Why is anybody surprised?
Richard Alarcon, the City Councilman who is charged with representing parts of the northwest San Fernando Valley without bothering to live there – and repeatedly lying about it!- has been dancing on the ethics line throughout his political career.
Looks like he got caught stepping over it this time.
Way over it.
In some respects, it’s kind of sad. Early on, Alarcon, as a young aide to Tom Bradley, seemed to epitomize the kind of idealism that part of the Valley desperately needed.
Then things got ugly — really Brunoesque ugly! You’ve got to screw up bad to be criticized by Cardinal Roger Mahony, but Richard Alarcon holds that distinction – and, in this dog’s opinion, what he did to get slapped by the cardinal wasn’t his worst sin.
Alarcon stole an election by smearing a guy as a racist. He didn’t get charged for that crime – even though he later confessed. And the guy who got hurt did the right thing and let the matter drop when it threatened to destroy relations between Latinos and Jews in Los Angeles.
The only thing uglier than Bruno is race baiting – and Alarcon won an election that way.
The year was 1998. Here’s how The Dog Trainer summed it up back then:
“Perhaps no local race turned out nastier this year than the June primary battle in which Alarcon eventually defeated Richard Katz for the Democratic nomination for the 20th District seat.
“The contest was marred by accusations of race-baiting, quarrels at the county clerk’s office and lawsuits.
The day of the primary, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony took the unprecedented step of publicly criticizing Alarcon for sending literature featuring a photo of Mahony administering Holy Communion to him.
“At the time, Mahony said the mailer incorrectly implied that he endorsed Alarcon, and he asked Alarcon to never use his photo in future campaign literature.
“Alarcon won the primary by 29 votes and advanced to become the Democratic candidate …
“But it’s a win that came at a still-untallied price.”
Anybody ready to start a tally?
The Dog Trainer went on to describe why Alarcon won what might have been the nastiest race in recent LA history.
“Most notable was a mailer issued by Alarcon’s biggest supporter, state Sen. Richard Polanco (D–Los Angeles), and written by Alarcon campaign consultant Richie Ross.
“The mailer falsely linked Katz to a 1988 incident in Orange County in which Republican candidates posted guards around voting booths to intimidate Latinos.”
Katz was actually on the opposite side of that dispute. In a part of Los Angeles that was going through a historic demographic shift, there really wasn’t a more damaging slur.
The race baiting managed to dwarf an earlier controversy in the race that centered on Alarcon taking a home improvement loan from the wife of a developer.
Now, a dozen years later, a man who people thought could be a new kind of leader in a changing LA, is facing prison.
And Katz? He’s the guy Antonio — first Latino elected mayor of LA — trusts most to guide his transportation policies, from Metrolink to the MTA’s 30-10 plan. Kind of ironic, huh? The reasons are painfully obvious.
But you gotta laugh, too. Katz once got a lot of crap when he ran for mayor in 1993 for suggesting we turn the LA River into a freeway. He didn’t see its scenic qualities, and, well, the traffic was really bad. Now he may be happy it’s still got water.
Sun Tzu’s Art of War: “If you stand by the river long enough, you will see the bodies of your enemies float by.”