Politics

Perry, Parks Challenge Commission Over Legality of District Maps

4:32 p.m. - The Redistricting Commission may have broken laws in drawing the latest city council district maps, having been motivated by "factors that are neither required nor authorized by state or federal law," say council members Jan Perry and Bernard Parks.

The two council members have demanded the Redistricting Commission and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich provide them with key evidence to justify the new maps, though they expressed doubt that such evidence exists.

"There is an exceedingly strong chance that these lines will not survive scrutiny in the context of litigation," wrote Perry and Parks in a Feb. 17 letter addressed to Trutanich and commission chair Arturo Vargas.

In the letter, Perry and Parks accuse the commission of using race "as a predominant basis for drawing district lines." Race can be used, but only in certain situations. One of those situations is when a district shows evidence of "racially polarized voting." The council members say the commission has presented no such evidence of polarized voting. Critics have previously said the commission is intentionally shifting black voters into Council President Herb Wesson's district to solidify his position. Wesson is black.

Perry and Parks also accuse the commission of misrepresenting public input. They say the commission said the public's response to the new maps was positive even though it presented no accounting, records or tally of the public's input to back up that claim. They say Commissioner Vargas simply asked the council members to "rely on their recollections" of public testimony.

Finally, Parks and Perry criticize MALDEF and several commissioners for wanting to create five Latino districts (out of 15 total). In their letter they state the only statistic supporting that objective is that Los Angeles is 44 percent Latino. Parks and Perry say legally you need more than that to justify five Latino districts. They say the maps go further by diluting African-American voting strength in Parks's district.

Parks and Perry are demanding that Vargas and Trutanich produce evidence of racially polarized voting that would justify the reworking of the district lines, and they asked for any records or tracking of public responses to the proposed district boundaries.

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