Opinion: Jeremy Lin, the Jews and redistricting

I was too young to see Hank Greenberg play. That was my father’s generation. But growing up in New Jersey, I well remember the day when Sandy Koufax, playing for the Dodgers, announced his electrifying decision to sit out a 1965 World Series game on Yom Kippur.  Koufax’s action was a great source of pride to a Jewish kid with a baseball glove perennially at hand and who had heard way too many jokes about the thin book of Jewish sports heroes.

I remembered that Koufax moment when I watched the New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin annihilate my Lakers not so long ago. I had the feeling that Asian-American kids with a basketball perennially at hand must be feeling something akin to what I felt back then. The Lin phenomenon is not like the hoopla surrounding Yao Ming, whose presence in the NBA was really about the internationalization of the sport and who is a huge hero in China. Even though Lin is already attracting attention in both Taiwan and China, he is going to be a special star for Asian-Americans. 

When you look at the local basketball scene, you might wonder what took so long. There is a distinguished tradition of Asian-American basketball leagues, and there is a devoted basketball following in the community. You can see Asian-American girls playing in the high schools in Los Angeles and working their way into the college ranks (in fact, there are more Asian-American women than men in college basketball). 

I was reminded of these parallels between Asian-Americans and Jews while watching the unfolding debate over Los Angeles city redistricting.  Much has changed since the days of Tom Bradley, when a coalition of African-Americans and Jews dominated the political scene. Latinos and Asian-Americans, while part of the ruling coalition, sometimes felt themselves on the outside looking in. Bradley, though, consistently reached out to Asian-Americans and Latinos (saving Mike Woo’s seat in 1986 by vetoing a council redistricting ordinance, and working to create a Latino seat in the 14th District, eventually won by Richard Alatorre).

The rise of the Latino population, and its remarkable mobilization, mean that Latino political aspirations are at center stage. African-Americans, declining in population share, are trying to hold onto their representation. The current city redistricting seems to be focused on managing the inevitable increase in Latino office holding and settling internal disputes in the African-American community. The commission advising the City Council has issued draft maps, but there seems to be a lot of political maneuvering behind the scenes.  Allies of City Council President Herb Wesson seem to want to punish Bernard Parks for not supporting Wesson’s election to council president by moving pieces out of the 8th District, and Jan Perry seems to be in a similar boat. Should the 9th District (now represented by Perry) lose its lucrative downtown business base to the Latino 14th District?  These decisions inevitably impact the other communities of the city because each district must be roughly equal in population. Moving chess pieces in one area can make it harder to achieve fairness in other areas.

Asian-Americans and Jews are feeling the spillover impact of these disputes and negotiations.  The Jewish community, which once sported a half dozen members of the 15-member council, now has only one certain seat, the Mid-City 5th District represented by Paul Koretz, and that is being realigned a bit in the draft plan from the city commission. I asked Bruce Phillips, a professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Religion & Civic Culture at USC to run some numbers (see story below).  He concluded that with the proposed changes, the 5th would be marginally less Jewish, but there could be an increase in Jewish electoral strength in the 3rd District in the Valley.  It looks as if some Valley portions of the 5th District are proposed to be moved to the 3rd,  and Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Hancock Park and Larchmont, currently in Tom LaBonge’s 4th District, would be added to the 5th. In any case, Jewish candidates stand a good case of winning some citywide offices in 2013, and high levels of Jewish voter participation will continue to be consequential in city elections. It remains to be seen whether the proposed movement of Jewish neighborhoods becomes a point of debate.

The Korean-American community, however, has registered complaints about the proposed redistricting of Koreatown. At a City Hall public hearing, Korean-American speakers charged that they were being shunted off until the end of the meeting. The set-to emphasizes the long- standing problem of not having a councilmember who would be responsive to Asian-Americans (only one Asian-American, Mike Woo, has ever served in public office in the City of Los Angeles, despite an Asian-American population of roughly 400,000). Of course, long-standing groups like the Asian Pacific American Legal Center have been submitting and advocating for proposed Los Angeles city redistricting plans all along.

It is hoped that the city will undertake a redistricting process that looks for ways to increase Asian-American representation, either by increasing the number of council districts through a charter amendment or by moving district lines to capture population concentrations of a diverse community that has become somewhat dispersed. In the final analysis, however, neither Jewish nor Asian-American communities have the raw numbers to obtain districts in which they will hold majorities. In the midst of intense conflicts over redistricting, they will have to carefully navigate the debates with an eye to creating districts in which they will have influence, and aim to build coalitions with each other and with other groups.

Perhaps this current redistricting may also activate a younger generation of Asian-Americans (and not just Korean-Americans) to become more politically engaged in the hurly-burly of Los Angeles politics. That would be no less impactful than the rise of Jeremy Lin.

Raphael J. Sonenshein is executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

Opinion: Jewish population of L.A., Valley districts

So, how will Los Angeles’ Jews fare under the proposed City Council District boundaries? The City Redistricting Commission Web site includes information about the ethnic composition of the current and proposed City Council districts based on voter registration lists. These maps, released for public review during the week of Feb. 13, may be changed by the commission before final submission of a proposed map to the City Council, which will then have several months to make its decisions on a redistricting ordinance.

Estimates of registered Jewish voters were produced by using Jewish surnames. This procedure understates Jewish numbers because most Jews do not have a distinctively Jewish name, and, just as important, because the Jewish surnames used in the assessment are Ashkenazi and thus miss other local populations, including Persian-Moroccan and many Israeli Jews.

For my calculations, I turned instead to the 1997 Jewish population survey, which has its own problem: It is 15 years old. Fortunately Jewish population movement in Los Angeles over the past 60 decades has been consistent and gradual, so the survey can at least provides a general sense of the effects of the redistricting on Jewish Los Angeles. ZIP codes are the smallest geographic unit available in the 1997 study, so I assigned the study ZIP codes according to the current and draft City Council District boundaries, adjusting for ZIP codes divided between council districts.

The 5th Council District, now represented by Paul Koretz, is currently the only “Jewish district” and has long been recognized as such. Roz Wyman, Ed Edelman, Zev Yaroslovsky, Mike Feuer and Jack Weiss all entered political office for the first time representing this City Council District. The 5th District currently consists of neighborhoods on both sides of Mulholland Drive; to the south are Fairfax, Beverlywood, Cheviot Hills, Rancho Park, Century City, Westwood, Brentwood, Bel Air, Benedict Canyon and Beverly Crest. In the Valley, the 5th District now includes Valley Village and the “Valley Hills” neighborhoods — those parts of Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Tarzana and Woodland Hills that are south of Ventura Boulevard.

The commission’s draft map, released on Feb. 15, would have created a more Jewish 2nd District, while preserving the 5th District. The 5th District proposed last week would have lost Valley Village, Beverly Crest, Benedict Canyon and the “Valley Hills” neighborhoods. In their place, the district would have gained the Miracle Mile, Larchmont and much of Hancock Park. The 5th District of Feb. 15 would have ended at Western Avenue. The overall Jewish population of the 5th District would have remained the same, and the Orthodox Jewish population of the 5th District would have increased by at least 50 percent, thus making it even more Jewish.

The Feb. 15 plan would have created a second potentially Jewish district in the 3rd District. As currently constituted, the 3rd District includes Canoga Park, Winnetka, West Hills, Encino, Reseda, Tarzana and Woodland Hills. It would have lost West Hills but would have added the heavily Jewish neighborhoods south of Ventura Boulevard that currently are part of the 5th District. Based on the 1997 data, the Jewish population of the 3rd District would have increased by 29 percent.

The most recent map, released over the weekend (let’s call it the Presidents Weekend map), reverses most of the proposed changes to the 3rd and 5th Districts.  With the exception of Valley Village, the neighborhoods south of Ventura Boulevard have been returned to the 5th District; this district will still be enlarged to the east but not as much as in the Feb. 15 draft map. Currently, the 5th District ends at Fairfax Avenue. In the Feb. 15 draft map, it would have extended all the way to Western Avenue.  In the Presidents Weekend map, the 5th District now ends at Highland Avenue. This effectively splits the Hancock Park Orthodox community between the 5th District and the 4th District.

One Jewish neighborhood that would be less likely to be part of a district with a strong Jewish presence is Valley Village, which is slated to move from the 5th District into the much less Jewish 2nd District, as the 2nd District has been reconfigured to create a Latino district, exchanging Jewish populations in Studio City and Sherman Oaks for Hispanic populations in Van Nuys and North Hollywood. Based on the City Redistricting Commission data, the Spanish surname population in the 2nd District will increase by 27 percent. Based on the 1997 study, the Jewish population in the 2nd District will decrease by more than 20 percent. This would happen in either version of the draft map.

The revisions made to the Presidents Weekend map are consistent with a long- standing tradition of carving out a “Westside” Jewish district to which some heavily Jewish Valley neighborhoods have been appended. As of 1997, half the Jewish population in Los Angeles County was concentrated in the San Fernando Valley. As of Feb. 15, the proposed new district boundaries would have recognized this reality. A week later, the future has mostly remained the past.

Bruce A. Phillips is a professor of sociology and Jewish communal studies in the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Louchheim School of Judaic Studies at USC and Senior Research Fellow at the USC Center for Religion & Civic Culture.

What redistricting could mean for Jews, Asian-Americans

The redistricting process going on at the state, county and city levels is a major signpost of changing power for Jews and Asian-Americans in the Southland. While nearly twice as many Asian-Americans as Jews live in the City and County of Los Angeles, Asian-Americans have had a much more difficult time gaining political representation. Jews have tended to win political seats out of proportion to their numbers, although they now find their base narrowing and their safe seats imperiled. As the state and county redistricting processes wind down, and the city’s advisory commission starts its work, how will Jews and Asian-Americans fare?

Pressure on the city’s advisory redistricting commission (and on the council and mayor who will make the final decision) will come from several sources. The Latino population continues to be a force around the city, and there are calls to create a third Latino council seat in the San Fernando Valley. Valley activists also want to have more seats that are fully in the Valley, and this might mean taking away the Valley sections of the Westside’s 5th and 11th Districts.

In this context, the continuing narrowing of “Jewish seats” is possible.

Once upon a time, Jewish elected officials were plentiful on the city council. At one time, there were six, in districts stretching from Hollywood through the Westside to the ocean and into the Valley. Now there are three: Paul Koretz; Council President Eric Garcetti, whose mother is Jewish; and Jan Perry. But only in Koretz’s district, the 5th, is a Jewish candidate extremely likely to be elected. In Perry’s 9th District, the next council member is almost certain to be either African-American, which Perry also is, or Latino. The 5th District remains the city’s most Jewish, with its population at least one-third Jewish. And perhaps a third of the city’s Jews live in the 5th. When the 5th was expanded to the Valley after the 1990 census, it picked up a portion of the Jewish population in the southern tip of the Valley. Taking that Valley portion away from the 5th could offer the chance for a second Jewish council member based in the Valley, along the lines of the Joy Picus/Laura Chick seat in the 3rd. Or it could place the Valley’s Jewish population into a Latino-majority district, where the election of a Jewish candidate would be less likely.

But all is not bleak for Jewish political success. As the Jewish community has become more widely dispersed, Jewish candidates continue to win seats in districts that are not dominated by Jewish voters. For the foreseeable future, beyond the 5th District, Jewish candidates could also win in the other districts that are not historically black or majority Latino. And citywide office still is accessible, with open seats for mayor and controller in 2013 (and, if Carmen Trutanich is elected district attorney in 2012, for city attorney, a race in which former 5th District Councilman Mike Feuer has expressed interest). Greater Los Angeles is still home base for the California Jewish community, both in political candidacies and in campaign fundraising for local, state and national Democrats.

There is perspective to be gained from contrasting the political standing of Jews in Los Angeles to that of Asian-Americans. In the history of Los Angeles, only one city council member has ever been elected from the Asian-American community — Mike Woo, who from 1986 to 1993 represented the 13th District. And Woo’s position would not have survived even one year, but for Mayor Tom Bradley, who vetoed a council redistricting plan in 1986 that would have eliminated his newly won seat to enable the city to comply with a court decision to create a second Latino seat. Warren Furutani, currently a city council candidate for the 15th District seat vacated by Janice Hahn, was elected to the school board. This low representation comes while Asian-Americans constitute roughly 10 percent of the population of Los Angeles. That’s about 380,000 people.

The Asian-American shutout in Los Angeles not only contrasts with L.A. Jews, but with Asian-Americans outside Los Angeles.

In fact, the Asian-American caucus in California’s state legislature is quite large, comprising 11 members (eight in the Assembly, three in the Senate). The current mayor of San Francisco is Asian-American (appointed to fill a vacancy left by Gavin Newsom’s election as lieutenant governor), and four major Asian-American candidates are running in this year’s San Francisco mayoral election, including the incumbent. Four of San Francisco’s 11 county/city supervisors are Asian-American. In fact, Asian-Americans are now a much bigger force than Jews in San Francisco politics.

In addition, Jean Quan was elected mayor of Oakland in 2010, and four of the state’s Supreme Court justices are Asian-American. John Chiang has made a big impact as state controller. In fact, given all this, it would not be surprising if California elected an Asian-American governor before another Asian-American becomes a city council member in Los Angeles.

Outside Los Angeles, Asian-Americans fare better, even in Southern California. Asian-American state legislators have been elected both from the South Bay and the San Gabriel Valley. Judy Chu won a congressional seat in a Latino majority district in the San Gabriel Valley. In Orange County, Republican Van Tran nearly upset Democrat Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez in 2010. It’s just in Los Angeles that the absence is so surprising.

Not surprisingly, Asian-Americans don’t have a county supervisor seat, largely because their 13 percent of the county’s population is spread out over districts of 2 million people each. But in the City of Los Angeles, with Koreatown and Chinatown, and with smaller electoral districts, what’s the problem? Some of it is that Asian-Americans are not a cohesive group, compared to Jews or even to the largely Chinese-American community of San Francisco. Citizenship and voter participation fall below their population share, in contrast to Jewish voting, which far outstrips the community’s population. Unlike in hyper-diverse San Francisco, where Asian-Americans now constitute the most dynamic bloc of voters, Asian-Americans in Los Angeles are trying to find their way in a community of highly established political communities — first white Protestants, then the Bradley coalition of African-Americans and Jews, and, finally, Latinos.

New data prepared for the city redistricting commission indicate that the Asian-American population is between 10 percent and 21 percent in eight of the 15 council districts. Asian-American candidates have to be crossover candidates in order to win anywhere. Koreatown is too small to dominate the 10th District, which has historically been African-American and now has a Latino population majority. (The district was once more evenly contested. When Tom Bradley was elected mayor in 1973, his seat was very nearly won by a major Asian-American activist, “Star Trek” star George Takei.) Asian-American candidates probably have their best chances in white or highly diverse districts (like the Hollywood 13th and the Harbor 15th), the same areas where Jewish candidates have as good a chance as anybody else. What they don’t have is the equivalent of a 5th District, a home base that provides security for wider crossover politics. On the other hand, Asian-Americans have some protection as a minority under the Voting Rights Act, which does not apply to the Jewish community.

In order to have better representation, Asian-Americans can make a case that the redistricting commission, the city council and mayor should examine the maps with the intention of making the election of an Asian-American somewhat more likely, looking for any districts that could be 25 percent or 30 percent Asian-American, for example. Once a significant Asian-American victory is possible, greater mobilization will follow.

Some structural reforms also would help in the long run. In 1999, Los Angeles city voters approved a new city charter but resoundingly defeated two companion measures to expand the size of the council to either 21 or 25 members.

With a larger council, there could have been at least one, and maybe two, districts where Asian-Americans could have dominated. Should such measures ever get back onto the ballot, Asian-Americans might find allies in the Harbor that would get its own district, and among African-Americans who opposed the reform in 1999 fearing a decline in their representation but now might find that more seats fit their declining population. Jews and other white liberals voters supported it then and might back it again.

As the Jewish base narrows in Los Angeles, and Asian-Americans continue to seek political representation, conversations between the two groups would be in order. Both Jews and Asian-Americans will need to reach out to other groups and win elections in districts without a secure majority of their own group. But, so far, neither group understands how similar its problems and worries are to the problems of the other group. Jews and African-Americans made history together in Los Angeles during the Bradley era, and there are serious efforts afoot to prevent electoral competition from obstructing a positive relationship between Jews and Latinos. An exploration of the potential for mutual benefit between Jews and Asian-Americans could well pay dividends that have not been fully appreciated until now.

Raphael J. Sonenshein is chair of the Division of Politics, Administration, and Justice at California State University, Fullerton.

Md. redistricting hearing changed for Shabbat

A hearing to discuss political redistricting in the Baltimore area was rescheduled to accommodate Jewish Sabbath observers.

Twelve public meetings were scheduled throughout the state to allow input from residents into the congressional and legislative redistricting. The two meetings in the Baltimore area both conflicted with Shabbat.

The meeting scheduled for Aug. 12 was moved from 7 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Shabbat starts at about 7:30. A second meeting will be held on a Saturday at the end of the month.

“There is enough time to testify and get home or go to synagogue” before the Sabbath begins, Linda Janey, assistant secretary for communications at the state Department of Planning, said in a news release posted on Citybizlist.

Testimony in the form of an e-mail is also permitted. The Maryland Legislature will hold a special session on redistricting the week of Oct. 17.

Letters to the Editor: Norway, Jacob Dayan, Redistricting

Christian Hate Claims Jewish Roots

While Rob Eshman makes an important and necessary argument in his editorial, he misses a serious point (“Web of Evil,” July 29). Fundamentalist, right-wing Christian extremists can claim brotherhood with Zionist Jews because their perception — sadly correct often enough — is that regardless of population demographics, regardless of the laws of Torah and the basic laws of Israel, regardless of our well-documented activities promoting tolerance and understanding, there are serious and continual examples of discrimination against the Israeli Arab population and a visceral antipathy among a significant portion of the in-and-out-of-Israel Jewish population for Arabs and Muslims. Where have I heard, “The only good Arab is a dead Arab”? From local Israelis. Where have I heard, “They’re all liars and can’t be trusted”? From American-born Jews.

Ironically (though they don’t see it this way), the defensive, underdog position defenders of Israel have been forced into has led them to embrace an Evangelical Christian right that, while professing fervent support of Israel, teaches in its dogma an ultimate Armageddon that leaves Israel with, at best, a caliphate-level Jewish population (separate and unequal) or, at worst, Judenrein. It is inherently anti-Semitic.

Yes, the Jewish community must do everything possible to distance itself from the malignant hate seething from an Anders Breivik and his ilk (Pat Buchanan?), but we must also face honestly the extent to which we fertilize the ground he walks on.

Mitch Paradise
Los Angeles

Praise for Jacob Dayan

Thank you for your articles about departing consul general Jacob Dayan and his wife, Galit (“A Diplomatic Partnership,” July 29). The Dayan family have been a perfect representation to Angelenos of the very best that Israel has to offer. Yaki has been a passionate and tireless advocate for the state of Israel at a time when the Jewish state has been under constant attack, both at home and abroad. He has also been an inspiration and source of strength and support to the local Israeli community.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to have hosted Yaki at our synagogue, Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel.

I am confident that we will be hearing much more in the years to come about this very special man and his exceptional family.

Tzetchem B’shalom. L’hitraot.

Rabbi Jay Shasho Levy
Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel

Another View of the Redistricting Issue

The fundamental premise — that Jewish political power increases when we’re clumped into a single district — is flawed (“Berman vs. Sherman?” July 22). It is equally likely that when a Jewish neighborhood is split into two or more political districts, two or more politicians can be made to pay attention to our concerns. That doesn’t dilute our political clout, it strengthens it.

Remember, Republicans enthusiastically embraced “majority-minority” districting in the South because, while it increased the number of black representatives, it decreased the total number of Democratic representatives. How? By bunching blacks, who are overwhelmingly Democrats, into fewer districts, thereby creating more majority Republican districts.

When it comes to political influence, building relationships with officeholders and coalitions with other voters is a better strategy than huddling together.

Paul Kujawsky
Valley Village

Circumcision’s Other Health Advantages

The article on the San Francisco circumcision ban by Jonah Lowenfeld (“The Great California Foreskin Fight of 2011,” June 24) thoroughly covered the characters co-sponsoring the anti-circumcision bill, but it failed to emphasize the multiple proven scientific lifetime preventive health advantages of newborn circumcision. During infancy and childhood, uncircumcised infants have a tenfold increased risk of getting severe kidney infections as well as being uniquely susceptible to foreskin infections, retraction problems (phimosis) and difficulties with genital hygiene. In young adults, circumcision helps prevent HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, HPV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as cervical cancer in female partners. In old age, penile cancer and difficulty maintaining genital cleanliness are foreskin-related problems. Emphasizing these proven lifetime benefits is more important than getting out the anectdotal anti-circumcision party line.

Edgar Schoen
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus
University of California, San Francisco

The Arab Mentality

Rabbi Laura Geller, in her Torah Portion column, speaks out against an e-mail, “The Arab Mentality,” about a Palestinian woman arrested as a suicide bomber even though, after checking the story, she found the story to be true (“Silence Is Consent,” July 22). One objection was that the author was a member of a right-wing party. If the story came from a left-wing party member, would the story be OK? The author of the article ascribes a characteristic to a whole group (Arabs) and Rabbi Geller ascribes a characteristic to a whole group (right wing parties, not to be trusted even if what they say is true). What’s the difference between saying “The Arab Mentality” and “The Right Wing Mentality”?

Rabbi Geller is correct that we must speak out against something that is wrong, even if it comes from a rabbi.

Bill Azerrad
Los Angeles

Citizens redistricting commission: (Almost) no Jews involved

Stanley Treitel, 66, is Orthodox, lives in Hancock Park and is one of the few Jewish Californians to have made a direct pitch to the state’s new Citizens Redistricting Commission on behalf of Jewish interests.

He went to Culver City’s City Hall on June 16 hoping to tell the 14-member panel, which had just released its first draft maps of the Golden State’s Congressional, State Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization districts on June 10, why he wasn’t happy about the lines they had drawn in and around his neighborhood.

“I thought that the Korean testimony was good, because they kept the Korean community together,” Treitel said, referring to a Korean-American group whose members testified before the commission early in the evening. “That would have been nice if they had done that for the Orthodox community,” Treitel said.

Redistricting takes place once every 10 years, and the current district lines, drawn in 2001 using data from the previous year’s U.S. Census, had split the three neighborhoods Treitel was focused on — Pico-Robertson/Beverlywood, Hancock Park and the area around Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue — into two Congressional, two State Assembly and three State Senate districts.

The newly formed commission, created by ballot initiative in 2008, is still working to finalize a new set of lines based on the 2010 census data. In the first draft of the redistricting maps,  which were released in June and differed significantly from the 2001 maps, Los Angeles’ Orthodox community remained fragmented; this is what motivated Treitel.

Making a single Congressman, State Senator or Assembly member responsible for the bulk of the Westside’s Orthodox Jews likely would, Treitel believes, make those politicians more responsive to his community’s specific concerns.

Voters endorsed creating a commission as a way to transform a politicized process that previously had been controlled by incumbent politicians whose goals were primarily to ensure their re-election. The commission was set up to become a transparent, bipartisan, citizen-led endeavor that would aim to empower communities in the hopes of ensuring all Californians get fair representation both in Sacramento and in Washington.

In some sense, all the speakers at the June meeting in Culver City were asking for the same thing as Treitel — that their communities be kept “whole.”

Leaders of organizations representing Latinos pointed to the growth of the Latino population in California, and argued that increase was not fully reflected in the first draft.  This, they alleged, would prevent the election of “candidates of choice” and thus would not comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Similarly, James Harris, an African American resident of South Los Angeles, pointed to what he believes is an under-representation of the black community. “The maps look like black and brown communities are being pitted against each other,” he said, “while other communities are enjoying the status quo.”

Treitel attempted first to make his own case on behalf of Los Angeles’ Orthodox Jewish community in May, by arranging for two local Orthodox organizations to send identical letters asking the commission to unify the three neighborhoods.

When the first draft did not accomplish this, Treitel headed to Culver City to address the commissioners directly. But because his speaker number was so high on the list — 149 — Treitel did not get the two minutes at the podium he was hoping for.

Aside from Treitel’s efforts, and a letter sent by 30 Years After, an association of young Jewish Iranian Americans,  Jews have been noticeably absent in this round of commission-led redistricting. And no major local or national Jewish organization has expressed any opinion about how the lines dividing up California should be drawn.

“Redistricting is intrinsically about electoral politics,” Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center, said, by way of explaining the absence of Jewish organizations involved in this discussion. “There’s fear that getting involved in a redistricting fight will convey the image that they’re getting involved in electoral politics generally.”

It isn’t that Jews haven’t been paying attention, or aren’t worried about the impact of redistricting, particularly when it comes to the seats of pro-Israel Congressional incumbents.

In 2010, billionaire Haim Saban lent $2 million to the unsuccessful campaign for Proposition 27, which aimed to eliminate the Citizens Redistricting Commission. Saban had supported the campaign for Proposition 11, which established the commission in 2008, and his reversal of course led some to speculate that Saban’s support of Proposition 27 was motivated by a desire to protect Rep. Howard Berman’s seat in Congress.

Asked to clarify Saban’s position on the redistricting panel, a Saban spokesperson responded with a prepared statement that first appeared in the L.A. Weekly in an October 2010 article.

Saban, the statement said, initially supported Proposition 11, but the media mogul later felt “it hasn’t worked out as intended.”

“Accordingly,” the statement continued, “Mr. Saban does not support expanding the commission concept to Congressional redistricting and agreed to make a loan, which has since been paid back.”

With the resignation last year of Rep. Jane Harman, a reliable pro-Israel voice in Congress, one might expect Israel supporters to speak up for other Jewish incumbent lawmakers. Working draft maps released in mid-July showed Berman and Rep. Brad Sherman drawn into one district and Reps. Adam Schiff and Henry Waxman drawn togetherinto another.

But Jews aren’t making the case, at least not to the commission. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has not made any public comments about redistricting, despite its ability to involve itself directly in politics, as a 501(c)(4) organization. Multiple calls to an AIPAC spokesperson were not returned.

One possible reason that Jews have not spoken up for Jewish incumbents could be that Jews have such disproportionate representation in state and federal government already. There are 37 Jewish lawmakers working in Washington today, including two senators and six representatives from California.

Jews make up, at most, just 2 percent of the U.S. electorate; advancing any legislation on local, statewide or national levels requires Jewish community leaders and lawmakers to work in coalition with representatives of other communities.

With efforts to develop partnerships between Jews and Latinos being undertaken by multiple organizations at a variety of levels, it could be that preserving so-called Jewish seats in Congress or state government is less important to Jewish leaders than building inter-ethnic relationships for the future.

According to relevant laws governing redistricting, Jews might not have had much of a case to make, even if they had tried to lobby the new commission.

“I don’t think it would’ve made much difference,” Raphael J. Sonenshein, professor of political science at California State University, Fullerton, said. “I think Jewish voters would’ve been lumped in with white voters in general. They’re not a Voting Rights Act group.”

But Paul Mitchell, a Democratic political consultant whose firm Redistricting Partners has been closely monitoring the work of the commission, has seen evidence that even groups not protected under the Voting Rights Act can get the attention of the commission.

Working for Equality California, an organization representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians, Mitchell prepared a series of maps illustrating LGBT communities across the state. Watching the proceedings of the commission’s July 8 meeting, Mitchell said commissioners were consulting those maps in certain areas in an attempt to keep the LGBT communities intact.

“It’s the first time in the country’s history that a state commission has taken this kind of care to treat the LGBT community as a community of interest,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell, who is not Jewish, said it wouldn’t have been hard to do something similar to show where Jewish voters are concentrated, but without data-driven maps, he said, the commission is effectively ignoring local Jewish communities.

“They’re just flying blind,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think that I’ve ever heard it come up.”

Douglas Johnson, president of National Demographics Corp., said it’s already too late for the Jewish community to have much impact on the shapes of districts. The final drafts are set to be unveiled on or around July 28, and the commission could choose to hold a vote that same day. By law, the panel must certify the maps by Aug. 15.

“The consultants told the commission that for large-scale line-drawing directions, the last day [was] July 20,” Johnson said. “After that it’s only fine-tuning.”

Whatever the reason, Jews largely have been standing back and watching from the sidelines.

Treitel’s attempt at input, meanwhile, does not appear to have had much sway. Like the 2001 district lines and the June first draft, the July 16 visualization map of Los Angeles’ Congressional districts leaves Beverlywood and Pico-Robertson in a different district from the area around the intersection of Beverly and Fairfax. The same division is reflected on the most recent maps of State Senate and State Assembly district lines.

California’s new citizen-led redistricting panel could force two Jewish Democrats into a face-off

Over the past two months, political observers have been keeping close watch on draft maps being released by California’s new, citizen-led redistricting panel. Though Jewish leaders haven’t been actively lobbying the Citizens Redistricting Commission on behalf of the community (see sidebar), they have been paying particular attention to the lines dividing the San Fernando Valley into new Congressional districts, which could pit two veteran Jewish, Democratic, staunchly pro-Israel Congressmen against one another for a single seat in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Howard Berman, the ranking Democrat and former chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, was first elected to Congress in 1982. He currently represents California’s 28th District, which includes about half of the San Fernando Valley and the Hollywood Hills. Rep. Brad Sherman, who was first elected in 1996, represents the 27th District, also in the Valley, which includes Northridge, Reseda and part of Burbank.

In the first draft of the new Congressional maps unanimously approved by the commission in June, Berman’s home in Van Nuys and Sherman’s in Sherman Oaks were drawn into the same district. That has not changed in subsequent working drafts — called visualization maps — released, without a vote by the commission, in mid-July.

Members of Congress are not required to live in their districts, and a race between these two experienced and well-resourced lawmakers is by no means inevitable, but also does not come entirely as a surprise. In the eyes of many political observers, a Berman versus Sherman contest is 10 years overdue and is an inevitable consequence of California’s new redistricting panel and the continued growth of the Latino population in the Valley. Both men have said that unless the district lines change dramatically, each plans to run in the West San Fernando Valley district where they both live.

Berman, 70, is considered something of an elder statesman in the Democratic Party. His Web site states the years in which he graduated from UCLA as an undergraduate (1962) and law student (1965), but it doesn’t mention that Berman co-founded the Los Angeles County Young Democrats with fellow Bruin and Congressman Henry Waxman.

Berman’s supporters often talk about his work in pursuing anti-piracy legislation, an area of particular interest to Hollywood, and they tout his relentless support for Israel. They talk less about the degree to which Berman had a hand in orchestrating the last round of California’s once-a-decade redistricting process.

Sherman, 56, is known for spending a good deal of time in his district. When he’s in Washington, he does not hesitate to speak up — to anyone. In June, Sherman’s amendment to defund military action in Libya as part of the military spending bill passed in the House with bipartisan support —and snubbed President Barack Obama.  Sherman framed the amendment in strict legal and constitutional terms, accusing the president of acting in violation of the War Powers Act.

As the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, Sherman co-sponsored a bill in April to stop U.S. companies from servicing the American-made engines on Iranian aircraft. But his legislative interests range widely, and, in June, he introduced a bill that would prohibit states or cities from outlawing or regulating male circumcision.

Sherman’s sense of humor tends toward the dry, and when he finds a joke he likes, he’s prone to reuse it. According to the Federal Election Commission, Sherman spent $9,500 on “COMBS” in 2009-2010. Sherman, who is bald, has given out promotional combs, printed with his office phone number, since at least 2003. Another instance of Sherman’s joke recycling popped up in a daily newspaper covering events at the Capitol. When his first daughter was born, in January 2009, Sherman told The Hill, “Mother and daughter are doing splendidly and father is expected to recover.” He made the same remark when his second daughter was born the following year.

For now, from all appearances, Sherman and Berman are working in concert — last month, for example, Berman signed on as a co-sponsor of Sherman’s bill protecting the right to perform male circumcision. But in spite of the proximity of their residences, their shared party affiliation and the fact that their last names rhyme, there reportedly is tension between the two congressmen, and that can be traced back at least as far as the last redistricting process.

The last round of redistricting was done by politicians, and no Congressman had more influence over that process than Berman, because it was his brother, political consultant Michael Berman, who was hired by most of the 32 incumbent Democrats to act as a redistricting consultant.

According to a 2001 Los Angeles Times article, Sherman was displeased with the way Michael Berman redrew his district, and he was reportedly overheard saying, “Howard Berman stabbed me in the back.”

If the goal of the 2001 lines was to protect incumbents from both parties across the state, it worked. In the last decade, just one of California’s 53 congressional seats changed party hands.

In the San Fernando Valley, in particular, the lines created two districts that don’t appear adjacent so much as interlocking. The one that includes Sherman’s home meanders around the district in which Howard Berman lives. Critics said the district lines unfairly diluted the impact of Latino voters by dividing them between two districts, in both of which they were a minority.

A Latino civil rights group challenged the lines in 2002, but was unsuccessful.

What has changed now — along with the continued growth of the Latino population in the Valley and across the state — is the way redistricting in California is done. In 2008, voters passed Proposition 11, and then, in 2010, passed Proposition 20 and rejected Proposition 27, giving the power to draw California’s Congressional, State Assembly, Senate and Board of Equalization district lines to a 14-member commission. The newly named commissioners — required to include five Democrats, five Republicans and four affiliated with neither major party — were told to draw lines without considering where incumbents live or what the previously drawn districts look like.

And so, at the beginning of 2011, and with increased intensity in the past two-and-a-half months, that commission has been working to draw lines dividing California into new political districts. They are guided by data from the 2010 U.S. Census, and are considering oral and written testimonies from citizens, as well as from organizations representing ethnic groups, special interests and certain regions.

On July 9, the commission announced it would not be voting on a second draft of maps; that same day, the panel also distributed working draft maps of the congressional districts in and around Los Angeles. Though the exact boundaries had changed from the first draft, issued on June 10, the two most important political and demographic facts about the new San Fernando Valley Congressional districts did not: Most of the voters in the Valley’s western district are white, and most of the voters in the eastern district are Latino.

Berman and Sherman both spoke with The Journal last week, and while each acknowledged that the lines being discussed remain provisional, each one reiterated his preference to run in the West San Fernando Valley district, where each believes he has a better chance of being re-elected.

“I do hope to run where half the voters, at least, are familiar with my work as their Congressman,” Sherman said, referring to the proposed West San Fernando Valley district.

Sherman estimates that 60 percent of his current constituents live within the boundaries of the new proposed district, and guesses an additional 30 percent of those who live there were in the somewhat different district he represented in the 1990s.

Berman was similarly unequivocal about his desire to run in the West Valley. “I clearly intend to run for reelection,” he said, putting to rest any rumors that he might consider retiring. “I’m going to wait until the district lines are set before I make any kind of announcement or start asking people to sign up with me.”

And, Berman said he believes “a significant amount” of the voters in the proposed western district have been his constituents in the past. He therefore expressed a strong preference for running there.

Both the eastern and western San Fernando Valley districts are considered reliably Democratic, and many analysts believe that Democrats could pick up additional Congressional seats in California as a result of redistricting. Still, party leaders are looking for ways to protect incumbents, especially ones with experience and seniority.

“Frankly, I think it would be a tremendous loss for the Los Angeles community, not to mention the Jewish community, to lose either of these guys,” Eric Bauman, chair of the Los Angeles Democratic Party and vice chair of the California Democratic Party, said.

One need only look at the number of California Republicans currently chairing committees in the House to see how much seniority the state’s Congressional representatives have accumulated. Buck McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) chairs Armed Services, Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) is chair of Administration, Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) is head of Oversight and Government Reform, and David Dreier (R-San Dimas) chairs the Rules Committee. Within committees and subcommittees, it is the chair who often gets to decide which bills get priority and which ones don’t.

This gives the more senior representatives a great deal of power, and that is why there’s so much concern about the possibility of losing experienced Democratic lawmakers like Berman and Sherman.

Story continues after the jump.

Waxman, the ranking Democrat (and former chairman) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that he, like many incumbents, opposed the effort to create the new redistricting commission, in part because of what it would mean for California’s representation in Washington.

“I think we ought to have redistricting commissions,” Waxman said, “but it ought to be in every state. For California to be unique in the country, where redistricting is done without regard to continuity of representation … in a Congress where seniority matters so greatly in terms of power, it seems to me to put California at a disadvantage.”

In 2010, many of Waxman’s Democratic colleagues joined with labor unions and big political donors in financially supporting Proposition 27, which would have abolished California’s commission. But voters rejected that measure, and now the commission has drawn lines that pave the way for a Berman-Sherman matchup.

Many Israel supporters are hoping that won’t happen.

“The lines are not final, and I think that people are hoping that this problem will go away,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project. “I hope that in August, when the final lines are announced, these lines are changed.”

Mizrahi has given money to Sherman’s campaigns and calls him “one of my best friends.” But, as the head of a nonprofit, she tried to “steer clear of politics.”

The Siege of Sacramento’s Castle Incumbent

California Jewish Voters Guide: Views on state and local issues split on party lines

The presidential race is garnering most of the headlines, but there’s plenty of emotional energy — and money — left to lavish on the 12 statewide propositions on the California ballot, plus various city and county initiatives.

As in the top of the ballot contest between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, the Jewish community is sharply split between the Democratic/liberal majority and the Republican/conservative minority.

For views on the left side, The Journal checked out the recommendations of the statewide Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA), with comments by its president, Douglas Mirell.

On the right side, the Republican Jewish Coalition of California is not taking an official stand on the propositions, with a single, notable exception, but the organization’s founder, Bruce Bialosky, filled in the gap. Bialosky made clear that he was speaking for himself but indicated that most Jewish Republicans of his acquaintance share his preferences.

Five of the propositions would obligate the state to issue new bonds or borrow money, largely for health, transportation and environmental projects, and here the philosophical differences between the two sides emerge clearly. PJA supports three of the five measures, while Bialosky opposes them all.

“There may be many worthy projects, but I’m voting against every measure that requires new bonds or raises taxes,” Bialosky said. “Like any family, the state has to live within its means. If any problem is really so pressing, it should be funded through the regular budget.”

Six of the seven remaining propositions are linked to social attitudes toward family values, the environment and the criminal justice system, and again they show distinct ideological differences.

Even when both sides agree in their vote on the same measure, they come to their conclusions from different perspectives.

California Statewide

Proposition 1A — Authorizes $9.95 billion in state bonds to help fund a bullet train between Orange County and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Progressive Jewish Alliance: Yes.
The high-speed rail system will assure that our state can meet the challenges of future growth. Mirell expressed concern about increasing state indebtedness, but in this case, as for Propositions 3 and 12, the benefits trumped his reservations.
Bruce Bialosky: No.
California cannot afford any new bonds. Other opponents say that the money would be better spent upgrading existing rail and highway systems or to fund more urgent needs.

Proposition 2 — Bars tight confinement of egg-laying hens and other farm animals as of 2015.
PJA: Yes.
Healthier for human consumers and shows respect for all forms of life.
BB: No.
Generally opposes unnecessary state interference. Other critics say that passage would give out-of-state egg exporters an advantage over California farmers.

Proposition 3 — Authorizes $980 million in bonds to upgrade and expand 13 University of California and nonprofit children’s hospitals.
PJA: Yes.
Critical for ensuring adequate future care for children, regardless of family’s ability to pay.
BB: No.
State cannot afford new bonds and, in any case, should not finance large projects through the initiative process.

Proposition 4 — Requires waiting period and doctor’s notification to parents before terminating a minor’s pregnancy through abortion.
PJA: No.
Would endanger teenagers’ health by limiting access to safe, legal health care.
BB: Yes.
While many of us are pro-choice, we believe that parents have a right to know if their minor daughters are seeking abortions, Bialosky said.
(For a more extensive discussion, see “Abortion Notification Measure Draws Opposition” in The Journal’s Oct. 24 issue.)

Proposition 5 — Allocates $460 million a year in state funds for the treatment of those convicted of nonviolent, drug-related crimes as an alternative to incarceration.
PJA: Yes.
“We support policies that focus on treatment and education, rather than punishment, as part of our commitment to teshuvah (repentance).”
BB: No.
Critics argue that Proposition 5 would decriminalize drugs and cost taxpayers too much.

Proposition 6 — Increases state funding for criminal justice programs by $365 million to $965 million, boosts penalties for gang activities and extends satellite tracking of sex offenders.
PJA: No.
Money would go mainly to law enforcement agencies and too little for treatment, education and rehabilitation programs.
BB: No.
Requires more state spending with little accountability.

Proposition 7 — Requires public and private utilities to increase the proportion of their electricity derived from renewable sources by certain dates.
PJA: No.
Sounds good but would actually retard the growth of solar and other forms of renewable energies.
BB: No.
Would be unworkable.

Proposition 8 — Amends the state Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman and thus bar same-sex marriages.
This hot-button issue has drawn national attention and donations, with the two sides raising a total of more than $60 million, a record for any ballot measure in the United States this year.
PJA: No.
Defeat of this initiative is PJA’s top priority, because “it would further institutionalize discrimination…. As a people of faith, we are obligated to oppose bigotry and hatred.”
BB: Yes.
This is a particularly hard call, with Jewish Republicans lining up on both sides of the issue, Bialosky said. “It’s horribly unfair to label supporters as bigoted and anti-gay.”

Proposition 9 — Enhances the rights of crime victims and restricts early release of prison inmates.
PJA: No.
Violates the rights of criminal defendants, “including the centrality of the assumption of innocence. Victims’ rights are already protected by California law.”
BB: Yes.

Proposition 10 — Borrows $5 billion, mainly to give rebates to buyers of vehicles fueled by natural gas, hydrogen and other alternative fuels.
PJA: No.
Unnecessary expenditure, which would duplicate government and private efforts already underway.
BB: No.
Digs an even deeper deficit hole.

Proposition 11 — Strips Legislature of decennial task of redrawing districts for elective state offices and gives the job to a bipartisan 14-member commission. Most analysts believe that passage of Proposition 11 would raise the number of Republicans elected to the state Senate and Assembly and lower the number of Democrats.
PJA: Neutral.
Committee members split on this issue and made no official recommendation. However, Mirell, speaking for himself, urged a no vote. He argued that the measure would not prevent the regular legislative gridlock in Sacramento. “The root of the problem lies in term limits for legislators and the requirement for a two-thirds majority to pass the budget,” he said.
Republican Jewish Coalition: Yes.
In a rare exception to its policy of no endorsement, the coalition is backing Proposition 11.
For Bialosky, this measure is the most important one on the ballot and would unclog the logjam in Sacramento. “I’m not saying this for partisan advantage,” he declared. “I believe every state in the union should adopt the same system, regardless of which party is in power.”

Proposition 12 — Issue $900 million in bonds for low-cost loans to California veterans to buy homes or farms.
PJA: Yes.
Veterans would benefit and mortgage payments would cover bond costs.
BB: No.
Reaffirms his opposition to all bond measures or tax increases.
In addition to the statewide propositions, what follows are positions on selected county, municipal and school issues.
PJA did not take a stand on these local measures, but Mirell said he supports all — with two exceptions — on the grounds that they are needed to upgrade our quality of life, education and transportation.
Without exception, Bialosky opposes all but one, reasoning that they cost too much money, are not needed or represent unwarranted government intrusion.

No on Prop. 8 Video: Following the landmark California Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex couples to legally marry, members of Beth Chayim Chadashim, the world’s original lesbian & gay synagogue, took them up on it… in droves. Rabbi Lisa Edwards of BCC officiated at most of these ceremonies, an approximate total of 42 couples between June 17 and Election Day. The song is Since Youve Asked, written by Judy Collins, sung by Dan Fogelberg.

City of Los Angeles

Proposition A — Adds $36 in taxes annually for each property for after-school and anti-gang programs.

Proposition B — Permits city to use money from previously passed propositions to authorize the construction of 52,500 new affordable housing units, many of them for the elderly.

Los Angeles County

Measure R — Increases the sales tax by 0.5 percent to 8.75 percent to raise $30 billion to $40 billion for road improvements and mass transit.

Los Angeles Community College District

J — Authorizes $35 billion in bonds to upgrade facilities and expand educational programs.

Los Angeles Unified School District

Q — Authorizes $7 billion in bonds to upgrade facilities, including earthquake safety, and improve job and college preparation.
PJA’s Mirell, who endorses all the preceding measures, said he was undecided on Q because the school district had not made a complete case on how the money would be used.

Beverly Hills

Measure H — Allows the Beverly Hilton Hotel and its owner, Beny Alagem, to build a 12-story Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and two luxury condo towers at its Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards site.
The measure has agitated residents for months, with Alagem wining and dining the citizenry amid charges of voter-buying.
Proponents say the ambitious construction projects would revitalize Beverly Hills and bring more money into the city’s coffers. Opponents, among them bona fide celebrities, foresee traffic jams on an apocalyptic scale.
Although neither are Beverly Hills residents, Bialosky and Mirell have followed the struggle with some interest.
Bialosky supports H on the grounds that a man has a right to build what he wants on his own property.
Mirell said he doesn’t have enough facts for a fair call, but he sees some virtue in high-density development along the city’s main travel routes to encourage construction of a rational transportation system.

Santa Monica
Measure T — Would cap commercial development in the city at about half the current level. Mirell is for the measure and Bialosky against it.

A Map Is a Mirror

No one said redistricting is fun. But this once-a-decade political ritual does provide a mirror to how much leverage a community has, or lacks.

In the case of the proposed map for the Los Angeles City Council, this time the mirror says what many in our community are still reluctant to admit: That Jewish action has shifted to the San Fernando Valley.

We should have caught on long ago, but “city Jew” is still one of the great myths that dies hard. In 1992, the Westside seat then represented by Congressman Mel Levine merged with Long Beach, for a loss of one of three Jewish seats in the House of Representatives.

Perhaps now, with the potential loss of one of three Westside seats in City Hall and the creation of a new seat in the central/eastern Valley, it is finally time to take seriously the dominance of Jewish life over the hill.

It’s not that Jews are declining on the Westside — Jews still represent 10 percent of total city population, as well as 30 percent of the registered voters citywide. But the latest census is historic for declaring that the Westward expansion, which began in 1918 when Jews first left Boyle Heights to start Mishkon Tephilo on Main Street in Venice, has been outpaced by the northwest drift.

In a city of explosive ethnic growth, and competing geographic interests, not growing isn’t good enough. Gone forever are the days when Jewish representatives occupied seven of 15 council seats.

That’s why the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission merged Districts 6 and 11, now represented by, respectively, Ruth Galanter and Cindy Miscikowski.

And, of course, it hurts. Every redistricting session is a shark fight, a search for meat. This time, sadly, it looks like Galanter, who was on the wrong side of the battle in which Alex Padilla became council president, is vulnerable.

(Her loss is not a foregone conclusion. She’s fighting the peculiarities of redistricting, by which Galanter serves out her remaining year by representing the new Valley district, people who did not vote for her.)

But Galanter aside, the Westside and the Valley must come to terms with changing Los Angeles realities. Any new Valley city would be predominantly both Jewish and Latino. These two groups are the lynchpin of secession: they will provide the “yes” or “no” upon which the new city will rise or fall.

In the new Los Angeles map, Latinos will comprise fully 47 percent of the registered voters in five districts, all in the Valley or the East side.

The Jewish population in the Valley is the future — it has grown 25 percent over two decades.

The new as yet unnumbered district “B,” includes Encino, Valley Glen, North Hollywood and all non-Latinos east to Tujunga. The creation of this new Valley seat silenced even those on the Westside who most wanted to cry foul.

In conversations with Westside activists this week, I heard a reluctance to accuse the commission of ethnic bad faith: one and all are coming to terms with demographic reality, much as it hurts.

The character of this new “Jewish district” is unclear. It went sizably for Jimmy Hahn for mayor, but so did much of the Jewish vote. And it voted for Mike Feuer for city attorney (against the winner, Rocky Delgadillo) in almost the same majority as did voters in the combined District 11-6.

I don’t necessarily recommend reading the proposed map instead of watching reruns of “The Sopranos,” but there is a certain symmetry to the way the commission accomplished its task.

Raphael Sonenschein, an expert in Los Angeles black-Jewish relations, headed the city charter commission the set the tone for the remapping process. He tells me that the charter added the requirement that wherever possible neighborhood boundaries must be respected.

“That’s the biggest change,” he said. “Place and race matter.”

“Place and race” means that most districts are either in the city or the Valley, no longer the long strips that crossing Mulholland that made the Valley feel ignored. As a result, the new map mirrors the current Jewish political reality: that the Jewish community is now a collection of communities. We live in neighborhoods and feel connected to each other.

Ron Turovsky represented Councilmember Jack Weiss on the redistricting panel.

“Time and again we heard Jewish representatives talk about the importance of the community staying together,” Turovsky told me.

As a result, District 5 has what might be called an enhanced Jewish presence, with the addition of Carthay Circle as well as Westwood, Pico-Robertson and Beverlywood.

In the newly merged 11-6, Galanter’s Venice Jewish community once made me think of New York’s Greenwich Village, with its left-radical leanings. Today, it seems an even fit with Miscikowski’s District 11, the silk-stocking elite.

Time changes many things.

The Redistricting Commission holds public hearings this
Monday Feb. 11 in Woodland Hills and Wednesday in West Los Angeles. For
information visit www.lacitydistricts.org; call the
hotline: (213) 473-4595; or e-mail: redistricting@laccrc.lacity.org .