Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Whittier Latinos sue city to force district elections

Whittier Daily News

The Whittier city council includes, from left: Joe Vinatieri, Owen Newcomer, Cathy Warner and Mayor Bob Henderson. (Not seen is council member Fernando Dutra.)

Three Whittier residents have sued the city over its at-large elections, demanding it change over to a district election system.

They say elections in which all voters choose all five council members are keeping Whittier's 67 percent Latino majority from selecting council members they prefer. Only one Latino, a popular high school football coach, has ever won a Whittier council election.

Attorney Miguel Garcia, homemaker Lisa Lopez and Whittier College student Jafet Diego filed suit, demanding the city switch to district elections.

Under the California Voting Rights Act, the city must abandon its at-large system if voting patterns are polarized — that is, if Latinos mostly vote for one candidate and whites for another.

The Whittier Latino Coalition agreed a few weeks ago to hold off on a lawsuit. But Coalition spokesman Louis Reyes said they decided to proceed with the action after the city hired the same lawyers that represent Anaheim and other cities that are fighting district elections.

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Courage Campaign founder appointed deputy chief of staff to Garcetti

Rick Jacobs (at podium), seen here with California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (right), has been involved with many progressive causes through his work with the Courage Campaign.

Rick Jacobs, founder of the Courage Campaign, a nonprofit focused on progressive causes, was named by Mayor Eric Garcetti as his Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations on Tuesday.

Jacobs was co-director of a political action committee that raised and spent $2.2 million for Garcetti in the May 21 mayoral runoff.

In a memo sent to reporters after the May 21 election, Jacobs credited the PAC with solidifying Garcetti's victory over Wendy Greuel. 

"In an election that saw record spending and low turnout, we believe our highly professional grassroots campaign helped make the difference for Garcetti," Jacobs wrote. 

As the deputy chief of staff for operations, Jacobs will be responsible for external relations, communications, scheduling and protocol.

Garcetti said in a statement: "Rick brings a fresh, outsider's perspective to City Hall. His depth of corporate, non-profit, and political experience will help us make city government work better, and I'm proud to have him on our team." 

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Councilman describes colleague's reaction to Venice hit-and-run

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin

Grant Slater/KPCC

L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin's reaction to Saturday's Venice crash was like something out of a movie, says fellow Councilman Mitch Englander.

Members of the Los Angeles City Council were gathered Saturday evening at the Hansen Dam Ranger Station for the community swearing-in of Councilman Felipe Fuentes — just about the time a driver allegedly plowed through a group of people gathered on the Venice Beach boardwalk. 

Councilman Mitch Englander spoke at Tuesday's council meeting about the incident and the response of his colleague, Mike Bonin, who represents the Venice neighborhood.

"All of the sudden it was like a movie where you look down and every single council member, their phones are going off and everybody is in shock," Englander recalled. "You saw Mike bolt out and run toward the car and just take off to go down to the incident." 

"We all share, Mike, in what you've been going through," said Englander after the city council approved the concept of a Venice Beach Public Safety Needs Assessment.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: LA County mayors meet at Getty House, congressman wants to expand redistricting commission, Democrats split in Valley

Garcetti gestures

Frank Stoltze

Mayor Eric Garcetti hosted a summit of mayors from throughout Los Angeles County to discuss regional solutions to common problems.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

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Today is Tuesday, Aug. 6, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

Mayor Eric Garcetti invited mayors from throughout Los Angeles County to Getty House Monday to talk about how they can tackle regional problems, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I've heard from so many friends in neighboring cities that we act sometimes like the 800-pound gorilla that doesn't listen," Garcetti said.

Southern California Rep. Alan Lowenthal wants to bring citizen redistricting commissions to the rest of the country, reports KPCC. "Lowenthal admits it'll take years -- and a lot of pressure from good government groups -- to change minds on Capitol Hill," according to the station.

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SoCal Rep. Lowenthal takes a big swing at redistricting with new bill

California Pensions

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) fought for redistricting reform when he served in the state legislature

California has 14 new members in Congress this year — more than a quarter of the state's delegation. Much of the turnover can be traced to California's citizen-drawn redistricting map. Now, one of the state's freshman lawmakers wants to expand citizen redistricting commissions nationwide.  

With the idealism of a modern-day Don Quixote, Long Beach Democrat Alan Lowenthal admits his idea will be an uphill struggle. (You can read the full text of his bill below.)

Lowenthal says the last straw for him was in 2001 when the California state legislature — with lots of input from Congress — redrew Congressional district lines, eliminating the seat of Long Beach Republican Steve Horn. Lowenthal, himself a state assemblyman at the time, disagreed politically with the former Cal State Long Beach president,, but says Horn "was in that district all the time. People liked Horn. He represented us."

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