Sheila Pell 8 a.m., June 24
El Cajon Faces Voting Rights Lawsuit
Civil Rights Group Demands Living-Room Style Elections, Claims Poll-Based Voting Discriminates Against the Chronically Lazy and/or Chemically Impaired
El Cajon Mayor Marc Louis: "You want change? Put down the meth pipe, get up off the couch, and vote, people. I am not going to fracture this community into a hundred thousand private dwellings linked only by water, power, and cable TV."
CHILLAXING IN THE BARCALOUNGER 3000 IN FRONT OF THE 52" PLASMA TV - Caesar Ramses has just paused his TiVo'd Swamp Fishin' marathon to show me a collection of angry tweets he and some 3,000 other El Cajon residents have been sending @ElCajonMayorLouis, all bearing the hashtag #dontmakeusgetupoffthiscouch. "WE WILL SUE U!" reads one. "A MAN SHOUD NOT HAVE 2 STAND UP 2 VOTE" reads another. "I WANT MY RITES RITE NOW," reads a third. "I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO VOTE TO GET THEM."
"Yeah," says Ramses, as if anticipating my comment, "some of them don't spell too good, even when they're not tweak 'n tweeting. But fortunately, correct spelling is not a voting requirement in this country. Otherwise, you'd have rule by the so-called elite, which is what we have now. But all that is gonna change."
Ramses is referring to the suit recently filed against the City by attorney Sammy "Sammy" Rivera, a man perhaps best known as the attorney for Luis Carlos "Tiny" Barragan, the East County meth-ring kingpin recently sentenced to 14 years in prison. Rivera is claiming that by requiring voters to go to polls located at "greater than comfortable walking distance from their televisions," the City is in violation of voting rights guaranteed by the state of California.
Reached for comment yesterday, Mayor Marc Louis appeared unconcerned. "Rivera's involvement in the suit makes it clear that this isn't about voting rights," he said. "It's about the meth checkpoints. They're mad that we set up random roadblocks throughout the city and have our officers check for signs of meth use. Sometimes, people who just happen to be babbling uncontrollably, picking at their skin, or twitching find themselves pulled over and detained. And some of those people are not in fact meth users. But you know what? Most of them are. So no, I don't think we're turning El Cajon into a police state. I think we're taking precautions to make sure the law is obeyed. But suddenly, the ACLU is all up in our grill, complaining about unlawful search and seizure. And now there's this phony lawsuit. Not that I care."
"I'm a chronic pot smoker myself," concluded Louis. "But do you hear me complaining about this stuff - checkpoints and shit? No. It's the price you pay for being a drug-addled American, and I accept that. Still, I do wish more of my fellow potheads had risen up and voted to legalize it back in November. That couch thing probably would have done it for us."
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