This is the second chapter in a (badly Photoshopped) series on the L.A. Redistricting Commission's gerrymandered new voting districts. Previously: “Eric Garcetti's District 13 Looks Like an Evil Squirrel.”
It's one of the most blatant land grabs in L.A. redistricting history: Westchester, an up-and-coming hood that hugs LAX to the east, has been severed from the Westside by the city's politician-appointed team of redistricters. And the scheme has given City Council District 8 a pretty embarrassing doppelganger:
A bumbling U.S. Army tank. Out of whose orifices fly not one but two army flags, connected to the mother ship by poles no wider than a single city block.
Compare the tank (which is flipped 90 degrees clockwise above, FYI, for artistic purposes) to City Council District 8 as it has been drawn for the last decade:
Councilman Bill Rosendahl, current mama bird to Westchester, is going ballistic. Split up the Westside? How dare they!
“I was outraged, absolutely blown away when they took 80 percent of Westchester away from the 11th District,” he recently told L.A. Weekly. “They left me with [Loyola Marymount University] and the airport, but without its constituents.”
He's got a point there. Rosendahl's Westside is, ironically, one of the few City Council districts that makes any sense at all — bordered by the mountains to the north, the ocean to the west, the airport to the south and the 405 to the east.
However, the new army-tank district's councilman, Bernard Parks — known in a past life as the LAPD chief who oversaw the Rampart scandal — is claiming he had nothing to do with the Westchester move.
Whether or not he's telling the whole truth (the prospect of eastward LAX expansion is a tempting one for any pol), there is someone else who could have had everything to do with the shift: bull-headed City Council President Herb Wesson.
Wesson has a lot to gain from dumping Westchester on Parks — namely, the coveted Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills communities that Parks holds so dear. In response, Parks has called the snatch “egregious” and a complete “disregard for the public's wishes.”
A possible lead: The council president's redistricting rep, former Wesson staffer Andrew Westall, happens to head the entire commission.
“From the day Andrew Westall retired, it was clear that Herb Wesson was really in control of this process,” Douglas Johnson at the Rose Institute told the Weekly for our latest print piece on city gerrymandering.
Johnson got to the heart of the Westchester land grab:
“What's really driving that is the conflict between Parks and [City Councilwoman Jan Perry] and Wesson — spilling over into Westchester. It's mainly Parks and Wesson are fighting over territory. When they fight over the border between 8 and 10, it left Parks short on population. So [Parks' district] spilled over to the west, instead of doing it where it makes sense.”
In review: Wesson is puppeteering this entire redistricting outrage, and everyone (especially Koreatown, half of which he would nab on the northern tip of his district) is hating him for it. As they should be.