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Election

Michael Trujillo's "bullet in forehead" email: Squirm-inducing antics by Jose Huizar aide take Los Angeles politics to new low

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Mon, Feb 7, 2011 at 2:49 PM

click to enlarge Michael Trujillo, right, at 2008 DNC, before his foot got wedged in his mouth.
  • Michael Trujillo, right, at 2008 DNC, before his foot got wedged in his mouth.
Michael Trujillo's creepy, self-obsessed email to 28 insiders in the Jose Huizar campaign, in which he strutted and proclaimed like Captain Queeg: "We are about to put a political bullet in between Rudy Martinez's forehead," is a wake-up call to people trying to fix Los Angeles.

Trujillo is an unusually nasty negative researcher. His paranoia and disdain for the public, displayed in his skin-crawling email first published on Latinopoliticsblog.com on Sunday, have also played a role in Antonio Villaraigosa's failed mayoralty.

Bafflingly, in a city like L.A. filled with talent, Villaraigosa listens to Trujillo. Now Trujillo's on the grill for the most squirmy political memo since Berman And D'Agostino (BAD) all but called black mayor Tom Bradley intellectually slow:

Long ago, that 1988 leaked "BAD" memo by Michael Berman and Carl D'Agostino effectively ended the mayoral chances of up and coming young talent, Zev Yaroslavsky.

Jose Huizar needs to get Siberia far away from toxic Trujillo if he wants to hang onto to his $178,789 job on the Los Angeles City Council.

click to enlarge Eagle Rock Center for Arts could see a rowdy night.
  • Eagle Rock Center for Arts could see a rowdy night.
But as Red Spot notes at the entertaining and forward-thinking MayorSam site, a Tuesday night City Council District 14 candidate forum at the Center for Arts in Eagle Rock Art should be explosive in the wake of Trujillo's Queeg memo.

Trujillo told KNX this morning that he was just engaging in "political locker room" talk when he fired off his email about how he planned to hurt Huizar's challenger in the March 8 Los Angeles City Council elections, Rudy Martinez.

Political locker room talk? Not really. "We are going to unleash the dogs of Satan on Rudy and he is going to wish he never heard the words 'team huizar.'" Instead of Rudy, lots of other folks are now wishing they'd never heard those two words.

And: "I treated him like I was a cat playing with a trapped mouse, well now he is going to be the dead rat he really is/"

And: "(Rudy is a disgusting human being that needs to be sent back from the vile bag of tripe he emanated from."

Even very sleazy negative researchers confine such thoughts to talk during too-many-beers night, or limit written ranting to the eyes of one or two others.

That Trujillo was comfortable enough with his self-aggrandizing, vicious ideas to email 28 different people is revealing, and leads to two questions:

First, who of the 28 people to whom Trujillo emailed his Queeg memo had the cojones and intelligence to leak it to Latinopoliticsblog and to the Rudy Martinez campaign?

Second, why wasn't Trujillo off Huizar's payroll the moment the memo arrived?

Somebody among those 28 recipients clearly wanted to create big-time distance from Trujillo, and finally decided to say No More to what has become a campaign, from both sides, about nothing but dirt and more dirt.

Below are the names and partial names of those who Trujillo emailed, some of them well-known Los Angeles-based political advisors, media advisors and other political handlers.

But others are paid staffers to Huizar. Let's hope the staffers included below were not on the government's dime during this exchange, and are all staying apprised of Huizar's campaign only after hours. There's really no way to prove they are, or are not, following the law.

The recipients were:

CM Alatorre, Daniel Andalon, Rick Coca. Ana Esmesan, George Esparza, T. Devine, Paul Habib, Rocio Hernandez, Jesse Leon, Zen Ayloera, Erick J. Martell, Jennie Penny, David Miranda, Tricia D. robbins, Erick Sanjurjo, Edel Vizcarra, Jessic DW, Ulisses Sanchez, Paul J. Vizcaino, Eric Hogensen, Edward Headington, Wendy Carillo and the monikers Latin Hilda, Yo Dog, R2Row, MiddleKidSucks, Liberty Mesa, Andie O9.

The media never tell the public what's really going on with negative researchers like Trujillo, so this is an usual story breaking into the open.

Journalists sometimes use the ugly information supplied in quiet phone calls by people like Michael Trujillo -- and sometimes without thoroughly vetting it.

It's an unhealthy symbiotic relationship: negative researchers and journalists.

But Trujillo has taken the unpleasant job to fanatic levels in fairly inconsequential, small-time, local political races like the one in Council District 14, as if he's involved in a major endeavor requiring dirty tricks and personal take-downs to save us all from the horror of losing his boss, Huizar, as a councilman.

Trujillo has gotten much worse since he was a young guy sidling up to reporters during Villaraigosa's run for mayor in 2005, to tell them that former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg was dirty.

click to enlarge Antonio Villaraigosa, a fan of Michael Trujillo's - LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE
  • Los Angeles Magazine
  • Antonio Villaraigosa, a fan of Michael Trujillo's
For that race, Trujillo was Villaraigosa's political "advisor."

Hertzberg, who lost the mayor's race, wasn't dirty. It was Trujillo in 2005 who made some people feel like washing their hands.

Today, a lot of journalists ignore Trujillo, some guffaw at him, some eat it up. Sometimes he has a story, usually not.

But given that the mayor listens to him, it's worth asking whether Antonio Villaraigosa's veracity problems are in part created by his longtime reliance on this thinly veneered, clearly problematic showboat.

Some of the mayor's biggest veracity issues thus far:

-- Villariagosa's free ticket scandal, which was such a mess it led to changes in statewide rules for all California politicians.

-- Villaraigosa's fake PR-driven announcements about major initiatives that the mayor then proceeds to barely work on before abandoning, like the suddenly aborted 12-2 permitting program, the failed one million trees initiative, and the stillborn City Hall crackdown on L.A.'s blight-inducing thickets of illegal billboards.

Critics have continually said City Hall is badly in need of people who are good at policy, not politics. Trujillo isn't good at either.

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