DEEGAN ON LA —The prospect that parts of the hard work by the L. A. City Council Redistricting Commission may be headed for the shredder came as no surprise considering the divided 15-6 Commission vote to accept the Final Map version on Thursday, October 21, and the immediate negative reaction to the proposed districts map by Councilmembers Martinez (CD6), Krekorian (CD2) and Raman (CD4).
Council President Nury Martinez publicly trashed the Final Map within hours of the Final Vote on the map boundaries, saying it needs reworking”. She added that there are “drastic changes” to political boundaries that “threaten to widen the divides between communities.”
Commission Chairman Fred Ali, himself an appointee of Martinez who would be expected to reflect her views, exposed a drama within the drama when he pushed back hard against Martinez saying “It wasn’t our job to protect elected officials, their jobs or their political futures.” He issued what sounded like a dare when he added that “We hope the council conducts its deliberations with the same amount of transparency and commitment to equity that this commission did.”
On Thursday, October 28, the Final Report about the map will be voted on by the Redistricting Commission, and sent to City Hall.
Once the council receives it, they will send it to the Rules Committee, which Nury Martinez chairs. The other two members are Joe Busciano (who's running for Mayor) and Mark Ridley-Thomas. Given that MRT has been suspended from the City Council, Martinez must select his replacement. That will be a key appointment; she and her choice will then dominate (2-1) the committee and ultimately send their notes on redrawing parts of the map to the full City Council for discussion and a vote.
It’s unmistakable how much raw power Martinez has on redistricting, by leading both the Rules Committee where she is the chair, and the Council itself where she is the president. Her MRT replacement on the committee is yet another drama within the drama.
Busciano may need to tiptoe through the committee hearings to not offend citywide voters, especially in the map-unhappy and contentious Valley, in the upcoming Mayoral primary next Spring.
The controversial "majority wealthy white" Valley district created for Councilmember Bob Blumenfield (CD3) may be torn apart as the biggest part of the map reorg.
The Valley is not the only area that may be reshuffled. The “2 or 4” and “4 or 2” districts, that have left Councilmember Paul Krekorian (CD2) and Councilmember Nithya Raman (CD4) twisting in the wind, must be clarified.
Krekorian called the map “an embarrassingly bad work product for the San Fernando Valley,” one that unnecessarily disrupts the region. “It needs to be rejected and, at least with regard to the Valley, needs to be redone,” he said.
Jackie Goldberg, Raman’s appointee to the Redistricting Commission, with just a few days on the job, forcefully objected to the proposed fate of her client’s territory.
The draft of the final report is supposed to be available online to the public early in the week. Now that it's almost certain the "final map" will be altered at City Hall in the coming weeks the explanatory notes that accompany the map will be informative.
On the redistricting timeline, it looks like Matinez and the Rules Committee will have three or four meetings, so there will be many more chances for the public to weigh in with their thoughts.
Commissioner Pastor Eddie Anderson, in his closing remarks prior to the commission’s vote on the final map, said that it is now “time to pass the baton” on to City Hall. Considering the vehement opposition by some of the community, commissioners and councilmembers, and now with the scent of blood in the air, spilled by Martinez in her public rejection to the Commission’s work, it’s more like a hot potato, not a baton, that’s being delivered to Council President Martinez at City Hall.
(Tim Deegan is a civic activist whose DEEGAN ON LA weekly column about city planning, new urbanism, the environment, and the homeless appears in CityWatch. Tim can be reached at [email protected].)