The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to override Mayor Tom Bradley's veto of a redistricting plan bitterly opposed by San Fernando Valley residents. However, although the new district lines become effective immediately, the issue may not be settled.
Councilman Ernani Bernardi said he will lead a drive to bring an initiative before the voters to repeal the plan. And Councilman Joel Wachs said he will ask the council to reconsider its decision in light of Councilman Dave Cunningham's resignation Friday, although he added that he is not hopeful of succeeding.
The council vote was 11 to 3, one more than necessary to override the veto. Voting to uphold the veto were Bernardi, Wachs and Councilwoman Joy Picus, all of whom represent parts of the Valley, where district boundaries undergo radical shifts in the plan.
After the vote, Bernardi blamed Bradley for not applying enough pressure on his council allies to defeat the plan. "I believe the mayor didn't try hard enough," Bernardi said.
Deputy Mayor Tom Houston said Bradley contacted three council members--Marvin Braude, Robert Farrell and Gilbert W. Lindsay--"who he had a chance of turning around." None of them changed their votes, however.
Houston disputed claims that the rare override of a Bradley veto was a major defeat for the mayor.
"This was an unusual situation," Houston said. "They're voting their own political futures. You have much less influence on a vote like this."
Lindsay said that neither Bradley nor any of his aides had spoken to him until he received a phone call from the mayor in the chamber just before the vote. Lindsay refused to say what the mayor told him in the brief conversation. Braude would not say whether he talked to the mayor. Farrell declined comment.
A Bradley ally on the council who spoke on condition that he not be named said the mayor, who is running for governor, vetoed the plan to appease Valley residents but did not make a greater effort to prevent an override because he also wants to please Latinos, the group that stands to benefit the most from the new district boundaries.
Would Re-Enact Earlier Plan
Bernardi, who led a successful initiative drive last year, vowed to seek a citywide vote to repeal the latest plan and re-enact the one that was approved July 31, which would have left the Valley largely untouched.
He said he will try to gather 69,516 signatures to qualify a measure for the June ballot. However, Richard Fajardo, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said his group would go to court if necessary to block any effort to upset the plan approved Friday.
Wachs said he will ask the council on Tuesday to consider using the vacancy created by Cunningham's departure to redraw district lines once again.
"I will ask them to reconsider, but I'm skeptical they will," a dejected Wachs said. He pointed out that he presented his own plan to the council Friday in anticipation of Cunningham's resignation announcement. His remapping plan would carve up Cunningham's Southwest Los Angeles district and assign it to Ferraro.
However, the council ignored Wachs' plan.
The city attorney and the NAACP have warned the council that it cannot carve up Cunningham's district, which is 44% black, without risking another federal lawsuit. It was a Justice Department suit filed last November charging that council district lines were unfair to Latinos that led to a series of redistricting plans that have been considered by the City Council.
'People Out There Are Angry'
If the council rejects his plea to reconsider redistricting Tuesday, Wachs said he will meet with his attorney next week to explore possible legal challenges to the newly adopted plan.
"The people out there (in the San Fernando Valley) are angry," Wachs said in an interview after the vote. "The mayor made it very clear: He said that in all of his years in politics he had never seen a more outraged constituency. I think you've just seen the beginning."
The plan adopted Friday has angered Valley residents because it does away with the northeast Valley's 1st District and splits the territory between Bernardi and Wachs. They have been the council's most fervent opponents of the remapping plan--the latest of three the council has voted on in recent months. It takes away areas where Bernardi and Wachs have enjoyed strong support and puts them in largely new districts.
The plan was drawn up by Councilmen John Ferraro and Michael Woo, who made their move after the death of Councilman Howard Finn last month left the 1st District without a representative. Under a redistricting plan adopted in July, Ferraro and Woo wound up in the same Hollywood-Wilshire district and likely opponents in an election next year.
Under the new plan, the two councilmen will go back to representing separate districts, each holding onto his political base--Hancock Park for Ferraro and Hollywood for Woo.