Texas GOP tries to protect US House seats under new maps

By PAUL J. WEBER and ACACIA CORONADO

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Facing up to Texas’ booming suburbs turning bluer, Republicans on Monday proposed new U.S. House maps that would fortify their slipping grip and shrink the number of seats where the majority of voters are Hispanic — even as they fuel the state’s blistering growth.

Texas was a big winner in the 2020 Census. Its surging population, driven by nearly 2 million new Hispanic residents, made it the only state awarded two additional congressional seats. Texas will now have 38 House members, and 40 electoral votes.

But Democrats and minority rights groups accused GOP mapmakers of tossing aside those rapidly shifting demographic trends that are threatening decades of Republican dominance. Persons of color accounted for more than nine of every 10 new Texas residents over the last decade, but the proposal reduces the number of Hispanic majority districts from eight to seven.

There would also be no districts with a majority of Black residents under the proposed maps, which are likely to undergo revisions. But outnumbered Democrats in the Texas Capitol have no power to force drastic changes.

“It is not fair, it is not right, it is not Texan or American to do that,” said Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, referring to how the maps divide up Hispanic voters.

On the whole, Republicans showed an overarching desire under the proposed maps to protect their nearly two dozen incumbent House members rather than peel away seats from Democrats. One notable exception is along the Texas-Mexico border, where Republicans — encouraged by former President Donald Trump’s strong showing there in 2020 — are taking aim at a longtime Democratic stronghold currently held by Rep. Vicente Gonzalez.

In every decade since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, courts or the Department of Justice have ruled that Texas’ redistricting plans violated federal laws — partly by scattering Democratic-leaning Latino voters among multiple districts dominated by non-Latino white residents who lean Republican.

“It looks like they packed more Democratic voters into fewer districts and sort of spread the Republican voters across more districts,” said Adam Podowitz-Thomas, senior legal strategist at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, a nonpartisan research organization.

He said multiple districts seemed to have been drawn to include a safe 60% to 70% majority Republican vote share that would preserve GOP control. But a new congressional district in the state’s liberal capital was a “Democratic vote sink,” said Podowitz-Thomas, one that would insulate surrounding Republicans House members by taking some of their left-leaning voters.

Another proposed new district in Houston is drawn to elect a Republican, meaning both parties would split Texas’ new seats. Republicans currently have 23 House seats in Texas, while Democrats have 13.

Latino advocates and officeholders believed the numbers demanded at least one new Latino-majority congressional seat in Texas, around the Dallas area, but none was included in the Republicans’ first pass. Booming suburban districts in Texas, which include four of the 10 fastest-growing and rapidly diversifying cities in the U.S., would be fortified with more voters pulled from surrounding rural areas.

Brenden Steinhauser, a GOP strategist in Texas, said the maps reflect a motivation to hang onto political power. He pointed to the proposed new district of Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, whose seat would be buffeted by shedding voters in Houston’s fast-changing voters suburbs.

“I think this will stave off some of this purple trending we’ve see for a while,” he said.

The maps are the product of Texas Republicans wielding a freer hand to reengineer political boundaries: For the first time in more than 50 years, Texas is starting the redistricting process without federal oversight. A Supreme Court ruling in 2013 removed mandatory federal approval of new maps for Texas and all or parts of 15 other states with a history of discrimination in voting.

The redrawn districts unveiled by Republican mapmakers are starting points and will likely undergo changes in the coming weeks before being sent to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for his signoff.

Republicans in America’s biggest red state want to expand their political advantage as their typically commanding victories in Texas have become thinner. Last year, Trump carried Ohio by a wider margin than Texas, and Republicans got a scare in 2018 when Democrats flipped a dozen statehouse seats and Beto O’Rourke nearly ousted Sen. Ted Cruz.

But Republicans held their ground in Texas in 2020, emboldening them to mount an aggressive agenda of hot-button conservative policymaking, and gains along the predominately Hispanic southern border have spurred the GOP into trying to expand their reach.

Hot Orange County housing: $100,000-plus price gains in 56 of 83 ZIPs

The pandemic era’s homebuying binge has created six-figure price gains in 56 of Orange County’s 83 ZIP codes.

My trusty spreadsheet, filled with Orange County homebuying stats at the neighborhood level from DQNews/CoreLogic, found in the 12 months ended in August prices rose in 77 of 83 ZIPs — 56 with gains of $100,000 or more.

The countywide median for the month of $900,000 was up 12.5% in a year. That’s a $100,000 price gain 12 months. The buying binge resulted in 3,708 closed sales of all residences — existing and new, single-family houses and condos — countywide. That’s up 5% in a year and the busiest August in four years.

The feeding frenzy added up to the number of million-dollar Orange County neighborhoods growing by 11 to 29 in the year ending in August. Yes, 35% of ZIPs countywide have seven-figure medians. There were 10 seven-figure ZIPs in August 2019.

In those seven-figure communities, 1,489 purchases were completed last month, equaling 40% of all homes sold countywide. In August of last year, 686 residences were sold in ZIPs with $1 million-plus medians, or 19% of all transactions.

At the other end of the pricing spectrum, there are only eight neighborhoods remaining with pricing below what I defined as benchmark for “reasonable” value: a median under $666,667. Yes, that’s a lot of money. But at the start of 2017, $666,667 bought you a median-priced home in Orange County.

Orange County’s “bargain” communities are down from 26 in August 2020 and 30 in August 2019.

August’s sales in these “affordable” ZIPs totaled 205 — making “bargains” 5.5% of all purchases. In August of 2020 there were 821 purchases in “bargain” ZIPs — or 23.1% of all sales.

Note: Monthly sales data for individual ZIPs can be volatile, so price data may reflect a different mix of homes that sold — not changing values. Data for all Orange County ZIPs can be found online at bit.ly/augustmedians

Here are the new members of the million-dollar club ….

San Clemente 92673: $1.36 million — up 40% in 12 months.

Huntington Beach 92649: $1.25 million — up 36%.

Irvine 92620: $1.21 million — up 34%.

Huntington Beach 92648: $1.16 million — up 16%.

Irvine 92618: $1.12 million — up 25%.

Yorba Linda 92886: $1.09 million — up 29%.

Costa Mesa 92626: $1.08 million — up 22%.

Laguna Hills 92653: $1.08 million — up 40%.

Ladera Ranch 92694: $1.05 million — up 28%.

Santa Ana 92706: $1.03 million — up 32%.

Laguna Niguel 92677: $1.01 million — up 22%.

Costa Mesa 92627: $1 million — up 18%.

And established members on the seven-figure list …

Newport Beach 92662: $3.58 million — up 111%.

Newport Beach 92661: $3.3 million — up 38%.

Newport Coast 92657: $3.15 million — up 4%.

Corona del Mar 92625: $2.9 million — up 6%.

Laguna Beach 92651: $2.65 million — up 10%.

Newport Beach 92660: $2.21 million — up 6%.

Dana Point 92624: $1.94 million — up 68%.

Villa Park 92861: $1.68 million — up 22%.

Irvine 92603: $1.6 million — up 31%.

Newport Beach 92663: $1.48 million — off11%.

Dana Point 92629: $1.4 million — up 21%.

Irvine 92602: $1.39 million — up 10%.

Los Alamitos 90720: $1.39 million — up 26%.

Seal Beach 90740: $1.31 million — up 20%.

Trabuco/Coto 92679: $1.29 million — up 29%.

San Clemente 92672: $1.21 million — off 1%.

Santa Ana 92705: $1.2 million — up 14%.

And Orange County’s sub-$666,667 ZIPs in August …

Anaheim 92801: $655,000 — up 9%.

Santa Ana 92703: $645,000 — up 23%.

Santa Ana 92707: $620,000 — up 16%.

Orange 92868: $600,000 — up 29%.

Garden Grove 92844: $570,000 — up 5%.

Stanton 90680: $531,250 — flat.

Santa Ana 92701: $469,750 — up 6%.

Laguna Woods 92637: $382,500 — up 1%.

Jonathan Lansner is business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

Americans win Ryder Cup in a rout; Morikawa clinches it

By DOUG FERGUSON

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — The Americans won back the Ryder Cup and perhaps a whole lot more Sunday, sending a strong message to Europe with a powerful performance from their youngest team in history.

Scottie Scheffler, one of six Ryder Cup newcomers for the Americans, took down the No. 1 player in the world with a 4-and-3 victory over Jon Rahm as the scoreboards around Whistling Straits quickly filled with American red.

The final blow came from Collin Morikawa, at 24 the youngest player on the team and already a two-time major champion. He holed a 3-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole that assured the Americans at least the 14 1/2 points they needed.

The celebration was on, even as the American were still keeping score.

“I woke up this morning and I was trying to tell the guys, ‘Let’s get to 20 points,’ because this is going to be the next era of Ryder Cup team for the U.S. side,” Patrick Cantlay said, finishing an unbeaten week with a win over Shane Lowry.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys. I think they’re going to be on teams for a long time, and I wanted to send a message.”

With two matches still on the course, the Americans already were assured of their most lopsided victory over Europe.

Tony Finau had said on the eve of these matches that this was “the big one” because Europe had won nine of the last 12, and the Americans had so many fresh faces without any lasting scars from watching Europe celebrate so much over the years.

The big one became one big rout.

The gallery saved one of its loudest cheers for U.S. captain Steve Stricker, the Wisconsin native who has been at the helm of blowouts in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.

“This is a new era for USA golf,” Stricker said. “They are young. They come with a lot of passion, a lot of energy, a lot of game. They are just so good.”

The old guy — Dustin Johnson at 37 — was pretty good, too.

Johnson became the first American since Larry Nelson in 1979 to go 5-0, completing his perfect week by beating Paul Casey.

The Americans were young, yes, and very good, with four of the top five in the world ranking. They finally played like it. Those four players — Johnson, Morikawa, Cantlay and Xander Schauffele — combined for a 14-1-2 record.

Stricker wasn’t the only one in tears.

Rory McIlroy, who failed to win any of his three team matches, led Europe off again and gave Schauffele his first loss of the week. It wasn’t nearly enough. All day along the shores of Lake Michigan, the outcome was inevitable.

McIlroy teared up in his interview when talking about how much the Ryder Cup means to him.

“I’ve never really cried or got emotional over what I’ve done as an individual. I couldn’t give an (expletive),” he said on NBC. “But this team … to see Sergio (Garcia) break records, to see Jon Rahm come into his own this week, to see one of my best friends, Shane Lowry, make his Ryder Cup debut, all that. It’s phenomenal.

“I’m disappointed that I didn’t contribute more this week,” he said. “But in two years’ time, we’ll go again and give it another so. Sorry for swearing, as well.”

As much as this was about a new generation of Americans, this looked to be an aging team of Europeans. They brought winning experience, but not nearly enough form.

Paul Casey, one of four Europeans in his 40s, failed to earn a point in four matches this week. Ian Poulter beat Finau and remains unbeaten in singles in his six Ryder Cups. He crouched on the 16th green after winning his match, wondering if this might be his last one.

His thoughts also turned to Padraig Harrington, the European captain.

“This is going to be hard, because Paddy is going to be questioned, and that’s not fair,” Poulter said.

There was little Europe could have done. This U.S. team was loaded and played like it.

“They had a mission this week,” Stricker said. “You could tell.”

The next step is winning on the road, which the Americans haven’t done since 1993. Europe still has an 11-9-1 advantage since the Ryder Cup was expanded in 1979 to include the continent.

HOA Homefront: Boundary basics for HOA team members

For many years, advising associations was at times very stressful, as boards would sometimes disregard my best advice for them. However, a defining moment in my HOA law career came when I realized my role is to tell the board the truth and provide to them my best advice, but compelling the board to follow my advice was not my responsibility.

Once I had a better understanding of my role, things became less stressful. Each member of the HOA team has its own boundary, and each team member staying within that role helps the entire HOA team.

Managers: They take action managing the association, carrying out board directions and providing important advice helping boards operate within the Business Judgment Rule. Managers do not make decisions, except those specifically assigned to them by the board.

Boards: The board decides things but doesn’t implement its decisions. The board provides direction to management and approves contracts with other HOA vendors. Boards should not co-manage the HOA but should allow the manager to carry out the board’s directives. Boards normally don’t oversee vendors; that is what you pay management to do.

Vendors: Service providers (including managers) should perform their contracts and avoid HOA politics. Endorsing or opposing board candidates is outside their role and is unethical – they must stay neutral.

Officers: In HOAs, individual officers (even presidents) have little power. Everything they do is only upon the express authorization of the board. HOA officers occasionally confuse their limited nonprofit role with the more powerful role given officers in for-profit corporations.

Individual directors: A single director has no power except the power to cast a vote on board decisions. The real power rests with the whole board. Well-intentioned directors can usurp the board’s role by acting without board authority; usually justifying it by claiming the action was needed. But the well-intentioned director becomes a “renegade” by taking actions, which is reserved for the board, such as instructing the manager or other vendors or making contractual commitments for the association.

Committees: Except for architectural committees, most committees are advisory to the board and do not act.  Committees typically are assigned an ongoing important subject and advise the board by issuing “reports,” hopefully written, suggesting certain board actions.  Committees do not make commitments to association vendors, and their meetings are less formal.  Boards should avoid doing committee work in the board meetings, just as the committee avoids doing board work.

Committee members: A committee member should be part of a team. However, sometimes extremely interested and active committee members step outside their role by speaking for the committee when the committee has not met.  A committee of one is not a committee!

Homeowners: The governing documents list certain matters that are subject to membership vote where individual homeowners can participate. Beyond these, let the board handle things because they are legally responsible. Non-directors should not participate in board discussions except for open forum input. Another common homeowner boundary issue arises when homeowners instruct HOA vendors, but that is the manager’s role. One of the great benefits of association living is that the board, manager, and vendors handle many community matters – so let them!

Check YOUR boundaries, and stay within your proper role. When everyone does THEIR job and allows others to do theirs, the HOA wins.

Kelly G. Richardson CCAL is Partner of Richardson Ober DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Send potential column questions to Kelly@rodllp.com

Laguna Woods United Mutual candidates on the ballot

The United Laguna Woods Mutual Board of Directors annual elections take place soon.

Candidates on the ballot are vying to fill five seats on the United board. Four terms end at the 2024 annual election; one term ends at the 2022 annual election.

Ballots were mailed to United members Aug. 30.

The deadline to return ballots is 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, if mailing to the inspector of elections’ post office box.

If hand-delivering to the Community Center ballot box, the deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30.

Ballots will be tabulated on Oct. 1. New board directors will be seated at the annual meeting Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 9:30 a.m. in the Community Center.

Seven United board candidates are on the ballot: Maggie Blackwell, Diane Casey, Patricia M. English, Mark A. Greenman, Pearl Lee, Anthony M. Liberatore and Lenny Ross.

  • Laguna Woods Village Clubhouse 7. (Photo courtesy of Mark Rabinowitch)

  • United Mutual candidate Maggie Blackwell
    (Courtesy photo)

  • United Mutual candidate Diane Casey (Courtesy photo)

  • United Mutual candidate Patricia M. English
    (Courtesy photo)

  • United Mutual candidate Mark A. Greenman
    (Courtesy photo)

  • United Mutual candidate Pearl Lee
    (Courtesy photo)

  • United Mutual candidate Anthony M. Liberatore
    (Courtesy photo)

  • United Mutual candidate Lenny Ross
    (Courtesy photo)

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MAGGIE BLACKWELL

Years in Laguna Woods Village: 18

Education: BA English USC, M Ed CSUDH, JD UWLA (honors)

Occupation/business experience: Secondary teacher: LA County USD and Hermosa Beach USD; teaching and negotiating teacher contracts; criminal defense attorney: private practice, then with LA County APD

Laguna Woods Village affiliations/activities: Bridge Club; Women’s Golf 18 and 9 clubs; Friends of the Village; United board director: secretary, Governing Documents chair, Landscape chair, Communications chair; editor for Breeze; GRF director; Robert’s Rules Study Club secretary

Personal statement: I support: 1. Establishing a positive working environment with United cooperating with other corporations, VMS and staff; 2. Orderly meetings to evaluate solutions for projects and fees; 3. Directors who follow good business practices and use sound judgment; 4. Directors who prepare and listen well; 5. Reasonable assessments.

What one improvement or change do you think would enhance life in the Village for its residents? Better Village life when directors abandon power goals and antagonistic tactics and follow approved procedures to make unbiased judgments for the good of all.

PATRICIA M. ENGLISH

Years in Laguna Woods: 10

Education: Bachelor’s degree from University of Hawaii in 1982. Post graduate work at the Defense Contract Audit Institute (DCAI) – 40 hours per year; this is a DCAA and DoD university facility in Memphis. Post graduate training included computer science, law, advanced accounting and auditing.

Occupation/business experience: 3 years in a CPA firm, audited approximately 100 homeowners. 18 ½ years as a senior auditor for DCAA, where I audited multimillion-dollar contracts in the US and smaller contracts with the aid of a translator in Eastern European countries. From June 2020 to June 2021, I was selected to be a member of the Orange County Grand Jury, where we assisted the district attorney with indictments, etc. I also owned a 36-unit motel and an HVAC business.

Laguna Woods Village affiliations/activities: Former president and treasurer of United Mutual and treasurer of GRF, bridge, pickleball, instructor in the PC Club, Topic Masters, Sunday Discussion Club, Hikers Club

Personal statement: Throughout my career I have been blessed to have interesting and challenging positions. Moreover, I have lived in (several) countries, namely England, Canada, South Africa, Germany and the United States, where I now live and intend to remain.

What one improvement or change do you think would enhance life in the Village for its residents? The best asset I could give Laguna Woods is to encourage respect and fair play amongst the directors for the benefit of the residents.

MARK A. GREENMAN

Years in Laguna Woods Village:  1 year, 10 months

Education: University of Minnesota Law School (J.D. – 1992); University of Illinois (B.A. – 1987)

Occupation/business experience: I am a lawyer who practiced in Minnesota for 23 years. My area of specialization was plaintiffs’ employment litigation. I represented former employees who were illegally fired. I had four successful appeals to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. No other plaintiffs’ employment lawyer in Minnesota had as many 8th Circuit wins.

Laguna Woods Village affiliations/activities: Music in the Park – In March 2020 I started playing music in Aliso Creek Park to help alleviate residents’ isolation and stress due to COVID. Since that time, I have played over 160 concerts in the Village, and Music in the Park has grown to include many musicians. Now, because of my efforts, there is live music in Laguna Woods every weekend outdoors at Passive Park by Clubhouse 2. I am very active in the Pickleball Club and Softball Club. Through the Sunshine Performance Club I play music for patients at the South County Adult Day Services on El Toro Road.

Personal statement: I am running for the United board because I want to share my ample abilities/talents to help make Laguna Woods Village the BEST retirement community in the U.S. I care deeply about residents’ happiness and well-being as evidenced by Music in the Park, and I intend to be a board member who cares about residents’ issues/problems.

What one improvement or change do you think would enhance life in the Village for its residents? I would like to see our $2 million a year bus system replaced with a very user-friendly ride system manned by employees and LWV volunteers as they do in Sun City in Palm Desert (a 55+ community). Everyone is tired of seeing empty or near empty buses for which we are paying dearly.

PEARL LEE

Years in Laguna Woods Village: 3

Education: BS degree in hospital dietetics from the University of Illinois

Occupation/business experience: Managed assisted living center for elderly in Arizona over 30 years.

Laguna Woods Village affiliations/activities: Choir, music appreciation, learning Spanish, tai chi, gym, swimming, life drawing, crochet class, volunteer for the Florence Sylvester Memorial Senior Center

Personal statement: With over 30 years of managing an assisted living center, I have acquired business skills of balancing budget, careful handling of money, employee management and working as a team to bring the best possible solution on a daily basis. I am energetic, witty, positive and honest.

What one improvement or change do you think would enhance life in the Village for its residents? I like to see the improvement of Resident Services that are responsible and prompt. Residents’ concerns should be heard and dealt with the most respect and sincerity.

ANTHONY M. LIBERATORE

Years in Laguna Woods Village: Almost 9

Education: Undergrad — scholastic philosophy at Maryknoll College, Glen Ellyn Illinois; grad studies in theology and psychology at Maryknoll Fathers, St. John’s Home Mission Seminary, Immaculate Conception Seminary; residency in psychology at Valhalla State hospital and Osawatomie State hospital

Occupation/business experience: 1970-1972, ran agency 008 for Met life in KCMO, licensed in Kansas and Missouri, did a quarter of million each year; 1972-1986, pier superintendent, general superintendent of bulk operations, equipment manager, planned loading and discharge of international maritime vessels for Independent Pier Co. in Philadelphia; 1986-1997, superintendent, shop manager, operations manager, and marketing, responsible for profitable operations of the discharge and loading of international maritime vessels; 1997-2009, terminal manager, gear manager, AQMD, liaison, shop manager, responsible of the efficient and profit for these profit centers; 2005-2012, co-owner of two logistics companies

Laguna Woods Village affiliations/activities: Since 2013 served on the United board as director; was elected the first chair of the VMS board of directors; appointed director again to United before COVID-19. Belonged to Robert’s Rules Study Club continuously since 2013; served two years as treasurer and two years as president of that club.

Personal statement: While I bring a lot to the table from corporate America, I believe the only way for this board to serve the residents is by consensus. Bring empirical data to the table and develop strategies and a plan of action from that data.

What one improvement or change do you think would enhance life in the Village for its residents? I look at the concept of change from the perspective of growth. Growth in ideas, growth in awareness of what is coming and reaching consensus.

LENNY ROSS

Years in Laguna Woods Village: 6

Education: MBA (finance and marketing), Arizona State University; BS, business administration (marketing), University of Southern California

Occupation/business experience: Developed automotive accessories for OEM (original equipment manufacturing) for products including electronic entertainment systems and wheels. Responsible for developing on time and growing this business.

Laguna Woods Village affiliations/activities: Former member of United board, served as president and treasurer.

Personal statement: The United board is in need of experienced, dedicated, honest and hard-working board members, and I have the background to best support our board and our community.

What one improvement or change do you think would enhance life in the Village for its residents? We need to treat our corporation as a “for profit” vs. a “not for profit” corporation and must develop a plan to reduce costs and HOA assessments, improving affordability.