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Councilman of the Moment Addresses Chamber

September 21, 1986|KENNETH J. FANUCCHI | Times Staff Writer

Councilman John Ferraro, who represented Hollywood just long enough to attend one rancorous community advisory committee meeting on redevelopment, was only too glad to return that responsibility to Michael Woo.

"It was quite an experience," Ferraro told 100 members of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce over breakfast Thursday at Paramount Studios. "Mike, I wish you well."

The two councilmen were all smiles at the meeting, which was intended to introduce chamber members to the district's newest councilman--whoever that turned out to be, given the continuing City Council battle over redistricting.

"At first, we only invited John," said Bill Welsh, president of the Chamber of Commerce. "Then we figured we had better invite Mike, too. With redistricting, you never know."

Welsh turned out to be somewhat clairvoyant. Woo was elected to represent Hollywood in June, 1985, but found himself in a new, largely Latino, district in July. The redistricting came in response to a Justice Department lawsuit, which accused the city of splitting Latino neighborhoods among several council districts in the central city--and diluting their political clout--in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Woo was out of Hollywood; Ferraro was in.

Woo termed that plan, drawn up by Councilman Richard Alatorre, "a sleazy deal" designed to protect, among others, Ferraro. Mayor Tom Bradley vetoed it.

A second plan, which was in force until last week, kept Woo out of Hollywood, but was drawn in a way that set up an election battle next April between Woo and Ferraro. Neither councilman was looking forward to the contest.

"I was getting into representing Hollywood," Ferraro said in an interview. "I know that the disagreement over redevelopment is not easy to resolve, but every council district has difficult problems. Certainly, though, it makes more sense for Mike to represent Hollywood because he was elected to serve that community."

The second plan was replaced by yet a third that reinstated Woo as Hollywood's councilman and moved the district's southern boundary from Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue, an area represented by Ferraro for 20 years.

"Hollywood is more unified than ever before," Woo said.

Ferraro described his new district as a "classic of gerrymandering," including such diverse communities as Hancock Park, a portion of Echo Park and North Hollywood. "I've bought a Thomas Brothers map book to help me find it," Ferraro quipped.

Chamber of Commerce members seemed pleased by the latest redistricting plan. Margaret LaKretz, a Hollywood businesswoman, said Woo knows Hollywood "much better" than Ferraro.

"He ran against and ousted an incumbent council member (Peggy Stevenson)," LaKretz said. "How can you give the area that elected him to someone else? There were some people who felt Ferraro might do more for Hollywood because he was more seasoned, but most people preferred the person who was elected to represent Hollywood."

Ferraro expressed reservations only with the name of the new redistricting effort, the so-called Woo-Ferraro plan. "It should have been the Ferraro-Woo plan," he said.

But Woo had the last word, saying the plan was the product of "Sino-Italian negotiations."

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