|(March 6, 2019, 4:25 p.m.) -- LBREPORT.com has learned that in an April 17, 2018 closed session, the City Council authorized the City of Long Beach to join as a co-plaintiff in a state of California lawsuit challenging inclusion of a 2020 census question regarding citizenship. Earlier today, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of CA released his opinion striking down inclusion of the census citizenship question, ruling that it violates Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution requiring an "actual Enumeration" of all people in each state every ten years and amounts to "arbitrary and capricious" action barred by the Administrative Procedure Act (full opinion visible here.)
The City Clerk's office tells LBREPORT.com that the eight Councilmembers present in the closed Council session were Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez, Jeannine Pearce, Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw, Stacy Mungo, Roberto Uranga, Al Austin and then-Vice Mayor Rex Richardson. Councilman Andrews was absent [announced at the open Council meeting as ill.] The City Clerk indicates that Vice Mayor Richardson presided in the closed session, meaning Mayor Robert Garcia was absent in the closed session. Mayor Garcia was present in the main (open) City Council meeting.
The closed session item was publicly agendized "the possibility of initiation of litigation pursuant to Paragraph (4) of subdivision (d) of Section 54956.9 (one matter)." In response to an inquiry from today from LBREPORT.com, Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais indicated that Council authorization to join in the CA 2020 census question litigation came in the April 17, 2018 closed session.
The minutes of the April 17, 2018 main (open) Council session indicate that Assistant City Attorney Mais publicly announced the vote in closed session was unanimous to initiate litigation on a subject not identified. A "unanimous" vote doesn't necessarily mean all Councilmembers voted, only that there were no dissents; the City Clerk indicates no minutes are kept of closed sessions.
Other government entities that joined in the CA litigation were the County of Los Angeles, the L.A. Unified School District, and the cities of Los Angeles, Fremont, Oakland and Stockton.
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In January 2019, another federal district judge (in the southern district of NY) blocked the census citizenship question; the NY case is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court (on an expedited basis); there's no immediate word yet on whether the CA case will be joined in that High Court proceeding.
In a release, CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra said: "Justice has prevailed for each and every Californian who should raise their hands to be counted in the 2020 Census without being discouraged by a citizenship question...We will ardently defend this important judgment to safeguard fairness in funding and representation for California and its local communities. We celebrate this ruling, an important step in protecting billions of dollars meant for critical services Californians rely on, from education, to public health and safety. We look forward to a 2020 Census free of partisanship, where every person can be counted equally and without prejudice."
On a political level, a number of opponents have argued that the citizenship question is a Trump administration effort to undercount or suppress the count of immigrants (legal or illegal) for Republican political purposes. At a recent Cambodian community event, Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D, Long Beach-west OC) (celebrating the election of two Cambodian-American women as delegates to the upcoming CA Democrats' convention) said he considers a complete 2020 census count the most important issue now facing communities concerned with obtaining proper representation in the political process.
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