10 Feb 2012
- Written by Hillel Aron, Jill Stewart
REDISTRICTING POLITICS - At a packed public hearing Feb. 1 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Koreatown residents expressed rage over a proposed Los Angeles City Council "redistricting" plan — an arcane, once-per-decade element of democracy that most people find about as thrilling as school bonds.
Yet something strange began to unfold as Lloyd Lee, a youngish attorney on the board of the Korean American Bar Association, stepped to the mic and announced, "I would like to welcome you to the political awakening of Koreatown. We are not going to be the quiet group anymore that just hands out money without representation!"
Lee decried the secret meetings of the L.A. City Redistricting Commission, which had just released a crude gerrymander of L.A. that punishes the enemies of City Council President Herb Wesson while ignoring natural borders and slicing through inconvenient geographic features — like the Santa Monica Mountains.
The large crowd at the Ebell whooped and thunderously applauded Lee. And as it turned out, they were just warming up.
Citywide, people are angry over the plan, and Koreatown is the epicenter.
The Frankenfish-like map redraws L.A.'s 15 council districts by snipping key communities apart, creating a "voting district" that crosses the Santa Monica Mountains to join Encino with Silver Lake, switching proudly independent Sunland-Tujunga into the district of indicted Councilman Richard Alarcon, snatching most of downtown from Councilwoman Jan Perry and melding Westchester with a South L.A. voting district by linking the two areas with a thin, flagpole-like corridor.
That last tortured gerrymander, of City Council District 8, has created a strange shape that looks from one angle like an army tank with a fluttering flag atop it. Council District 13 looks like an evil squirrel. Council District 1 looks like a poodle.
And Council District 10, represented by Wesson, whose hands are all over the commission's proposed "voting districts" maps?
District 10 looks very much like a turkey. (The rest of the Stewart-Aron column here)
(Hillel Aron and Jill Stewart write for laweekly.com where this piece first appeared.) -cw
Tags: Koreatown, redistricting, Redistricting Los Angeles, Herb Wesson, gerrymandering
Vol 10 Issue 12
Pub: Feb 10, 2012