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Asian Groups Rally for Woo in Districts Fight

July 22, 1986|RICHARD SIMON | Times Staff Writer

Asian groups Monday joined the last-minute lobbying before the Los Angeles City Council votes today on redrawing council district boundaries. All the groups sought to protect Michael Woo, the council's only Asian, and in one case proposed yet another redistricting plan.

The council last week tentatively approved a plan by Councilman Richard Alatorre that would move Woo into a heavily Latino district--and an uncertain political future.

A final vote is scheduled at today's council meeting.

The Alatorre plan was drawn in response to a Justice Department lawsuit contending that existing council boundaries dilute Latino voting strength in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

A new remapping plan proposed Monday by the Chinese Lawyers Assn., an intervenor in the lawsuit, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center brings to four the number of redistricting plans to emerge in the past week. The drawing of council district lines is considered a blueprint for political power because it determines which council members represent which areas of the city.

Albert C. Lum, lead counsel for the Chinese Lawyers Assn., said his group would offer its plan for the council's consideration, and he said that if it was rejected, the group had yet another plan it would propose for adoption. Both seek to preserve Woo's Hollywood base of voter support.

As one Asian group was unveiling its plan, another group--the Filipino American Assn.--was endorsing City Council President Pat Russell's plan, which moves the homes of Ferraro and Woo into the same district. Rich Coloma, the association's president, also urged his group's 35,000 members to flood council offices with phone calls opposing the Alatorre plan.

Meanwhile, the Korean American Coalition declared its opposition to the Alatorre plan because it divides Koreatown into three council districts. Coalition President Tong Soo Chung said the group supports any plan that puts Koreatown in one district and spares Woo.

"The (Alatorre) plan would make representation of the Korean-American community even more ineffective than it is at the present time," said Chung.

"You have effective representation when you have access to decision-makers. Historically, Asian-Americans have been frozen out because we did not have one of our own."

The plan unveiled Monday by the legal groups is similar to a proposal made by Woo and rejected by the council.

However, Lum of the Chinese Lawyers Assn. asserted that his plan contains a higher percentage of Latino voters in the new 4th District than any of the others.

'Avoid the Confrontation'

"We avoid the confrontation of the only Asian on the council with the Hispanics," he said.

Lum said that he had yet to find a council member to introduce his plan for consideration.

But he noted that the final decision on new district boundaries may rest with the federal court.

"If they're not willing to consider it, the court will," he said.

The Asian groups also urged Mayor Tom Bradley to veto the Alatorre plan if the council approves it. It would take 10 of the 15 council votes to override the mayor's vote.

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