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After tense debate, LA's new political boundaries pass city council muster

A portion of the final draft recommendation redistricting map that went before the L.A. City Council.
A portion of the final draft recommendation redistricting map that went before the L.A. City Council.

The L.A. City Council on Friday approved new political boundaries that will govern elections in the city for the next decade.

The vote came down to 13-2, with Councilman Bernard Parks and Councilwoman Jan Perry were the two dissenting votes.

A big winner was Councilman Jose Huizar, who will now represent most of wealthy downtown.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes much of downtown now, had said Council President Herb Wesson orchestrated the move to punish her for refusing to support his bid to lead the council.

“It's payback,” she’d said earlier. Perry worried her South L.A. 9th District was left with few economic engines.

The new political maps frustrated Korean-Americans, too. Koreatown, which sits just west of downtown, is split into two council districts but they wanted it in one.

And activists in the San Fernando Valley said the council should have placed more districts completely north of Mulholland Drive to increase the Valley’s political clout.

The other big shift came in Councilman Bernard Parks’ 8th District. He lost many of the wealthy black neighborhoods around Leimert Park to Wesson. He, too, opposed Wesson for council president.

Some African-American groups said they were happy with the shift, believing they could get better representation from the council president.

Wesson, however, defended the boundaries, insisting that he "has not manipulated the system."

The debate itself simmered with barely-contained tension, mainly between Wesson and Parks and Perry.

At one point, Perry snapped at Wesson to "please turn [her] mic on."

"You've taken my district," she continued. "At least let me speak."

This was after Wesson himself cut off Councilman Parks with a curt "the debate is over," as Parks tried to make one last argument over district lines.

Later, Perry dramatically apologized, telling Wesson, "I feel your wrath. I feel your power. And I want to tell you publicly, Mr. President, I regret not voting for you and I am sorry."

Wesson for his fault was nonplussed at the criticism, insisting that "it is a stretch at best to suggest that one man, 5"5, 115 pounds" could influence a commission.

The new political maps were the culmination of months of hearings by a citizens redistricting commission. Councilmembers and the mayor appointed that panel. Its executive director was a Wesson loyalist who once worked for the councilman.

Parks and Perry have threatened to sue over the plan.

This story has been updated.