The Lookout Letter to the editor
Speak Out! Send Letters to

LETTERS -- Stop Violating the Law and Ignoring Residents

February 1, 2019

Dear Editor,

I am writing to respond to the ridiculous letter signed by Joel Koury, titled “Stop Suing Us” ("LETTERS -- Stop Suing Us," January 31, 2019).

Though that letter probably doesn’t warrant a response because it is so devoid of substance and full of paranoid ad hominem attacks, I feel compelled to respond to avoid any parents or residents being confused by Mr. Koury’s biased ignorance.

Mr. Koury takes issue with my law firm’s enforcement of the voting rights of minorities in Santa Monica.

For background, we filed a lawsuit in April 2016, asserting that the City’s at-large election system violates both the California Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution.

After a six-week trial, the Court agreed, and in the coming weeks the Court will enter judgment requiring, among other things, that all future elections be district-based.

It is not as if the City of Santa Monica had no opportunity to correct its violation of the law without being sued.

Look back at the local papers at the end of 2015 -- we presented a demand to the City to change its discriminatory election system, explaining our case, but the City ignored us.

And, even before then, in 1992 Dr. J. Morgan Kousser -- renowned voting rights expert and professor at Caltech -- prepared a report for the City, explaining that its at-large election system violated the Equal Protection Clause.

Based on that report, among other things, the Charter Review Committee -- chaired by Nancy Greenstein and made up of members who are active in Santa Monica politics today, such as Chris Harding, Patricia Hoffman and Tom Larmore -- advised the City to scrap its discriminatory at-large election system.

The City ignored all of that -- so we had no choice but to sue.

Our case against the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) is similar ("School District to Release Student Contact Information Under Court Order," January 18, 2019).

SMMUSD violates the California Constitution’s guarantee to a free public education by charging fees and failing to provide the instructional materials necessary for students to achieve.

SMMUSD has admitted as much. In July 2017, we presented those facts to SMMUSD. But, Mark Kelly -- SMMUSD’s assistant superintendent in charge of responding to those claims –- ignored us.

And, as we recently learned from the deposition of Mark Kelly, all similar claims that SMMUSD is violating the free school guarantee have been ignored, in violation of SMMUSD’s own policies! So, we had no choice but to sue.

So, if you want us to “stop suing [you],” ok; no problem. Just stop violating the law and ignoring residents when they point out your violations. Do we have a deal?

Kevin Shenkman

Lookout Logo footer image Copyright 1999-2018 All Rights Reserved.