Editorial: Why L.A. needs independent redistricting experts
Forget about a redistricting commission in L.A.
The Los Angeles Times reports there is growing support in Los Angeles to create a new body to replace the Los Angeles City Council, the source of a lot of confusion since the Nov. 5 election.
A few days later, the Times reported that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to create an independent redistricting study commission in the wake of the Nov. 5 election.
What’s not clear is why independent redistricting experts should be the body to study the Los Angeles map.
There are numerous reasons to create an independent commission — but the main one is they don’t exist.
The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government the power to redistrict, but in the absence of legislative authorization, the federal government is forced to rely on “advisory” groups to draw the lines.
With the advent of nonpartisan redistricting commissions, it’s no longer a question of whether independent organizations are needed or not. The question is what the groups would like to accomplish with their work.
The L.A. Times’ story, titled “L.A. to create independent redistricting panel,” made the assumption that the goal of the new body would be to draw better districts or to protect incumbents.
But it’s not clear what those are. It’s much more likely an attempt to create a political firewall around incumbent L.A. politicians to prevent them from being challenged or from being challenged by outside interests.
It will undoubtedly be a partisan effort by the groups — Democrats who want to keep state Sen. Sheila Kuehl in her L.A. North District and Republicans who want to keep state Sen. Ricardo Lara and state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in their East Los Angeles District, for example.
In their most recent study, the American Community Survey (ACS) made a convincing argument that Los Angeles-area districts are racially segregated, with blacks at nearly a quarter-century disadvantage compared to other racial groups.
There is good