[mobile site, backup mobile]
[SoapBlox Help]
Menu & About Calitics

Make a New Account



Forget your username or password?

- About Calitics
- The Rules (Legal Stuff)
- Event Calendar
- Calitics' ActBlue Page
- Calitics RSS Feed
- Additional Advertisers

View All Calitics Tags Or Search with Google:
Web Calitics

Calitics Endorsement: CA-32

by: Calitics Editorial Board

Fri May 08, 2009 at 13:30:00 PM PDT

In 2007, Calitics watched as Laura Richardson ran a nasty, race-baiting campaign in a special election in CA-37, emphasizing that the seat "should be held by someone from our community" and using what amounts to an identity politics wedge to carry her to victory.  We found that distasteful, and hoped that Democrats in future campaigns would not resort to such dirty politics.  When the race to replace Hilda Solis in CA-32 began, we thought the candidates, nominally progressive Democrats, would highlight their policy positions and positive attributes instead of using divisive tactics.  The major candidates, Board of Equalization member Judy Chu, State Sen. Gil Cedillo and former Obama transition official Emanuel Pleitez, all espoused generally progressive ideas throughout the campaign.  But then again, so did Richardson, and we do believe that, at some level, how you campaign does dictate how you govern.

Therefore, we have been extremely disappointed in Gil Cedillo's divisive and often false attacks on his rivals.  He started his campaign talking about "our community" and "our people", clearly attempting to play upon a Latino/Asian divide inside the district, which has a larger Hispanic population (which is an odd tactic for someone like Cedillo, who has never represented anyone from the 32nd district, to take).  Cedillo's blatantly false mailers against Judy Chu during the race, attempting to blame her for the economic crisis by associating her with unrelated headlines and claiming that "Politicians like Judy Chu give tax breaks to their big corporate contributors," when as a BoE member she merely returned tax refunds owed corporations, were bad enough.  But the mailer against Emanuel Pleitez, using Facebook images to build a false narrative of Pleitez as a drunken womanizer who hangs around with non-Hispanic women (a deliberate effort - we wouldn't be surprised to learn that this mailer only went to Hispanic women) and throws "gang signs" (actually that's the sign for Voto Latino, an organization for which Pleitez was a past board member), goes beyond the pale.  This slandering, not only of Pleitez but of women in general, as if appearing in a picture at a bar connotes being a slut, goes well beyond what should be expected of a public official, and certainly beneath someone asking to be given a promotion and sent to Washington.

Calitics was generally comfortable with giving no official endorsement on this race until the events of the past couple weeks.  We find Dr. Chu to be a progressive leader and Pleitez to have a significant amount of knowledge and energy, and Cedillo has been a past champion on significant issues like immigration.  But the events of the past couple weeks have forced us to end our silence.  Our somewhat unusual endorsement for voters in CA-32 is to vote for ANY DEMOCRAT BUT GIL CEDILLO.  The behavior he has displayed in this campaign should be rejected, not rewarded.

Calitics Editorial Board :: Calitics Endorsement: CA-32
Tags: , , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

Win or lose, a mea culpa is due (5.00 / 3)
The "adult" thing for Cedillo to do here would be to apologize, both to Pleitez and the women who he slandered.  If he can't bring himself to repudiate this disgusting mistake his campaign made and apologize to the victims, it shows that Cedillo is just another Machiavellian politician who doesn't care what destruction he leaves in his wake as long as he gets elected.

Ball's in your court, Cedillo.

As a Young Democrat (6.50 / 2)
who is a supporter of Voto Latino and turning out the youth vote I was horrified to see Cedillo stoop to this low a level on a young leader. I didn't really have a horse in this race up into a week ago, but now I am happy to be supporting Emanuel with a phone bank just to help turn out the vote and show Mr. Cedillo that demonizing a candidate for their youth and race baiting is unacceptable.  

I'm glad Calitics saw fit to make an endorsement.  

Agreed (0.00 / 0)
I truly liked all of the candidates early on, but the recent tactics of Cedillo have really bothered me.

volunteer for judy tomorrow! (0.00 / 0)
Asian Pacific Americans for Progress is sponsoring a day of canvassing and a party in the evening!  apaforprogress.org.  Judy is a TRUE progressive who will vote and legislate as a progressive, too!

Any word (0.00 / 0)
Has Voto Latino responded to being called a "gang"?  And does Gil Cedillo really not know the sign for Voto Latino?  Cuz it would be beyond embarrassing to be the Chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus and not know the difference between the Voto Latino sign and a gang sign.

closing the circle (5.00 / 1)
I've been informed that Laura Richardson and Gil Cedillo have the SAME CAMPAIGN MANAGER.

Just to close the circle on all of this.

Wow. (0.00 / 0)
Two primary campaigns like this in a row suggests that people need to think very carefully before hiring this manager, and anyone who does hire them for a primary has pretty much got a strike against them.

[ Parent ]
Who is this person? (8.00 / 2)
They should never work in this state again.

Politics is the strong and slow boring of hard boards.

[ Parent ]
Derek Humphrey (0.00 / 0)
I think he also did Darcy Burner's campaign.

[ Parent ]
I Endorse this Unendorsement (2.50 / 2)
Gil Cedillo is a boss. His machine largely operates under the aegis of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, but it ties into all sorts of things. It's a rather unpleasant machine viewed up close - the base of power is in the small, poor independent cities of southeast LA county, which in practice are petty fiefdoms locked down by ruling cliques and featuring corruption that, if not quite 3rd world in scope, is at least competitive with the worse parts of Italy or Mexico.

What kind of corruption? Here's an example:

Car towing is a pretty political business. There's low overhead - minimum, you need an empty lot in an unpleasant area, a tow truck, and a few people to watch over each one. But to really make money, you need a municipal towing contract. But how do you compete for a contract? Rates are set by law, and you can't really compete on service - tow services are about equally good at moving things from one place to another. So you compete at being friends with the people who give contracts out.

So. Around the cities of Maywood, Cudahy, Huntingdon Park, there were these two towing operations. Connected, for the reasons I explained above, but for the reasons further above, TPTB can do... more for their friends in cities like these. So, not satisfied with just holding the contracts, they realized that cars seized from people driving without licenses and registration were, by law, to be held for 30 days, and 30 days of impound fees are a lot. And they realized, that given the demographics of the area -  overwhelmingly immigrant, overwhelmingly illegal immigrant - meant there were a lot of people driving without licenses or registration. And they realized that if they could convince the police to set up checkpoints - nominally to find drunk drivers, really just to regularly pull people over and check their registrations - they could get a lot of those cars impounded, and make a lot of money.

So they did. Impound fees for 30 days were somewhere upwards of $700. For a lot of these beaters, it was just cheaper to buy another, so their owners did, and the tow operators made their cash by auctioning off the ones left behind.

Now this dances the edge between very bad policy and corruption, but what pushes it unquestionably over the line is that the city councils and police (particularly Maywood, whose PD was known for hiring officers fired from other forces for disciplinary reasons) were rewarded for this by the tow operators, who paid them in cash, prostitutes, cocaine, and trips to Las Vegas.

Now I just italiced that, but for the benefit of skimmers, let's repeat: In return for cash, prostitutes, cocaine, and trips to Las Vegas, the local powers used their positions to take cars from poor immigrants and give them to well-connected donors.

And it's not that this was a "screw those dirty Mexicans" thing - the city councils in question were overwhelmingly hispanic. But ethnic machines don't run on ethnic fellow-feeling, they run on ethnic votes, and illegal immigrants don't vote. Illegal bribes, though, spend just fine.

Some locals complained about this for a while, but it eventually fell apart when an ex-LAPD detective, now a professor of criminology, signed up part-time with the Maywood PD to keep fresh on new techniques, realized the whole thing was horribly corrupt, and called in the FBI.

But so back to Gil Cedillo! So it looked for a second like this might all blow up and take down his network, and particularly his protege Mario Beltran (who recently agreed to renounce elective office as part of a plea in another corruption probe, and in between had a mini-scandal involving a fight with his second crack whore of the night after getting trashed at a club for gang bangers). But this is what a machine is good for, and Cedillo started to pour money, staff, and personal appearances into the area. He did photo ops with his allies, talked up his support for driving licenses' for illegal immigrants (which, in fairness, was a longstanding issue of his, and if anyone asks what problem that would solve, here's your answer) and pushed the sitting council to declare Maywood a "sanctuary city", which was a brilliant move that

A) Didn't actually address the issue at stake,

B) Gave the people who caused this mess in the first place an opportunity to pose as defenders of the poor immigrant,


C) Clouded the issue, such that people (and journalists) who heard that something noisy was going on in Maywood looked over and fixed on this.

And in the end, it pretty much worked. There was an election, enough turnover to declare it "change" and "reform" and bleed off the pressure, the basic power structures remained intact, and money kept flowing to Cedillo's machine, and beyond. The families of the tow operators (who were Persian or otherwise middle eastern, IIRC, and didn't live or work in LA city proper) were regular donors to Antonio Villaraigosa (a daughter at San Diego State maxed her contributions to him, for example) and various latino LA City Council candidates. Which is how things work, when the machine and the Latino Caucus are the same thing.

Now, let's not be too delicate. This is more or less the standard pattern of new ethnic constituencies entering into politics - freelance hustlers engaging in open transactionalism solidify into an ethnic machine, which comes to redirect resources towards candidates who still are or front for power brokers but can present as acceptable partners to outside constituencies. In another generation or so, the institutions and demographics will probably come to the point of turning out wonks and golden boys, and then to the point where the ethnic distinction isn't strong enough to form a constituency at all.

And let's not be too naive, either. Hilda Solis, the previous holder of this seat, built a campaign, messaging, and GOTV infrastructure largely for the purpose of ensuring a steady stream of honest graft to people with the last name "Solis". But she DID build a campaign, messaging, and GOTV infrastructure, and the graft was at least honest. And I would like things in the district to improve from there.

So, yes, I endorse the unendorsement of Cedillo. He may only be doing the usual urban-machine thing, but the usual urban-machine thing can get pretty ugly if left to run itself out. And the traditional way to stop, or at least moderate it, is for the well-off activist, good government, "silk stocking" types in the same party - which, cough cough, hello Calitics - to withhold their support.

Disclosure: I'm awesome.

Nonsense (0.00 / 0)
This is all nonsense, especially the last post.  The bottom line is that both of these candidates have long records in public office to judge them on.   That should be a lot more important in endorsements by political activists than anything that happens in the campaign.  You should know these people and have an idea because of their years of service as to how they would vote in Washington.  More to the point, they also have some substantial differences on issues that informed people should be talking about instead of silly things like campaign mailers.  I don't like the tactics Leo Briones (Cedillo's Campaign Consultant) is using either, but I am not silly enough to let it outweigh a long record of public service.  As for the prior post implying Cedillo was part of a machine and that Mario Beltran was a protege, that's even bigger nonsense and if anyone really believes that nonsense, I would suggest that they check with anyone who has worked with Gil.  I am not endorsing him, but for anyone to claim Gil Cedillo is not an honest person and a progressive Democrat with a liberal record is letting the competitiveness of this race affect their common sense.  There are reasons for people to oppose him, but everyone in Sacramento(as shown by polls taken by the California Journal) considers Gil Cedillo to be a progressive who is known for consistently standing up to the special interests.

Was Beltran a protege? (0.00 / 0)
There are some interesting articles in the independent press, including City Beat and the LA Weekly, regarding Beltran and Cedillo.

See:  "Mario's Tow Truck Troubles:  A state senator comes to the aid of a pal facing legal and political problems in Bell Gardens," LA City Beat, 10/04/07

In a 6/2/07 article, the LA Weekly referred to Cedillo as a "political mentor to Beltran," and quoted Cedillo as saying:  "I know him and I trust him. He has my full faith and confidence."

And City Beat referred to Beltran as a "protege" of Cedillo's, here:

[ Parent ]
Desperation (0.00 / 0)
There's a reason why LABOR, the ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY and the DEMOCRATIC PARTY endorsed JUDY.  Aside from being a solid, progressive Dem, SHE'S actually LIVED IN and REPRESENTED the SGV Valley.  Gil's done some good work, but he ought to keep his unethical, carpet-bagging hands of the 32nd CD.

Calitics in the Media
Archives & Bookings
The Calitics Radio Show
Calitics Premium Ads

Support Calitics:

Buy on Amazon through us.


Google Blogsearch

Daily Email Summary

Powered by: SoapBlox