LA WATCHDOG--On Saturday, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (“LANCC”) passed the following motion demanding that embattled Councilman Jose Huizar resign from the City Council.
The Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition demands that Councilmember Jose Huizar resign immediately. With the current FBI and IRS investigations and several, prior high profile incidents, including his affair with his Chief of Staff that cost the City $200,000 in legal fees, an after-hours car accident that was settled with $185,000 of City money, and his role in the $72 million pay-to-play Sea Breeze development scandal, he is a distraction and the people of Los Angeles and Council District 14 deserve better. Call to ask for his resignation 213-473-7014.
While the action by LANCC may surprise some City Hall observers, what is mindboggling is the failure of Councilwomen Nury Martinez and Monica Rodriquez to call for #MeToo Huizar to resign because of his multiple affairs with women subordinates in his office.
A week after the FBI raid on Huizar’s City Hall office and home, Council President Herb Wesson, to his credit, stripped Huizar of his committee assignments, including as chair of the politically powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee. But then again, Wesson had no choice if he wanted to preserve what is left of the already tarnished reputation of the City Council.
While some have argued that Huizar is innocent until proven guilty, our public servants must be held to a higher standard.
In the past, many have suspected that Huizar, the chair of the powerful Planning and Land Use Management (“PLUM”) Committee, was engaged in pay-to-play schemes given his ability to attract generous campaign contributions, not only from downtown developers in his district, but from developers citywide. This was especially true in his 2015 race against former County Supervisor Gloria Molina in 2015.
This suspicion has been confirmed. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times ran a 2,200-word article, L.A. councilman's wife was a paid fundraiser. Ex-aides say he assigned them to help, outlining how Huizar and people in his office managed to extract donations for his alma mater, Salesian High School in Boyle Heights, from developers who had business before his committee.
And this may just be the tip of the iceberg of City Hall’s pay-to-play scams that are threatening our neighborhoods with high rise buildings, increased density, and even more traffic congestion.
The Huizar scandals must be thoroughly investigated by an independent outside counsel that has no connection to City Hall and not subject to political influence, unlike the undermanned, weak kneed, and politically appointed Ethic Commission. This investigation would involve reviewing and analyzing Huizar’s discretionary and officeholders accounts as well as his outside slush funds such as the $1 million community benefits fund financed by the developers of the Fig + Pico hotel, who just so happen to have benefited from $103 million in subsidies from our cash strapped City.
The independent counsel should also delve into all Huizar’s campaign contributions by real estate developers and related parties, whether to Huizar or to independent expenditure committees, and connect these donations to any business before the City or the PLUM Committee.
The independent counsel should also review Huizar’s 2014 settlement with his former chief of staff and demand to review the terms of the confidential settlement and the source of any related payments. The independent counsel should also determine whether Huizar should be required to reimburse the City for any related legal expenses which may be as high as $200,000.
The independent counsel should also review the $185,000 settlement involving Huizar’s late night car accident and whether Huizar should repay the City for this City financed settlement and its legal expenses.
The City should also refuse to foot Huizar’s legal bills associated with the two lawsuits filed by former staffers alleging retaliation for their unease with his extramarital affair with a lady subordinate and the doctoring of his calendar to cover up meetings with real estate developers.
The City Council needs to get out in front of this scandal involving Jose Huizar, whether it is pay-to-play or sexual harassment. Otherwise, the City Council and its other 14 members will be tarnished by Sleazy Huizy.
Many believe that Huizar should do the right thing and resign. Or even better, maybe he should flip and cut a deal with the government and expose the pay-to-play scams and other shenanigans at City Hall.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)