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
Since the 1960s, when huge numbers of Angelenos fled the city's core for the San Fernando Valley, politicians like Huizar have been promising to lead a Broadway revival.
"You could get hurt walking or lose a transmission in some of the potholes," Saldaña says. Large sections of sidewalk between Fifth and Sixth streets have been patched with 4-by-8-foot pieces of plywood so the mostly Latino shoppers don't fall 20 feet to a subterranean parking lot. Saldaña says Mideb was forced to do that because the city permitting process got gummed up, and Huizar has been no help.
Baloney, Huizar retorts. He points to District 14 projects he's pushed through or initiated, such as the Valley Bridge in El Sereno; $1.5 billion in capital improvements in Boyle Heights; open space in Elephant Hill; and, yes, even the renovation of Broadway.
"Rudy's living in a black box and doesn't know what's going on," Huizar says. "I'm one of the hardest-working council members."
But as Bill Boyarsky, former Los Angeles Times city editor, notes, "City Hall is extremely functional for entrepreneurs and developers. It's dysfunctional for the poor, for immigrants and people living in overcrowded areas. ... City Hall is run by land developers and unions."
Saldaña believes Broadway will rise — if Martinez beats Huizar. "I've seen Rudy Martinez come to Broadway and talk to merchants," he says. "I have never seen José Huizar" do that.
It's clear Martinez is no messiah. As a restaurant investor in the 1990s, Martinez lobbied to roll back smoking restrictions as part of the National Smokers Alliance funded by Philip Morris.
The Echo Park native had run-ins with the law as a young man. Arrested two decades ago for drunk driving, he eventually was convicted of using a suspended license. He later was convicted of assault after a 1991 brawl at his dad's bar.
But Martinez is not Huizar, which is why he's getting Elizabeth Agosto's vote. Agosto, a waitress for 19 years at Pat & Lorraine's Coffee Shop on Eagle Rock Boulevard, remembers a 2007 Huizar campaign event on the restaurant's patio.
"There were 30 or 40 people here for a party — and they didn't order one thing and José didn't tip a dime," Agosto says of Huizar. "He's been on my shit list ever since." She plans to "canvass neighborhoods for Rudy."
Right now, however, Martinez is mainly just scaring important people with his money and his moxie. He still has a huge, historic wall to climb.
For one thing, there's the "Durazo Effect," named for Maria Elena Durazo, leader of the L.A. County Federation of Labor. She directs 300 local unions with 800,000 members, many of whom will canvass neighborhoods and vote the way Durazo says — for Huizar. Political types say when Durazo taps a candidate's shoulder, an opponent's tears are all that's left.
Still, Martinez is making inroads. Huizar is known for his arrogance, and some former allies have defected to Martinez, notably Huizar's ex-campaign spokesman George Gonzalez.
Since he jumped in the race, Martinez says, Huizar is "at every quinceañera, bar and bat mitzvah and senior citizen events. He's going to lose — and have to go out and earn a living like 95 percent of the rest of us."