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Anaheim mayor: districts 'make more sense'

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait speaks on city leadership during a press conference Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
July 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait on Tuesday said he believes the city should be divided into districts with elected City Council members from each section in order to better reflect the city's diverse communities.

"I think the time has come actually for districting," Tait said. "Now there is good arguments for both, but just in good government sort of argument, it seems like districts make more sense. Most cities our size have districts."

A special City Council meeting will be held Aug. 8 at Anaheim High School at 811 W. Lincoln Ave. at 4 p.m. City leaders are expected to discuss placing a measure on the November ballot to create six districts within the city.

Earlier Tuesday, activists held a news conference outside City Hall to discuss city leadership in light of recent police shootings.

Community activists from the Unite Here Local 11 labor union, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development and other groups called on the city of Anaheim to address what they say is a lack of Latino representation within city leadership. The group said the city has failed to meet or address the needs of its low-income neighborhoods in terms of safety, resources and economic development.

Activists asked that the city be broken up into eight districts from which City Council leaders would be elected. Currently, the city has four representatives on the City Council.

"The community asks for district elections in order to improve representation for individuals, and increase the accountability of our government, and make candidacy more accessible for our citizens who are not backed with their own wealth or by large political donors," said activist Arturo Ferreras.

In a statement released Monday, activists also suggested that city leadership is out of touch with the people of Anaheim.

"The Mayor and three out of four Anaheim City Council members live in affluent Anaheim Hills," said Marisol Ramirez, a member of OCCORD. "They can't fully understand the needs of neighborhoods like mine -- that's why we need every neighborhood to be represented on the city council."

This comes after a group of protesters on Monday appeared outside the state building in Downtown L.A. with a signed petition asking State Attorney General Kamala Harris to launch an investigation into the shootings.

According to a spokesperson, Harris will wait for the Orange County District Attorney's Office to conclude its investigation before deciding if her office will look into the shootings.

Wait has already met with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI and both have agreed to look into the officer-involved shootings.

"It is our understanding that our city leadership has asked for an outside review already. We support that process 100 percent," said Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn.

The family of Manuel Diaz, who was the first man to be fatally shot by police, is reportedly seeking an independent autopsy to determine where he was shot.

Authorities say Diaz, who police say was a documented gang member from Santa Ana with a criminal record, reached for his waistband before he was shot and killed by officers July 21. Officers said Diaz failed to heed orders and threw something as he fled police. It was later confirmed that Diaz was not armed.

Police also shot and killed Joel Acevedo, a documented gang member from Anaheim, according to police. Officials say Acevedo shot at officers at the end of a pursuit July 22 in a stolen SUV.


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