In recently leaked audio, three LA City Council members made racist remarks when discussing how to gerrymander District 4, which includes the southern San Fernando Valley and eastern Santa Monica Mountains, and is represented by Nithya Raman. The progressive policymaker is now trying to navigate a way forward for herself and her constituents.
The leaked tape features now-former Council President Nury Martinez saying, “It serves us to not give her all of K-Town because if you do, that solidifies her renters’ district, and that is not a good thing for any of us. You have to keep her on the fence.”
Raman tells KCRW, “I think what [Martinez] was saying at that moment was that if I were to get a district, which had even more renters in it, that my chances for reelection would be strengthened because my policymaking has tried to ensure that tenants are able to access their rights.”
Raman has put forth a charter amendment — to be voted on by LA residents — that calls for an independent redistricting commission. It would strip the council of its current districting powers. The aim: hamper corruption. She has also called for an ad hoc committee to focus on reforms beyond that.
“How do we make sure that we create rules that limit the opportunities for corruption and for self-interested political manipulation?” Raman asks. “I think that that kind of focus is what will move us along in this process. And I think, right now because of the crisis that we're in, I feel like there's more support for that than there has been, and I'm excited to hopefully move it forward.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta weighed in on the scandal today as well, announcing an investigation into the council’s redistricting process that recently reshaped Raman’s district. She welcomes any move to reform the process, whether from within the City Council or from the state. “I think the most important thing to be doing in this moment is to be reforming the process.”