By Aaron Blevins, 9/29/2011
Board Selects Option That Maintains Near-Status Quo
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt A3 Amended, a new set of district boundaries that resembles those currently in place. The motion passed 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Three plans had been proposed, two of which would have created a second district with a Latino majority to represent the increasing Latino population in Los Angeles County. Those two plans would have resulted in major alterations to some of the districts.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, had not endorsed A3 Amended, but he felt that the plan would largely leave the current maps in tact. At the beginning of September, he said major changes could have affected the cohesiveness of transportation and healthcare services in the district.
“I think we’re relieved that the decision has been made and the board can move on,” Yaroslavsky’s press deputy, Joel Bellman, said. “We’ll see what develops.”
Bellman said the supervisor believes that the A3 plan is defensible in court and is compliant with the Voting Rights Act. He said the deliberation process was transparent and was conducted with integrity.
“We’re confident that the redistricting process met that test,” Bellman said.
Supervisor Gloria Molina, however, would not be surprised if the decision wound up in court, just as it did in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. Roxane Marquez, Molina’s press deputy, said the current district map, which was created after that court decision, was eventually drawn by a federal court judge.
Marquez said it appears that history may repeat itself, in that the redistricting decision may again be overturned by a federal judge. She said it was ironic that the current map, which was “so awful” to many residents years ago, is now being defended.
“It was completely expected,” she said of the board’s decision.
Molina was the only supervisor to vote against A3, having proposed T1, which would have created a second district comprised of a Latino majority. Marquez said Molina was willing to lose significant chunks of her district in order to create a second district with a Latino majority, but other members of the board didn’t follow suit.
“And we feel that the courts will vindicate us in the end,” she said. “You follow the numbers to follow the law.”
Marquez said Molina was grateful to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who eventually voted for A3. Ridley-Thomas had proposed S2, which would have also created a second district with a Latino majority.
“We really feel he demonstrated leadership on this issue,” Marquez said.
She said the need for a second such district is necessary, as election after election has proved that there have been attempts to dilute the Latino vote.
“There still is racially-polarized voting in Los Angeles County,” Marquez said.
Bellman said that since 2001, when the district lines were tweaked due to new Census data, the Latino population in the county has gone up from 44.5 percent to 47.7 percent, an increase of 3.2 percent in 10 years.
He said the A3 plan is final unless the courts opt to adjust it. The plan will take effect in 30 days, Bellman said.
“The overall framework is the same framework that was adopted by the courts [20 years ago],” he said, adding that the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund drew the map currently in place.
Tuesday was the deadline for the vote. Had the board failed to act, the decision to redraw the district maps would have been put into the hands of a commission comprised of Sheriff Lee Baca, District Attorney Steve Cooley and County Assessor John Noguez. More than 100 residents signed up to speak during the meeting.