By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
But if Padilla owed Villaraigosa nothing, he virtually owed his career to Villaraigosa‘s foremost supporter: the County Federation of Labor. “We expected more from Padilla than Pacheco,” says County Fed leader Miguel Contreras. “To be fair to Pacheco, he wasn’t our candidate” when he ran for council two years ago. “No one thought we had a long or meaningful relationship with him. But Padilla -- we did a tremendous amount of walking, phoning and mailing for him [when he first ran for council two years ago]. He was not favored to win the election, until hundreds of janitors and hotel workers turned out to walk for him.
”Now, those janitors and hotel workers feel betrayed by someone they helped elect less than 24 months ago. For Padilla to go against their candidate, to have no discussion with anyone in labor about endorsing Hahn, not to have the decency to call the janitors‘ and hotel workers’ unions to explain his position -- people assume there‘s a lack of respect for all those workers who came out for him.“
It’s not that the dynamic duo is devoid of all deference: Pacheco and Padilla have happily done Mayor Riordan‘s bidding for the past several years. Pacheco first came on the scene in 1998, as a member of the elected Charter Reform Commission. There, recalls USC constitutional-law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who chaired the commission, ”He was a very conscientious and hard-working member. In December of 1998, though, when the mayor was pressuring the elected commission to oppose melding our efforts into a single charter [with that of the other, appointed Charter Reform Commission], the mayor offered to endorse Nick [for City Council]. From that point on, Nick always voted to support the mayor’s position on the charter commission.“
This pattern has carried over, on the whole, to Pacheco‘s tenure on the council. As for Padilla, his votes have usually reflected the perspectives of the mayor or late council President John Ferraro. Both Padilla and Pacheco, for instance, were among the last council members to support the LAPD’s consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department -- even though the consent decree had been placed on the city‘s agenda by the LAPD’s abuse of their own constituents. Apparently, standing with their sponsors in the ancien regime mattered more to them than standing up for the interests of their districts.
Now, with Ferraro dead and Riordan leaving office, they have fixed their stars to Jim Hahn -- whose campaign capo, attorney Bill Wardlaw, was Riordan‘s deal maker with charter commissioners back when Pacheco joined the mayor’s stable. Plainly, they are more comfortable cutting deals with the old order than they are championing the new -- even though that new order, the labor-Latino alliance, has done more to better the lives of their constituents in the past five years than the city‘s old-guard power elite has in the past hundred. How they explain all this to their constituents will be interesting indeed.
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