Malibu’s city council has called a special city council meeting for 11 o’clock Tuesday morning, Nov. 5. They’ll go behind closed doors to consider a letter threatening a lawsuit from a Malibu lawyer, representing "significant exposure to litigation" over Malibu's at-large elections.
Milton Grimes and his law partner Kevin Shenkman have sent letters to dozens of California cities threatening lawsuits.
In other cities, they have claimed that full voting rights for minority voters have been denied because the cities have citywide council elections and not district voting.
Malibu has citywide council voting—not districts—but has curiously has not been served with the letters until now.
Apparently, attorney Milton Grimes has sent a letter to Malibu threatening a lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.
According to the most recent U.S. census estimate from last year, Malibu has an 89 percent white electorate. Just eight percent of the voters are Latino and Latino voters are not believed to be concentrated in any one part of the city. It would seem that the citywide voting in Malibu does not dilute minority voting power.
But fighting such a lawsuit could be very very expensive.
Grimes and his partner Shenkman have made a very lucrative practice other cities say they have been shaken down by the law firm.
They get paid 30 thousand dollars for just writing the letter.
Now, if the city moves to voting by district it would quite likely mean that every one of the five city council seats would be up for election in the next general election.
That's in exactly one year: 2020.
That would include incumbent mayor Karen Farrer and Mikke Pierson, even thought their terms currently go to 2022—two years past the next election in 2020. Farrer and Pierson would apparently have to run for re-election from within their districts.
And this would clip their maximum terms of service to two—one of two years, one of four.
The other three council members’ terms all expire in 2020 anyway.
Rick Mullen could run for re-election, but Skylar Peak and Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner are banned from running again by a term limits initiative passed by voters 19 years ago.
The meeting's full agenda can be found here.