Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo on Monday met privately with Councilman Richard Alatorre in a last-ditch, conciliatory effort to reach a compromise on the redrawing of council district lines and salvage his political future.
Prior to the meeting, Woo held a City Hall press conference to publicly apologize for attacking Alatorre's controversial reapportionment plan earlier as a "sleazy back-room deal." The plan, scheduled for a final council vote today, would take Woo out of Hollywood, his main base of voter support, and move him into a majority Latino district.
After the 15-minute meeting in Alatorre's City Hall office, an Alatorre spokesman would not comment on the meeting except to say that Alatorre still planned to seek a vote today on his plan. An aide to Woo declined comment on the meeting.
Earlier at his press conference, Woo said: "Some of my public statements in the past two weeks have been misinterpreted to be personal criticisms of Mr. Alatorre. I'm sorry if any of these comments were taken personally."
Those close to Alatorre said last week that he was taken aback and offended by what he considered the "personal" nature of Woo's attack on his proposal.
Woo said he hoped that his apology would "clear the air" and enable the two councilmen to work out a compromise plan.
Woo has been fighting for his political life since Alatorre unveiled the plan that would require Woo, the council's only Asian member, to run for reelection in a district with a 66% Latino population.
The plan, which was tentatively approved by the council on a 10-5 vote last week, was drawn in response to a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit contending that existing council boundaries dilute Latino political strength in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Woo said he was prevented from meeting alone with Alatorre earlier because they are both members of the council's Charter and Elections Committee and are prohibited by state law from discussing committee business except in public session.
Monday, Woo resigned from the committee so he could meet with Alatorre in private.
Although Woo, in counterproposals to the Alatorre plan, has sought to put Councilman John Ferraro, in place of himself, in a heavily Latino district, Woo said Monday he has no specific compromise plan in mind. "I'm willing to consider any possibility," he said.
Earlier Monday, Asian groups joined the last-minute lobbying to protect Woo, and in one case, proposed yet another redistricting plan.
The new plan proposed by the Chinese Lawyers Assn., an intervenor in the Justice Department lawsuit, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center brings to four the number of redistricting plans to emerge in the past week.
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 Council President Pat Russell's plan that 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.
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.
"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.