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'Racial Gerrymandering' for L.A. County Supes: New, More Politically Viable Plan Welcomes White Republican Don Knabe Back in

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Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Key to redistricting: Keep incumbents happy. - LONG BEACH POST
  • Long Beach Post
  • Key to redistricting: Keep incumbents happy.
Leave it to L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina to play peacekeeper in her five-member board's redistricting battle -- standing up for the civil rights of Latino voters while placating Republican Don Knabe by letting him have some of his white people back.

Win-win!

Molina says her new map "presents a different way to achieve the same objective" as the controversial draft she proposed alongside Mark-Ridley Thomas, the other minority suit on the board (he's black), on August 9. But she knows full well it'll be the popular child of the two. That's because...

... it makes Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's district a Latino shoo-in, instead of Knabe's.

Leading up to last term, Yaroslavsky might have given a much larger crap, but seeing as he's on to bigger and better things at L.A. City Hall (or, at least, more high-profile), his seat is up for grabs anyway in 2012. Might as well make his successor a brown guy!

Watch Molina meet the pale-faces in the middle:

click to enlarge Knabe's district, in yellow, would replace Yaroslavsky's proposed district from the first Latino-friendly plan (below). Yaroslavsky's new district, in red, would replace Molina's, and Molina's would in turn take Knabe's. Phew. Musical chairs!
  • Knabe's district, in yellow, would replace Yaroslavsky's proposed district from the first Latino-friendly plan (below). Yaroslavsky's new district, in red, would replace Molina's, and Molina's would in turn take Knabe's. Phew. Musical chairs!
click to enlarge The original Latino plan, still favored by Ridley-Thomas. Knabe's district is No. 4, in blue.
  • The original Latino plan, still favored by Ridley-Thomas. Knabe's district is No. 4, in blue.
click to enlarge The plan preferred by the white majority of the board up to now, including Knabe. His district is in red.
  • The plan preferred by the white majority of the board up to now, including Knabe. His district is in red.
So now, not only is this racial gerrymandering, it's just plain old gerrymandering -- a beloved practice of California politicians, designed to keep themselves or their preferred successors in office.

"The proposal could have some appeal to other board members," writes the Los Angeles Times. "Molina's plan would give Knabe, a white Republican from Cerritos, a fighting chance to be reelected for a final term in 2012."

It's true that Knabe might appreciate the welcome-back hug, but if he sticks to his supposed reasons for opposing the Latino-guided changes in the first place -- that they would "split certain communities" and "displace" millions -- he should still be against them.

Molina's new proposal completely shuffles supervisors into unfamiliar territories, where voters may not even know their names. (Not that they can tell the difference anyway.)

We'll update with any shifting endorsements from other board members, along with the Supes' final vote.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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