One of the biggest fights in California politics is taking place in Los Angeles, where Latino politicians, labor officials and civil rights attorneys are pushing for a second Latino-dominated seat on the five-member Los Angles County Board of Supervisors.
The push is coming during the every-ten-year redistricting of the county into five supervisorial districts.
Why is it so hard to get a second Latino seat, despite the fact that Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the county?
The usual answers to that question are the geography of the county, the relatively low turnout of Latino voters, or the opposition of other ethnic and interest groups.
But those answers are bunk.
The core problem in Los Angeles is not the lack of Latino districts. It's the lack of districts. Period.
Think about it. LA is a county of more than 10 million people -- the most populous county in the United States. But it has only five supervisors -- each representing more than 2 million.
Which isn't much better than no representation at all. Members of Congress represent fewer than half as many people. State assemblymen represent less than one quarter as many -- and California has by far the most populous assembly districts in the country.
So here's my foolproof plan for securing more Latino districts. Add more supervisorial districts.
If the county went to nine, there would be three Latino districts easily -- one more than the holy grail of 2 now being sought.
Even better would be to move to 20 districts, or 40. With 40 supervisors, each would represent 250,000 people -- still too many, but about what a Los Angeles city councilman represents.
Of course, supporters of the status quo would note that supervisors are both the legislative and the executive branch for the county -- so 40 would make managing the county too difficult.
But the mix of legislative and executive functions is another problem -- it may even be unconstitutional, as the blog L.A. Citizens for Constitutional Rights argues.