As it turned out, the real punch line came days later, when Alarcón seized on Prop. R as a way to get back to City Hall. Only weeks earlier, Alarcón had acted like a mini kingmaker to Montañez and Fuentes, both of whom sought his endorsement for their separate council campaigns. Montañez, a tough-talking former mayor of the tiny city of San Fernando, insists that she walked away with Alarcón’s backing — only to see that commitment evaporate once Prop. R passed.
Alarcón said Montañez “obviously misread the conversation.” “The conversation was me advising her as to what she would have to do to win the campaign. Obviously I didn’t endorse her if I’m running myself.”
Obviously. Fuentes went to Alarcón for an endorsement too, only to be told that any decision would be guided by the city’s two political powerhouses — Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “He said that it would be a difficult decision, and that he would be checking in with the speaker and the mayor,” said Fuentes, who lives in Sylmar.
Now, of course, Alarcón wants the mayor’s support for himself. “I can tell you I have consulted with him on several occasions. He likes the idea of having friends on the City Council, but that’s not to say that other candidates are not friends too,” he said.
Councilwoman Hahn said she and her colleagues always expected that a few City Hall veterans might make their way back into City Hall. But, she added, Prop. R is “still a good thing.” “Richard is Richard,” she added. “I mean, you can either look at him as a guy with a lot of experience or a political opportunist.”
And so voters who backed Prop. R, which will likely scare off any real competition in nearly every council contest until 2013, probably unwittingly worsened the musical chairs played by politicians angling to remain in office — in the northeast Valley. Montañez went to the trouble of moving into Los Angeles from her hometown of San Fernando to make sure her bid was legit. Alarcón moved last week into an apartment in Panorama City, where he now lives with his new girlfriend’s brother. This is the city’s version of reform.