By Doug Porter
Republicans on the San Diego City Council united yesterday to oppose an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit before the United States Supreme Court involving the rights of transgender students.
The brief supports Gavin Grimm, a transgender student suing a county district in Virginia for the right to use public facilities, including boys bathrooms, in public schools.
Support came from the council’s five Democrats. Council members Chris Cate and Mark Kersey abstained. Lori Zapf simply didn’t show up. Republican Scott Sherman, who is termed out, voted to oppose the motion.
Cate issued a statement defending his abstention, saying [City Attorney Mara] “Elliot is plunging the City of San Diego into divisive national policies versus doing her duty to put local criminals, such as illegal pot shop owners, domestic violence abusers, and sex traffickers, behind bars.”
In his opening sentence of the statement, Cate implied the council’s closed session vote was somehow nefarious, even though it’s standard for votes on all legal matters to be voted on in this matter.
His deliberate obfuscation of the process belies Cate’s assertion about “advocating for equal rights for the LGBT community.” In fact, calling things “political” is standard Republispeak for we’re against it but don’t want to publicly say so.
Mara Elliott issued a statement in response to Cate:
As City Attorney, I am obligated by the Rules of Professional Conduct to bring amicus requests to my client, the City Council. As the City’s policy makers, the City Council may vote to have the City join or not join an amicus brief.
I would have engaged in politics had I decided not to bring a request to the City Council. That would usurp the City Council’s policy role.
Additionally, I was accused of bringing “divisive DC politics” to the City Council because Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. concerns the constitutional rights of transgender citizens. I was told to“focus on the issues of San Diego.”
To set the record straight, protecting the rights of transgender citizens has long been an issue for San Diego, as defined by the City Council.
San Diego’s Democrats for Equality fired back at both Cate and Sherman:
San Diego Republican council members play politics with a simple, non-controversial vote meant to support the equality of the transgender community.
For the second time this month, Councilmember Scott Sherman shamed himself, his city and his district and chose to vote against common decency for his fellow human beings in support of bigoted policies from his party’s leader and the nation’s current president.
Meanwhile, Councilmember Chris Cate “protests” a duly scheduled council meeting in order to go on a partisan rant against a city attorney defending the civil rights of transgender children.
“If the Councilmember wants to waste his personal staff’s valuable, taxpayer funded time to engage in partisan politics or if he feels he no longer has to attend duly scheduled council meetings then he is perfectly free to resign from council.” Said Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, president of the San Diego Democrats for Equality. “
The council heard testimony from dozens of people in support of the resolution.
From the Union-Tribune:
Councilmember Barbara Bry said the city must publicly support transgender people.
“We have a responsibility to set an example for other parts of the country,” she said in a statement. “Today’s vote shows that the City of San Diego recognizes the rights of transgender students and stands in solidarity with Gavin Grimm and students like him throughout the nation.”
So far there are at least 26 other amicus briefs in the case from organizations across the political spectrum, advocacy groups, education advocates, faith-based associations and think tanks.
Betsy DeVos Re-Writes Black History
Education Secretary Betsy Devos continued to be an embarrassment to the nation yesterday with a statement issued as leaders of black colleges attended meetings at the White House and with Republican Congressional leaders.
The administration has been wooing black colleges and pledging to help them in recent weeks. I’m not sure her statement helped.
From Inside Higher Education: (Emphasis mine)
Most of the statement is innocuous. She praises black colleges. In perhaps a sign not to expect too much money from the Trump administration, she says, “[r]ather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential.” And she notes that black colleges were created when “there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education.”
But DeVos goes on to link black colleges to the issue of school choice — a cause for which she is an advocate. “HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” she said. “They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”
While that summarizes the school choice argument, social media lit up late Monday with supporters of black colleges noting that the institutions were founded because black students had, in many respects, no choice. They could not enroll at predominantly white institutions in the South, even public institutions in their own states. Further, as states created public historically black colleges, they did so to meet “separate but equal” requirements, and never took the equal part of that statement seriously. Public black colleges were created with a fraction of the budgets, programs and facilities of their predominantly white counterparts. While many students did thrive at these institutions, educators there constantly decried the lack of resources (and many maintain that continues to this day).
Ben Mathis-Lilley at Slate wasn’t mincing words:
First of all, it sounds like a seventh-grader wrote this, which is perhaps what happens when you put someone who has never really had a real job in charge of the Department of Education. Second, this official 2017 federal government press release celebrates legal segregation (!!!) on the grounds that the Jim Crow education system gave black students “more options,” as if there was a robust competition between HBCUs and white universities for their patronage. (When black Mississippian James Meredith chose the “option” of enrolling at the University of Mississippi in 1962, a massive white mob formed on the campus; two people were shot to death and hundreds injured in the ensuing battle/riot, during which federal marshals came under heavy gunfire, requiring the ultimate intervention of 20,000 U.S. soldiers and thousands more National Guardsmen.)
To paint historically black colleges as pioneers of “school choice” is like saying the Montgomery bus boycott was a transportation startup. https://t.co/DRic6txMU1
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) February 28, 2017
City Council Wimps Out on Racism
Councilmembers David Alvarez and Georgette Gomez were the only votes on Monday against a “Go Along to Get Along” resolution.
The meeting topic was the final step, following a study from San Diego State University researchers finding SDPD officers are more likely to search black and hispanic drivers than white drivers. The 142-page study examined (what critics say is incomplete) data from 259,000 traffic stops in 2014 and 2015 and found black and hispanic drivers were less likely to be found with contraband compared to white drivers, despite being searched more often.
Following several hours of public testimony, the council voted to continue to monitor and evaluate racial profiling within the SDPD. While technical changes may be in the offing, the department continues to dodge questions about the role of racial prejudice in its activities.
From the Union-Tribune:
[Police Chief Shelley] Zimmerman said, however, that the city won’t be able to adopt four of the 10 recommendations in the independent analysis by San Diego State researchers until state officials finalize new regulations for collecting traffic stop data.
And even then, Zimmerman said the city may struggle to find software needed for such data tracking and the personnel required to thoroughly analyze the more than 200,000 traffic stops made by San Diego police officers in a typical year.
The City Council generally praised Zimmerman’s approach on Monday, but stopped short of requiring her to implement the report’s recommendations and declined to adopt additional policy changes suggested by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Alvarez issued a dissenting statement later in the day, saying:
“The independent traffic stop data reported on by SDSU shows the presence of racial disparity in the San Diego Police Department. The City of San Diego needs to accept this uncomfortable reality and must address it with swift and decisive action. The Council deferring meaningful action to a later date only continues the problem.”
Civil rights and community groups appearing before the council hoped for more decisive action.
“We now have scientific evidence to prove what people of color in San Diego have known for decades: The San Diego Police Department unfairly targets Blacks and Latinos. It makes it clear that Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately targeted by SDPD in “routine” traffic stops, searches, and field interviews.
Previously, Chief Shelley Zimmerman refused to call the practices detailed in this report racial profiling. She said all people have implicit bias as if it is the same thing as racial profiling. They’re not the same. It’s clear SDPD uses race to determine who requires enforcement and the depth of that enforcement based on skin color. That is racial profiling and we can’t fix it until we call it what it is!
Chief Zimmerman and the SDPD need to acknowledge this dysfunctional culture of racial profiling and should apologize to all San Diegans. This institution’s actions are the antithesis for 21st century policing practices. Racial profiling is unjust and unjustified. Not only does is squander public resources, it jeopardizes public safety and undermines public trust.
Wearing White Tonight
Democratic women plan to wear white to Trump’s address tonight pic.twitter.com/yKfUoiWgOE
— Rebecca Shabad (@RebeccaShabad) February 28, 2017
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