Politics is a cynical game, nowhere made clearer than when politicians draw the lines for the districts from which they must be elected. The first rule is to "protect thyself"; the second is to look after those who will remember that you looked after them and who have been around long enough to have support worth wanting. Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre has followed the rules, but the city will suffer some unfortunate consequences.
Drawing new lines for Los Angeles' 15 City Council districts became necessary as the result of a federal suit that charged discrimination against Latino voters in the egregious 1982 redistricting in which council members also looked out for themselves. Indeed, the council finally got its first Latino member in two decades only when an incumbent resigned. In the meantime, Latinos had been growing in numbers and demonstrating steady ability to elect representatives to Congress and to the California Legislature--everywhere but the Los Angeles City Council.
The problem with the remapping that Alatorre proposes is that Latino gains come at the expense of the city's first Asian council member ever, Michael Woo. If cutting Hollywood from Woo's district were the only way to gain more equitable representation for Latinos, one might not complain as vociferously. But, to paraphrase Mae West, equity, like goodness, has nothing to do with it. A look at Alatorre's map shows that it is politics--plain and simple politics.