THE VIEW FROM HERE - In a nutshell, The Redistricting Talk is a claptrap. The Reality: None of Los Angeles’ problems flow from the way the council lines are drawn. The discussion which Angelenos think is a plan to redistrict Los Angeles is 100% hokum folderol. The correct name for “Ad Hoc Committee on Governance Reform” should be “Committee to Increase Woker-Developer Control.”
On December 7, 2021, (an ominous day to conduct business), the Los Angeles City Council unanimously adopted its new redistricting plan.
Dec 7, 2021, LA Times What was wrong with the Plan? Nothing. So, what’s the fuss?
The Workers Did Not Get What They Wanted
Nithya Raman (CD4) wanted a significant part of Koreatown as it is filled with renters, but instead the Commission, despite the intervention of Jackie Goldberg on Raman’s behalf, kept CD4 to its historic character of being primarily single-family neighborhoods. Nonetheless, Raman wanted CD 4 to seize much of Koreatown. Most Koreatown residents, however, wanted to be within a single council district which is consistent with the US Supreme Court’s rulings about not fractionalizing and thereby minimizing minority voting clout.
Council District 4's plethora of R-1 areas do not favor large scale projects, while mega projects are easily placed with little objection in Koreatown with its minority population, e.g., Hispanics, Asians, Oaxacans. Redistricting is not only about the 260,000 ppl per district but also about the assets within a district. Under Los Angeles City Council’s “One and Done Rule,” a developer need bribe only the councilmember for the district wherein she wishes to build some monstrosity. If a councilmember is happy with his/her developer’s generosity, she can guarantee that the project, no matter how horrid, how illegal, or how destructive, will receive unanimous city council approval.
Certain council districts have more opportunities for large scale projects, e.g., CD 13, CD 14, CD 10. CD4 with its single-family areas from Los Feliz and the Hollywood Hills into the southern part of the San Fernando Valley has to be one of the worst districts for densification projects. Take a gander at Harvard Westlake School which is trying to construct an athletic center. Both the school at 3700 Coldwater Canyon and the proposed facility at 4141 Whitsett Ave fall within Raman’s CD4. Talk about an explosive community brouhaha with no developer money coming to the councilmember. A similar plot of land in Koreatown is far more lucrative.
For example, see Koreatown’s, Nadel-designed Project with 364 apartments with ground level retail space at 3525 W 8th Street. When discussing redistricting, let’s remember that the fight is not for fair representation or for decent government but over money! The quickest route to money in Los Angeles is development. Ask Garcetti or his Mini-Me O’Farrell or their successor, Soto-Martinez, with his 35-story tower on Hollywood Boulevard in place of Toyota Lincoln dealership, or CD 13 projects at 1853 N Garfield and 5600 Franklin Avenue, or those looming at 1845-1857 N Taft, Hollywood. Soto-Martinez is tearing through Hollywood’s old homes like a besotted lumberjack through a grove of old growth Redwoods.
What Else is an Asset?
There are other prized assets such as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Banc of California Stadium and the California African American Museum. Back in October 2021, the three Mexican city councilmembers Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, and Kevin DeLeon had a typical meeting about redistricting. All councilmembers were having similar meetings. Heaven knows, Nithya Raman was beseeching people hither and yond for intervention to gerrymander CD 4 to her desires. Unknown to the three councilmembers, their meeting was being illegally recorded, but it was not released until October 2022 as part of a dirty political trick. When the tape first showed up on Reedit, it stirred no controversy. Why? There was nothing untoward said. The second release, however, came with what looks like a coordinated smear campaign to falsely portray the three Mexican councilmembers as anti-Black. In reality, the tape showed Los Tres were supportive of all the Black councilmembers. But the public believes what they are told to believe.
The audio tape shows that then city council president Nury Martinez had spoken with Danny Bakewell, editor of the LA Sentinel, about ending the feuding between two Black councilmembers, Curren Price (CD 9) and Marqueece Harris-Dawson (CD 8). Harris wanted to use redistricting to take important assets, i.e., Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Banc of California Stadium and the California African American Museum, away from fellow Black Councilmember Curren Price. Nury Martinez suggested a tradeoff which would benefit both Black councilmembers. Warning Nury’s language is scatologically colorful.
Nury Martinez [00:28:07] And the whole Price/Marqueece shit, and I told Curren yesterday, I don't understand this whole thing. Listen, Curren. The way I see it is you busted your ass to bring the Lucas Museum, you busted your ass to build that football stadium, right?
Nury Martinez [00:28:23] You [Price] did all that shit and now this guy [Harris-Dawson] just wants to take it from you. If he's arguing about assets, go take the airport from Bonin [Councilmember Mike Bonin]. ¡Andale! You want to do that? Let's go. Have your [Harris’] commissioner [on redistrict commission] put that shit out there.
Nury’s suggestion was that rather than Harris’ stealing Price’s assets, Harris look westward and take LAX from Bonin’s CD11. Harris’ CD 8 is between Price’s and Bonin’s districts
Thus, Nury had proposed a compromise which benefited two Black councilmembers. This is what the Los Angeles Times and other LA media intentionally twisted into an egregious defamation that Los Tres were anti-Black racists!
Let’s get down to the tape’s more detailed redistricting talk
Nury Martinez [00:30:11] Yeah. Danny. Danny Bakewell, who I have a relationship with, I do [Danny Bakewell, owner of the LA Sentinel and the Bakewell Company]. He's always been there for me, I called him for some, not advice, but sort of a sounding board about Mark [Ridley-Thomas, MRT]. He told me some shit in private that I know I'm making the right decision based on my conversation with him. But he also was asking me about this  redistricting bullshit because he's very frustrated. Because Mark [MRT], because Mark has his fingerprints on this shit that Marqueece is trying to do. So even among them three, it's problematic because they're fucking each other. And so he met with Marqueece and Curren separately to try to figure out what, if they can slice the baby in half. Curren's [Price] not about that. So they're trying to figure out how to split Expo Park. I don't think that's a good- That's a raw deal for Curren. What I told Danny was this. I said leave Curren alone because he needs those assets to run for re-elect. That's his platform: job creation, economic development, todo eso. Leave him alone. What I think should happen, if this is really about assets, I told Danny, tell Marqueece to go after the airport. You got the People Mover, whatever that shit is called, you've got the modernization projects coming down.
Now we see a more realistic motive for Bonin’s outrage over the tape. It’s not about his son, but about Nury Martinez’ proposal for the redistricting commission take LAX away from White Bonin and give it to Harris-Dawson to stop the intra-Black feuding. (In January 2022, Bonin decided not to run for re-election.)
Enter Stage Left, LA’s Political Hit Man, DA George Gascón
Now, there’s a new motive for Gascón’s political hit on councilmember Price. During restricting, the Wokers failed to pry away those assets from Price and give them to Woker Harris-Dawson. Does Gascón think he can bolster his Worker creds by a faux lawsuit against moderate Price? Quien lo sabe? Who so graciously took over Price’s office of City President Pro Temp? Woker Harris-Dawson!
Karen Bass’ Role in the Woker-Developer Alliance
Angelenos have a right to know that the Woker release and promotion of the audio tape was a political dirty trick to remove the non-Wokers from city council. Karen Bass’ participation in the cover-up is evidenced by law enforcement’s universal refusal to investigate the criminal violation of Penal Code § 632 and its blindness to Jason Reedy’s subsequent political violence.
The problem with Bass’ cover-up of a political bombshell is that she doesn’t know who has what, when or how they got it, or when it will be front page news.
(Richard Lee Abrams is a former attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor. You may email him at [email protected])