Martinez-Huizar Numbers Game

Council District 14's real war is unfoldingon secret maps

That's not nearly as much fun as threatening to unleash the dogs of Satan on Martinez, as fired Huizar aide Trujillo did. But it's how elections are won in L.A. — and it's why fresh-faced candidates lacking the small fortune needed to make the maps and send out the door-knockers usually can't win.

If 100 people voted in a precinct and Huizar got 88 percent of the votes in that precinct in 2007, his red number on Martinez's secret map is "plus 20" because Huizar exceeded his districtwide 68 percent victory by 20 points.

If another precinct shows Huizar captured just 50 percent of every 100 votes, then his red number is "minus 18" — by winning just 50 percent of those voters, Huizar fell 18 points below his district victory of 68 percent.

Flip this election: Rudy Martinez jumped into the math like a veteran pol.

In real life, the map shows that 247 people voted in one south El Sereno precinct where Huizar received only 53.3 percent of their votes, making his red number "minus 14.7." Yet in a precinct due north, Huizar's red number was plus 8.1, which means he garnered 76.1 percent of the vote there.

Huizar is being showered with cash from the political establishment. So the independently rich Martinez poured \$150,000 of his own into his race, and he's not limiting his campaigning to precincts where Huizar did poorly.

Instead, the Martinez camp is identifying the precincts where Huizar is strong, so they can devote more money, more yard signs and more doorbell-ringers to the Huizar-leaning precincts.

That's their battleground — and that's probably got Huizar nervous.

Gonzalez says, "In Boyle Heights, where Huizar dominated with big, positive red numbers indicating 90 to 95 percent support, we'll walk all those neighborhoods, sometimes twice."

A quick canvassing by L.A. Weekly of Eagle Rock's precinct 6331A shows voters divided. In 2007, 201 people voted in this precinct. Huizar didn't do terribly well: The red marker indicates a "minus 17.1," or 51 percent voted for him.

Lois Lowery, who lives on La Roda Avenue in precinct 6331A, says she's pretty sure she voted for Huizar. She's not so sure how she'll vote now.

Both campaigns have identified her and knocked on her door. But she's leaning toward Martinez because of the frenemies list that Huizar made his staff keep, which tracked who liked him and graded them on whether they had influence.

Lowery wasn't too happy with one of the names she found on that list.

"I may not vote for either one," Lowery says. "The list does bother me — because I was on it. I received a grade of 0, which means I don't pose a threat to Huizar."

Across the street from her, Bob Dickinson and his wife are staunch Martinez supporters, complete with Vote for Martinez signs in their yard.

He called Martinez "a straight arrow" despite Martinez's problems as a younger man with a DUI conviction and an assault charge for a bar fight. "People in District 14 are upset primarily because they just want someone to listen to them. I think Rudy's sincere when he says he'll be available to the people."

A couple of blocks away, Laura Embry insists Huizar does listen.

She credits Huizar with finding money to continue an Eagle Rock Elementary after-school program. He also pushed police to arrest graffiti painters and crack down on disreputable marijuana dispensaries.

"Rudy is trying to make Jose look as bad as he can," Embry says. "The story about the FBI investigating Jose is a dirty play."

Her fondness for Huizar might be helped by the councilman's generosity, which springs from the \$90,000 annually in taxpayer money that every City Council member takes from the budget to spread to their pet projects.

"Jose gave [Eagle Rock Elementary Foundation] \$10,000 toward our fitness program through his discretionary fund," Embry says. "It's about action. Rudy is a person who wants a job."

Then there's Kathy Fox-Martin, who lives up the hill from Lowery and Dickinson. She doesn't remember whom she voted for in 2007 and hasn't decided yet who will get her vote.

She knows Huizar from work he did for a neighborhood recreation center and Eagle Rock Elementary. She knows Martinez from the headlines but doesn't hold that against him.

"I don't really have an opinion of either one," she says, "except that one's a [career] politician and one isn't."

Her doorbell is gonna ring any minute.

USC Alumna

Huizar's Planning Director Tara Devine claims she is a USC Alumna but there appears to be no one listing with the National Student Clearing House?

Martha Montelongo

Huizar's staff's salaries are now posted publicly. You should look them up rather than just believing lies about them living "lavish" lives and, as I've heard elsewhere, "earning six figures." It's just simply not true. Most field deputies earn in the \$40-50K range, less than what people with similar educational credentials in private industry. Mid-levels who supervise 3-5 others staffers earn \$60-70K, and a very few (people with many, many years of experience in city government), earn close to 6 figures; maybe right at.

Compare that to any other professional field, and these fall far short of being competitive.

It's very unfair and dishonest to keep claiming people who give 55-60 hours a week to serve district constituents, take a lot of abuse (sometimes even from me, and who live at a very average level for the district's householfd average, are getting rich off of it.

Martha Montelongo

The council members all make more than a U.S. Senator, more than members of any other big city council members, even NY. \$178,789 per year, plus benefits, perks, pension, cars, trips…This newsweekly reported in 2009 that, “Each council member enjoys a free car, maintenance and gas costing \$6,000 to \$15,000 annually; each gets a petty-cash fund of \$5,000; and each receives a dubious \$100,000 yearly taxpayer-financed slush fund, which amounts to walking-around money that they can dole out to anyone.

And there are those funds that are supposed to go to services being spent for taking a constituent to lunch and picking up the tab, unless of course, she or he is a "Huizar frenemy who scales a zero" in influence.

Martha Montelongo

I think its great to have a challenger to the top notch professionally staffed and funded career politician incumbent. I see Martinez as a David v Goliath. What is Martinez's \$160,000 to the \$1,000,000 plus slush fund or pass around kitty at Huizar's disposal? I don't know about my numbers. They're in the ballpark. Feel free to correct me and thank you.

It's reassuring that we have an intelligent and well financed challenger who may not have the mega bucks pouring in from all over outside the district, but he's got brains, and heart, and he's walked the walk in the community. He's done well. People like him.

The DUI and a bar fight when he was young? People see that and they see he's learned from his mistakes, makes no excuses, and kept growing.

He's not a career politician and he's been on the side of the counter asking for services and getting no response or poor response. He says "we can do better" and that's what he'll do.

Jill Stewart

Hi Martha, this is LA Weekly News Editor Jill Stewart. To correct and add to your numbers, here's the lavish spending per City Council Office: \$178,780 salaries (more than Congress), 15 to 22 personal staffers costing \$1.7 million on average THE MOST IN ANY UNITED STATES CITY. In San Francisco, a city 1/4 the size of LA, the city/county supervisors have TWO STAFF each. 8 free cars. gas each year for their 8 free cars. All staff get a roughly \$11,000 healthcare perk annually to cover their exceedingly generous health plans. So add that to any salary you see cited. PLUS: The city council has \$100,000 walking around money now reduced to \$90,000 per yuear that they give to anyone they wish no strings.

Guest

You don't get healthcare where you work, Jill? How about an expense account? Reimbursed for mileage?

\$1.7 million for about 20 people REALLY isn't a lot of money. I'd venture that if you picked 20 FT employees at random at most companies, you'd come somewhere near that. And when comparing L.A. to "any US City" as you do, do you factor in how many constituents are served by that staff of 14-22 "personal" staffers (an interesting choice of words, too... do these shine the councilman's shoes - or do they serve the needs of approx. 260,000 constituents)? In L.A., districts are very large compared to city council districts elsewhere in the U.S. L.A.'s District 14 is larger than most cities considered "mid-sized" - many of which have their own, multi-member Councils, as opposed to being served by one councilmember and staff. It it stood alone, it would rank somewhere between Irvine and Bakersfield in the roster of Calif. cities, but larger than Glendale, San Bernardino, or Ontario and nearly twice the size of Pasadena (which by the way has 7 city councilmembers, each with staff members of their own).

Comparing apples and oranges apparently isn't a problem for the journalists of the L.A. Weakly, especially when they have a partisan point to make.

Robert

Too bad this story just came """"""Sister of slain LAPD officer says councilman's use of badge 'hurtful,' 'disrespectful'...The sister of a LAPD officer killed in the line of duty 32 years ago said Thursday that she wanted City Councilman Jose Huizar to stop using her brother’s badge as an issue in his March 8 reelection campaign.Karen Kubly, a retired LAPD officer herself, sent an e-mail Wednesday to Huizar saying it was “hurtful and most disrespectful” for him to use the badge in his campaign against businessman Rudy Martinez without notifying her family first."

They're both clowns for embarrassing Latinos and behaving like school children. There's too many serious issue in CD14 they both should be focusing on and grow the hell up. CD14 deserves so much better for these two. For Huizar being the incumbent shows he's running scared the way he's behaving. He hasn't accomplished a thing and is lying on his mailers. He's not responsible for the new police station and he didn't have anything to do with more cops on streets. In fact we have less cops on streets cause Huizar and the clowns on council cut LAPD budget \$100 million. The people deseve so much better.

Delsback90065

Generally, to "oust" an incumbent, the local voting population has to be dissatisfied with that office holder's performance. If the Weekly understood the Eastside (at all), they'd also understand that the vast majority of voters here don't believe Jose Huizar is doing a bad job. In fact, they understand and have proof of just the opposite. Agitate from the West - or in Rudy Martinez's case - from the North (from where he lived in Glendale until just a few months ago before carpetbagging into the district), but don't expect wholesale conversions, and don't be surprised when the incumbent is once again returned. It's because that's what the people who watch his perfomance most closely actually want. (It's called "democracy" . . . it's a very cool concept).

Guest

Wow, a whole story about how campaign consultants focus on regular voters. Now THAT's news. What would we do without the LA Weekly revealing this INCREDIBLE insight to us.