Two Los Angeles City Council members angered over new boundaries for their districts alleged Tuesday the panel proposing the maps "placed undue and illegal emphasis on race" and that the process was flawed.
Jan Perry and Bernard Parks expressed their discontent over the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission's latest proposed district maps in a joint letter to Commission Chairman Arturo Vargas and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. Perry also distributed copies to fellow council members during Tuesday's meeting.
The commission is scheduled to vote on the final maps during an afternoon meeting Wednesday.
"We have very serious doubts that the commission has complied with applicable law in fashioning these districts," Parks and Perry wrote.
Vargas, who also serves as the commission's spokesman, could not be reached for comment.
A spokesman for Trutanich confirmed the letter had been received, but said it was still being reviewed and it was too soon to comment.
The letter accuses the commission of trying to move black voters out of Parks' majority-black South L.A. district - the only majority-black district of the city's 15 council districts - without evidence of public input to justify the move.
The panel also expressed interest in turning Perry's 9th Council District south of downtown, now about evenly split between blacks and Latinos, into a majority-Latino district.
Under the Voting Rights Act, race-conscious decisions in redistricting must be backed up by evidence of racially polarized voting to demonstrate a need to create a new majority nonwhite district, the council members' letter states.
"There has been no presentation of any evidence showing racially polarized voting in any districts in Los Angeles," Parks and Perry wrote. "Without this evidence, the commission obviously placed undue and illegal emphasis on race in this process."
Once the Redistricting Commission votes on the final district maps, they will go to the full council for debate and final approval.
Parks and Perry have threatened to file a lawsuit challenging the maps if the existing recommendations are approved.
"We hope a common-sense individual (on the council) will stand up and say, `Let's do this a different way,"' said Parks' chief of staff and son, Bernard Parks Jr.