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Three L.A. County supervisors criticized over redistricting plan

The head of the region’s largest labor group on Thursday accused three Los Angeles County supervisors of ignoring changing demographics for the sake of their political careers.

Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said Michael D. Antonovich, Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky favor a redistricting plan that would make it more difficult to elect a second Latino to the five-member board.

“Those three supervisors … are trying to hold onto a power structure that is outdated,” Durazo said at a news conference. “They probably don’t want competition from a Latino opponent.”

Yaroslavsky cannot run for supervisor again because of term limits, while Knabe and Antonovich face reelection next year.

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Antonovich has not taken an official position on redistricting plans and is waiting to hear more public comments before the vote, scheduled for Tuesday.

Gloria Molina is the only Latino on the board, which governs a county in which Latinos make up 48% of the total population. Antonovich, Knabe and Yaroslavsky are white. The fifth supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas, is black.

Knabe, a Republican from Cerritos, has proposed a plan that would leave the five districts largely as they are, while Ridley-Thomas and Molina have advocated separate plans to create a second district with a Latino voting majority.

Both proposals would radically reconfigure Knabe’s district. One would turn Knabe’s district, now 42% white and 32% Latino, into a majority Latino district, imperiling Knabe’s chance for reelection in 2012.

Yaroslavsky has said the Latino-majority plans are “baldfaced” gerrymandering.

Molina has argued that the Voting Rights Act, a federal law that protects minority voting rights, requires the county to draw a second Latino-majority district and that keeping district lines the same illegally dilutes the voting power of a growing minority population. Yaroslavsky and Knabe, however, disagree that federal law requires drawing a second Latino majority district.

Durazo said her organization, which represents nearly 800,000 people, does not have a preference between the two proposals that would create another Latino-majority district but believes either would be more representative of the county.

Durazo also pushed back against some Asian groups that publicly backed Knabe’s proposal this week. The groups said they feared losing power to Latinos and that Knabe had been more responsive to their communities’ needs.

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The proposals to add another Latino district would also fairly represent Asians, said Durazo, who added that the groups are favoring Knabe’s plan because of their relationship to him.

“This is not about loyalty to a particular supervisor,” she said.

jason.song@latimes.com


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