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Ladera Ranch Civic Council Election Starts Today — Maybe

Voting for the Ladera Ranch Civic Council was supposed to begin today, September 5th.  At least, that’s what the Ladera Ranch Civic Council website currently says.  In an earlier announcement, the Civic Council suggested that voting would begin on August 28th.  It doesn’t matter, however, because the Civic Council web site does not seem to offer members a way to cast their vote yet.  The website also doesn’t say when voting will end, assuming it eventually starts.  And once again, there was no notice of a candidates forum or other opportunity to hear from the candidates beyond the candidate statements.  This is no way to elect a governing body, even if that body is purely symbolic.  It’s almost like deja vu all over again.  Consider last September, when we wrote:

Unfortunately, we didn’t see any announcement for a LRCC candidate forum, as has been the practice in years past (as with the LARMAC and LARCS elections).  If residents did not have an opportunity to meet and engage the candidates, it seems as though they are being asked to cast their votes with less than complete information.  Candidates should make themselves available to residents prior to the election.

And this:

Seeing the rapid increase in membership caused us to question how Ladera Ranch Civic Council memberships are vetted.  Aside from submitting the web-based form, is there any attempt to verify residency and age requirements?  Is there any attempt to remove former residents from the rolls once they have left Ladera Ranch?  Is there any attempt to prevent someone from registering multiple or alternate identities for the purpose of casting additional votes?  If you recall, each of the last election’s winning candidates received fewer than 100 votes total.  It would not take much to manipulate the outcome of the election, and yet there does not seem to be any safety precautions implemented to avoid this.  Notice that the address field in the registration form is not even required!

In the past year, the Civic Council has revised its website, and in the process eliminated the membership count.  So not only were our questions about how members are vetted not addressed, but we don’t know whether the Civic Council has 1,000 members or 10,000 members.  And here we are again, wondering “is there or is there not an election starting today?”

But to be clear, just like last year:

We are not suggesting that anything inappropriate has happened or is about the happen in regards to the Civic Council elections.  We have no basis to suggest that.  We are using this opportunity to make a serious point:  if the Ladera Ranch Civic Council wants to start engaging in real politics and representing the citizens of Ladera Ranch on matters that have more long-term, substantive implications than street names and speed limits (not that those aren’t worthwhile accomplishments), the Civic Council needs to conduct itself (including its elections) in a manner appropriate for municipal governments.  If it can’t do that, it should refrain from engaging in any quasi-governmental activities.

You see?  This is why we get nervous when the Civic Council tries to act in a quasi-governmental capacity.  We might not worry if the Civic Council was content to function as an open forum for Ladera residents, but the Civic Council has lately been acting more like a true City Council, claiming to represent Ladera Ranch residents before LAFCO on substantive local governance issues and taking responsibility for other municipal issues with real consequences for residents of Ladera Ranch.

Our 2014 Civic Council election article is here, and a link to the full candidate statements is here.  It’s probably too late to schedule a candidates forum, or to publish and adhere to a fixed voting schedule.  But maybe this year the Civic Council will address the question of how Civic Council memberships are vetted, how voting integrity and accuracy is assured, and to publish the actual number of votes, not just the percentages, cast for each candidate.

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