In a recent meeting of the San Benito High School Board, the trustees were served notice of the apparent discriminatory voting practices in effect — at-large elections — in this case, four members are from a single district. Advised of the clear violation by attorney William Tunik, a prima facie or an “open and shut” case exists that the current board is illegal and illegitimate. As such, the current board not only does not represent the predominantly Latino high school student body, but is operating without legal authority, as it is in violation of California’s Voting Rights Act.
Made aware of the board’s unlawful and illegitimate status, two trustees replied by making comments that reminds us of the standard xenophobic responses from back-in-the-day — that qualified candidates could not be identified or willing to run for elected office.
It is unbelievable that in this day and age (so-called progressive California) we have a supposed elected school board — under a cloud of illegitimacy — espousing and promoting language so reminiscent, if not exact in intent, to comments made by the likes of George Wallace and Bull Connor of 1960's South. What is more, by suggesting that local Latino citizens and parents, by exercising their rights and raising legitimate legal concerns are outside troublemakers, is at a minimum disturbing and insensitive, if not outright hidebound.
The comments of the following board members, in response to learning of the violation of the voting rights act, are offensive, elitist, self-serving (protecting ill-gained posts) and racially loaded – expressing publicly a prevailing mindset distasteful to the majority of this community.
Patty Nehme’s statements could not be more racially condescending, offensive and insulting to the Latino community of Hollister, when she stated: “I’m totally for districting and making sure that we’re equally representative, but I do have a concern that if there is a lack of will in certain areas there is some sort of fail safe in place that would either take the next popular vote or something to that effect that would save us from twisting an arm or trying to find some Schmoe off the street to come in and represent who doesn’t really want to or has a vested interest in the school.”
William Tiffany statement: “I think that before LULAC or some citizens come forward and gives us one of these letters where we have to decide what to do next, I think the responsible thing to do and I hope the right thing to do in looking at fair representation throughout the county, would be for us as a board to start looking at hiring a demographer and start the next step toward creating district elections.”
Not only is the school board in outright violation of the law, but it does not represent the makeup and prevailing interests of the predominant population of the City of Hollister which stands at 69 percent Latino — most notably the 3,000 predominantly Latino students of San Benito High School.
All this is the result of the good ol' boy network of the dominant minority group, their families, friends and associates that control — like the former Apartheid South Africa — the politics of Hollister at the expense of the subordinate majority.
LULAC and Hollister citizens/parents (those outside agitators and trouble-makers) are on solid legal ground to bring about an equitable redistricting; fair and equal representation on the school board! As such, the potential plaintiffs with legal standing (parents) need to proceed with all due diligence in nullifying the existing illegal board, and bring about more community representation to the politics of the city.
More importantly, the potential plaintiffs' attorney needs to urgently file a motion for a restraining order against the school board — to stay and protect from any deleterious and retaliatory action, any pending and future expenditures, that would cause long-lasting and irreparable harm; while limiting and tying the hands of a legally-elected community representative school board.
Moreover, the call for a demographer would be an illegal expenditure — in light of the cloud of illegitimacy that hangs over the current board — and a self-serving act.