If you think something big isn’t bubbling up in a groundswell of public discontent, you are just not paying attention.
Under the headline today “As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around the Globe,” the New York Times examines the phenomena of hundreds of thousands of “disillusioned Indians” cheering a rural activist on a hunger strike, how Israel is facing the “largest street demonstrations in its history,” how “enraged young people” in Spain and Greece have taken to the streets.
“Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness, common grievances the world over. But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over. They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box.”
“Economics have been the driving force, with growing income inequality, high unemployment and recession-driven cuts in social spending breeding widespread malaise. Alienation runs especially deep ini Europe, with boycotts and strikes that, in London and Athens, erupted into violence.”
It hasn’t happened here yet but the Occupy Wall Street protests are spreadiing to LA, Chicago and elsewhere.
And it’s a sign of how emotions are heating when, for the second time in three weeks, nearly a thousand people showed up to give the LA County Board of Supervisors an earful about the most abstract and nearly incomprehensible of all issues: Redistricting.
A flood of new Census number, arcane elements of the Voting Rights Law, the ego and power games of politicians all added up to a frenzy of activity that ended with a back room deal to preserve the status quo of supervisors’ district and punt the issue to the courts to decide whether those for whom the system seems to be working (mostly whites and Asians, based on the one-minute of testimony allowed the public) and those who feel they are being denied a choice at the ballot box (almost entirely Latinos) — as if very many of us feel we get much of a choice given the role of special interests and their money.
The fight over county districts will soon be overshadowed by the LA’s redistricting process, which is under way in the hands of a committee appointed by our elected officials for the sole purpose of protecting their own personal and political interests.
The claims for more power from Latinos, for more seats with overwhelming Latino majorities, will be strong and supported by the numbers
After the 1990 Census, Daily News reporters Beth Barrett and David Parrish produced an important story headlined “Nuevo Los Angeles” showing how Latinos had become the dominant group in South LA, pushing to African-American population out.
The numbers now are even more dramatic today in South LA and the San Fernando Valley especially.
Councilman BIll Rosendahl’s Chief of Staff Mike Bonin has culled details from the Census and city documents showing:
- There are seven majority Latino districts:
CD7/Alarcon (79.51%); CD9/Perry (79.47%); CD1/Reyes (72.71%);
CD6/Cardenas (71.02%); CD14/Huizar (70.97%); CD15/Vacant (62.23%);
- Two other districts are nearly 50% Latino: CD8/Parks (49.14%); and CD10/Wesson (48.41%).
- Jan Perry’s district has a slightly larger percentage of Latinos than Ed Reyes, Tony Cardenas, or Jose Huizar.
population grew in most districts, but dipped slightly in
CD1/Reyes; CD13/Garcetti; CD14/Huizar; as well as CD2/Krekorian and
- There are only three majority white districts – CD5/Koretz (72.09%); CD11/Rosendahl (58.71%); CD2/Krekorian (52.63%).
It’s true the population numbers don’t reflect actual voter registration numbers or voter turnout numbers but they certainly are significant and certainly will be the basis of arguing that seven or eight districts should be drawn to provide overwhelming Latino majorities.
There can’t be any doubt that the numbers and his ambition to be mayor prompted Council President Eric Garcetti to back plans for a second Latino county supervisor seat.
Inflaming racial tensions and dividing people along racial and ethnic lines have been used to keep people from getting together in LA for decades but there is more than a little evidence that such distinctions are become less important all the time.
Herb Wesson represents a district that is less than 25 percent black.and a white Jewish man, Mitch Englander, was recently elected to the Council from a Northwest Valley district that is nearly 20 percent Asian and whites have fallen from 54 to 44 percent of the population in the last decade.
The world is changing. The question is will any of those who choose to step forward and run for public office be able to rise above the din of divisiveness and offer a vision for how we all get along better than we have in a long time.
It is the economy, stupid, that really matters. It isn’t getting any better. It is going to take real leaders to guide us through the troubled waters of our discontent in the next few years or we will see people marching in the streets and demanding reforms.