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Profiles in Political Courage: Antonio Villaraigosa Edition — Mayor Ducks Meeting with Korean Leaders on Redistricting

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:

  1. VETO the upcoming City Council Redistricting Map that is scheduled to come to your
    desk on March 16,2012;


  1. WCKNC request to the City Council that WCKNC remain whole in Council District
    13, along with Historic Filipinotown and Thai Town;
  2. 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
    district; and
  3. 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.


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5 Responses to Profiles in Political Courage: Antonio Villaraigosa Edition — Mayor Ducks Meeting with Korean Leaders on Redistricting

  1. Wayne from Encino says:

    According to the DownTown News (a free newspaper in Downtown L.A. that is better prepared than the Daily News these days) a vote for this flawed map is set for THIS FRIDAY! Villara-Dumbass met on Wed Night with a group of Education supporters called the Pico group or something like that at a Church in Sunset Blvd. Thus he was in town from what I heard. A letter? Villa-Dumbass is ILLITERATE thus the written word won’t help much with this Mayor. Suing to BLOCK the entire map–PRICELESS!!!! Also all the ratepayers who shouldn’t of paid Trash fees should all just go to Small Claims and sue for the full $10,000 ALL AT ONCE.
    Two groups voted WITH THEIR FEET YESTERDAY—-THE PAC 10 and the Womens NCAA—their MOVING OUT OF AEG’s Staples Center to Las Vegas and Seattle RESPECTIVELY FOR THEIR FUTURE MARCH TOURNAMENTS. The Oscars will most likely walk after next years show.
    YOU HAVE TO VOTE WITH YOUR FEET (2 VOTES VS. NONE) AND IF YOU HAVE TO STAY—SUE AND BITCH, BITCH AND SUE, AND THEN BITCH SOME MORE until the day you get lucky enough to have the finances TO LEAVE THIS GOD DAMN GULAG. The Koreans rewarded this City with an economic MIRACLE (Ironically on part of Miracle Mile no less) and no rewards for this? I never believed the 15 Ass-Clowns on the Clowncil would have been this stupid to not form an Asian-Majority District. That’s the L.A. City we’re living in===the NEW GUILDED AGE!

  2. Leslita says:

    Thanks for this report. It is distressing to many African Americans who have been unemployed; 16% plus, plus is for the Uncounted. If Parks or Perry were true to their own people rather than their self-interest of re-election, maybe some funds could help put people to work.

    I never like the idea of council districts (CD) No, this is bad. We need the best representation in L.A.; not a system that redistricts for the pleasure of their own benefit; such a reward system is pay for play.

  3. Moreno says:

    Good God! The Korean activists must join the Valley activists, the Hollywood activists, the San Pedro activists, and the East LA activists and begin a plan to jointly file petitions to break the City of LA into smaller cities. When you look at the quality of life in smaller adjoining cities like Santa Monica, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Torrance, Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena, you realize that the City of Los Angeles (and its dysfunctional “family” of crooks, thieves, and shysters) exists for one purpose: to rip off the people of Los Angeles. The corruption is everywhere — including a District Attorney who spends more time at the bar then prosecuting public corruption. The only way to save LA is to break it apart into distinct cities. That will kill the power of the filth that pass for our elected officials at City Hall.

  4. MissAnthrope says:

    No politician in this state has any political courage except maybe Tom McClintock, who might as well be spitting in the wind for all the good his fiscal conservativeness did.

    Even Jerry Brown who just cut a vile deal with one of the teachers unions to get us to tax ourselves even more, doesn’t have the cajones to stand up to the unions and get them to give a little or at least be on a par with private sector workers, people they now far surpass in salaries and perks.

    The unions are the first ones he should be going after, because it’s the “good times” deals that were cut with them that has led to billions in unfunded liabilities.

    Wasn’t it Brown who bosted that he would be a “fearless” leader because he is old, with one foot in the grave and didn’t have anything to lose? So much for meaningless promises made by dotty old men who are at the end of their careers and lives.

    We can only hope that California voters will finally have woken up by November and vote NO for anything on the ballot that has dollar signs in it.

  5. anonymous says:

    Redistricting Commission was apparatus used to circumvent Brown Act.
    Apparatchik City Council rush to approve map is not about deadlines.
    They fear us…

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