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Eastside Politics

The race for LA's 14th Council District is better than any primetime novela

By El Chavo
Published on LatinoLA: November 27, 2002


Eastside Politics


Guess who?s back... back again... Chavo?s back... tell a friend!

?Orale raza, it?s not a joke!

Unfortunately, I thought that I was going to have the luxury of a calm and peaceful winter, but I guess the pendejadas continue in the political realm of the Eastside, and I just needed to express my views and opinions on what?s going on. I?m pretty sure that my good ol? friend Councilmember Nick Pacheco is going to write another letter to LatinoLA.com after he reads what I have to say, but I hope that the rest of you do, too, because that?s the only way that we can ensure that this novela has a happy ending.

Please note: The opinions expressed below are solely mine, and don?t necessarily represent the views and opinions of the staff and crew at LatinoLA.com.

For those of you who have been in Afghanistan this last month and don?t have any idea what is going on in local politics, here?s the ?Cliff Notes? version of what?s going on in the ?hood:

Councilmember Nick Pacheco knew that his re-election campaign was not going to be as easy as he wanted it to be when Antonio Villaraigosa declared to run against him in the March 2003 election. In typical Pacheco fashion, Villaraigosa?s announcement of his candidacy didn?t go without some controversy, as some of Nick?s supporters, along with one of his campaign workers, Brissa Sotelo, showed up to instigate some drama to get the media?s attention.

What nobody knew was that Villaraigosa would not even have enough time to eat his burrito for lunch before the first major scandal of the election took place. Ricardo Torres, a lawyer who is a close friend of Nick Pacheco, sent out a derogatory mailer out attacking Villaraigosa, claiming that Villaraigosa ignored the Latino community in the mayoral race and listened to his ?white advisors?. Not soon after, Torres sank to a greater low by sending out another mailer attacking Villaraigosa?s private life and even including his Villaraigosa's oldest daughter in the attacks. As usual in any political scandal, where Pacheco?s name is around, the Councilmember denied all knowledge of the mailers.

These mailers have created major waves throughout the city, to the point where Sheriff Lee Baca pulled his endorsement from Councilmember Nick Pacheco. Sheriff Baca stated in a letter that he sent to the Councilmember that he refused to be connected to any campaign that was involved in such campaign tactics and ordered his campaign stop sending out any literature with his name or photo in it. L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who was also attacked in the mailer, and State Senator Richard Alarcon came out and endorsed Villaraigosa?s candidacy. Even The Los Angeles Times and La Opinion got involved, writing editorials condemning the mailers. The Los Angeles Times went as far as to say the following about Nick Pacheco: ?Pacheco denies having anything to do with the mailers. Either he?s lying or he has pathetically little sway over his friends and supporters.?

Pacheco?s tone of voice in regards to the mailer changed dramatically within days. At first, he denied involvement in the mailers and even said that Villaraigosa would have a hard time challenging the mailers because all the content was true, throwing a small jab at Villaraigosa. Then within a few days, he outright came out and criticized Torres for sending out those mailers. If you ask me, his tone changed once it became apparent that the mailers had backfired and now were damaging his campaign.

So now that you are all caught up on the political scandals that are going through our neighborhood as viciously as the paleteros on a summer afternoon, here?s my perspective on it all:

First off, this came to no surprise to myself, and it shouldn?t come to anybody else?s surprise that this type of campaign treachery was going on from those in Nick Pacheco?s inner circle.

Let?s not forget that not that long ago, Pacheco?s old non-profit Cal Inc (which he shut down after allegations of Pacheco harassing prospective donors at City Hall on its behalf) was implemented in what is considered one of the dirtiest campaign moves in the history of Los Angeles: a group called La Collectiva, sent out an automated call to thousands of LA voters with the voice of a lady impersonating Gloria Molina, using equipment that was owned by Cal Inc (here?s the Pacheco tie).

An investigation done by District Attorney Steve Cooley showed that no laws were broken in the scandal, but did make a connection between Pacheco and his staffer, Lloyd Monserratt, who was promoted to Chief of Staff soon after the scandal. OK gente, where I come from, that isn?t a promotion, it?s called a reward. Pacheco comes out and says that he?s disappointed in the way that Monserratt handled his knowledge of the phone calls and then turns around and promotes him??? In my opinion, I believe that Pacheco was involved in one form or another in those calls and rewarded Monserratt for being a loyal staffer and not dropping the dime on his boss.

Also, in last Spring?s elections, people from the same camp were involved in the desperate tactics conducted by the Pedro Carrillo campaign against Fabian Nu?ez, again using the same tactics of attacking his personal life. Just to let you all know, that scandal ended on a happy note: Fabian Nu?ez won the Democractic primary overwhelmingly and just recently became Assemblymember-Elect for the 46th Assembly District, replacing State Senator-Elect Gil Cedillo.

As far as Pacheco?s comments that he had nothing to do with this, let?s get one thing clear: these mailers were not prepared in one night.

These mailers had to be created with many man hours of investigating, cheesy graphic design time into the layout, and time to create the mailing list database of recipients who got the mailer at home. An operation of this scale doesn?t happen without the main campaign team not knowing anything about it. At the very least, I think Torres told Pacheco that he was going to do something along these lines and Pacheco asked him to go ahead with it but didn?t want to know any details about it, in order to be able to truthfully say that he had nothing to do with it or had any previous knowledge of it, although my gut tells me that Pacheco or his henchmen probably helped choose the photos used in the mailers.

Next, I want to talk about Congressman Xavier Becerra?s ?Boy Scout? routine. It got old quickly, and from what I heard, nobody at last week?s Northeast Democratic Club (NDC) meeting liked it either. For those of you who don?t know, the NDC decided not to endorse Becerra in his re-election campaign this last November election. He decided to attend this month?s meeting because he wanted to hear from everybody why they didn?t endorse him. What he got was surely not what he expected.

He was criticized for how his mayoral campaign paid for dozens of La Collectiva youth to join their club a month before their endorsement meeting on the Mayoral Race in order to get the endorsement for Becerra instead of Villaraigosa. With careful planning and organizing from dedicated members, they organized enough real members to block the endorsement, even though a member from Becerra campaign tried to change the election rules in order to dismiss some votes that were cast in favor of ?no endorsement?, in order to make sure that Becerra?s supporters passed the minimum percentage to get the endorsement. He was also criticized about his support for Pacheco and for the campaign tactics that have been conducted in the past by his longtime friend and advisor, Henry Lozano. To say the least, as soon as his time was over, he got out of the meeting quickly. Becerra told the crowd that he didn?t believe that they were the type of people to hold grudges. Well, I guess for that to happen, you have to give the people a reason why not to hold a grudge.

At the NDC meeting, Becerra said that it was not fair that he was being connected to the desperate moves done by those supporting Pacheco?s campaign, using the term ?guilty by association?. Well, it?s something that is hard to ignore when the scandals that keep occurring have the same players involved in one capacity or another. In the mayoral race, it was a bullshit call done by a group (who rumor has it that their lawyer is or was Ricardo Torres), who was under contract to do work for Becerra?s campaign, using equipment owned by a non-profit that was run by Nick Pacheco, to make those calls. Now, there seems to be similar ties in this latest scandal. Remember Becerra, if you don?t want to be found ?guilty by association? anymore, you need to stop ?associating? with those who get involved in such incidents.

OK, before I go, I just wanted to say that this week, Gloria Molina and Xavier Becerra had a press conference condemning the political mailers and asked that all candidates conduct clean campaigns. I think that Molina should not have done the press conference with Becerra. Becerra has the greater need to come out and condemn the mailers, because he is the one that many see being ?guilty by association?. Having Molina by his side gave some credibility to his statement, but in my eyes, she could have sent the same message across with more meaning had she done it with other elected officials, whether they are Latino or not. I know that Molina took the high road on this one, but you, Becerra -- in my eyes -- seem like somebody who needs to be politically run over on the high road.

Well, that is enough for now, but if these last few weeks have served as a sneak peek into the next few months before the campaign, you can count on hearing from me on a regular basis. Take care, gente, and I?ll catch you around the block!

Con Cari?o,
El Chavo





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