so please sign our PETITION HERE TO CHANGE THAT! At this point, all I am asking is that council consider and actually look at some sample 5-Districts Maps at the next public hearing on February 14th. What in God’s name is wrong with asking Doug Johnson to draw a sample 5-District Map and explain the merits of it to the council, at the next public hearing?
Here is a prior Upland Report explaining what the merits and advantages are of going to a 5-District Map. In addition, here are my public comments below from the meeting, which also explain why the council should take action and redistrict the city.
“Good evening. I think it’s important the council use this chance to consider going to a 5 or 7 district map. I have submitted both a 5 & 7 district map today and asked that it be placed under the projector during my comments. However, since your projector is broken, I published the maps on TheUplandReport.com, should anyone listening wish to see them.
This is nothing in the language of this agenda item tonight, that precludes council from discussing the merits of a 5 or 7 district map. I encourage council to simply direct staff to have your demographer produce a 4, 5 & 7 district map for your review and consideration.
The current map the council has been using since 2018, is flawed and subpar. Frankly, it looks like a child drew it with a magic marker and was going to go outside and use it as a kite. It was produced with a vertical straight line down the middle and a horizontal straight over that, to divide the city into 4 wildly unequal districts. For instance, in 2018, District 2 had 641 more residents than District 1, when the districts are supposed to have equal population.
Furthermore, there are only 4 Districts, for a town with 80,000 residents. For comparison, the City of La Verne just to 5 districts, for a town of 31,000. La Verne is one of countless cities across the country and state, that have also gone to a rotating mayor position, instead of an at-large mayor, to avoid and reduce costly Voting Rights Act litigation.
By Upland still having an at-large mayor, they are putting themselves at great risk of potential ligation from a resident living in District 3 or 4. That’s because the residents living in Districts 3 & 4, are Upland 43% Hispanic population and under federal and state law, they are a minority group and a protected class.
The law dictates that cities must convert to district voting and make districts for minority groups, where they can be the majority of the population. The city cannot do anything to dilute the protected classes voter power and unfortunately, the current map is doing exactly that.
Under the current map, each district has 25% of the population and there are four districts. Upland’s at-large mayor resides in District 1 and so does Councilmember Maust. This is no fault of anyone currently on city council because no one on this council, voted for that map.
Regardless, Upland has two councilmembers living in District 1 and that gives District 1, 40% control of city council. Districts 2, 3 & 4, only have one councilmember each and they each control 20% of city council, yet they have 25% of the city’s population. So long as Upland has an at-large mayor who resides in District 1 or 2, the voting power of the protected class in District 3 & 4, is diluted.
This means any Hispanic resident living in District 3 or 4, could get the ACLU to file a lawsuit against the city, under the equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act. Even if the city thought they could prevail in court, to defend such a suit would cost Upland taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
By doing away with the at-large mayor and making the mayor a councilmember by forming a new 5th district, would completely negate and resolve this problem. It also takes tens of thousands of dollars in special interest money, out of Upland City Council elections. To run a competitive mayor’s race in Upland citywide, it’ a $100,000 expense and much of the tab, is funded by Special Interest Political Action Committees, sending out mostly propaganda mass-mailers, to every household in town.
It is my understanding if the city went to a 5 District map, Mayor Velto, who thank God beat Debbie Stone in 2018, will serve out the remainder of his term as Upland’s at-large mayor through 2024. Thereafter, Bill could run for re-election, in the 5th district.
If a 5-district map is adopted by this council, the mayor position is decided in one of two ways. First, each of the five councilmembers would take turns being the mayor, typically for a 12-month term. That’s called a rotating mayor. The other option is the five councilmembers vote among themselves, to decide which of the five of them will be their mayor.
And that’s it. There is absolutely no downside to going to 5-districts. It eliminates any future legal challenge under the equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act. It nearly eliminates the bulk of the Special Interest PAC Money from further corrupting Upland politics. It completely balances the city by population and no one district, has more power than any other.
So with that, I encourage council to direct staff to have your demographer draw a 5 & 7 district map, for your review and consideration. I would like to thank you for listening and should anyone at home or in the audience like more information, it can be found at TheUplandReport.com.”
I would encourage residents to use the mapping tool here, to make a 5-District Map and submit it to the city by January 27th, so it can be shown during the next public hearing on February 14th. You’ll have to login by creating an account at the top righthand corner of the page. The city has the mapping tool preset for only drawing 4-District Maps, but that can be changed. You’ll have to go to the setting wheel and drop down the map settings tab to change the district number from 4 to 5, which is circled in red below. Here’s the instructions for submitting sample maps to the city.
So with that, I’m all out of things to say today. I can’t thank you enough for choosing to read these reports. So long as you do, I promise to keep writing them. I’ll be sure to update you again after the next public hearing, if not before. I hope you have a fabulous rest of your week and thanks again for your friendship and readership.
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