Last week, Luis Garcia told anyone who would listen (L.A. Times and Spanish-language television station KWHY-22) how he felt he was targeted for launching a campaign website for a city council seat in the 1.2 square mile City of Cudahy.
But it all smells of a publicity stunt of his own making. In fact, when looking into the story, NBC broke the news that investigators are looking into the possibility that this was a publicity stunt.
Once you see what Garcia claims and the evidence of his own cameras, it's hard not to believe otherwise.
First, it's inconceivable to think that anyone would know that he launched a website announcing his candidacy: There were not advertisements, press releases or news conferences. So how would anyone know?
Second, Garcia claims that a Molotov cocktail hit his car and house because "someone" does not want him to run. Again, how could anyone know he was running since it was not announced?
The matter has been turned over to the L.A. County Fire Department's Arson Investigation unit. NBC News announced that the Arson division found fingerprints on the Molotov cocktail so there could be a suspect coming soon. NBC broke the news that investigators are looking into the possibility that this was a publicity stunt.
Garcia's "proof" of the vandalism are videos on his website that actually raise the serious question of whether he coordinated the event himself ‘«Ű especially in light of his story to the police.
The videos are now available on Southeast Cities Corruption Cleanup blog so the media can see for themselves. Not only are the vandals' faces not visible in the video; it seems obvious that they are trying to hide from the cameras. So how did they know where the cameras were?
Interestingly, the police were given/shown only the 57-second video at the time of their report rather than the one with an angle showing Garcia arriving at his house in a white van. There are three available on Utube thanks to Garcia and Cota's self-promotion.
Here's a quick rundown of discrepancies between Garcia's story as quoted by the police and what is in his videos:
Garcia's Version Given To The Police:
The police quote Garcia as saying that he was in his house sleeping at the time of the incident and that he was awakened by a neighbor yelling. Garcia told police he did not know the neighbor, where he lives, and could not describe anything about him, even his age range, clothing or where he thought the neighbor lives. Garcia told the police that the neighbor disappeared right after the incident. (Kudos to KNBC for finding that out.)
What The 2nd and 3rd Videos Show:
Garcia's own videos clearly show Garcia lied to the police about his whereabouts when the incident took place. Rather than being in his house, he and another person (who might be Daniel Cota, who is also running for council for the second consecutive year) ‘«Ű are seen pulling up to the scene of the incident in a white van just moments after the vandalism occurred. He and the other person are seen running from the van to the house and then attending to the fire. Then the van drives away. So who was driving the van? Also, the mystery neighbor never appears in the video.
Yet Another Garcia Version:
Although Garcia told police he was sleeping, he told the L.A. Times that he was watching television when he heard breaking glass, looked outside and saw his Dodge Dakota "engulfed" in flames. Garcia's own video clearly proves that Garcia was not in the house and that the car was not engulfed in flames. The car is shown on the LA Times blog with damage only to the front corner of the car.
A closer look at Garcia indicates he worked at Cudahy City Hall and resigned under circumstances that cannot be accessed because of employment privacy laws.
In 2007, while Garcia was running for council the first time, Garcia's former supervisor had to take out a restraining order because Garcia allegedly vandalized the car of his former supervisor. The restraining order was granted against Garcia and the judge admonished Garcia for his behavior.
What kind of vandalism was it? Splattering paint on a car. This may very well be the Modus Operandi of Luis Garcia. As one can note from his website, Garcia has filed numerous police reports that his car(s) were vandalized with paint.
The ironic ineptitude of these publicity seekers is most obvious on the vandalism to Cota's car, pictured on the pair's website, which was vandalized by someone pouring red paint on it. It looks distinctly like the red paint used by cities to paint fire curbs red. Plus, it is acrylic paint ‘«Ű which makes it more likely that it is indeed the same kind used to paint fire curbs red.
How do we know this? Garcia told the police that he recognized the paint as being that kind of paint because ‘«™ it's the kind of paint Garcia had access to as a Cudahy maintenance worker and as a City Long Beach maintenance worker. So the public is supposed to believe it is coincidence that the person with access to the special fire-curb paint had nothing to do with the paint on his own car and Cota's car? Especially when this person has been documented vandalizing the car of his former supervisor at city hall?
Let's hope the media, and the residents of Cudahy, don't fall for any more his publicity stunts. There are enough problems with real crime without these two candidates for Stella Awards.