What Smells is Not Biodegradable

Shit is shit by any name

By Rodolfo F. Acu??a
Published on LatinoLA: February 25, 2003

What Smells is Not Biodegradable

At my age, I should be able to open the newspaper and enjoy reading about the strides made by Chicano politicos. However, perhaps because of term limits and the inability of being able to mature on the job and learn the craft of politics, there may be very little growth or for that matter a vision of where the community is going.

Instead of relishing in the collective accomplishments of Latinos, I find myself searching for an appropriate saying to sum it all up. This is especially true of the current Los Angeles 14th Councilmanic race where former assembly speaker Antonio Villaraigosa is challenging Los Angeles City Councilman Nick Pacheco.

I find myself searching for an appropriate saying to sum it all up, think: "If shit happens, it isn't really shit." Shit is biodegradable or "All they did was step this shit to another level."

I am too old to condone the popular saying that "Shit Happens" because no matter how we rationalize, it smells like shit.

I was offended by the mailer sent out by attorney Ricardo Torres in November 2002 that accused Villaraigosa of womanizing and turning his back on Latinos. The flier was stupid and I voiced my disapproval to the Pacheco camp. No matter that Pacheco distanced himself from the flier, the fact that shit happened made the entire community come up smelling like it.

Then comes this attack by Villaraigosa's camp on, not only Pacheco, but Juana Gutierrez of Mothers of East Los Angeles/St. Isabel, who is a member of Mothers for Nick Pacheco. The charge is that Pacheco gave $36,500, in addition to $30,000 in recent years, to Madres del Este de Los Angeles-Santa Isabel, an Eastside nonprofit organization headed by Juana, and that the Madres was spending $36,085 to campaign independently for Pacheco.

Juana is one of the few organic leaders in the community, who has volunteered for years for organizations such as Neighborhood Watch, the United Neighborhood Organizations, and the campaigns against the prison in East LA and the drilling of a gas pipeline under her community of Boyle Heights.

There are a lot of politicos -- ranging from Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, Supervisor Gloria Molina, State Senator Gloria Romero, Pacheco and even Villaraigosa who owe her a debt of gratitude.

I myself owe Juana a deep sense of gratitude. During my successful case against the University of California system, Juana personally made 2,000 tamales so we could raise funds for the case. She was one of the few Latino activists consistently fighting to improve the environment.

I am disappointed that many of her politicos friends have not publicly expressed their indignation. They know Juana. I am more indignant of the Los Angeles Times editorial "Perfectly Forgetful Pacheco" of February 23, 2003 because it dealt on assumptions rather than facts.

Juana aside, the Times used its very influential political authority to condemn
alleged grants of $66,000 to Las Madres by Pacheco. Given the fact that the grant was used for community needs almost makes this hypocritical, given the fact that there is literally thousands of such scenarios in the City of Los Angeles involving much higher stakes.

Take, for example, the real estate deals involving the City made by downtown Los Angeles law firms who then contributed to LA City incumbent campaign funds. Or
politicos whose family members have benefitted from their political clout.

In this instance, I believe that the Times' perspective is out of focus and it has affected a good human being who deserves better. If I were the Times I would be more concerned about the fact that more than 90 percent of the campaign contributions are coming from outside the 14th District.

When approached by both camps for support, I have demurred, citing my concern over former Mayor Richard Riordan's support of Pacheco and billionaire Eli Broad's influence, for whom Tony worked, over Villaraigosa. It seems that the powerful LA Times would have bigger fish to fry.

I have known both of these politicos since their college years. I would have put my hands in the proverbial fire for the Tony Villaraigosa of 1978. Nick has been active since he was a student at Berkeley, and was one of the brightest students and expected a great deal from him.

However, both have changed and the losers are the community.

Both politicos are young. Hopefully they will learn that the thing that gushes from politics is not biodegradable.

Shit is shit by any name.

My concern is the damage that the whole Latino political scene is doing to students and good people like Juana Gutierrez. Knowing Juana, she is taking this hard, and knowing her she can scrupulously account for every centavo.

The problem is that most people, considering the state of Latino politics, want to believe the worse.

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