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City Council Redistricting

July 14, 1986

What genius in Washington decided that our councilmanic districts should be made up on the basis of ethnic background? I always thought that the ultimate goal of this country was to mix people of various backgrounds rather than to keep us separate. Apparently I'm wrong.

Now it seems that the Justice Department has decided Los Angeles (and every other city in the United States, I suppose) will be made up of Latino districts, or black districts, or Polish districts, or Irish districts, Armenian, Italian, Greek--you name it. Eventually, it wouldn't surprise me that the Justice Department will decide that other minorities should have their own districts also--gay districts; anti-gay districts; districts based on religious preferences and who knows what else?

I have always voted for the person I thought was best qualified for the office, but the Justice Department is telling me I can't do that anymore. I can't vote for Mayor Tom Bradley because he is black and I'm not. In fact, I can't vote for Gov. George Deukmejian because he is Armenian and I'm not. Mike Woo, of course, can only count on votes from Orientals--or, actually, Chinese; you must be Latino to vote for Richard Alatorre and Italian to vote for John Ferraro (or Mario Cuomo or Lee Iacocca); I don't know what Joel Wachs and most of the other City Council members are, but I must know their ethnic background before I vote or campaign for them.

That's why this whole redistricting flap in the City Council is asinine. Our districts should be made up to represent neighborhoods that are adjacent to each other or have a mutual bond to keep them together. They should not be gerrymandered strictly on the basis of ethnicity. Somebody should remind the lawmakers in Washington that we are a melting pot not a nation of ghettos and barrios.

ROGER J. STEVENS

Los Angeles

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