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Video Confirms: Councilman Parks Using Intimidation, Front Groups in Redistricting Battle

REDISTRICTING POLITICS - City Hall has been rocked with revelations that an alternative city council redistricting map by “Coalition for Fairness in Redistricting,” was actually created by Councilmembers Bernard Parks and Jan Perry and their consultant. The evidence, Parks’ own words at a recent neighborhood council meeting, was submitted to the City Council Redistricting Commission during public testimony at their Wednesday hearing.  (See exclusive Parks speech video

The City Council Redistricting Commission was created by voters for the purpose of proposing new council district boundaries, a process required every 10 years after new census data becomes available, independent of the City Council.  The Commission released a draft map on January 25th and is currently taking public comments.  Parks and Perry have been the most vocal complainers of the redistricting process on the City Council.

Parks can be heard on tape clearly stating multiple times the Coalition for Fairness in Redistricting map is from his office and Perry’s office:

"We [CD8 and CD9] solved our boundaries issues amongst ourselves and submitted a map along with a consultant that's under the label 'Coalition for Fair[ness in] Redistricting.'" (At 7 minutes 1 second)

"I support fully the Coalition [for Fairness in Redistricting] map that was produced by 8th and 9th and our consultant." (At 15 minutes 53 seconds)

On January 18th, the Redistricting Commission invited groups to present maps of new council districts for the Commission’s consideration.  Long-time voting rights organizations NAACP, Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), presented versions of citywide and South LA-specific maps.  (The maps can be viewed on the Commission’s website here.

Coalition for Fairness in Redistricting presented their version of the map for South LA districts CD8, CD9, and CD10 (Herb Wesson) and downtown-East LA CD14 (Jose Huizar), with boundaries distinctly different from the maps proposed by NAACP, MALDEF and APALC, in that they keep Council District 8 and 9 virtually unchanged.

For example, the map proposed by the NAACP most closely resembles the Redistricting Commission’s draft map in the sections that have yielded the most complaints from Parks.  The NAACP map places Westchester in CD8, unites Baldwin Vista in CD10 and unites residential Leimert Park in CD10.  Baldwin Vista and Leimert Park are both split between CD8 and CD10 in the current City Council lines.

Absent from the Coalition for Fairness in Redistricting’s thorough documentation to the Redistricting Commission is any mention of collusion with CD8 councilmember Parks and CD9 councilmember Perry, and such attempts to blatantly manipulate the Redistricting Commission process highlights the political gamesmanship being played in the heated battle.  

Perhaps Commissioners and the public shouldn’t be surprised by the revelation, given that Parks announced his support for the “Coalition for Fairness in Redistricting” map in his newsletter on January 19th, six-days before the Redistricting Commission’s draft map was released.  The Councilmember makes no mention in the January 19th newsletter or any newsletter since that the maps are a creation of CD8, CD9 and their consultant.

But the dirty politics does not end there.  In addition to bashing the Commission, bashing fellow City Councilmembers, injecting the race card, misrepresenting the public testimony made to the Commission, and encouraging residents to be uncivil at the Redistricting Commission hearing this Saturday at West Angeles church, in his speech the former police chief can be viewed openly pressing the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Council board members to reverse their position that requests a map that unifies their neighborhood council in one district:

“[I] ask you to rescind your prior approval and to vote that down before the 11th when people can go there and let people know that the west neighborhood council does not support that map.  We ask you to consider totally supporting the Coalition [for Fairness in Redistricting] map that was developed between the 8th and 9th district and keeps our boundaries intact.  So that's the reason I came by.” (At 17 minutes 42 seconds)

Said Damien Goodmon, the Co-Chair of Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Council: “I knew something was up when Bernie Parks announced our meeting time and location in his January 31st newsletter with the statement ‘Neighborhood Council representatives will attempt to vote down a proposed map that goes against our community’s interest.’  Problem is, our agenda didn’t go out until the next day.  After the meeting board members confided that Parks office had called to request we reverse positions.”

It is not yet known whether Parks’ actions are a violation of election law.

(Clint Simmons is a member of the West Adams Neighborhood Council and resident of Baldwin Vista.  He can be reached at -cw

Tags: Redistricting, redistricting maps, Redistricting Los Angeles, Bernard Parks, South LA, Jan Perry, Neighborhood Councils, Coalition for Fairness in Redistricting, Herb Wesson, Jose Huizar, CD8, CD9

Vol 10 Issue 12
Pub: Feb 10, 2012