The battle for political power in the city of Los Angeles has taken a new turn with the release of new City Council district boundaries. The proposed map is just a draft, but already there are claims of backroom deals and political payback.
The proposed map angered L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry the most — her district would lose much of downtown and its economic wealth.
“That’s old school patronage politics," Perry said, "which is 'I’m going to punish you and take away your assets and then nobody will pay any attention to you or you wont be able to get anything done.'”
Who is punishing her and why? Perry said Councilman Herb Wesson is mad she didn’t support him for council president, and cut a backroom deal with the 21-member redistricting commission.
His spokesman denied that, as did the vice chair of the panel Jackie Dupont-Walker. “No. We have absolutely kept this process as transparent and open as possible," Dupont-Walker said. "There were no pre-existing maps that I saw.”
The map angered Councilman Tom LaBonge too. His district would stretch further west and lose tony Hancock Park. He accused the commission of “fracturing” communities and “ignoring the will of the people.”
Commisioner Dupont-Walker suggested the change leaves fewer cumbersome districts that stretch from the San Fernando Valley into the L.A. basin.
On the Westside, Councilman Bill Rosendahl opposed separating LAX from neighborhoods around it.
“I’m expecting gridlock out of this whole process," Rosendahl said, "and it will end up in the Council chambers.”
That would make the commission’s seven public hearings in February moot. Unlike the state’s new redistricting procedures, L.A.'s elected leaders still decide their own political boundaries.