Spurred by the "largest and loudest protest I have seen in my life in politics," Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley on Thursday vetoed the City Council's latest redistricting plan, calling it unfair to the San Fernando Valley.
His action set up a showdown with the council, where an attempt to override Bradley's veto could come as early as today. Councilman Richard Alatorre, in charge of the council's redistricting, confidently predicted that the council will have the 10 votes needed for enactment.
The measure has brought on a protracted council fight and stirred protest from many Valley residents.
"The struggle is not over yet," promised Councilman Ernani Bernardi. Bernardi and Councilman Joel Wachs are the council's most fervent opponents of the plan. Both of them would lose valuable political turf and be shifted to largely new districts.
To head off that fate, Bernardi said, "We have to pick up at least two more votes in the City Council."
If the council opponents prevail and the measure is defeated, the city is left with the previously adopted plan, which was approved and signed by the mayor on July 31.
Bradley said he would make an all-out effort to make the veto stick. He said he has contacted a number of council members asking for their "no" vote. He declined to identify the members he has lobbied.
Voting 10 to 3, the council approved the newest plan Wednesday with Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, who previously supported the plan, absent.
"Overwhelmingly, the people in the Valley feel that they have been treated shabbily," Bradley said in his veto message to the council. He announced the veto at a news conference outside the Van Nuys branch of City Hall to the cheers of about 75 Valley residents who opposed the plan.
Calls of Protest
In his message, Bradley said his office received "hundreds of telephone calls, telegrams and letters from Valley residents protesting both the proposed district lines as well as the process used in determining them." He said his staff also telephoned "hundreds more people in the Valley" and found still more opposition.
Valley residents oppose the plan because of the feature that eliminates the northeast Valley's 1st District, represented until his death Aug. 12 by Councilman Howard Finn. The territory would be parcelled out to Bernardi and Wachs.
The plan was drawn by Councilmen Michael Woo and John Ferraro, who--under the redistricting plan approved July 31--found themselves in the same Hollywood-Wilshire district and likely opponents in an election early next year.
Bradley said he compared the two plans and, "Admittedly the first plan could entail some inconvenience, but democracy does not exist for the comfort of elected officials."
Bradley aides said the mayor disliked the maneuvering that led to the council's approval, including unveiling of the plan one day before the vote and holding the only public hearing in the Valley after the council had already taken its preliminary vote.
Chance for Latino
Bradley said the previous plan would increase the chances for a second Latino to be elected to the 15-member council, "but not at the expense of the Valley."
That earlier plan, like the latest one, creates a district with a Latino majority in an area west of downtown, embracing Cypress Park, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights and the Pico-Union and Temple-Beaudry areas.
However, the latest plan would have provided for an election early next year instead of 1989 in the new Latino district, removing the remaining obstacles to settlement of a Justice Department lawsuit. That suit, filed in November, charged that the city was in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act and prompted the series of redistricting plans that the council has approved. The latest is the third of those, each attempting to address inequities to Latinos raised in the lawsuit.
Bradley said that the problem of the later election could be easily resolved. He said the judge hearing the redistricting case could call one at an early date.