Mayoral Contest Tightens

Bass holds slim edge, and negative ads put Caruso within striking distance, poll shows.

The race for mayor of Los Angeles was tightening rapidly as it entered its final week, with Rick Caruso cutting deeply into Rep. Karen Bass’ lead, putting him within striking distance in the contest to run the nation’s second-largest city.

Bass continues to hold an edge, 45% to 41% among likely voters, with 13% saying they remain undecided, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by The Times. But Bass’ advantageis within the poll’s margin of error and strikingly smaller than the 15-point margin she held a month ago.

Support for Bass, a longtime elected official, has not significantly declined — she maintains strong backing among key groups of voters, including women, liberals and registered Democrats.

But Caruso, a billionaire businessman and developer, has steadily gained ground as previously undecided voters have made up their minds. His push has been powered by tens of millions of dollars spent on attack ads that appear to have succeeded in raising doubts about Bass in many voters’ minds.

He has maintained big advantages among the relatively few conservative and Republican voters in Los Angeles while also opening up sizable leads among Latinos, moderates and people living in the San Fernando Valley.

Bass leads across the rest of the city, relying on the electorate’s polarized view of Caruso, the backing of the state’s Democratic establishment and the liberal tilt of the city’s electorate. She leads among both white and Black likely voters, the poll found.

The survey comes on the heels of several other public and private polls that have shown significant tightening in the contest.

“This race could go either way,” said Tommy Newman, senior director at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, who is working with a coalition to pass a housing tax measure on the November ballot and is a close watcher of local politics.

“Nobody has this in the bag. There has been tremendous movement with Latino voters. The question is, will that correlate into votes?” Newman said. “[Caruso] is probably running the most robust field campaign we have ever seen in a mayor’s race. In a tight race, that’s when field campaigns matter.”

The tightening of the race has come during a period when the mayoral campaign has been somewhat overshadowed by the scandal that began with a leaked audio recording of three City Council members and a labor leader making racist remarks during a discussion last year about drawing new city council district boundaries.

The resulting furor has focused attention on racial and ethnic tensions in the city. The poll found that 69% of registered voters said relations among various racial and ethnic groups were just fair or poor, while just 23% said they were excellent or good.

The survey doesn’t, however, show a clear impact from the scandal on the mayoral race.

Bass and Caruso called for everyone involved in making racist comments to resign. They also each used the moment to make points they’d been pushing throughout the campaign.

For Caruso the scandal reflected a continuation of what he sees as the corruption that’s run rampant at City Hall and spoke to the need for an outsider to clean up city government. Bass said the scandal offered a moment for the city to come together and talk about its divisions while finding avenues to bridge them.

The poll found that voters who put a high priority on building coalitions among racial and ethnic groups favor Bass.

What clearly has had an effect is Caruso’s money.

With both campaigns now turning to get-out-the-vote efforts, Caruso has spent about $13 million mustering about 300 to 400 door knockers who have fanned out across the city to remind voters about the election. The field operation is designed to spur turnout among people — especially Latino voters — who have shown an interest in Caruso but won’t necessarily cast a ballot unless pushed.

That effort has been aided by the onslaught of advertising. Since the primary, Caruso is slated to spend $26 million on TV, radio and digital ads in the general election through Tuesday. That’s eight times the $3.3 million Bass is scheduled to spend, according to data from media tracking firm AdImpact.

Bass will also be boosted by a number of independent supporters on the airwaves, including unions representing carpenters and electrical workers and a pro-Bass political action committee funded by labor and Hollywood money. Those groups, which can’t legally coordinate with the Bass campaign, plan to spend several million on ads supporting the congresswoman.

A good deal of Caruso’s advertising is in Spanish. Together with the canvassing aimed at Latino voters, that pitch appears to be paying off. In the last Berkeley IGS poll just over a month ago, Bass led among Latino likely voters by 6 points, 35% to 29%; she now trails by 17 percentage points in that group, 48% to 31%. Many of Caruso’s Latino supporters, however, don’t routinely vote in every election, making turnout a challenge for him.

“You got to give Caruso a lot of credit. He’s making big inroads into this segment, but they’re not regular voters,” said Mark DiCamillo, who directed the poll and has been surveying California voters for decades.

“He’s making inroads where he didn’t have those inroads in June” in the primary, DiCamillo said. “The whole question is, will it be enough? It’s definitely going to be close.”

Bass’ biggest advantage remains her overwhelming support among liberals — the voters who define the shape of Los Angeles’ electorate.

In recent elections, liberal voters powered Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who campaigned with Bass last week, to victory in Los Angeles during the Democratic primary in 2020 and propelled progressive candidates to the fore in this year’s primary.

If their sway holds, Bass will likely win.

Bass leads by 40 percentage points among likely voters who identify as somewhat liberal (64% to 22%) and about 60 percentage points among those who are strongly liberal (74% to 12%).

Those liberal voters are the bulwark that could block further growth of Caruso’s support in the San Fernando Valley, where he now leads by 9 points (45% to 36%). Bass remains ahead in every other part of the city by nearly 20-point margins. The one exception is the South L.A. and Harbor region, where Bass leads 48% to 43%.

“It’s problematic for Caruso,” said Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, political science professor at USC. Bass “has her base of support. We’ll see if the structural advantage for Bass holds.”

In the last several weeks, the campaign has featured a volley of attacks on issues including each candidate’s ties to USC. Caruso has lambasted Bass for taking a $95,000 scholarship to attend a graduate program, while Bass has attacked him for his involvement in the response to a sexual misconduct scandal.

But Caruso’s ads have been far more frequent. Their effect can be seen in the rise in the share of voters who have an unfavorable view of Bass and in an erosion of her standing among registered Democrats.

About half the electorate still has a favorable view of Bass, but the share of likely voters who see her unfavorably is up 10 points since September to 35%.

Among Latino voters, one-third now have an unfavorable view of Bass, compared with one-sixth in September.

Bass continues to have a more favorable image than Caruso, however. In the current survey, 43% view him favorably and 42% unfavorably, compared with 38% to 40% last month.

Caruso has gained some support among Democrats, who make up the majority of Los Angeles voters. In September, just 19% of Democratic likely voters backed him. Now, 28% do. That’s still much less support than Bass, who is backed by 56% of Democrats, with 14% undecided, but it represents a significant inroad by the businessman, who was a Republican much of his life and only changed his party registration to Democrat in January.

About 20% of voters surveyed had already voted. Caruso had a slight lead among them — 49% to 46%. He also leads heavily among voters who said they planned to cast ballots in person on election day. Bass was doing much better with voters who plan to mail or drop off their ballots, leading 50% to 33% among them, the poll found.

Beyond the negative ads, the central policy arguments of the race have been over homelessness and public safety. These two issues along with the economy and education are what voters say the next mayor must prioritize.

Addressing climate change and coalition building between people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds are seen as less important by most voters, although they are top priorities for Bass’ backers.

Even though Caruso is trailing, voters believe he would do a better job addressing crime, the economy and homelessness. They believe Bass would do a better job tackling education, climate change and coalition building.

The Berkeley IGS poll was conducted Oct. 25-31 among 1,437 Los Angeles registered voters, of whom 1,131 were deemed likely to vote in the November election. The sample was weighted to match census and voter registration benchmarks.

Click here to read the full article at the LA

California Union Alleges That Fast-Food Effort to Block New Labor Law is ‘Willfully Misleading Voters’

California’s largest union on Thursday lodged a complaint with state officials alleging that a fast-food industry coalition violated state election rules in its campaign to block a landmark labor law from going into effect.

The complaint by Service Employees International Union California, which was filed both with California’s secretary of state and its attorney general’s office Thursday, focuses on a referendum filed in September seeking to repeal AB 257, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Labor Day. The union sponsored the legislation, known as the Fast Recovery Act, to boost protections for fast-food workers. 

The union alleges that in a sprint to qualify the referendum for the November 2024 ballot, business trade groups, fast-food corporations and franchisees are backing a vigorous and costly voter signature-gathering process that is “willfully misleading voters.” Hired petition circulators for the referendum, according to the complaint, have approached voters and asked them to sign the petition under the false pretense that the effort seeks to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers.

Instead, the referendum effort would allow voters to decide whether to overturn the Fast Recovery Act, which creates a first-of-its-kind council of workers, company representatives and state officials with the authority to raise the minimum wage for franchise restaurant workers as high as $22 next year.

The council has a mandate to set minimum industry standards on wages, working hours and other conditions for fast-food workers statewide. It’s a model that could transform the way workers negotiate standards with their employers not just in California but across the U.S.

Throughout the legislative process, fast-food corporations and franchisees argued it unfairly singled out their industry, and would burden operations with higher labor costs and cause food prices to skyrocket.

Save Local Restaurants, the coalition pushing to overturn the law, said in a statement that it “has been vigilant in maintaining compliance with California’s election laws” and added that it finds the complaint “frivolous.”

“This is another brazen attempt by the SEIU to force a law on Californians that they do not want and that they cannot afford,” said the coalition, which is spearheaded by the International Franchise Assn. and the National Restaurant Assn. 

The coalition said, in line with past critiques, that the new law would raise food prices and ultimately “cost thousands of jobs, and force the closure of local businesses.”

The coalition said it has collected “nearly a million” signatures thus far: “We are on track to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures above what is legally required due to the voters’ overwhelming opposition to this misguided law.”

It’s standard practice to collect more than the minimum number of signatures because some signatures may be deemed invalid.

The complaint alleges several instances of petition signature gatherers misrepresenting the issue. One contracted circulator in Los Angeles repeatedly said the petition “was for the minimum wage to go up,” while another in Stockton, Calif., asked for a signature on a “petition that will raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to 22 bucks an hour,” according to the complaint.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Leak May Push L.A. Further Left in Election

Racist audio could cut different ways, experts say, with outsiders most likely to benefit.

Dissatisfaction with Los Angeles City Hall has been simmering for years, with residents growing exasperated over the protracted homelessness crisis, anxious over crime and exhausted by a string of corruption indictments targeting various city leaders.

But publication of an incendiary leaked audio recording less than a month before election day provided yet another damning argument against the city’s political establishment — and perhaps the most explosive.

Angelenos who rarely thought about municipal government turned their eyes toward City Hall in disgust. Residents who were already frustrated are now breathing fire.

Amid the collective fury, left-wing political organizers see a potential tipping point ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Their grass-roots movement already had tremendous momentum, with many of their candidates placing first in the June primary election.

Experts say the leak of the recorded October 2021 meeting could cut a number of ways for the campaigns. But close watchers of L.A. politics generally agree that anti-establishment candidates are more likely to benefit. Those insurgents largely occupy the leftmost edge of the political spectrum.

If they prevail, they could easily remake the city in a number of ways, cutting spending for police, enacting more aggressive renter protections and rethinking the city’s approach to homelessness. Several have called for the repeal of a city law barring encampments outside schools, day-care centers and other facilities.

None of the L.A. City Council members heard in the recording, all of whom were Democrats, is on the ballot. But all three — Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo — wielded tremendous power over homelessness, housing policy and the council itself, and were aligned with some of the more establishment candidates.

However, those divisions — leftists versus the establishment — cleave less neatly in the most closely watched local race: the battle to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Real estate developer Rick Caruso, the maverick in the race, is a centrist, whereas his more progressive opponent, Rep. Karen Bass, has deep ties to City Hall, labor and the broader political establishment.

“To the extent that it breaks favorably for anyone, it breaks for Caruso,” Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said. “Because he is the outsider who says we have to clean up City Hall, we can’t continue the status quo. … She represents more of a continuation of current policies than a sea change.”

Others say that Bass, a Black woman who spent her career building and leading multiracial coalitions, is ideally positioned to foster consensus amid the wreckage of the leak. On Friday, Bass leaned into that role, appearing with faith and civic leaders to discuss the solidarity they have built in recent decades.

“Four individuals on a tape will not set back race relations [and] will not set back our efforts in unity and coalition building,” she said.

In addition to the mayor’s race, there are six other city contests: city attorney, city controller and four seats on the City Council.

On a council where virtually all members are Democrats, “progressive” is a shifting yardstick.

Many of the so-called establishment candidates argue that they too are solid progressives, working to address economic inequality, climate change and other issues. Some have characterized their leftist opponents as too extreme, particularly on public safety.

Josh Androsky, a consultant for left-wing candidates in two City Council races, said the leak “lays bare what we’ve been saying for years.”

“It completely validates the premise for why these progressive candidates are running in the first place,” he said. “These folks believe that the city is broken, that the incumbents and the insiders can’t fix it because they’re the reason why it’s broken.”

Androsky said both council candidates he works with — Erin Darling on the Westside and Hugo Soto-Martínez in the Hollywood area — have seen a surge in social media engagement and welcomed new volunteers in the last two weeks.

Martinez, who can be heard making racist comments in the recording, resigned from office three days after The Times reported on the audio. Councilmembers Cedillo and De León, who were also present during the conversation and chimed in at various points, remain in office despite immense pressure to step down. A fourth participant, Ron Herrera, has also resigned from his position as president of the L.A. County Federation of Labor.

Eunisses Hernandez, a progressive challenger closely aligned with Darling and Soto-Martinez, unseated Cedillo in June and is set to take office in December. Her upset victory was heralded by supporters as a bellwether for progressive victory in November.

Paul Mitchell, one of the state’s most prominent political data analysts, said the overwhelming attention on the leak has made it more difficult for candidates to break through with other messages.

“It’s hard for them to get a lot of traction on issues because it sucks all the oxygen out,” he said.

Manuel Pastor, director of the USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute, said he believes the more progressive council candidates will benefit not just from an anti-establishment mood but also from actual rising progressive sentiment in the city.

Bernard Parks Jr., who spent more than a decade as chief of staff for his father, Councilmember Bernard Parks, warned against reading too much into the tea leaves.

“Trying to get your arms around who’s going to vote — in terms of the electorate, what it looks like, who turns out consistently — is always going to be a puzzle,” Parks Jr. said.

The City Hall veteran said the leaks could be a galvanizing force for insurgent candidates. But he cautioned that the scandal could also depress turnout, causing some to “throw their hands up in total apathy and say, ‘This is why I never vote.’ ”

City elections have historically been held in odd-numbered years and decided by a relatively small electorate that is whiter, wealthier and older than the city at large.

Conventional wisdom dictates, broadly speaking, that higher turnout and a more diverse electorate tend to favor progressive candidates.

The scandal has figured most prominently in two competitive council races.

In District 13, Soto-Martínez is fighting to unseat Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, a two-term incumbent whose district reaches from Hollywood to Glassell Park.

O’Farrell automatically became the acting council president when Martinez stepped down from her post. He became the public face of the council at a time when public confidence in that body was collapsing, presiding over chaotic meetings disrupted by protesters.

O’Farrell appeared repeatedly before TV news cameras to demand the departure of De León and Cedillo. After a COVID-19 outbreak on the council floor, he announced he was moving the meetings to Zoom. And when it became clear that Cedillo and De León weren’t going to leave, he stripped them of their committee assignments.

Bill Carrick, a political consultant not involved in the race, said O’Farrell received “enormous” media coverage during his one week as acting president, and succeeded in showing the public strong leadership at a time of crisis.

“He was forceful. He showed a lot of resolve, and he was very clear,” Carrick said.

Still, the scandal also created a fresh line of attack for Soto-Martinez and his allies.

Unite Here Local 11, the hotel and restaurant union for which Soto-Martinez served as a longtime organizer, quickly began sending campaign mailers highlighting the fact that O’Farrell served as the No. 2 to Martinez in the council’s leadership. Soto-Martinez said the audio shows the city needs someone new who can fight “corruption and backroom dealings.”

But in the wake of the leaked audio, Darling has intensified his attacks on his more conservative opponent, attorney Traci Park, in the race to replace Councilmember Mike Bonin, slamming her for legal work defending the city of Anaheim in a case where a manager was accused of using the “N-word.”

Darling highlighted that case in an attack video, along with the fact that Park had been endorsed by Martinez.

Park, who had been a contract attorney for the city of Anaheim, said she does not condone “racially charged” language.

And she has criticized Darling on his own legal work, saying that he represented defendants who have been accused of committing rape, engaging in human trafficking and possessing child pornography, among other things.

If the leak provides momentum for outsider candidates, then that would seemingly benefit Kenneth Mejia, a 31-year-old certified public accountant and community activist running for city controller.

Mejia’s opponent, Councilmember Paul Koretz, was one of the first at City Hall to call for all three colleagues to resign. But he is also seen as an entrenched establishment figure, having served 13 years on the council.

And if the fervor in the wake of fallout benefits progressive candidates more broadly, that could also help Faisal Gill, a civil rights lawyer running well to the left of his opponent, attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto, in the race to replace City Atty. Mike Feuer.

Though the circumstances may favor some candidates, all have scrambled to adjust at a time of upheaval.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Defiant DeLeón is Politically Tone-Deaf

Defiant De León is politically tone-deaf

Kevin de León never lacked for ambition.

He ignored long odds and waged an uphill bid to dislodge fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein from the U.S. Senate.

He barely warmed his seat on the Los Angeles City Council before throwing himself into the race for mayor.

Both efforts proved unavailing. But until De León was caught yukking it up on a recording filled with racist, homophobic, cruel and cutting remarks, neither setback seemed to have done him any great harm.

Few — much less De León — viewed the council as the zenith of his public career. There was talk of another statewide run, perhaps for lieutenant governor, a job that has been a stepping stone for two of California’s recent governors, including Gavin Newsom.

Now, shorn of power at City Hall and facing protesters camped out in his Eagle Rock neighborhood, the question is whether De León’s once-bright political future has gone the way of the Dodgers’ dashed World Series dreams.

On Wednesday, the 55-year-old councilmember broke a lengthy silence to reiterate his intention to stay in office. “No, I will not resign, because there is a lot of work ahead,” De León said in a Noticiero Univision interview.

That stubbornness doesn’t bode well for his future.

By brazening it out and refusing to quit, De León may be hoping not just to hang on to his council seat for another two years but preserve his chances for bigger and brighter things beyond City Hall.

Good luck with that.

“I don’t think anything is impossible in politics,” said Bill Carrick, a longtime Democratic strategist and Feinstein advisor. “But it would be very, very difficult.”

There are plenty of politicians who’ve weathered knee-buckling scandals and, after righting themselves, gone on to prosper. Bill Clinton. John McCain. And, not least, Donald Trump.

As San Francisco mayor, Newsom was reelected after a particularly sordid episode involving an extramarital affair with the wife of a friend and longtime aide. Newsom — months away from seeking a second term — acknowledged his wrongdoing, apologized and said he would seek counseling for alcohol abuse.

“Never underestimate the public’s ability to forgive if you ask for that forgiveness and they believe you’re sincere about it,” said Roger Salazar, a Democratic consultant who served as spokesman for De León’s Senate campaign.

Of course, not all political scandals are the same. Some involve personal lapses, which may be salved with a show of humility and contrition. Others stem from a misuse of public assets, a breach of trust or an act of hypocrisy — though, really, is it all that shocking for a politician to say one thing and do another?

The scandal darkening Los Angeles City Hall is of a different order.

The bigotry and casual venom surreptitiously captured on tape, which led to the resignations of council President Nury Martinez and labor leader Ron Herrera and which shredded the reputations of De León and fellow Councilmember Gil Cedillo, was uglier and more damaging than some mere personal transgression.

“This was an attack on a whole community,” Carrick said.

Like a poisoned smorgasbord, there was something on the recording to turn every stomach. There was also plenty to offend members of several key Democratic constituencies, among them Latinos, women, Jews and, especially, Black voters.

The what-about chorus will bring up former President Trump, who withstood countless controversies to win the White House and has, on various occasion, emitted something to offend to virtually every man, woman and child on Earth.

“We’re Democrats. We’re supposed to be better than that,” said a party strategist in Sacramento, who wished not to be identified so her political clients wouldn’t be dragged into the City Hall muck. “If you’re going to call out people on a regular basis, you can’t accept that kind of racist conversation and behavior from one of our own.”

Several of the state’s leading political practitioners offered De León some free, unsolicited advice: Quit the council, now. Apologize.

“People believe in redemption,” said a former state legislative leader who worked closely with De León in Sacramento and asked not to be named to preserve their personal relationship. “But if you’re trying to ride it out… it’s hard to get redemption when there’s no meaningful effort or apology.”

On Wednesday, De León did say he was sorry.

“I apologize to all my people, to my entire community, for the damage caused by the painful words that were carried out that day last year,” De León said in the interview with Noticiero Univision anchor León Krauze.

Separately, De León sent a letter to council President Paul Krekorian apologizing to the city’s residents.

“I come to you with a shame deeper than I have ever known and from a place of deep humility,” De León wrote, adding he intended to “spend every waking moment working to heal the pain and damage this moment has caused and apply the lessons I’ve learned.”

But that was as far as he went, which fell short of what many prescribed.

Once he quit and apologized,political operatives agreed, De León should disappear for a while. Do good work for some of those in the communities he offended. Keep out of the public eye, and forget about mounting a political comeback anytime soon.

“Don’t resign from the council one day and then three days later announce you’re running for something else,” said Democratic consultant Garry South.

Right now De León’s political designs should be the least of his considerations.

When he launched his Senate bid in 2017, De León attacked Feinstein for suggesting early in Trump’s term that maybe the petulant and mean-spirited president would grow and become a better man.

“We can’t cross our fingers and hope that Trump can learn and change,” De León said, chiding Feinstein for harboring false hopes.

He was right. Trump never did learn and change.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Homeless Man Suspected of Stabbing One Woman in the Head with Scissors, Striking Another with Pickle Jar in North Hollywood

NORTH HOLLYWOOD — A man is in custody Friday for allegedly stabbing a woman in the head with a pair of scissors in North Hollywood and attacking two other people at a bus stop, authorities said.

Jonathan Cole, 30, who is homeless, was arrested a short time after the crime, which occurred about 11:30 a.m. Monday on Lankershim Boulevard near Hatteras Street, according to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Cole was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and was being held on $3 million bail, the LAPD reported.

According to police, a 22-year-old woman was walking south on Lankershim Boulevard and the suspect was walking in the opposite direction when she was attacked.

“As the two passed each other, Cole, without provocation, stabbed the victim in the head with a pair of scissors,” police said in a statement. “The victim, with the scissors embedded into her head, fled to a local restaurant, where she asked for help and then collapsed on the floor.

“Cole continued walking northbound, where he encountered a male and female couple waiting at a bus stop,” police said. “Cole asked them for a light, and when the female replied, ‘no,’ Cole, again unprovoked, threw a full jar of pickles, striking the female in the shoulder. The male chased Cole to the front of a local supermarket, where store security guards were able to detain him until LAPD officers arrived.”

The victim of the stabbing was treated at a hospital and is recovering, police said.

“The crime occurred in broad daylight in an area with a high volume of pedestrian traffic,” police said. “Cole is not known to the victim, and the crime appeared random and completely unprovoked.”

The case has been presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, which filed one count of attempted murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon against Cole, police said.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Daily News

When Will CA’s Elected Leaders Call for Resignations of LA Council Members over Racist Discussion?

These racist statements are far more than thoughtless words from people who constantly talk about the virtues of equity, diversity

Righteous indignation over the racist remarks and derisive statements made by three Latino members of the Los Angeles City Council and a labor official in a conversation October 2021 about their council colleagues is certainly warranted. However, elected Democrat lawmakers and candidates in California should be calling on LA Council President Nury Martinez, council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León to resign immediatel

Instead, this morning, Council President Nury Martinez resigned as President of the Council, and not from elected office. And her apology was hollow.

Instead we are hearing the media report that there are “calls for resignation,” and we see a lot of finger wagging, Twitter posturing, and social media rant statements – or conspicuous silence.

“We don’t want your thoughts and prayers, we want action,” people on the right are told when they offer condolences and solace after a high profile tragedy. Okay. So where are the calls for action by California’s elected leaders given the vile and hateful remarks by Martinez, Cedillo and de León?

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti? Anything?

How about the 24 elected Assembly members of Los Angeles County? Thoughts?

Have any of the 15 elected State Senators of Los Angeles County suggested immediate resignation of the LA Council members?

These racist statements are far more than careless or thoughtless words – from people who constantly talk about the virtues of equity, diversity, people of color, dignity of communities. Just imagine if it was Republican council members who got caught on this recording making racist remarks about a council colleagues’ adopted child of color. The Globe reported:

“Bonin thinks he’s f—ing black,” Martinez says in the audio. “He handled his young Black son as though he were an accessory. They’re raising him like a little White kid. I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”

Martinez then proceeded to use slurs against the eight-year-old child, saying in Spanish “Parece changuito” or in English, “He’s like a monkey.”

Councilman de León added, “Bonin handles the toddler like when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag. Su negrito, like on the side.”

The Los Angeles City Council has been quite odious for some time now. Three members are under indictment.

Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on corruption charges.

José Huizar and Mitch Englander, were both implicated in an FBI probe of corruption at City Hall.

Now three more council members are embroiled in this latest racist screed, and could be forced out.

When is enough going to be enough? The Globe doesn’t believe for a nanosecond that the voters of Los Angeles thought they were voting for corrupt or racist representatives. But short of elected “leaders” discovering some testicular fortitude and calling for the latest three to resign, it will be up to the people of Los Angeles.

And what about the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera on the same audio recording?

California Labor Federation leader Lorena Gonzalez had this to say about the racist remarks of the council members:

Righteous indignation over the racist remarks and derisive statements made by three Latino members of the Los Angeles City Council and a labor official in a conversation October 2021 about their council colleagues is certainly warranted. However, elected Democrat lawmakers and candidates in California should be calling on LA Council President Nury Martinez, council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León to resign immediately.

Instead, this morning, Council President Nury Martinez resigned as President of the Council, and not from elected office. And her apology was hollow.

Instead we are hearing the media report that there are “calls for resignation,” and we see a lot of finger wagging, Twitter posturing, and social media rant statements – or conspicuous silence.

“We don’t want your thoughts and prayers, we want action,” people on the right are told when they offer condolences and solace after a high profile tragedy. Okay. So where are the calls for action by California’s elected leaders given the vile and hateful remarks by Martinez, Cedillo and de León?

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti? Anything?

How about the 24 elected Assembly members of Los Angeles County? Thoughts?

Have any of the 15 elected State Senators of Los Angeles County suggested immediate resignation of the LA Council members?

These racist statements are far more than careless or thoughtless words – from people who constantly talk about the virtues of equity, diversity, people of color, dignity of communities. Just imagine if it was Republican council members who got caught on this recording making racist remarks about a council colleagues’ adopted child of color. The Globe reported:

“Bonin thinks he’s f—ing black,” Martinez says in the audio. “He handled his young Black son as though he were an accessory. They’re raising him like a little White kid. I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”

Martinez then proceeded to use slurs against the eight-year-old child, saying in Spanish “Parece changuito” or in English, “He’s like a monkey.”

Councilman de León added, “Bonin handles the toddler like when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag. Su negrito, like on the side.”

The Los Angeles City Council has been quite odious for some time now. Three members are under indictment.

Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on corruption charges.

José Huizar and Mitch Englander, were both implicated in an FBI probe of corruption at City Hall.

Now three more council members are embroiled in this latest racist screed, and could be forced out.

When is enough going to be enough? The Globe doesn’t believe for a nanosecond that the voters of Los Angeles thought they were voting for corrupt or racist representatives. But short of elected “leaders” discovering some testicular fortitude and calling for the latest three to resign, it will be up to the people of Los Angeles.

And what about the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera on the same audio recording?

California Labor Federation leader Lorena Gonzalez had this to say about the racist remarks of the council members:

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Leaked Audio: Latino LA City Council Members Martinez, Cedillo, de León Make Racist Remarks, Mock Council Colleagues

With Democrats running everything, they are now attacking each other

Three Latino members of the Los Angeles City Council and a labor official held a conversation in October 2021 that included racist remarks, derisive statements about their colleagues, the Daily Mail reported. LA Council President Nury Martinez is recorded saying that (white councilman) Mike Bonin handled his young Black son as though he were an “accessory.”

The Los Angeles Times broke the story, but because it is behind a paywall, not many can access it.

The recording was of LA Council President Nury Martinez, council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, as well as Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. The three council members are under pressure to resign.

“De León seemed to agree with his colleague’s comments, as he compared Bonin bringing his kid around LA to ‘when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag,’ according to the leaked audio,” the Daily Mail reported.

“Further into the dialogue, Martinez described the minor as ‘su negrito’, a derogatory expression in Spanish for a black person, and ‘ese changuito,’ which translates to ‘that little monkey.’”

“’F— that guy,’ Martinez said, followed by something inaudible. ‘He’s with the Blacks,’” SF Gate reported Council President Nury Martinez discussing Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón.

It was only a matter of time. With California’s Supermajority of Democrats running everything in the state and California’s largest cities, they are now attacking each other. It was bound to happen. They pretend they don’t notice or care about obvious differences in people, but they focus on them more than those they routinely accuse of racism.

Nury Martinez has been caught speaking like an intolerant prejudiced political elitist. Former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, the same. The buffoonish former Assemblyman and Senator Kevin de León has his own race issues; his real name is Kevin Alexander. He changed it to de León.

This is textbook identity politics run amok.

When voters reward politicians for phony gestures of identity, it just promulgates leaders to be race-obsessed meanies, a learned colleague observed.

Case-in-point: isn’t it interesting the strange coincidence of other phony Democrat politicians making up identity-political names — Bill DeBlasio (born Warren Wilhelm Jr.), Beto O’Rourke (born Robert Francis O’Rourke). State Senator Kevin de León (born Kevin Alexander). Former Assemblyman and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (born Tony Villar).

SF Gate reported the labor union went after the Los Angeles Times for daring to report the story. “Julie Gutman Dickinson, a lawyer representing the L.A. County Federation of Labor, sent a letter saying the conversation was ‘recorded in violation of California’s privacy and recording laws on LA County Federation of Labor property.’ If The Times published information from it, ‘it is condoning this illegal conduct,’ she added.”

Daily Mail reported that Bonin told the LA Times he felt ‘disgusted and angry and heartsick’ by the leaked audio.”‘It’s fair game to attack me but my son?’ he added, calling for the resignation of all three city Latino council members. ‘You have to be pretty petty and insecure and venomous to attack a child. He wasn’t even 3 years old.”

“‘Other than that, I’m speechless.’”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

City Council Race on L.A.’s Westside Takes a Nasty Turn

Darling says Park ‘defended racism.’ Park says Darling represented criminals.

An increasingly vitriolic battle to represent the Westside on the Los Angeles City Council roared to new levels of intensity Friday, as attorney Erin Darling charged that his opponent, lawyer Traci Park, had moved to “defend racism” in a case where she represented the city of Anaheim against a city employee who accused a supervisor of using the “n-word.”

Park responded by accusing Darling of descending into “sleazy smear tactics,” and said she had “no choice but to respond.” She slammed Darling for representing a host of unsavory criminal defendants, including one who faced a gun-possession charge, after initially being accused of raping his victim at gunpoint in a public bathroom just hours after he was released from jail.

The salvos from the two candidates, a month before election day, marked a pronounced escalation of the contest to represent Council District 11, which stretches from Pacific Palisades to Los Angeles International Airport. Darling, 41, and Park, 46, previously had focused mostly on the issues of homelessness, public safety and the environment.

The two have been a study in sharp contrasts. Darling is a onetime Green Party member. Park is a former Republican. Park wants to expand the Los Angeles Police Department. Darling has called for more mental health workers. Darling opposed the city’s anti-camping ordinance. Park supported it.

The legal careers of the two Democrats had remained somewhat in the background before Thursday, when Spectrum News 1 reported on a 2020 case in which Park — a partner in the firm Burke, Williams & Sorenson — defended the city of Anaheim after a Black employee accused a fleet supervisor of using the “n-word” and other offensive taunts.

Legal papers filed in the case show that Park sought to have a judge dismiss the case, arguing that plaintiff Andrew Harrell’s lawyers had not provided specific enough information about the discrimination they claimed their client suffered.

“The only thing close to a specific allegation is the allegation that [the supervisor] had used the ‘n-word’ in front of Plaintiff,” Park’s brief in the case says.

“However, further details on his use of the word, including any context, date or frequency, are absent. While an allegation of the use of this single word is serious, plaintiff does not allege the term was ever directed at him or that he was targeted with its usage.”

Park’s filing added that “not every utterance of a racial slur in the workplace violates” discrimination laws. She said the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that “for harassment to be actionable, it must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.”

An Orange County Superior Court judge rejected Park’s arguments and let the case proceed, according to court orders shared with The Times by the Darling campaign. Quoting the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the judge described the n-word as “perhaps the most offensive and inflammatory racial slur in English … a word expressive of racial hatred and bigotry.”

The judge said Harrell’s lawyers’ amended lawsuit “sufficiently alleges a claim for harassment.”

Harrell ended the dispute with Anaheim last year, accepting a settlement payment. His attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.

“It’s never OK to defend racism, even in court,” Darling said in a statement Friday. “The use of this racist slur has no place in our workplaces and Traci Park’s actions to defend racist employers is inexcusable.”

Park called it “outrageous” for Darling to suggest that she had defended racist language. As a contract attorney for the city of Anaheim, she said she merely investigated the allegations made by Harrell to determine their veracity and to recommend to the city how to respond.

“I do not condone the use of racially charged language, or harassing or discriminatory conduct, under any circumstances,” Park said. She called Darling a “failing candidate whose message is not resonating with CD 11 voters and who has no plan to address catastrophic problems created by his biggest supporter, [retiring Councilman] Mike Bonin.”

Park said she had never intended to raise Darling’s legal history, until he sought to demonize hers. She said she did no more or less in the Anaheim case than other lawyers responding to similar litigation.

Both campaigns presented The Times with summaries of cases handled by their opponent.

Darling’s camp bashed Park for defending the city of Hemet when a police officer was accused of kicking a man in the face during an arrest; the city of Alhambra when a firefighter accused it of abridging his free speech rights; and a giant cargo shipping company, Dynamex, that was accused of misclassifying employees, resulting in a loss of pay and benefits.

Park said she was a junior associate 16 years ago when she briefly worked on two procedural motions in the Dynamex case. An attorney on the opposing side of that case, representing workers, confirmed that Park played a peripheral role.

Park’s campaign said that in Darling’s work as a federal public defender and in private practice, he represented an MS-13 gang member accused in a machete murder; “about a dozen individuals” involved in a methamphetamine ring; a man convicted of a sexual abuse against a teenage victim; and parents trying to retain custody of their children when the adults were accused of running a prostitution ring in their home.

In an interview, Park focused on a 2016 case in which an alleged gang member named Edgar Alexander Lobos was charged with assaulting a woman in a public bathroom in Lincoln Heights, just hours after his jail release.

The Park campaign’s summary included legal briefs in which Darling tried to get evidence against Lobos, then 27, thrown out of court in a federal gun-possession charge. Darling’s motion asked that a search and interview of Lobos both be deemed inadmissible because he said they were conducted illegally.

His brief argued, in part: “Here, police officers did not have probable cause to believe Mr. Lobos committed any offense as it has not established that the complaining witness’ identification of Mr. Lobos was reasonably trustworthy.”

Darling’s actions came after rape and other felony charges against Lobos were dropped in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The Venice-based lawyer defended Lobos in the federal weapons case tied to the alleged rape, according to a brief that he filed in the case.

Lobos pleaded guilty in 2017 to being a felon in possession of a firearm and was sentenced to 77 months in prison.

“Instead of accepting a woman’s statement — who was traumatized by being raped in a bathroom in a public park with a gun to her head — [Darling] attacked her credibility. … It’s disgusting,” Park said in an interview.

Darling said he was proud to be a criminal defense lawyer who represented indigent defendants.

He rejected Park’s take on the Lobos case as “categorically false,” adding: “I represented my client in a federal case in which he was charged with being a felon in possession of a gun, nothing else. I never saw this woman, never questioned her and never attacked or criticized her. All state charges for any kind of sexual violence against my client had been dropped at the time I wrote the motion to suppress [evidence].”

“In the motion to suppress,” Darling continued, “I questioned the police’s failure to properly execute a photo lineup in questioning my client. He went to prison for the gun. He was not convicted of any sexual assault, and those charges were not the case in which I was the lawyer.”

Activists on opposing sides of the CD 11 race weighed in with their opinions about the legal fracas.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Caruso Exceeds $62 Million in Mayoral Race

Rick Caruso has spent more than $62 million since launching his Los Angeles mayoral bid in February, nearly all of it his own money.

It’s a figure that — save for fellow billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg’s three successful New York mayoral campaigns — is all but unrivaled in the annals of local politics in America.

His opponent, Rep. Karen Bass, has spent just over $6 million since entering the race more than a year ago, meaning the real estate developer has outspent her by a factor of 10.

With a little more than five weeks before the Nov. 8 election, campaign finance disclosures released late Thursday paint a revealing picture of how both campaigns have regrouped since the primary.

Without independent wealth, Bass has little chance of matching Caruso’s prodigal war chest. But over the summer, the congresswoman had what appears to be her most impressive few months of fundraising yet.

During a roughly 12-week period, Bass took in nearly $2.2 million in contributions and more than $250,000 in city matching funds, according to filings covering July 1 through Sept. 24 submitted to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. She spent just under $1.2 million during that period.

Caruso spent a little more than $21 million during the same time period, according to his filings.

Caruso upended the race in the spring as a first-time candidate who entered the field with little name recognition and inundated the city with ad spending. He succeeded in introducing himself to Angelenos, and his centrist, “clean up L.A.” messaging seemed to find a foothold with an electorate frustrated by homelessness and crime.

But Bass finished with a 7-point lead in the June primary. Two weeks later, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade — ensuring abortion rights would remain at the center of the conversation through the November election and creating a far less favorable political environment for a former Republican hoping to lead a deep-blue city.

After his unstinting ad spending in the spring, Caruso remained off the airwaves until mid-September, leading many political watchers to wonder through the summer whether he would dump a similar ad blitz in the fall, or pivot to a different tactic.

The answer appears to be both. The TV ads will be plentiful, but his latest campaign filings also reveal a gargantuan investment in field efforts.

These efforts, which accounted for nearly half of the campaign’s spending during the most recent filing period, are central to a broader November strategy banking on the campaign’s ability to turn out voters who probably sat out the primary and are less likely to cast a general election ballot.

Personal communication, combined with culturally competent outreach, is key to a successful field effort, said Sara Sadhwani, an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College.

“Having those folks come out to knock on doors, we can anticipate it will have some effect,” Sadhwani said.

The campaign has spent nearly $10 million on its canvassing program over the last few months, according to filings covering July 1 through Sept. 24.

Caruso’s most visible areas of focus since the primary have been with Latino voters, Asian American voters and voters in the San Fernando Valley.

Caruso is slated to spend at least $20 million on TV advertising through the November election, according to data from media tracking firm AdImpact. Of that planned total reservation, he spent about $5.5 million on TV airtime during this filing period, in the form of payments to TV stations made by his media planner.

Building a field effort is more uphill for an outsider like Caruso, L.A.-based political consultant Mike Murphy said, because he can’t tap into the union infrastructure that will probably aid Bass. Murphy supports Caruso and has worked for him previously.

Caruso gets “criticized for the spend, but it also is a form of freedom. Which makes it easier to be the change candidate,” Murphy said.

Bass has been heavily favored by local labor groups during the campaign, and several are likely to provide volunteer support in the weeks ahead.

“Karen Bass has always fought for the average worker, not just the rich and big corporations,” Pete Rodriguez, executive secretary-treasurer of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, said recently.

The union — one of several outside groups backing Bass — plans to spend more than $1 million on Spanish-language TV advertising to support her. Union members are also phone-banking and door-knocking for Bass in a volunteer capacity.

Campaign money from the primary can’t carry over to the general, meaning Bass essentially had to start from scratch on June 8, the day after the primary. Fundraising appears to have been one of her primary focuses during the summer months.

Over $200,000 — nearly a fifth of Bass’ spending during this period — went to fundraiser Stephanie Daily Smith’s Daily Consulting. The prominent Democratic fundraiser joined the Bass campaign after the primary.

Donors who maxed out their giving to Bass during this period include Steven Spielberg, former Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Emily’s List President Laphonza Butler, businessman Danny Bakewell, Washington, D.C., lobbyist Heather Podesta, filmmaker Barry Jenkins and Showtime Chief Executive David Nevins.

In a testament to the national focus on the race to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti, the congresswoman’s summer fundraising drive included stops in New Orleans, Atlanta and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, according to finance disclosures and social media posts.

Caruso took in about $152,000 in donations during this same period and spent more than $21 million of his own money on his campaign, bringing the total he has put into the campaign since February to more than $61 million — representing nearly all of his total spending.

Outside spending will also continue to play a potent role in the race. Bass will be aided by a number of independent expenditure committees, including Communities United for Bass for LA Mayor 2022.

That political action committee, whose major funders include unions and Hollywood donors, took in more than $700,000 during the filing period and spent several hundred thousand on a digital attack ad characterizing Caruso as a liar.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Sheriff properly obtained search warrants for supervisor’s home, judge says

Seized materials can’t be searched until a third-party overseer is appointed

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge did not find “any irregularity” with the way the Sheriff’s Department obtained search warrants for the homes and offices of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and other county officials, according to a hearing Thursday, Sept. 22.

Still, Judge William Ryan ruled he would not allow either the sheriff’s detectives, or the Attorney General’s Office, which took over the case this week, to search the seized computers and cellphones until he could appoint a third party, called a special master, to weed out any information protected by attorney-client privilege.

“I am going to appoint a special master because of the claims of privilege,” he said. “I think that needs to be overseen.”

Ryan originally had questioned why the sheriff’s detectives went to a different judge, instead of Judge Eleanor Hunter, who was already presiding over legal challenges to nearly identical search warrants executed by the Sheriff’s Department last year.

Previous court order

In court filings ahead of the hearing, attorneys for Kuehl and L.A. County Metro’s Office of the Inspector General accused the sheriff’s investigators of attempting to circumvent an existing order from Hunter that would have required a special master to participate in the raids and expressed concerns about the involvement of Judge Craig Richman, a longtime associate of Detective Mark Lillienfeld, a member of the sheriff’s Public Corruption Unit.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Max Fernandez originally tried to present the new warrants to Hunter, but she was not available, according to Ryan. The courts sent Fernandez to Richman instead and Richman chose not to appoint a special master, though Fernandez requested one.

“As far as I’m concerned, that puts to bed the issue of whether there was any irregularity in the obtaining of the search warrant,” Ryan said.

The targets of the searches have argued the warrants are overly broad and intrusive, but Ryan declined to rule on the merits of the probe, instead saying such a decision would likely be decided in the future by potentially another judge.

The Thursday hearing involved more than half a dozen attorneys, including separate representation for Kuehl, county oversight Commissioner Patricia Giggans, L.A. County Metro, Metro’s Office of the Inspector General, the sheriff and the attorney general.

Was Kuehl tipped off?

According to Ryan, investigators already have conducted about 50 searches — primarily from devices taken from Kuehl — and even worked overtime trying to determine if Kuehl was tipped off about the search warrants in advance. Kuehl, in an interview, said she received a text message the night before from the County Counsel’s Office about rumors that warrants would be executed the next morning. The Sheriff’s Department also has alleged that Giggans and her attorney greeted deputies at the door.

Kuehl’s attorney, Cheryl O’Connor, pointed to the rush to search Kuehl’s phones for the “tip off” as evidence the department was searching beyond the scope of the warrants. Ryan, in response, likened it to stumbling “across a dead body” while conducting a different investigation.

“It is a very serious allegation that the supervisor had been tipped off that this search was coming ahead of time,” Ryan said. “It’s potentially a felony.”

Lucrative contract

The Sheriff’s Department has indicated its probe is focused on contracts awarded by L.A. County Metro to Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit run by Giggans. Kuehl, a lifelong friend of Giggans, serves on Metro’s board of directors and also is listed as a member of Peace Over Violence’s advisory board. The contracts, which totaled $890,000 over a six-year period, never came before the board for a vote and were approved by CEO Phil Washington.

A whistleblower, whose complaints are the backbone of the sheriff’s case, alleges Kuehl pushed for the contracts behind the scenes. Kuehl has denied the allegations and accused Sheriff Alex Villanueva of targeting her and Giggans for their vocal criticism of him. Both clash frequently with him and have called for his resignation.

The Attorney General’s Office announced Tuesday, Sept. 20, it would take control of the investigation following a letter from Villanueva urging Attorney General Rob Bonta to investigate whether Kuehl had been tipped off. Bonta, in response, said he would take the entire case over because the two investigations are “intimately related.”

“In recent days, the public unfolding of an unprecedented investigation has raised serious questions for residents of Southern California and beyond,” Bonta said in a statement. “I recognize the deep uncertainty this has engendered and, given the unique circumstances, my team has committed to taking over this investigative process. Make no mistake: We are committed to a thorough, fair, and independent investigation that will help restore confidence for the people of our state. If there is wrongdoing by any party, we will bring it to light.”

Return of property

Much of the discussions at Thursday’s hearing revolved around how soon seized property could be returned.

The representatives for Kuehl and Giggans urged a speedy return of the computers and cellphones as their clients have suffered from the loss of the equipment. O’Connor, the attorney for Kuehl, said the supervisor was working from home and now only has access to a single cellphone to conduct county business.

“There is no reason taxpayers should have to purchase new devices in order for her to do her duties,” O’Connor said.

Attorney Austin Dove, who represents Giggans, said Peace Over Violence has been “crippled by this search warrant” after deputies seized both its server and the backup. The nonprofit is unable to serve its more than 600 clients as a result.

“Two weeks is death for my client,” Dove told the judge. “I don’t believe they can survive that long.”

Ryan ordered the Attorney General’s Office to determine if it could quickly digitally duplicate the devices and then return the physical hardware without hindering its investigation.

Susan Schwartz, a deputy attorney general, suggested Ryan order the Sheriff’s Department to turn over its investigatory records and the seized property within the next two weeks, but Ryan declined to do so, saying he wouldn’t force the matter unless the agency refused to cooperate. Fernandez, sitting in the audience, told the court his unit would meet the two-week deadline voluntarily.

Double representation

Though a sheriff’s spokesperson previously released a statement saying the County Counsel’s Office had fired the department’s attorney, two sets of attorneys turned up on its behalf, creating confusion in the court.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Daily News