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
At a time when many African-American elected officials fear the political ascent of Latinos in their South-Central base, Ludlow brings a stellar record of cross-racial organizing on living-wage and public-safety issues. “Race has become a deterrent to talking turkey on crime,” he laments, noting the difficulty a white official experiences in calling for anti-gang activities. At the same time, Ludlow wants the council and the police commission to fulfill one as-yet-unrealized promise of police reform: to provide staff, budget, and subpoena powers to the LAPD’s inspector general.
Ludlow isn’t the only progressive candidate in the 10th: Madison Shockley, who challenged Holden four years ago, is another thoughtful liberal in the chase for the seat. But Ludlow’s endorsers — organizers like Madeline Janis-Aparicio of the living-wage coalition, Anthony Thigpen of the Metro Alliance and civil rights attorney Connie Rice; and electeds such as Hilda Solis, Sheila Kuehl, Judy Chu, Cindy Montanez and Jackie Goldberg — collectively define L.A.’s new civic left. All are anti-ethnocentric, all have fought entrenched business-politico establishments on behalf of more socially responsible investment. Ludlow would be an important voice for those priorities on the city council.
But the key battle in the March city primaries is the one for the district that Nick Pacheco currently represents. It’s important not just because Villaraigosa is the leader of that civic left on whose success the stability and livability of the city ultimately depend. It’s also important because the race will determine whether Latino politics in Los Angeles descends into a nasty, visionless parochialism or becomes the centerpiece of a new crosstown progressive coalition.
Nick Pacheco is a thug. “The members here are afraid of Pacheco,” says one City Council member. “He’s chairman of the budget committee, he’s made it clear he’ll retaliate against anyone who opposes him, and he’ll do anything to get his way.” That same kneecapping ethos informs Pacheco’s campaign against Villaraigosa, which began with scurrilous mailings charging Villaraigosa with a range of extramarital carryings-on, funded and signed by a longtime Pacheco pal. But then, Pacheco — whose Eastside apparat’s campaign on behalf of Hahn’s 2001 mayoral bid featured a phone-message attack on Villaraigosa from a woman pretending to be County Supe Gloria Molina — is already a poster boy for the cause of Slime in Politics.
If re-elected, Pacheco will make common cause with Council president Alex Padilla, and new member-to-be Tony Cardenas (running with token opposition in a new East Valley district), around a vision of Latino politics that will be about little more than rewarding one’s friends and punishing one’s enemies. Los Angeles, and its new, overwhelmingly Latino working class, need stronger, smarter and more creative champions than these guys. Villaraigosa, who as Assembly Speaker authored and won support for massive school and parks bonds that the state badly needed, has a clear record of providing that kind of leadership.
Since 2001, many L.A. progressives have turned their attention away from City Hall, what with a president who threatens war on a regular basis. But L.A. ignored, we should have learned by now, periodically turns into L.A. in ashes. It needn’t be that way, if local liberals can direct their energies to the challenges of this spring’s elections.