SANTA CLARA (KCBS) – In something of a legal shot over the bow, an attorney who specializes in civil rights has put Santa Clara on notice that he believes the City Council is violating state law.

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At issue: the ethnic makeup of the council, which has been compromised of only Caucasians for as long as 30 years.

Earlier this month, Robert Rubin sent a letter to Mayor Jamie Matthews and the Santa Clara City Attorney warning of the possible infraction of the California Voting Rights Act, based on the ethnic makeup of the city, as reported by the Census, compared to the ethnic makeup of the City Council.

According to the 2010 Census, Santa Clara’s population is 37% Asian, 36% Caucasian, and 19% Latino.

“The white population in California and in many areas is declining fairly rapidly,” summed up KCBS political analyst and San Jose State University political science professor Larry Gerston.

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KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

The issue, he theorized, would be whether anybody has tried to suppress the minority vote in Santa Clara.

“Can you prove that someone has intentionally discriminated against these people and that’s kind of a tough thing to do.”

One possible solution: the city could voluntarily switch from city-wide to district elections, like San Jose did in the early 1980s, to give minorities a better chance at council seats.

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