TIPOFF - Battle over council boundaries heats up

Daily News of Los Angeles (CA) - Monday, March 5, 2012
Author: RICK ORLOV

It is a political battle that threatens to tear the City Council apart. 

The fight over the new political boundaries for City Council members begins its final rounds of public hearings this week with no sign that either council member Bernard Parks or Jan Perry will back off. 

The two are angry over the new map proposed by the Citizens Redistricting Commission which sharply changes the shape of their districts - all they say at the behest of Council President Herb Wesson. 

Wesson's 10th District, as proposed by the commission, would take in some of the wealthier areas of South Los Angeles and deprive Perry and Parks of key areas where they have been working for years to make improvements. 

Wesson referred to it last week when he said: "I have been accused of everything but starting the Chicago Fire." 

Parks' son, Bernard Parks Jr., who serves as his chief of staff, said they believe the changes were made to increase the percentage of African-American voters in Wesson's district to make it safer for him in the next election. 

"You can't redistrict just to get black voters," Parks Jr. said. "That district, going back to the days of (former mayor and councilman) Tom Bradley, was never an African-American majority district." 

For her part, Perry said the debate shows how alliances have developed on the City Council - a body that normally likes to see unanimous votes and little public dissent. 

"The conversation about redistricting is uncomfortable," Perry said. "I think it shows who has reached an accommodation with the City Council president." 

Both Perry and Parks were absent the day Wesson was elected as City Council president. 

For a man who says the city can no longer rely on Washington, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa can't seem to stay away from its allure. And its money. 

Villaraigosa was back in Washington last week for an education summit that included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 

He returns this week as part of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce's annual "Access D.C." trip. 

Meetings with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have been confirmed along with sessions with a number of Obama administration officials, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. 

Chief among the delegation's priorities is to get full funding for the America Fast Forward program, the proposal that evolved from the mayor's 30-10 plan, advancing federal funds against guarantees from local taxes. 

Villaraigosa said he is confident the Los Angeles region will receive substantial funding since its programs are included in both the House and Senate version of the transportation bill. 

It's getting closer to D-Day in Los Angeles Unified - the March 13 meeting when the school board will decide how many pink slips to send out and which programs could be redlined if the district's financial picture doesn't improve. 

Superintendent John Deasy has posted a preview of the tough choices facing the board on the district's website, www.lausd.net. There's also a short survey asking how much people really understand about the budget and whether they have ideas for solving the crisis. 

(For a shortcut to the policy brief, see http://bit.ly/A5YK3e. The survey is at http://bit.ly/ySZmvJ.) 

Meanwhile, the district is preparing another survey about a proposed policy that would limit homework assignments to 20 percent of a student's grade. There also will be questions about efforts to end social promotion and to implement Common Core curriculum standards in 2014. 

The poll will be emailed to LAUSD employees and to the 170,000 families who have given their email addresses to the district. Others will be able to participate at LAUSD's 500 parent centers. 

Staff Writer Barbara Jones contributed to this report.

It is a political battle that threatens to tear the City Council apart. 

The fight over the new political boundaries for City Council members begins its final rounds of public hearings this week with no sign that either council member Bernard Parks or Jan Perry will back off. 

The two are angry over the new map proposed by the Citizens Redistricting Commission which sharply changes the shape of their districts - all they say at the behest of Council President Herb Wesson. 

Wesson's 10th District, as proposed by the commission, would take in some of the wealthier areas of South Los Angeles and deprive Perry and Parks of key areas where they have been working for years to make improvements. 

Wesson referred to it last week when he said: "I have been accused of everything but starting the Chicago Fire." 

Parks' son, Bernard Parks Jr., who serves as his chief of staff, said they believe the changes were made to increase the percentage of African-American voters in Wesson's district to make it safer for him in the next election. 

"You can't redistrict just to get black voters," Parks Jr. said. "That district, going back to the days of (former mayor and councilman) Tom Bradley, was never an African-American majority district." 

For her part, Perry said the debate shows how alliances have developed on the City Council - a body that normally likes to see unanimous votes and little public dissent. 

"The conversation about redistricting is uncomfortable," Perry said. "I think it shows who has reached an accommodation with the City Council president." 

Both Perry and Parks were absent the day Wesson was elected as City Council president. 

For a man who says the city can no longer rely on Washington, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa can't seem to stay away from its allure. And its money. 

Villaraigosa was back in Washington last week for an education summit that included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 

He returns this week as part of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce's annual "Access D.C." trip. 

Meetings with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have been confirmed along with sessions with a number of Obama administration officials, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. 

Chief among the delegation's priorities is to get full funding for the America Fast Forward program, the proposal that evolved from the mayor's 30-10 plan, advancing federal funds against guarantees from local taxes. 

Villaraigosa said he is confident the Los Angeles region will receive substantial funding since its programs are included in both the House and Senate version of the transportation bill. 

It's getting closer to D-Day in Los Angeles Unified - the March 13 meeting when the school board will decide how many pink slips to send out and which programs could be redlined if the district's financial picture doesn't improve. 

Superintendent John Deasy has posted a preview of the tough choices facing the board on the district's website, www.lausd.net. There's also a short survey asking how much people really understand about the budget and whether they have ideas for solving the crisis. 

(For a shortcut to the policy brief, see http://bit.ly/A5YK3e. The survey is at http://bit.ly/ySZmvJ.) 

Meanwhile, the district is preparing another survey about a proposed policy that would limit homework assignments to 20 percent of a student's grade. There also will be questions about efforts to end social promotion and to implement Common Core curriculum standards in 2014. 

The poll will be emailed to LAUSD employees and to the 170,000 families who have given their email addresses to the district. Others will be able to participate at LAUSD's 500 parent centers. 

Staff Writer Barbara Jones contributed to this report.

Memo: Rick Orlov is a Daily News staff writer and columnist. His column, Tipoff, appears on Mondays. For a daily political fix, go to the Sausage Factory at insidesocal.com/politics. You can contact him at 213-978-0390 or rick.orlov@dailynews.com


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