Will There Be A New Public Relations Strategy for the L.A. City Council Redistricting Commission?

Photo by Flickr user Floyd B. BariscaleRedistricting - the process of drawing legislative district lines - is not confined to federal or state legislative districts. The line drawing process also occurs on the local level, with serious consequences for local governments across the nation. Currently the 21-member Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission is drawing lines for all 15 council districts.

But who knows about the work of the local redistricting commission? How do they get the word out about their important task? How do they reach out to the public about this significant duty?

The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission has a six-figure budget -- of $100,000 - to hire a public relations firm. But just last week the top two contenders for the contract - Dakota Communications and Cerrell Associates -- withdrew their bids.

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The timing may not have been accidental, or coincidental. The two firms dropped their bids for the contract on the same day that the Los Angeles Times reported that both firms are registered as lobbyists at City Hall. Some local groups, such as neighborhood activists, were disturbed by the fact that the firms lobby for interests such as medical centers, housing developments, renewable energy developers, grocery stores, airport shops and malls. The fear was that it could appear that there were conflict of interest issues between the firms and the legislators. However, it is legal to hire lobbyists to perform the outreach duties at issue here.

The public relations firm that appeared to be next in line for the job was disqualified due to conflicts of interest.

It is not clear whether the commission will have time to find a replacement public relations firm. Because this is a city-funded position, whoever is hired must go through an employment process. Therefore the 21-member commission voted to ask staff members who are already in place to create a public relations plan.

All of this turmoil does not make the job of the 21 commissioners any easier. They have already canceled four hearings, which were to take place in early December. Those hearings will have to be rescheduled. They are required to hold a number of hearings in the next few months.

Stay tuned for further developments on the never-ending saga we know as the redistricting process.

[Photo by Flickr user Floyd B. Bariscale]

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