Attorneys and demographers today examined a newly adopted city redistricting plan designed to satisfy Latinos and Asians.
The two rapidly growing minority groups, who may dominate city and state politics in the next century, appeared to be reaching for each others' throats in the struggle to draw new district lines under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department.
This week, the two principal combatants, city council members Richard Alatorre and Michael Woo, agreed to a plan that could remove at least one of the 10 Anglos on the 15-member council and move the body toward a closer approximation of the city's population.
The number of Anglos here has dropped to about 47 percent, while the Latino population has climbed to 29 percent and the Asian to 7 percent. About 17 percent of the city is black.
An initial plan drafted by Alatorre, the council's first Latino member in 23 years, would have forced Woo, its first Asian member, to run in a 65 percent Latino district. Alatorre's plan would have turned Woo's 13th District, with its small white majority, into a second majority Latino district beside Alatorre's own 14th District to fend off a Justice Department voting-rights suit charging dilution of the Hispanic vote.
The council approved the plan by a 9-to-6 vote Tuesday, but Mayor Tom Bradley vetoed it.
"My sense of justice and fairness simply will not permit me to redress an inequity to one ethnic protected class at the expense of another," he said. Analysts also noted that Asians had contributed more than $200,000 to his last mayoral campaign and are expected to be important in his current race for governor.
Thus rebuffed, a 13-to-2 council majority somewhat reluctantly endorsed a new plan offered Wednesday by its president, Pat Russell, a Bradley ally, to move Woo and his Hollywood political base out of the new Latino district into a refashioned 4th District, now represented by council member John Ferraro, who ran against Bradley for mayor last year.
Woo, who would have been cut off from his Hollywood base under the Alatorre plan, voted for the Russell plan and indicated that he would run for election in the new 4th District when Ferraro's term expires next year.
He noted Ferraro will be considered the incumbent and have the right to influence zoning decisions, but the plan also gives Woo several advantages. The new 4th District, like the old, will have the highest percentage of Asians in the city -- 15 percent. About 60 percent of the new district electorate will be current Woo constituents.