FROM LOS ANGELES TIMES (03-06-12):
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Jan Perry on Tuesday sent out a sharply worded campaign email laced with accusations of corruption. But she wasn’t attacking City Councilman Eric Garcetti, City Controller Wendy Greuel or any of her other opponents in next year’s race.
Instead, her targets were City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilman Jose Huizar, two politicians who she believes are behind a redistricting proposal that would strip much of downtown L.A. from her 9th District.
In an email to downtown voters, Perry suggested Huizar was not fit to lead the district and said his one-time practice of preparing lists that graded civic leaders numerically on their political influence and level of support for him, “points to the kind of representation that Downtown residents can expect" from Huizar, who would be its new representative should the redistricting pass.
She wrote that instead of listening to voters, the redistricting commission that redrew boundaries for all 15 council districts has taken directions “to fulfill the political agenda of city hall insiders, special interests and future candidates for public office."
Perry has been sounding that cry since the changes were first proposed in January. She has accused Wesson of using his influence to gut her district, which she says is punishment for her refusal last year to back his bid to run the council.
But increasingly, she has also used her mayoral campaign as a platform to address the issue. Her campaign consultant, Eric Hacopian, said the redistricting fight is a legitimate campaign issue that “has become emblematic and systematic of how the city is not working and not serving the citizens of Los Angeles.”
Wesson has downplayed his role in the process and said he didn't take Perry's criticism personally. “She can do what she wants to do,” he said, adding: “I will never, ever publicly say anything derogatory about another colleague.”
He said the redistricting maps are still being finalized and that some adjustments may be made before March 16, when the City Council is expected to draft an ordinance changing the council district boundaries.
When asked whether he would support amendments to the boundaries downtown, Wesson said: “At this point in time, I would say I’m comfortable with the way that it is now, or close to that."
The council is holding public hearings on the proposed changes at City Hall on Wednesday.
LETTER FROM THE HONORABLE JAN PERRY:
Several months ago I made a decision to step down as Los Angeles City Council President Pro Tempore while still continuing to serve as your councilperson, because I had concerns at the time about transparency of the redistricting process. Redistricting is required every ten years following the census. We are supposed to examine census population numbers and a determination is made about which council district needs to lose or gain population. It is not a process that should be intent on harming communities of interest.
The process that was been established at the City of Los Angeles for redistricting has confirmed my worse fears. The current map does not reflect the demands of the public, divides communities of interest, represents significant political gerrymandering, and pits communities against one another.
The redistricting commission did not operate independently, but seemed to take directions to fulfill the political agenda of city hall insiders, special interests and future candidates for public office.
What is being done to our district in Downtown Los Angeles is a good example of what is wrong with the current redistricting process. For over 40 years South Los Angeles and Downtown have been linked as one community in the 9th Council District. Council District 9 currently represents 75% of the people downtown. But as a result of backroom political deal between the current leadership of the city and Councilman Jose Huizar our community will be torn apart with downtown and portion of south Los Angeles placed into the 14th council district. The northeastern communities have never been linked to downtown as with the current plan.
I am very proud of what we have accomplished while working together in Downtown Los Angeles. I am afraid Councilman Huizar will not bring the kind of responsive representation that we are used to in our district. A good example of this is the following article (linked here) which points to the kind of representation that Downtown residents can expect. The Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Huizar maintained a list that graded residents of his district based on their support, which would then determine what level of constituent services they would receive.
We all deserve better than that. The Downtown News thinks so too.
Please call Councilman Herb Wesson's Office at 213 473 7010 and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office 213 978 0721 and demand that they listen to the people and not use redistricting for political purposes. We need to re-do the maps and keep Downtown in the historic Ninth District. The Rules Committee will meet this week on Wednesday, March 7 at City Hall at 4:00 pm to discuss the redistricting maps and take public testimony. Come to the hearing and let your view be known. We want to keep the Great Ninth District together.
Your Councilwoman Jan Perry