Politicians convene to stop county map shakeup

DOWNEY - About two dozen locally- elected officials and community leaders gathered at the Columbia Memorial Space Center on Wednesday night to show support for Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe and strategize against proposals to redraw the county's district boundary lines.Los Angeles County is in the midst of redrawing its district maps, as it is mandated to do every 10 years by the federal government. Some of the proposed maps would shift Downey and other southeast area cities with the San Gabriel Valley. Latino advocates say the move would give Hispanics a second majority in Los Angeles County's five supervisorial districts, but officials here said cities should remain together with other cities of similar interests and wrestling with similar issues. "What we have right now is a union of cities we belong with," said Downey Councilman David Gafin. "We belong together." The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Tuesday at 1 p.m. before taking a vote Sept. 27. If the five-member board cannot reach a 4/5th majority decision, a commission made up by District Attorney Steve Cooley, Sheriff Lee Baca and assessor John Noguez will decide. Officials Wednesday argued against maps proposed by supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas. Their maps, critics said, would unnecessarily shift 3.5 million L.A. County residents to new districts, and displace more than 30 communities. Local officials instead lobbied for Knabe's proposal, which would keep Downey and other local cities -- including Norwalk, Whittier and Long Beach -- together in a single district. Knabe said he was confident his map proposal would receive support from his colleagues. "There's only one plan that has a chance of being approved and that's mine," Knabe said. "No other plan will receive even three votes." Politicians on Wednesday also denied the need for a second Hispanic majority district, saying residents are already well-represented by Knabe. "It's not about being black, brown, white or purple," said Downey Councilman Mario Guerra. "It's not about race, it's about representation." In a statement posted on the Patriot's website, Guerra also said politicians should be judged by their "values and performance," not the color of their skin. "While I am a Latino elected official in a City that is 70.7% Hispanic (Census 2010 ) I could care less what the ethnic background of somebody representing me," Guerra wrote. "I do not look at their color or last name. I want to know how hard they work to represent my interest and those of my City and County. I judge them by their values and performance. I vote based on who they represent and what they have done. "Just as I feel I was elected based on those principals and not because of my last name. I feel my re-election was based on what I did in my first four years and not because of my race or nationality," Guerra continued. "While I am very proud of my heritage, culture and background, I am proud to be an American representing everyone. Judge my actions and heart, not my skin color nor name origin." Kirk Cartozian, a Downey councilman until he was termed out three years ago, said the redistricting proposals were "bad politics and not good policy." "In my eight years in office not once did I hear someone say we needed to change maps," he said. "Where's the groundswell for support? There is none." Council members and administrators from Whittier, Norwalk, Signal Hill, La Mirada and Avalon on Catalina Island attended Wednesday's meeting. Three patients from Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center also attended to support Knabe.

********** Published: September 01, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 20