The big picture is sometimes difficult for leaders to grasp. Unemployment, the increasing gap between rich and poor, equal educational opportunity for all – they're all issues with no easy answers.
So politicians often look for the micro-issue, a headline-generator that won't necessarily change the way we live but that might inspire some team spirit. U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas has found that issue, and it's hard not to cheer him on.
He wants the embattled Sriracha factory to come to the San Fernando Valley, which he represents:
You see, Huy Fong Foods, home of the beloved hot sauce, is under the gun in its hometown of Irwindale. The City Council recently gave the company 90 days to mitigate its chili smell — or else.
The factory's people say this is about more than the smell of hot, red peppers. They argue that complaints have come from only a handful of neighbors, one of whom is related to a member of the City Council.
On top of that, the city is looking to sell property it owns next to Huy Fong to a waste-management facility. Yeah, that will smell good.
“Maybe they think they can turn around and lease it [the Huy Fong property] or sell it to someone else,” Huy Fong attorney John Tate told us recently. “I've viewed most of their actions as basically being vindictive.”
In 2012 Huy Fong bought the property, opting out of a deal that had it paying the city $250,000 a year to occupy the land.
What's more, it's not even chili-crushing season, when the factory does emit some spiciness. That happens in fall. How can the company eliminate an odor that won't even exist during the 90-day window?
Cardenas visited Huy Fong this week. You know staffers from the office of L.A. City Councilman Felipe Fuentes were there too.
Huy Fong and its founder, David Tran, are hearing from all kinds of communities that want to host Huy Fong and all its jobs. Last week Huy Fong said it was now open to moving.
Cardenas says the San Fernando Valley would be proud to have it:
Mr. Tran's story is really powerful He left Vietnam, started a company from his home, and it has gone on to be so incredibly successful. He wanted to sell Sriracha all over the world, and he chose the United States – and California – to build his American company and create American jobs
Moving to the Valley would put the factory closer to some of its chili growers in California's other Valley, the Central Valley, too.
More from the Congressman:
This is an American success story. Huy Fong Foods is growing 10-20% every year. They manufacture their own bottles. All of their ingredients are grown in California's Central Valley. If Huy Fong Foods needs to relocate, why send them off thousands of miles away? California's 29th District is home to a long manufacturing tradition. Why not keep the jobs in California?
This remains a hot story. We'll stay on top of it – at our local cafe.