The Bell salary scandal, in which a city manager was found to be taking home as much as $1.5 million in compensation, has inspired headlines from coast to coast. But none of the coverage has been as dark as that of the Washington Times, which weighed in with an "investigation" this week.
Writer Jeffrey Anderson, a former LA Weekly staff writer who has covered southeast L.A. County cities in the past, paints a bleak picture of the region as one that shivers in the grip of gangs, the Mexican Mafia, corruption and a whole lot of brown people.
Street gangs, a powerful prison gang known as the Mexican Mafia and even more powerful drug-trafficking organizations based in Mexico and Colombia operate freely in this small city and the similarly sized cities surrounding it.
The meandering piece dedicates most of its time to Cudahy, using Bell as a jumping off point with connections to its neighboring towns. In this region, he writes, " ... The politics can be as dangerous as the streets."
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He notes, of course, that the region's residents are often from Mexico and Central America and that " ... many are in the United States illegally."
He then dredges the clip file for reports of corruption in Cudahy and then quotes gang expert Richard Valdemar, who says that the 18th Street gang "finance[s] candidates who they think will be loyal to them."
We learn that Cudahy Councilman David M. Silva's "mi vida loca" tattoo means, "my crazy life." And we get the story of three young men in white T-shirts at a Huntington Park rally who tell a councilwoman they're from 18th Street. Breaking news, this.
It's true that sometimes dirty politicians in the region feed off an immigrant, working class population and its lack of media coverage. Anderson should know. He covered the place better than most. But this quilt of selected truths reads like modern-day pulp fiction, except the bad guys are brown instead of Italian or Irish.