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First, let me say "thank you." From the currently active, 8.653 readers, I get lots of tips. I dream of a staff to split the stories up, but y'all just have me. I work everything I can to deliver while apologizing that a one-person shop can't cover everything.
Anyway, we have the s*hole today with uncensored language. You have been warned!
We now have the Mendoza report. It's pretty scathing, although I can think of more than a dozen members over my 23 years around this Capitol 'hood whose letter from an independent law firm's investigation would be much worse. That doesn't excuse his behavior or any of ours as, mostly, men. What will bring him down is fighting back with arrogance, including the lawsuit against the State Senate.
We are a society that allows comebacks and recovery from behavior and addictions. If he were to admit that he was inappropriate in the cited circumstances and sought counseling, he could survive politically and be re-elected this year. However, it is too late.
Like Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) who is on a voluntary unpaid leave of absence for an investigation, Mendoza is from one of the most politically divisive and unforgiving regions of the state. For those of us who aren't new to the "game, yo," local politics are important.
I love Bill Clinton, but he was a sexual slime-ball. In college, I had a framed Time magazine cover of him above my bed. Yeah, that required explaining to people I dated, but I stood by him. Paul Tsongas was no longer available.
State legislators are different. In particular, in the era of term limits, we no longer have "lions" who are protected because we accept inexcusable behavior for policy leadership. Members of Congress have a bit more latitude. Twelve years doesn't create someone who is not replaceable.
Members of the State Senate now have the opinion from a well respected law firm. They need to get this over this to focus on the business of the state, and they know it. I would bet that, in the next 24 hours, Senator Mendoza willingly walks away and remakes his image or goes down in the history books of being expelled for sexual misconduct.
Is it unfair? Is it disproportionate to what others currently serving have through whispers been accused of?
Yes. Sometimes, shit just happens and you have to play the hand that you were dealt, particularly when you were the dealer, which is what faces Mendoza.
If you want "fairness," you don't belong in politics.
Anyway, that's what will be in front of senators tomorrow. Some, if forced to vote, will be completely hypocritical because they know they are guilty too and others will just be disgusted to having to play the role of jury.
It sucks, but it's what the electeds signed up for.
Of course, more below, but let's look at a message from Cal State LA, which is doing a great job lifting people up. Yesterday, I sat through Assembly Budget Sub 2 and was heartened by the committee's continuing concerns about my higher education trifecta--access, success, and equity. I spent a year writing "A 2020 Vision for Student Success," using amazing discussions of a diverse commission and equity was what kept my heart beating.
It's no longer my livelihood, but it remains my passion and I dream of advocates making the case. For now, good job, @KevinMcCartyCA, who happens to be my Assemblymember and who I've known from his days on the Assembly budget staff.
I hate nagging you and love you for reading. That said, you are a livelihood and I hope you because a subscriber so we can this can keep going. It's essentially $4 per year, and I pay more for each of the papers I read each morning.
AD58 (Downey): The Cristina Garcia situation continues with five allegations (4 anonymous through a lawyer, one publicly, and one anonymous lobbyist). As mentioned above, the Assemblymember from Bell Gardens continues her voluntary unpaid leave of absence. Yesterday, after the long weekend, the Los Angeles County elections office was open but didn't get a visit from Garcia to pull nomination papers. As mentioned before, she filed her signatures in lieu of a filing fee before the allegations came out.
Garcia claims that the the allegations "are part of a concerted effort to discredit my person and record as a legislator," reports the APs Kathleen Ronayne.
I've had people both who I trust confirm AND dispute the allegation from the lobbyist that there was a "kegerator" in her office and her interactions with staff generally. She has both longtime staffers (if we can say that in the era of term limits), while also churning through many others. All of the allegations we have heard from are "former" staffers.
Churn is not unusual. Senator Henry Stern (D-Malibu) has essentially replaced his entire staff over the last year, including well respected senior staffers. This has raised a lot of eyebrows about his office, but I frankly haven't had time to look in to it and talk to people involved.
Other staffers in Capitol and district offices often are frequently youngins who routinely move on. Junior legislative staff positions are part of a "big sort," with some going to higher staff positions, some picked off by lobbying firms and organizations, and others just sort of disappearing for greener personal pastures.
Four candidates have pulled nomination papers for Garcia's district. They include Commerce councilmember Ivan Altamirano, who has been fined by the FPPC for voting to appoint his sister to the city's planning commission. Oh, and his sister paid "rent" to him, meaning his three votes to appoint her were a conflict of interest. The other candidates also have political conflicts with in their backgrounds.
The last clean-up in the area was by the FBI in the Calderatti convictions. It's now happening through #METOO. It sucks as the current resettlement is not in the court of law, but is fueled by political camps and the need to address the issue head-on. As U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said on Colbert last night, "It's not okay to not say something because it's your friend."
I'm sorry about using Bil Maher-style language in The Nooner, but frankly I have no other words.
THE DEMOCRATIC SHITSTORM: The party convenes for its annual convention this weekend, in San Diego. At the convention, they will consider primary endorsements. Most are pro-forma adoption of a consent calendar created in January pre-endorsement caucuses of activists by region. For Tony Mendoza, he is up for endorsement at a caucus at the convention for state central committees who can afford to attend. Cristina Garcia is on the consent calendar for an AD58 endorsement, as the caucuses were help before the stories broke about her.
The California Nurses Association wants to be the headline at the convention, but the region southeast of downtown LA are providing the political eclipse.
SD34 (Huntington Beach): Former Assemblymember Tom Umberg intends to run against incumbent Janet Nguyen (R). This makes this a vary interesting race. Hillary won the district by 22.55% over Trump and I now categorize the district as a toss-up. I talked to both Republican and Democratic consultants on the issue this morning.
The Trump/Clinton numbers are not just a separation of presidential vs. mid-term elections. Dems now have a 9.4% advantage over Republicans there. Vietnamese-Americans in the second generation are not sticking overwhelmingly with their parents' anti-communist affiliation with Richard Nixon. We see the same move from conservative ideals in the Garden Grove Korean-American second generation. The 24.6 of voters choosing "no party preference" are strongly leaning blue.
In politics, we like to say "this ain't your daddy's old district." Now, as an older guy, I have to say that it's my old region that has changed. Umberg via Nguyen, both of whom I like personally, will be a hot race in November. (Apologies to Janet, as I am sure diacritical marks should be applied, particularly in the week of Tet, but I couldn't find them at press time!)
#CAKEDAY: Light those candles for Ruben Gonzalez, Lexi Howard, Silvia Flores, Juliet Lucero, and Trisha Tahmasbi!
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