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'I feel your wrath,' Perry tells Wesson amid redistricting debate

March 16, 2012 |  3:34 pm

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry at the meeting in 2010. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

The strained relations between Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilwoman Jan Perry moved center stage Friday during the contentious fight over 15 newly drawn council districts, with Perry apologizing publicly to Wesson in hopes of preserving her district.

After about three hours of testimony, Perry gave a highly unusual speech in which she told Wesson she wished she could “turn the clock back” to the day she met with him privately to discuss his run for the presidency. “Had I known then what I know now, I would have kept my mouth shut so that my district would not be sacrificed,” she said.

Perry has been fighting a plan that would remove much of downtown from her South Los Angeles district. She contends that the plan would harm large numbers of working class black and Latino families in the southern half of her district.

Perry did not show up on the day of the presidency vote. Neither did Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who is seeing USC and a handful of neighborhoods removed from his district.

“Here we are at the end of this process, and for me, I feel your wrath. I feel your power,” Perry told Wesson. “I’m the only woman on the City Council now, one woman out of 14 men. This is a lesson in the wise use of power.”

“I want to tell you publicly, Mr. President, I regret not voting for you,” she added. “And I am sorry. As a woman, I’m completely comfortable saying that. Because I’m fighting for something bigger than the both of us.”

Wesson did not respond to Perry’s remarks about him. Neither did Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district is picking up the sections of downtown that Perry lost. Instead, Huizar said changes in population required that his district, which stretches from Eagle Rock to Boyle Heights, take in more residents. That district had limited choices for growth, since it is bordered by Pasadena, South Pasadena and Glendale, he said.

Huizar said he already represents 40% of downtown and has been doing a lot to improve the area, by sprucing up the Broadway corridor and pushing for a new streetcar. He said many members of the public wanted to keep downtown in a single district -– and it was a choice between Perry and him.

“We want to applaud the [redistricting] commission for keeping downtown whole. It is a community of interest,” he said.


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Photo: Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry at a 2010 meeting. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times