YOLO SUN OPINION :
Apparently, editors at The Sacramento Bee (SacBee) have become cheery advocates of Woodland City Council’s recent decision to hold an election in 2014 for purposes of eventual, 2016 compliance with state law regarding the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) of 2002 — as well as becoming unjournalistically leery of any complications to that scenario.
So much so, that these editors fixed-up its news article of May 11, 2013, removing information deemed too clumsy to include, about the legal and political background of matters and events which its own (very good) reporter believes to be relevant, raising serious concern of institutional bias within SacBee’s news coverage.
Not only this, since a separate question arises about whether SacBee is also unfairly skewing this locally derived presentation away from pertinent local details, in order to enhance broad appeal to a vast readership outside of Woodland.
At the expense of a fully accurate story about Woodland, SacBee’s readership received a trimmed and more digestible account of affairs, so they wouldn’t have to wade through the mire of reality. Well, that’s the editorial theory.
SacBee editors wanted an:
“[O]verview on CVRA and where Woodland stands in relation to it, [opining] that the special election issue had been settled with the (City Council) decision to vote in 2014,” according to its quite capable reporter, who was “arguing that [ ] social justice issue[s]” related to this subject required more inclusive and detailed, localized news coverage.
For one thing, there is a fair chance that a local CVRA ballot measure would fail at the polls. This serious potential and its consequences do not find any space in SacBee’s lengthy “overview” narrative.
Tidying up its news product, SacBee gives a false impression inclining toward support for this action by Woodland City Council, while still displaying that the Council is now composed of five White Republicans who live nearby each other — in this City which has more Latinos than Whites (47.4% to 42.1%). Only three Latinos have been on Woodland City Council in its history, and only one in recent years.
Falsity exists in the fact that if Woodland is sued in 2013 to enforce the CVRA at the polls in 2014 — there would be no 2014 election measure to eventually establish this reform in 2016.
As well, these five White Republicans would not be drawing the electoral districts mandated by CVRA; instead, the courts would be (hopefully impartially) drawing them.
Over-simplifying its news report, SacBee editors play lawyer in support of the City’s present plan — while suppressing contrary and critical views which they clearly had at their journalistic disposal.
___ Elicited Comments Of Yolo Sun Excluded From Story ___
Well worth keeping in mind here, is these obvious facts :
“CVRA applies to Woodland since its inception, 2002. There is no need to wait to act until Latinos overcome Whites in percentage of population. But that is how far this key civil rights reform has drifted in Woodland.
“Woodland City Council has ignored CVRA for more than a decade, and it now wants to delay reform through [yet] another election cycle.
“After the 2010 Census, the question of CVRA reform arose in city hall, but nothing much happened. Apparently, there was an opportunity to place this matter on the 2012 ballot, but that wasn’t pressed forward.
“This would seem to be something of immediate importance — holding lawful elections.”
Of course, one huge (supposed) political reason for keeping CVRA reform off of a local 2012 ballot — is that Woodland’s near lonely Latino City Council Member, Art Pimentel, was then making a run for county supervisor, with support from most members of the City Council.
CVRA reform and Pimentel running for county supervisor upon the same 2012 ballot would appear as a rather novel, complex (yet more just) political circumstance — one that the city council declined to perform upon.
These remarks above and others by Yolo Sun (which was elicited by SacBee to contribute) were snipped out of consideration for SacBee’s essentially — ‘cooked’ — local story, which looked good at a distance in the midst of its being an “overview.”
SacBee’s diligent reporter describes Yolo Sun’s remarks / comments as: “good stuff, particularly on the gap between CVRA implementation and Woodland’s action.”
However, SacBee editors had another, broader agenda related to publishing a — tighter and tidier — piece of journalism, dispensed for a statewide audience — not to be slowed down by pertinent facts about Woodland’s actual historical setting and what is or is not legally “settled.”
Phil Isenberg (bless his pure political heart) even made it into this “overview” story, in terms of his recounting the 40+ year-old transition of Sacramento to district-based elections, as now enforced by CVRA against citys like Woodland.
___ No Ink For Essential Local Details ___
But what happened to these SacBee editors’ inkwell, when information was required for comprehending the subject of Woodland’s present political and legal circumstance, the very tether of this story?
No ink could be found and such clumsiness was avoided.
Indeed, Woodland City Council appears to be living up to its legal / social duty and is sponsoring such justice, through seemingly ethical and timely comportment with state law.
When in fact:
“Woodland City Council has essentially been intent on closing off a reliable opportunity to enforce the CVRA in 2014.
“What this really boils down to is a City Council decision that CVRA reform does not merit a special election (especially the cost thereof). Yet, it’s more than obvious that relevant conditions in Woodland genuinely merit this sort of attention, since this reform is so long overdue.
“Early in 2013, Woodland City Council [finally] delegated two members to investigate and evaluate the CVRA situation. What should have taken two weeks took more than four months [and remains unconcluded]. This unjustifiable delay has largely prevented CVRA reform from finding a way onto a November 2013 (special election) ballot.
“[CVRA] elections are an appeasement to local authority to draw its own districts, if it acts in a timely way. Woodland City Council is instead using it as a ploy to delay CVRA reform. Historically, it has not acted in a timely way to enforce this reform.”
These comments by Yolo Sun are in SacBee editors’ wastebasket, when at least some of them should have been within its (for that reason) incomplete and skewed news story.