The Lost Moral Compass of a Harvard Mexican Councilman Part I
By Javier Rodriguez from La Plaza Del Mariachi 15 August 2014
- BREAKING: The FBI Revealed Today the Identity of One of the “Perps” in the Racist Bombing of Four African American Families on May 12 in Boyle Heights.
- The Corruption of the Historical Casa del Mexicano and our Playboy Councilman Huizar,
The violence in the poverty stricken Eastside Latino quarter of Boyle Heights continues unabated. Recently however, it was tainted with racist terrorism when allegedly, eight Latinos bombed the homes of four African American families. The terrifying scene erupted in the Ramona Gardens Public Housing Projects located three miles northeast of the Mariachi Plaza.
Caught on video from the start as they entered the vicinity of the Housing Projects, the eight “perps” have not been arrested nor identified until today. In a news breaking story of this morning, the FBI reported the department had used testing of finger prints on glass and bingo, the scientific DNA search revealed Carlos “Big Tricker” Hernandez, age 29, was already in custody for robbery in Riverside. According to FOX NEWS, Hernandez a known member of Big Hazard, either constructed the bomb or threw it against the apartments at Ramona Gardens.
With the clock ticking and the fact the crime was obviously racially motivated, not long after, the LAPD, accompanied by mostly Latino community leaders, staged a press conference inside the housing complex offering a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the criminals involved in the bombings.
Upon scanning the news reports of the media event then, including the large photo published in La Opinion the following day, Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the 14th District, did not appear in the picture nor is he quoted in the article. More, egregiously, he failed to personally visit the stunned community to show compassion and provide leadership to assure the victims a prompt investigation and protection. As with all the violent murders and constant weekly shootouts of the last 18 months in Boyle Heights, all indicators point to Jose Huizar, the Harvard and immigrant councilman, once again “was missing in action.”
The area sits between the County General Hospital and the USC School of Medicine on the Westside and Cal State L.A. on the East and like most Latino barrios, the Southern wing is divided by the San Bernardino Fry. Along with El Sereno and Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights is part of the 14th Council District in the City of LA. The Gardens is also a long time bastion of the Hazard St. Gang, composed of several hundred hard core members and lest not forget, it is also one of the intense pockets of poverty in the city. The subsidized public complex houses 1791 residents of which 78 are African Americans, most which I presume, are part of the now noticeable multiracial Diaspora migrating into the district since around the start of the millennium.
I have lived and been an activist in LA for decades and with a few exceptions, my grass roots home base has been the Heights. I first began to get acquainted with Huizar at La Serenata de Garibaldi Restaurant which my family co founded back in 1985 and where the councilman is a regular customer. But it’s not until late 20I0 when I began to get somewhat closer to him and it was due to two personal developments. The first took place at a Latino Piano Bar Restaurant where I sing as a hobby with live music and one evening, Jose arrived with a group of people, so I introduced him to the packed crowd and he received a loud ovation. I also sang a highly popular ranchero love song which, coincidentally, was his late father’s favorite song and he was touched.
The second is the story of two late night murders in an unsavory neighborhood bar on East 1st Street called “Oscar’s”. The incident hit the news and soon after through the barrio grapevine, the word was out that Jose’s mother was a regular client there and she may have been inside the “cantina” when the shooting ensued. I had met her about two months prior when I was invited to an afterhours house party located a half of mile from the bar. When I arrived with some friends, I was introduced to the hostess and owner of the home and she claimed to be Huizar’s mother. I was there for approximately an hour and while there and I observed the ambience was racy and very liberal. Before leaving, I was also introduced to the owner of the mentioned bar, who minutes before had exited a bedroom with a female companion.
A few weeks after the killings, as a member of a board of directors for a planned charter school to be housed at La Casa del Mexicano, also in Boyle Heights, I attended an early morning meeting at Philippe’s Restaurant to meet with the Councilman and his staff to request his support for the school venture. When the school business was over, I pulled Jose to the side and in full confidence I conveyed to him the information I had about the bar tragedy and the afterhours house party at his mother’s. He seemed clearly touched and impressed and looking directly at my eyes, he thanked me and said “I won’t forget this Javier.” He then called Ana Cubas, his Chief of Staff and a recent candidate for City Council, over and told her, “let’s stay very close to this man. He has his ears to the ground.” If you’re reading this, you logically could deduce, like I did, the story leads to the beginning of a bond. The following narrative conveys what are some of the contemporary issues that I have lived or have observed here
The Corruption at the Historical Casa del Mexicano
El Comite de Beneficencia Mexicano CBM-Mexican Benefit Corporation is historically considered the oldest existing Mexican solidarity organization in Los Angeles and it was organized by the Mexican community with the guidance of the LA Mexican Counsel in 1932. According to the news reports of the time and the CBM bylaws that I translated, it was founded as a nonprofit organization with a large dues paying membership, an executive staff and a twenty plus board of directors elected annually by the members at its monthly general meetings. Its stated mission was to assist the large Mexican community in Los Angeles.
The historical context of this social development for the Mexican community was dramatic and it included the fact that Mexico had just concluded its social and armed revolution of 1910 and the war of the Cristeros that followed immediately; the Great Depression of the thirties was full blown; The threat of fascism and the 2nd World War were on the rise; The Mexican government stunned the world and filled the nation with pride when under the Presidency of General Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico confronted the American and English oil giants and nationalized its oil resources; and most important, these were the years of the repatriation and deportation of more than I million Mexicans, many born in the United States. In this same period, the CBM founded La Casa del Mexicano and its first offices were opened on the corner of Brooklyn and Gage Ave(Think Self Help Graphics). Later in 1949, through a community wide fundraising campaign, the CBM purchased the old church on Euclid Pl. -now known as Calle Pedro Infante- and this transaction was fully paid in cash.
For the activists that follow my blog, La Rayuela de Javier.Wordpress.Com, 1932 is also the year that my oldest brother Jose was born in the mining town of Basis in the high North Sierra of Durango. Before the end of that decade, my father, a miner and union leader, a Cardenista and a member of the Communist Party, with my mother, Jose and Jacobo still a baby, began the trek on horseback towards the north that finally, after 18 years, landed the Rodriguez Hernandez Family unto the City Los Angeles. A year later as a member of the Guadalajara Juniors Soccer Team, the first Mexican youth soccer team founded in LA, I attended my first meeting at La Casa del Mexicano.
Understandably, for decades the CBM and La Casa were a center of humanitarianism, solidarity, political and cultural activity. Many events, fiestas, charity, beauty contests, visits by major international Mexican stars such as Cantinflas and presidents set foot in the house of Mexicans. But probably one of the most important contemporary political activities sponsored by and held at La Casa, was hosting the March 25 Coalition in the making of the May 1st Great American Boycott of 2006. The historical event was organized in defense of all undocumented immigrants and the 55 million Latinos in the US against the anti immigrant Republican far right campaigns of the time. The M25C organized and staged a one day national boycott of the economy -which I directed- that moved millions of Latinos in Los Angeles and nationally to boycott work, schools, shopping, and shut down tens of thousands of businesses. According to pundits, it also stopped an estimated 20 industries, including gardening and landscaping, garment, construction, meat packing, restaurant and hotel services, home care, shipping, etc. Additionally, many coalitions organized their boycotts and an estimated 100 mega marches in as many cities from coast to coast. La Casa was an integral part of this and the rest of the marches and events that followed until 2009.
However, at the same time, I’ll say from the nineties up to 2010, gradually the CBM lost its moral compass. In August 2001 I served as the political advisor to a group of dozens of dissidents and in a month’s time, with about 100 community leaders, activists and residents of Boyle Heights, we successfully stormed the building, cut the locks and chains, forced our way in and secured it by camping inside 24 hours a day for a whole month.
Unfortunately though, ten years later the corruption was again rampant and the board of directors had been reduced to three persons: President Martha Soriano, the Secretary Ruben Soriano and the Treasurer Martha Velazquez. There were no more members and there was zero legal or public accountability. The Committee to Rescue La Casa was organized and on September 15, 2011 the campaign to publicly denounce the high level corruption, the violation of the CBM bylaws and California corporate laws kicked off successfully.
The Committee was composed of many ex members, ex officers, including former presidents, Real Estate crack shots Joe Adame and Lucy Diaz, progressive lawyers, community leaders, activists and several Rodriguez’. As a priority, a delegation met with Councilman Huizar and we were promised a letter calling for a government investigation on La Casa. Time passed and the committee lobbied in good faith, but the weeks turned to months and it was obvious he was not going to move on our behalf. For all of us and especially for me, it was a major disappointment.
Then the political graffiti appeared in the neighborhood streets that said “Corruption in La Casa del Mexicano and Councilman Huizar is asleep.” In less than 24 hours, his office issued the letter signed by him and addressed to the California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. By the following afternoon his area director called informing me the letter was ready. However it was a weak undemanding document but we exploited it anyway.
The letter was not only weak, it had been directed to a government institution which had no jurisdiction over the matter. But by then we had successfully lobbied Sen. Kevin de Leon and his office wrote to Attorney General Kamala Harris and officially requested the coveted investigation. The differences between both politicians were like night and day. The information was massively emailed to the media, it was placed on line through several websites and sent widely to thousands of social activists and other sectors.
With press releases, statements and articles, plus protests and investigation by the campaign Committee public opinion was mobilized. La Opinion alone, through the energy, passion and investigative approach of reporter Jorge Morales, published a record 12 articles, plus photos on the case. Of course we had to also lobby the Attorney General’s office and the prosecutor assigned to the case and so did Sen. de Leon’s staff and we all succeeded. The official investigation took off. But Councilman Huizar never issued a press release nor gave a media interview to take a stand on the issue. In fact, his letter or any type of official demand from his office ever reached the Secretary of State. This, along with the other fact that this State Department had no jurisdiction, no authority to investigate the case, was uncovered through our investigations.
Essentially he had sided with his ally LASUD President Monica Garcia and the failed non union charter school project. As well, he didn’t understand, believe or cared about the serious allegations of violations against the CBM’s bylaws and State Corporate Law, carried out for years, by the CASA administrators. Moreover, Jose did not show any interest in the ongoing investigations and the condemning facts the reporter Morales and the Legal and Real Estate Eagles we had in our ranks, revealed. Unbelievably, the bottom line, he tacitly leaned with the Sorianos, who were to receive a $10,000 monthly rent payment for the rental of the historic building to the Charter School. To reiterate conclusively, he sided with continuing the corruption in the Heights.
*Javier Rodriguez is a journalist, a blogger and a media and political strategist. A long time social activist, He founded the Committee to Rescue La Casa del Mexicano; he is also co founder of the Millions of Voices Coalition in LA that on Sept. 22, 2013 organized one of the largest marches with thousands of people in Downtown LA for Immigration Reform; He was also the initiator and directed the making of the 1.7 million historical immigration march in Los Angeles on March 25, 2006, as well as the May 1st 2006 Great American Boycott;
Back in 1982-86, he directed the mass street mobilizations in LA that led up to the Amnesty Law IRCA of 1986; a journalist, he traveled for 5 ½ months throughout Mexico in 2012, observing and writing about the country’s political process, the aftermath of a highly questioned presidential election, visited several war zones and his family, as well as the State of Tabasco, at the border with Guatemala, where the Central American migrants catch the train they call “La Bestia-The Beast.” Between 1987 and 1996, his son Jesus, his nephew Jaramillo and his brother Jesus all fell victim to similar neighborhood violence in the area. His blog is Larayueladejavier.wordpress.com; A victim of hacking his old email bajolamiradejavier@yahoo..com has been recovered.
Javier will attempt to publish, on a weekly basis, all the pieces on the issues relating to his work as a full time activist or as a journalist on Boyle Heights and Latinos in general
The continuing topics in a series consist of: The Harvard Councilman.
The conclusions on the investigation and the charges of corruption at La Casa del Mexicano and the CBM brought about successfully by the State Attorney General.
The violence and barrio Capital Punishment.
The conflict and divisions within the LA Latino political class brought about in the last Mayoral election, The major sexual harassment scandal and the costs to the City and taxpayers.
Hecho en Mexico $1,000,000,Lawsuit against Semillas Charter School where once again Huizar was MIA.
The questionable auto accident with an official City Car, the unexplained delayed drug and alcohol mandatory police test, the $175,000 settlement and the lack of deeper investigative reporting by the media, especially the Latino Media.
The sex scandal has already cost us and the city $200,000 and a future court verdict or a settlement will perhaps cost us an added costly sum in the hundreds of thousands.
The opinions of the community, the mariachis, activists, priests, media circles, etc.
September 22 Millions March and the broken $10,000 donation promise to publish 1 million flyers and posters.