Jim Smith

Reapportionment Makes Pols Play Musical Chairs: Good Bye Janice, Hello Henry

By Jim Smith

One month and three days after she won our Congressional seat, Janice Hahn announced she was bailing out.

The reason was simple. Hahn’s base in the San Pedro area had been cut out of the 36th district (now, the 33rd) by the California Citizens’ Redistricting Commission. The Commission was approved by voters in 2008 with the intent of taking the every-decade redistricting away from the state legislature.

The maps issued by the Commission may appear, at first glance, to be as screwy as those created by the legislature in previous decades. One big difference is that the Commission has shown little regard for incumbents. In Hahn’s case, she will have to defeat another incumbent, and fellow Democrat, Laura Richardson, if she is to stay in Congress.

The maps also show little regard for community integrity. In Venice’s case, some of our neighborhoods have been sliced away. While most of Venice will be in the 33rd Congressional, that area south of Palms and east of Penmar, as well as everything east of Lincoln and south of Venice Blvd. will be in the 37th District. Neither the state Senate nor Assembly cut through Venice, according to information released thus far.

The state Senate district will remain the 26th, although it will withdraw from Long Beach and adjacent communities, and instead head up the road to Santa Monica, the Canyons, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood. Definitely an upscale district.

The new Congressional district, the 33rd, takes in much of the same territory as the state Senate district. It runs along the coast from Malibu to Palos Verdes (home of the runner-up in the special election for Congress, Teabagger Craig Huey). It also takes in much of Beverly Hills. But it deftly skirts LAX, leaving the airport for another district. What sort of political deal was made to do that?

In contrast, it looks as if a different committee drew the lines of the new 62nd Assembly district. Instead of hugging the coast line as do the other districts, it goes south from Venice to El Segundo and east nearly to the Harbor Freeway. It also dips down to include Lawndale, another downscale community.

The incumbent Member of Congress in the 33rd, Henry Waxman, has announced that he will run in the new district. Even though he is new to much of the district, his fund raising skills will make him the candidate to beat. He has never received less than 63 percent of the vote.

Waxman, who will be 72 next year, has been in Congress since 1975, representing Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and parts of the Valley. He is known outside his district for stopping the Red Car “subway to the sea” for 21 years due to safety concerns about Methane explosions (see “The Solid Gold Subway,” Oct. 2010 Beachhead, http://bit.ly/dxlNuT).

The new districts are no problem for two incumbents: Assemblymember Betsy Butler and state Senator Ted Lieu. Both live in their new districts, Butler in the Marina and Lieu in the foothills of Palos Verdes.

What does all this mean for Venice? We are now sandwiched in between two of the richest areas of Southern California, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, the Canyons and Beverly Hills on the north and the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the south. Lil’ Venice will have scant influence in this political system where money talks.

The Assembly district may well be an improvement for our influence in the state house. It’ll be just the reverse of the other two districts. In the Assembly, Venice and the Marina will be the “wealthy” parts of the district.