#8: Chino, CA 4/20/16

Anger. Frustration. Rage.

If you felt any of those things, you probably grabbed your pitchfork and headed down to the Chino City Council meeting. Mayor Dennis Yates was hot under the collar because some big-shot Malibu lawyer is suing. It seems that Chino, which is 53% Latino, has a council that is 100% gringo.

“They’re suing Highland, Rancho Cucamonga, and Upland,”  seethed City Attorney Jimmy Gutierrez. “He’s alleging that it has been number of years that there have been no Latino council members.”

Technically, Mr. Malibu is right on the money here. Chino hasn’t had a new council member since 2001, when fresh-faced Tom Haughey became White Person #5.

But that’s not the point. Thanks to this out-of-town ambulance chaser, the council has to carve up their beloved city like a Christmas ham into four or–stop it, you’re killing them!–six districts.

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But if the council turns into six people, where will they find the extra seats to-oh, never mind, there they are.

“That really bothers me because I love this city and I’ve lived here for a long time,” white citizen Toni thundered. “And I take pride in the fact that we are one community, not pockets.”

And lest you think she was anti-Latino people, she’ll have you know that she has two Latino friends.

“I know of two Latinos who were planning on running for council. Neither of them will be able to run based on this new system,” she revealed…until 2018, which, I mean is soooo far away. How many of us will even live that long, you know?

Toni tagged out to Jeff, who happened to be her husband. And what a surprise: Jeff, too, was a ball of fury.

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In solidarity with his brown friends, Jeff testified in his skin-toniest shirt.

He went back to their hypothetical Hispanic acquaintances, who you wouldn’t know because they go to a different school. “If these people were able to run…wouldn’t that eliminate this whole thing if one of them got elected?”

It’s not supposed to about race but it is,” the mayor sighed.

“It is a BS law,” Jeff sighed.

“Well, we all agree.”

Well, funny story. Not everyone agreed.

“My family came to Chino in the early 1900s. Both of my grandparents were migrants…they lived in tents,”said clearly-Latino citizen Jesus Rodriguez.

“I think it’s a good idea to have diversity in this city. No offense to anyone here, but I see that it hasn’t happened in a while,” he told the pale faces staring him down.

The final speaker was Paul Rodriguez, who wandered through a trippy defense of the new council districts.

“Let’s think of ourselves as a chain of pearls. Each pearl on that chain is actually part of the whole….Okay, we landed on the moon. Now we’re gonna move to Mars….If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?”

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“If the whole body were made of pancakes, would we eat ourselves?”

Yeah, okay, Dr. Frankenstein. Let’s just shelve that dilemma for the next city council meeting. Mayor?

“Change is good. But to be forced to do something that doesn’t make sense…it’s aggravating and it’s upsetting.” Almost as upsetting as a body made out of eyes.

Final thoughts: A classic David and Goliath story! Little city versus big lawyer. Four districts versus six. Hearing versus sight. I give this meeting 2 out of 2 imaginary Latino neighbors.

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