Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and other council members better hope they don't have any embarrassing emails or texts on their computers or cell phones.
In a hard-charging legal move on Thursday, Beverly Hills civil rights attorney Leo Terrell sent out California Public Records Act requests to Wesson, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, each City Council member, and other government leaders.
The attorney, who has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles, hopes to obtain potentially damning evidence that Wesson and other council members unlawfully used race as the basis for redrawing maps for council districts 8, 9, and 10.
Terrell tells L.A. Weekly that the public records act requests are “another way to get documents the city of L.A. is concealing.” He expects to find “smoking gun evidence” that African American politician Wesson “used race to disenfranchise other minorities. That's what's appalling.”
Terrell filed a federal lawsuit on the behalf of residents in council districts 8, 9, and 10. That lawsuit was combined this week with another federal lawsuit brought by Koreatown residents, who are peeved at Wesson and crew for his controversial, and possibly illegal, handling of redrawing L.A. City Council districts in 2012.
Terrell charges that Wesson was merely looking out for his own political career during the redistricting process, and didn't care one whit about voters in South Los Angeles and Koreatown.
“He diluted the African American voting block in the 8th and 9th districts to build up an African American voting block for himself in his own district,” charges Terrell.
Wesson represents Council District 10.
Terrell says in a press release, “We know why the city is stalling. This process has already been an embarrassment because of the videotaped blunders of City Council President Herb Wesson. We know there is more there.”
With more of these kinds of legal moves expected, the federal lawsuits have the potential to shine a bright light on City Hall's insider culture and back-room dealings and generate major scandal. The cases are expected to continue throughout 2013 and possibly into 2014. Wesson and other council members may be in for a very bumpy ride.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.