clear
Wednesday September 2nd, 2015 12:57PM

Latinos want gov't to look into LA County voting redistricting

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is aggressively pursuing lawsuits over minority voting rights in Texas and North Carolina, but the Justice Department has not moved on evidence that the latest round of redistricting in Los Angeles County unfairly reduces the influence of Latino voters.

Nearly half the 10 million people in the nation's largest county are Latino. But political boundaries redrawn in 2011 make it possible for Latino voters to elect just one of the five supervisors.

The administration has resisted calls to sue the county, despite the county's history of discrimination against Latino voters in earlier redistricting efforts.

The inaction rankles some Latino activists who count themselves as strong backers of President Barack Obama.

"I support the Obama administration and the president, but frankly, Obama and the top people around him seem to be unaware on this issue. Obama is somewhat blind to the issues of Latinos," said Cruz Reynoso, a former California Supreme Court justice and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Reynoso said the administration seems more attuned to voting rights complaints of African-Americans.

He said the administration also appears reluctant to pursue a complaint against a jurisdiction that is dominated by Democrats. "Most of the folk in Los Angeles have been supporters of the president, so why make them unhappy despite the fact that, from my point of view, there is great injustice going on," he said.

In the wake of a stinging U.S. Supreme Court defeat in June that rendered useless an important enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act, the administration has focused its voting rights resources on Southern states that are controlled by Republicans.

The Justice Department has initiated or joined suits targeting voter identification laws and redistricting plans in North Carolina and in Texas, where Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott began moving to put the state's tough voter ID law into effect just hours after the high court's decision.

The suits were filed under other provisions of the voting rights law that were not part of the Supreme Court case.

The situation in Los Angeles County predates the high court decision and the passage of the laws now being challenged in North Carolina and Texas.

The Justice Department acknowledges it is looking at the situation in Los Angeles, but otherwise declined comment.

"We have received significant amounts of information from the county and others about the issue and the matter is still under review," said Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson.

Matt Barreto, a political science professor and voting rights expert at the University of Washington, said the evidence against the county is overwhelming and includes a history of racially polarized voting that has hurt Latinos.

"My perspective is that this is one of the easiest cases to be made nationally," said Barreto, who has worked for the group of Latinos that includes Reynoso. Barreto also served as a consultant to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, a voter-approved independent board that draws the state's congressional and legislative districts.

Counties, though, retain the authority to devise their own districts. Nowhere is there more power and money at stake than in Los Angeles, where each of five supervisors represents nearly 2 million people and the county's annual budget tops $26 billion.

Following the 2010 census, the board adopted districts in 2011 that made relatively few changes even though two supervisors cautioned that their colleagues were exposing themselves to a voting rights lawsuit.

Gloria Molina, the only Latina ever elected to the board, and Mark Ridley-Thomas, the board's lone African-American member, supported maps that would have created a second district with a majority of Latino residents. But the two members could not persuade their three white colleagues to join them.

"Today this board had an opportunity to make history, not repeat it, but all signs indicated that they would repeat history, and unfortunately, they did," Molina said in 2011.

Molina was elected after a federal court documented political discrimination against Latinos dating back to the 1950s and drew a map to ensure Latinos would be represented.

Yet since that vote, Molina has not aligned herself with the loose association of activists and voting rights experts who are pushing for greater Latino representation. Her spokeswoman, Roxane Marquez, said Molina continues to back two majority Latino districts, but otherwise had no comment on possible Justice Department intervention.

Ridley-Thomas told Bill Boyarsky, a columnist for LA Observed, that he wants the Justice Department to get involved.

The map Ridley-Thomas proposed in 2011 would have increased the chances of making the Los Angeles board more diverse, said redistricting consultant Alan Clayton. Ridley-Thomas' map would have preserved his district, created a second district likely to elect a Latino and increased the odds that an Asian-American candidate could be elected, Clayton said.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Congress letting 55 tax breaks expire at year end
In an almost annual ritual, Congress is letting a package of 55 popular tax breaks expire at the end of the year, creating uncertainty - once again - for millions of individuals and businesses.
2:21PM ( 1 year ago )
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
First up: House Judiciary panel schedules Congress' first hearing on Planned Parenthood videos
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Judiciary Committee will hold Congress' first hearing on the Planned Parenthood videos next Wednesday. And the title they're using leaves little doubt about where majority...
12:19PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Obama gets Iran deal victory as Senate Dems amass enough votes to stymie Republican resolution
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama secured a landmark foreign policy victory Wednesday as Senate Democrats amassed enough votes to ensure the Iran nuclear deal survives in Congress, despite fero...
12:13PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Kentucky clerk in gay marriage fight says to her, it's 'a heaven or hell decision'
MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — Kim Davis sat in a church pew on a Sunday morning about four years ago, listening as the man in the pulpit preached of forgiveness and God's grace.Davis until then might have seem...
9:01AM ( 3 hours ago )
244 arrested in California immigration sting, authorities say all had criminal records
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Immigration agents arrested more than 240 people with criminal records during a four-day sting in Southern California.
8:39AM ( 4 hours ago )
In Alaska wilderness, Obama stares down melting glacier to sound alarm on climate change
SEWARD, Alaska (AP) — President Barack Obama stared down a melting glacier in Alaska on Tuesday in a dramatic use of his presidential pulpit to sound the alarm on climate change.From a distance, Exit...
1:24AM ( 11 hours ago )