By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Alatorre, of course, put the best face on the retirement thing. He bragged Friday that he’d win again this year, had he not wanted to spend "more time with his family." The people wanted him to run for this last term, he said, and he could easily "raise $500,000" to run in April.
Not likely for someone in his kind of financial trouble. But now it would probably cost much more than $500,000 to sell him to his scandal-weary constituency. The 14th is, demographically speaking, a very young district. And what struck you about the 300 or so supporters who half-filled the council chamber Friday was that they looked mostly over 55 — Alatorre’s age — while some of them have long since moved outside the district’s boundaries. Even if he were still flying high, now would be the time for Alatorre to step down. As low as he’s been cruising, what other choice did he have but to bail?Long Time Gone
As it happens, I was also there the last time that a 14th District councilman announced his retirement. It was — some coincidence — 14 years ago, and in contrast to last week, all the council members were present. Arthur K. Snyderand the word scoundrelhave become somewhat synonymous over the past decade, so we ought to recall that at the time, the Artful Dodger had done some terrific things for his district — far more in his 18 years than Richard Alatorre ever did in his 14 years as councilman. There were new pools and tennis courts. The famous Plaza de la Raza cultural nucleus was created, as were eight senior-citizen centers that still function, somewhat worse for wear. Snyder even brought street lighting to a district that had, in fact, been neglected severely by his predecessor. According to his own records, Snyder also got 6,000 trees planted, and wangled two new fire stations and eight new parks. He even made the Eastside a cultural magnet, sponsoring the greatest David Alfaro Siqueiros show ever to be held in Los Angeles and, for good measure, an early Frida Kahlo exhibit that was crucial to establishing her current level of American recognition.
I stress this because former Alatorre aide Michael Gonzalez was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying that "the community had not had a voice in nearly 25 years" when Alatorre took office. What slop. Snyder’s wasn’t a Latino voice, but the Eastside sure had a voice in him. And as a 14th District resident over most of the Alatorre years, I’d say it had a much stronger voice then than it does now.
If the Times reporters Rich Connell and Robert J. Lopez’s diligent coverage was a central factor in forcing Alatorre to resign, it was some very slipshod reporting that helped drive out Snyder. In early 1985, the District Attorney’s Office leaked a report that Snyder’s estranged wife had accused him of molesting their child. The report turned out to be untrue: Snyder and his subsequent wife won the child’s custody. But the report alleged exactly the sort of thing that most of the media were prepared to believe about Snyder, so the falsehood sealed his political career. He retired in midterm.
Am I wrong to think that this was not a good thing? Had Snyder served the rest of his term, a more estimable Eastside candidate than Alatorre might have had time to develop a campaign for the seat.