The Constitution guarantees our right to vote but it doesn’t protect us from ourselves when we year after year elect incompetent, irresponsible and corrupt officials — even when they rig elections as totally as they are in Los Angeles.
Faced Friday with losing the plums of their districts — downtown and USC and the most affluent neighborhoods in what are the city’s poorest areas — Jan Perry and Bernard Parks took a small measure of personal revenge their fellow African-America Herb Wesson for the punishment he was inflicting on them.
In her opening remarks at the start of a feeble City Council debate on the new district boundaries proposed by a puppet commission, Perry offered a hollow apology that mocked Wesson for being such a spiteful little man he couldn’t engage in an honest private conversation between adults without taking umbrage at any suggestion he wasn’t fit for the job of Council President if he was going to stooge for the power structure.
The 90-minute Council debate ended with debate being cut off by the majority without giving Parks and Perry the same chance as other members to settle boundary disputes involving their own districts — a point the former police raised over and over in a 10=minute filibuster that left Wesson confused and mumbling at his inability to shut his colleague up.
The antics did nothing to stop the inevitable 13-2 vote to approve the redistricting maps and surely did nothing to overshadow the nearly four hours of public protest by hundreds of citizens — most of them black with Koreans representing the second largest contingent – at their rights and interests being trashed.
Perry and Parks take another swing at trying to stop this blatant move by the City Hall political machine to rig elections for the next decade with gerrymandered districts and more than doubling the amount of campaign money they can extort from special interests to bury all challenges.
Here’s the motion they will try — without any hope of success — to bring before the Council today:
“No accommodation has been made to conduct hearings in South Los Angeles as well as Koreatown, the two areas in the City that have raised the most concern,” they say in their motion.
“”Currently pending in the Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee isa Motion (Perry – Parks) requesting that the Council establish a framework for comprehensive, objective and fair hearings in its deliberations on redistricting, including the following components: 1. Guaranteed public hearing time periods for the people of each Council district; 2. Reasonable advance notification to each Council Office so that members can be able to arrange their schedules for this purpose; 3. A comprehensive racially polarized voting analysis; 4. A clear method for tracking public input about this map; and 5. A set of mapping guidelines to make the goals of this redistricting clear.
Immediate action is needed to withdraw this matter from Committee and adopt the
recommendations contained in the Motion so that we can have community meetings in both South Lso Angeles as well as Koreatown.
Three and possibly four lawsuits are threatened but it shouldn’t have to come to that.
For all the talk about how LA has a weak mayor system of government, the only thing weak about it is the mayor himself.
The only power this mayor has exercised consistently is his power to fire department heads and their top staff at will — a power that he has used to browbeat them into obedience to political goals, not public policy goals.
Scandals like the fudged Fire Department response times don’t just happen, certainly not when the goal was to save $200 million to avoid making hard decisions on priorities and to avoid layoffs that would have fractured the cozy relationship with city union leaders.
Better, the mayor and Council decided, was to put lives and property at risk by taking firefighters and their equipment out of service based on lies.
Where were mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry and Controller candidate Dennis Zine when this treachery was going on?
Doing what they always do, standing up and saluting the same despicable nonsense as their colleagues at City Hall.
Now, of course, they are doing what they always do after the damage has been done and brought to public light — crying out in shock and dismay at how they were tricked.
The goal of everything going on at City Hall is to make sure that free and fair elections are not even theoretically possible.
Antonio Villaraigosa knows this full well but he has the power to stop it immediately.
Weak mayor as he might be, he can stand up up public and speak out against this injustice and demand an honest and open redistricting process and expanded use of public funding of campaigns to give the public an honest opportunity to end this dictatorship.
All we have gotten from him and most of the business and civic elite is silence. And that says more about why LA is going from bad to worse than the pathetic shenanigans that are going on in City Council.