At the height of the Red Scare 60 years ago, Sen. Joseph McCarthy was fond of waving sheets of paper claiming he had a list of Commies in government, sometimes 205 of them, sometimes only 57, depending on his sobriety at the time.
The lists were fictitious but Councilman Jose Huizar’s lists aren’t. They aren’t Commies but lists of friends and enemies, those who matter and those who don’t.
David Zahniser pops the story in the LA Times today with lists of 178 civic leaders in the 14th District ranked on a zero-to-five scale for “influence” and on a plus-three to minus-three scale for “support” of the Councilman.
Four different lists were provided to Zahniser by Eagle Rock businessman Rudy Martinez who has put together a well-funded campaign to challenge Huizar in the March 8 election.
Martinez, a one-time Huizar supporter who became disenchanted, got the highest marks for support on two of the lists.
You can just imagine Huizar aides whispering in his ear on his occasional forays among the people in his district, “Father Boyle, 2 for clout.” Or Glassell Park community leader Laura Gutierrez “minus 2 for support.” Or LA Clean Sweep leader Heinrich Keifer “1 for clout.”
You know how hard it is to keep these things straight in your mind when you meet so many people and only care about those who support you and have influence — not to mention money.
What an embarrassment!
It seems Huizar started having his staff, which included Martinez’s mother until July when she got booted because her son was talking about running, develop the lists after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa moved him over from his low-paying school board seat to one of the 15 prized positions on the nation’s highest paid City Council.
Huizar denied and dissembled until confronted with copies of the lists.
“Huizar gave varying answers about the lists when asked about them,” Zahniser reports. “He
initially said he believed the practice had been dropped in 2006. After
The Times told Huizar that it had copies of office e-mails sent and
received by his staff in 2009 making reference to such lists, he said
the ranking system ended as recently as two years ago.
was shown a copy of a list for the northeast section of his district,
he described it as ‘familiar.’ When he was shown one dealing with El
Sereno, he said: ‘I’ve never seen this.’ “
He refused to turn over all lists he has, saying through a spokesman: “The public interest served by protecting the council member’s
decision-making process clearly outweighs the public interest served by
the record’s disclosure.”
Say what? “Public interest,” “decision-making process” — could Huizar be deciding what he does based as a public servant sworn to serve the public interest based on who has influence and who supports him? Heaven forbid!
It’s hard to believe anyone else is so insecure as to keep such lists but their exposure does shine a light on the pervasive attitude of City Hall that ordinary folks working to improve their neighborhoods don’t count for much unless they suck up to the politicians and can deliver votes in exchange for the favors they get.
Critics of Huizar have long complained that he often behaves exactly that way, doesn’t work hard enough to serve his constituents and is ineffective in meeting their needs — except during election campaigns.
The contest between Martinez, endorsed Sunday by LA Clean Sweep, and Huizar is shaping up as the costliest and nastiest in this election season so you can be sure a lot more will be coming out in the weeks ahead.