City Hall

Wesson admits to playing racial politics with council maps

herb-wesson-mug.jpgThe racial politics of City Hall seldom gets bared this nakedly. City Council President Herb Wesson told a gathering of black ministers in Los Angeles that in the recent political skirmishing over drawing new city council district lines, he was out to protect African American seats. The DVD of his remarks, handed out Tuesday, should sound pretty interesting if the recent legal challenge to the maps by Koreatown activists ever gets before a jury.

"Brothers and sisters, it was me against 12 other members of the council," Wesson said to the group of mostly Baptist clergy. "I had no backup. I had no faction. And I did the very best I could with what I had. I was able to protect the most important asset that we as black people have, and that's to make sure that a minimum of two of the council people will be black for the next 30 years."

According to the LA Times story, Wesson also got down and dirty about trying to elect a black candidate in the 9th district, which Wesson and his deputy, who oversaw the redistricting commission, recrafted into a district that no longer represents downtown and that has about 40% black residents.

"If we come together as a people, we will have a council person from the 9th District ... who looks like you and looks like me," Wesson said, per the Times. "If we do not come together, it's gone. As my grandmother would say, 'It's gone, boy.' "

The official story line up to now has been that racial politics did not dictate the new lines of any districts, including Wesson's own 10th district, although black councilmembers Bernard Parks and Jan Perry both went public with allegations of secret deals being made. In his talk to the ministers, Wesson reportedly said that on redistricting, the 15-member City council had four factions: white, black, Latinos and those who represent the San Fernando Valley.

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