At long last, Los Angeles may have been treated to some candor about this year's redistricting process. In a videotaped discussion that was the subject of a Times story Wednesday, City Council President Herb Wesson told a group of Baptist ministers that the city was divided into factions, and that he was "able to protect the most important asset that we as black people have, and that's to make sure that a minimum of two of the council people will be black for the next 30 years."
The trouble is that federal law bars district lines being drawn for the primary purpose of protecting or enhancing the voting power of particular racial groups (although that power can be considered among other factors).
Wesson's statements may end up being cited in a federal suit challenging the final maps, but regardless of the outcome, Angelenos should by now recognize the gap between the official story about redistricting — that the process was transparent and decisions were made publicly — and the all-too-obvious reality: Line-drawing was the result of backroom deals, using private criteria, and Wesson and the other officials who drew the maps protected themselves from accountability for their decisions by cynically hiding behind their redistricting commission appointees. Some of those appointees no doubt intended to be independent; others no doubt knew full well they were on the panel to do the bidding of the elected officials who appointed them.