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Lawsuits on deck in Los Angeles' redistricting process

Los Angeles Redistricting Map 2012

City of Los Angeles

New district lines were approved today by the Los Angeles City Council. Members of the clergy and Korean American Coalition are ready to file a lawsuit as soon as the maps take effect.

A coalition of clergy members took to the mayor’s office today to demand a meeting after the Los Angeles City Council approved new district lines that that group says ignore the will of the people.

In a 13-2 vote, the council gave final approval to the maps. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has 10 days to approve or reject the maps. Council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry continued to oppose the maps, which moved USC out of Parks’ district and decimated Perry’s downtown and South Los Angeles district.

“Little did we know that it would turn out the way that it did, with the Ninth District being severed from its economic engine of 40 years, rendering the residents who are now south of Staples, south of Olympic to having an annual (median) income of $16,000,” Perry said.

Religious leaders as well as the Korean American Coalition plan to sue the city once the mayor takes action on the maps. Their requests for meetings with Villaraigosa have been denied. 

“Basically, the will of the people has not been heard on this,” said Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa with the Centenary United Methodist Church. “Nobody was really complaining about the districts before the redistricting process went into effect. Sure, the districts were not perfect but they had been working for these past 30, 40 years.”

In anticipation of the lawsuit, the city council has set aside about $300,000 to fight the legal challenge.

The Redistricting Commission, whose members were appointed by the mayor, city attorney, controller and city council members, approved the first draft of maps. The new district lines were then vetted by the city council. However, before that process even began, Perry sounded the alarm that the process was corrupt and inappropriately tied into the council presidency. As a result, she stepped down from her leadership position on the city council. Councilman Herb Wesson later became the new council president, and his deputy, Andrew Westall, became executive director of the Redistricting Commission.

The city goes through redistricting every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

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