It's about time and let's get it right. I live in Tujunga and my rep is in Kern Valley: how dumb is that?
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Why the crazy, all-but-disconnected shape?
The 25th Senate District was drawn by legislators in 2001 to create a black voting district, carefully excising several areas where more Latinos and whites lived. According to lore, the map-makers had a second goal, too, snaking south and west to leafy Palos Verdes because the incumbent, black state Sen. Ed Vincent, kept his horses there.
Troubling stories like this abound.
California's 55th Assembly District in 2001 was reshaped to remove Compton and cut into parts of Carson, Lakewood and Long Beach. It looks like an elephant's head with its jaw agape and its trunk extended. The oddly jutting jaw contained the home of the sitting Democratic Assembly incumbent at the time, Jenny Oropeza.
In badly gerrymandered L.A. and nearby areas, the citizen commission has to start from scratch. So when the commission's traveling road show pulled in to San Gabriel, downtown L.A. and the San Fernando Valley in recent weeks, hundreds of people showed up, and in the Valley they spilled into the hall.
Commissioners listened as people pleaded with them to acknowledge their communities.
"I hope that you don't divide our lines," said a Hispanic man through a translator.
"Please don't split up my community," said a 10-year-old girl.
"Keep our community whole," said a woman from Watts. "We're happy with what we have."
Several African-Americans expressed uneasiness that, as the recent census confirms, black populations are dwindling here. Latinos are moving into South Los Angeles and environs.
There's fear of "a movement afoot to shrink the two congressional districts [of] Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson into one," says Keith Claiborne, who lives in Park La Brea but has business connections in Watts. Claiborne is a friend of Hamilton Cloud's, a Waters staffer.
San Fernando Valley residents have a different beef: They're sick of being represented by politicians who live on the other side of the Hollywood Hills.
Al Abrams, president of the Los Angeles Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, speaking as a resident of Tarzana, says his neighborhood was crudely stapled onto Congressman Henry Waxman's district. Waxman's center of gravity is the Westside.
Many speakers asked the citizen commission to create three wholly San Fernando Valley congressional districts — one each for the west Valley, the east Valley and the Valley-adjacent foothill area containing Pasadena, Glendale and Burbank.
In a few days, when the commission releases the first drawings, "I don't think anyone's gonna be happy," says Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies. "Because there's so much at stake."
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