The No. 2-ranking official on the Los Angeles City Council resigned from her leadership post Friday, saying she was troubled by what she described as behind-the-scenes maneuvering over redistricting and the council presidency.
Jan Perry, the council's president pro tempore since 2009, voiced dismay that "private" talks had been held over replacing Councilman Eric Garcetti as president. She also suggested that new boundary lines for the council's 15 districts are being redrawn in secret, even though a 21-member commission is charged with doing that job in public.
"There are allegations that maps have already been drawn and seen before the executive director position was even filled" for the council's Redistricting Commission, said Perry, who is running for mayor in 2013.
Council members and their aides have assumed for months that Councilman Herb Wesson would replace Garcetti, a Perry ally and also a mayoral candidate. But they have not known when.
Garcetti spokeswoman Julie Wong said her boss plans to step down from the presidency at the end of the year, giving him more time for his own mayoral bid. But she said Garcetti was unaware of behind-the-scenes boundary talks. "We have not seen any maps," Wong added.
Wesson said it was premature for him to discuss the presidency. But Councilmen Bill Rosendahl and Paul Krekorian said Wesson, whose district includes Koreatown and the Crenshaw Corridor, had already asked for their support.
"It's a general feeling among all of us that he would make a great president," Rosendahl said.
While Wesson has been wooing his colleagues, one of his high-level aides has been in talks to run the Redistricting Commission. Last week, that panel voted unanimously to recruit Wesson legislative aide Andrew Westall as its new executive director.
Westall, an expert on electoral mapmaking, would not comment. But Robert Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies, warned in recent weeks that the hiring raised questions about whether Westall would give Wesson preferential treatment in the boundary recommendations.
"Who does he owe his loyalties to?" Stern asked. "My guess is that Wesson would come first."
District lines are in play for downtown, Koreatown and on the Westside, according to officials familiar with the process. Also in question is whether the San Fernando Valley will get a sixth district and whether South Los Angeles will retain three districts that have significant concentrations of African American voters. Perry and Councilman Bernard Parks also introduced a motion Friday that, if approved by the council, would require members of the Redistricting Commission to divulge the names of any group or elected official who speaks with them to discuss proposed district boundaries.
"These important issues should be discussed in the public record," Perry said.
Los Angeles Times staff writer Kate Linthicum contributed to this report.