RATES       _______________________________ LM __________________________________


By Tammye McDuff 


After many conversations and emails, HMG agreed to sit down with John Paul Drayer, Member of the Board of Trustees Area #3 at Cerritos College.  Drayer has voiced numerous concerns of voter misrepresentation by the Bellflower City Council and Citizens for a Better Bellflower organization. 

“According to the last census report “ says Drayer, “53% of the registered voter are of Latin descent, combined with African American descent it is 67% of Bellflower residents that are not represented by a council member.” Drayer said he has organized a coalition within the Latino community for Bellflower.  

HMG: Tell me about the voting fraud. 

JPD: It is not really voting fraud. I had suspicions when I ran for Bellflower City Council in 2005. The last Sunday of the election, I had one of my election signs stolen. No big deal. Then one day while in City Hall, a large banner falling from the second level banister hit me.  

I ran again in 2007, with my doctor’s approval. One of my opponents was the first African American to run in Bellflower, Aaron Drake. Both of our voting signs were green and white. In addition, our names are similar and we are both from North Bellflower. Both my signs and Drakes sign are stolen. [Drayer makes mention this is the year that Ray Dunton runs] I believed it to be Citizens for Better Bellflower that were removing our signs. I bring this up to Council debate in the chamber offices. 

At the time, we had four council members that lived in the southeast part of Bellflower. I looked up the definition of ‘what is the symptom of violation of civil rights voting act?” on the U.S. Federal Department of voting rights web site [http://www.justice.gov]. It said if the majority of the council is in one neighborhood, particularly a rich neighborhood and the other areas of the town are not represented by a council member and they are neglected. I brought this up to the council and I was dismissed. 

HMG: So let me get this straight, the majority of the council members live in one specific part of town, but they represent different areas of Bellflower, even though they do not live in those neighborhoods. Is that correct? 

JPD: Bellflower is an ‘at large’ city, but I want districts so that each neighborhood gets equal amount of money; attention and representation. The majority of city council have large houses, bigger properties and horses. There was a cow statue erected along the bike trail and the entrance of their neighborhood with a fountain that cost $150,000. No other neighborhood or business along the trail received a statue. We were totally ignored. The city does not take care of all of us and is denying businesses to invest in the city. 

HMG: Why is the City denying businesses into the city? 

JPD: Many of the Council members have business interests within the downtown area or near it and they are looking out for their own businesses and property values. I would like to see a more business friendly environment and open up opportunities for everybody.  Our taxes are high, and if we have more businesses that want to come in and occupy empty buildings or build on vacant lots, it would help the high taxes. I believe they are using re-zoning as a redevelopment tool and choking the building owners to death. 

HMG: Why do you believe this is happening? 

JPD: Again, I want to state that the voters have been misrepresented. I have done an inquiry to see if the elections are fair according to the law and if the City has done its due diligence. I knew there was a federal law, however there is a California State Civil Rights law that easier to enforce. There are too many precincts in the City and we need to zone into Districts and no longer be an ‘at large’ community. It is called Voter Delusion. There has been one African American who won his neighborhood, but not the precinct and another Mexican American that was discriminated against by being banned from City Hall.  

HMG: I understand that you were sued by three of members of Council, was this due to the coalition you have organized for voter civil rights. 

JPD:Yes. The lawsuit said that the Council was in violation of civil rights laws. The three Council members stated I was ruining their reputation. It was thrown out of court, because I was exercising my first amendment rights as a Bellflower citizen. I had residents sign affidavits’ stating that I was a political leader in Bellflower and spoke for community issues. My case stood on the president of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  

I just did not think the elections had been fair, and felt that the people of Bellflower needed to take a stand. We further asked the people to boycott those businesses of the City Council and it worked.  

HMG: You stated that you do not believe the elections are fair, and the corruption is not just the Council but throughout City Hall. Why is do you believe this? 

JPD: To begin with, you must have five languages on a ballot. Because we are an ‘at large’ community, the price to do this is $2500.  If we had districts, there would only be a $500 fee. According to census information, Bellflower has more languages spoken than any other census track in America, over 40. Therefore, it makes sense that more languages may have to be added at a higher price. Debra Bauchop, Bellflower City Clerk was intentionally not following the federal guidelines in order to reduce the pool of candidates.  

Bauchop is also out of compliance by not testing of racial polarization to comply with Federal and State Civil Rights Laws.  When pressed for an answer, the city clerk’s office finally did admit they had done the study, but refused to release it due to a potential lawsuit. 

Bauchop doesn’t even live in Bellflower. We need a charter amendment for the city to vote in districts and that the city clerk, reside within Bellflower and have the office up for election. Bauchop has been the city clerk for over 25 years. 

I believe Bauchop will not release any documents because she is beholding to some members of the Council for her job. If Bauchop did release the documents that I have requested under the federal records act, she believes she would be fired for doing the right thing.  

 According to Drayer, the city of Bellflower does not comply with the California State Civil Rights Voting Acts or that of the Federal voting acts. Drayer has also stated that since bringing up the issue of voter delusion, the City-states they have done the study, however refuse to release the information.

Bellflower residents to get the information released and to petition if Latino and African American residents can run and be elected into office in an ‘at large’ system have filed a lawsuit. 

HMG reached out to the plaintiffs for a statement and was told because they are in litigation, scheduling interviews or conversations must be done through the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund [MALDEF] attorney. HMG has contacted the attorney and is currently awaiting an interview time. 


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