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RE: Big Issue: How should Menlo Park's voting system change?

From: Marge Blaine <"Marge>
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2017 17:39:11 -0700

Thanks Greg. Good analysis.

Marge

 

From: Greg Blaine [mailto:gblaine_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 3:59 PM
To: city.council_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: FW: Big Issue: How should Menlo Park's voting system change?

 

Dear Council Members,

In reading the Staff Report and the Shenkman letter, I believe that for now
all Menlo Park need do is ".advise (Shenkman) by no later than October 3,
2017 as to whether you would like to discuss a voluntary change to its
current at-large system" to avoid forcing them to seek judicial relief.

I recommend that Menlo Park contact Shenkman and accept their offer to
discuss a voluntary change to its current at-large system, to avoid forcing
them to seek judicial relief. They appear to be well-informed and might be
able to give us some (free) guidance about how to accomplish this
efficiently, how other jurisdictions did it, who might best be able to help
us, best practices going forward, etc. Then, staff can present a range of
approaches for consideration.

The staff recommendation seems like a panic response and it doesn't appear
they read the letter to the last sentence. The resolution does not need to
be passed in such a rushed fashion with little public input.

Greg Blaine

(415) 215-2755 mobile

From: Menlo Park's Future [mailto:menlofuture_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 11:37 AM
To: Menlo Park's Future <menlofuture_at_(domainremoved)
<mailto:menlofuture_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Big Issue: How should Menlo Park's voting system change?

 

Big Decision and One Day to Make It on a Mega Issue for Menlo Park

Fellow Residents

 

On Aug 21 the City was told that it had 45 days to switch to district
elections and to decide how-not whether--district elections should be set
up. To avoid a lawsuit, the reply must be transmitted by Oct. 5.

On Oct 4, at 7:30 pm, City Council will take up the issue-which is obviously
huge.

 

Staff recommends that the City Council consider and select one or more of
the following options:

1. Adopt Resolution of Intention to Transition from At-Large to
By-District Elections and authorize City Manager to enter into Contract with
National Demographics Corporation to assist in transition

2. Authorize City Manager and City Attorney to Negotiate and Enter into
Contract with National Demographics Corporation to Work with the City in
exploring transition to by-district elections.

3. Direct City Attorney and City Manager to Explore Transition from City
At-Large Elections to "AtLarge From" District Elections in 2018.

4. Appropriate $75,000 from General Fund reserves to cover costs of the
above.

 

Disclaimer: I am no expert on this issue and have not yet formed an opinion.
But I do believe the Staff Report
<https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/15679> opens many questions
and is, most emphatically late, giving the Council, and the Public, exactly
one day to announce our city's intention of making some switch. The Staff
Report includes the letter threatening the law suit, and the legal grounds
for that threat.

 

I also believe this issue should have been considered earlier because Menlo
Park is an obvious target for such a suit-and several counties and cities
have already had to change.

 

Here are some questions I have:

* Could we declare Menlo Park to be a charter city, and what
additional options, if any, would that confer? This is not an option listed
above.

* As a General Law City, could we have ranked choice voting-even
though this is not common for a general law city, or do we need to be
Charter City to do this? I believe in Ranked Choice Voting for all
elections. It is explained in the Staff Report .
<https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/15679>

* Are districts based on demographics alone or on number of registered
voters? This is not clear.

And how do the registered voters stack up among the protected Latinos and
Blacks in Menlo Park?

* Why does Staff recommend we transition to "an at large by district
election," rather than an "at large from district election?" Or is it
recommending both?

* What other options could we be exploring? And do we have to decide
which option right now?

 

Although current City Council members will not lose their seats during their
elected term, how will we ensure that their choice of system and district
lines are not just determined by self interest. At what point, if any,
should the public vote.

 

These are top-of-head questions. I am sure more will come to mind.

Please email your thoughts, questions-and ideas-- to
City.Council_at_(domainremoved)

 

Sincerely, Lee Duboc (menlofuture_at_(domainremoved)

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Received on Tue Oct 03 2017 - 17:44:34 PDT

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