UPDATE: Mayor Villaraigosa’s office contacted the Korean American Coalition/Wilshire Center Koreatown NC late Wednesday night to inform them that a delegation of half a dozen would be granted an audience with mayor himself at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. But Grace Yoo, the author of the letter to him, was specifically excluded, apparently because she emailed a copy of this article to several dozen community activists. She will be a guest on Warren Olney’s “Which Way LA?” on KCRW 7 p.m. Thursday night.
Insiders say the word from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is stick to the plan, the Council redistricting plan that tears up the map to punish enemies, reward friends and disenfranchises blacks and Koreans and destroys all hope of reform of City Hall.
The maps proposed engineers for the puppet Redistricting Commission by Council President Herb Wesson come up for a vote Friday, the first day the Council is back in session after its latest vacation.
That’s why a coalition of community groups from the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council (WCKNC) and the Korean American Coalition among other pleaded in a letter to the mayor for an urgent meeting before the vote (Mayor Letter_Redistricting).
Here’s what attorney Grace Yoo wrote on behalf on the 14 groups involved, mainly Koreans but also including Latinos, Bangladeshis, Filipinos and Mongolians:
We would like to meet with you to discuss the flawed redistricting process and to request your support for the following issues:
- VETO the upcoming City Council Redistricting Map that is scheduled to come to your
desk on March 16,2012;
- WCKNC request to the City Council that WCKNC remain whole in Council District
13, along with Historic Filipinotown and Thai Town;
- WCKNC’s desire for WCKNC to be placed whole in a “COALITION” district,
where the communities and stakeholders can better participate and elect a future
councilmember who will be more responsive not just to the needs of the Korean
American community but to all communities and interest groups throughout that
- our community’s request to hold at least one public hearing by the full City Council
in the Koreatown area before the City Council votes on the final map. As it now
stands, the full City Council intends to vote on the final map without even holding a
single public hearing.
True to form, the mayor has yet to take a stand — publicly — on an issue so controversial that it brought thousands of residents to hearings all over the city to protest this unprecedented power grab by the very people who have failed.
These city officials packed the commission with staffers, political consultants, candidates for Council seats and obedient pals who ran roughshod over the few voices of reason and principle like Helen B. Kim and David Roberts.
And now they can’t even get an email response from the mayor or his staff despite numerous calls and entreaties from Korean community leaders and others with close ties to the mayor.
Is the man dubbed the 11 percent mayor for his lousy work habits so busy as the head of the National Conference of Mayors and chairman of the Democratic National Convention that he can’t show respect for a minority community that has suddenly awakened and asserted its rights as Americans?
Or is he as usual too cowardly to take a stand on an issue of great public concern, an issue he can actually do something about here and now?
The case against the redistricting plan is simple enough: Koreatown has been divided among four Council districts for four decades and would be still left split between three in this plan.
The Korean community and others protesting do not want their political voices diluted any longer and they don’t want to be represented any longer by Wesson who has shaken down the area’s business community for political cash for years.
What they want is to have Koreatown connected with Thai Town and Historic Filipinotown and other neighborhoods with Asian populations in what is now Eric Garcetti’s 13th District centered in Hollywood.
With nearly a third of the vote, Asians would actually stand a chance of electing someone who reflected their common heritage and experience as relatively recent immigrants to America.
Isn’t that the Voting Rights Act is supposed to do for all minority populations — not just blacks and Latinos.
That’s what makes the stand of Wesson and the presumed stand of the invisible mayor so appalling: They have relished throughout their careers their status as breakthrough leaders of the black and Latino communities.
Maybe it never really was about fairness and equal opportunity for them. It certainly isn’t in this case; it’s simply about naked power and perpetuation of a political machine that has made a mess of the city, providing welfare to the richest and punishing the poorest.
Project Vote Smart has a “political courage test” that is based on candidates and officials willingness to speak honestly and publicly about their positions on key issues.
“Most candidates, fearing their opponents might use their positions in attack ads, refuse or only respond to a few questions that their consultants stamp as safe,” the group says.
In an astonishing moment of hubris and self-flattery, Villaraigosa recently told a USC politics class:
“Almost everyone has had that apex moment, where they feel like they’re on top of the world and then the next thing you know, the world’s on top of you. I think the good ones get up from underneath, take the blood off their knees and keep on moving.”
Or in the mayor’s case, egged on by the sycophants around them, they just pretend they still on top of the world when they are still on their knees afraid to take a stand.
Calls this morning to the mayor’s staff lawyer, Brian Currey, and to his press office, have not yet been returned.