In 1987 Ruth Galanter was nearly murdered by a transient on her front porch in Venice weeks before a special election for city council. In a moment of public sympathy, she would become the last non-machine candidate to gain office in Los Angeles at any level, for the next 35 years.
Elections have become entirely pro-forma. The Democratic Party selects the candidate internally, funds her lavishly against token opposition, do-gooders and neighborhood gadflies who offer themselves as road kill so Angelenos can tell ourselves we are not North Korea.
Termed limited pols leapfrog to a different legislative body representing the same district, from city council, to state assembly, to Congress, and back, inverting the normal democratic arrangements of selection.
As an illustration of dynastic politics, here’s my state Senator Bob Hertzberg, at a staged photo op with his son Daniel and hand-picked replacement. Bob is rotating over to the Board of Supervisors next year. Daniel is rotating into Dad’s warmed legislative seat. Do I have a choice in the matter? Depends on how we define “choice”. If Twitter de-platforms me, I have the choice to build my own social media network. It’s a free country and nothing but a billion dollars in capital is standing in my way.
Thus we have been governed in my beloved Los Angeles, long before Mrs. U and I arrived with our possessions piled in the back of my pickup truck like the Clampetts.
Enter the black swan. Changito-gate. If you’ve been anywhere near media this week, you already know the jist.
Nury Martinez, my Nury, longtime foil of Mr. UpintheValley, has been elevated overnight to national villain status -Trumpified- and is on the chopping block along with Kevin DeLeon. The White House itself just called for her resignation. Suddenly, Van Nuys is the center of American politics. Who knew?
Lost in the woke posturing is the actual scandal of the recordings: pols carving up their own districts, hand selecting voters. Also, the obsession with assets, like the airport and the Budweiser brewery, which can be leveraged for donations. You have to squint pretty hard to find the outrage over that. But “negrito”? Oof. Ecstasies of sanctimony. To the guillotine with her! But first, everyone must listen to the Oaxacan Peoples Band bleat discordantly in front of City Hall in response to being insulted as short, dark and feo by la Nury who is now somewhere in seclusion, sprouting a white streak in her hair and gassing puppies.
Here’s the thing. Black people call Asian merchants Ling-Ling and white folks Opie and Becky, and do so without apology. People on the alt-right refer to Central Americans as squatemalans. Butch gays refer to swishy gays as extra. Mestizo culture has an elaborate pecking order based on skin tone, with Jorge Ramos and the pneumatic telenovela blondes at the top and Oaxacans off-screen, sitting at home watching. White people have constructed a caste system based on educational pedigree and cultural signifiers that places The New Yorker subscribers at one end and Southern Baptists at the other.
In unfiltered settings people always tell on themselves.
Spike Lee nailed intra-ethnic insults around the time Ruth Galanter was elected. Watching this clip is to pay a visit was a whole other America, refreshingly truthful. Also an entirely different Spike. I kinda miss that guy.
Assume all ostentatious offense to be cover for other things.
The real question would be who made the recording and sat on it for a year? Qui bono, who was the Brutus in the room? Gil Cedillo, already a lame duck (and whose comments are the least damaging) has the least to lose. But I don’t think it was him. What does he have to gain? It’s a murky play.
I think it was a staffer. With a socialist agenda.
Here’s who has an entire city to gain: the DSA cadres in waiting. Changito was not first black swan of 2022. In July, baby socialist Eunisses Hernandez eliminated Cedillo in the primary on a platform of police and prison abolition and a permanent extension of the eviction moratorium. She prevailed by several hundred votes corralled by activist ballot harvesters after Election Day. It’s called E+7 voting, and it was quietly enacted this year. Get used to it, all close races will be decided this way going forward.
That’s one seat. They already have Nithya Raman in district 4. There’s two. Hugo Soto-Martinez is running in CD13. Erin Darling on the Westside. That’s four. Kenneth Mejia, twice endorsed by the Times, is the odds on favorite to be Controller. Add two special elections next year for the Martinez and DeLeon seats and that’s a potentially solid caucus for Venezuelan governance. No evictions. No law enforcement. Fungible private property rights.
Rick Caruso, here is your moment. If you really want to be mayor, defy expectations and side with the principles of privacy and free speech, and remind the city that no one is a virgin. Predictably, he is calling for resignations all around. His plan for winning the Latino vote is to demand Latinos surrender 3/4 of their representation on the City Council in the name of cancel culture.
Billionaires, hacks and socialists. Given the choice, I might stick with the hacks, grasping self-interest, potty mouth and all.
Photo credit: CBSNews and CalMatters