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Voting for Heather Hutt? Read This First. 

CD10 OVERVIEW - The lurid tale of politics as usual in CD10. 

Los Angeles has consistently been cited as one of the top 10 most corrupt cities in America and since the turn of the 20th century Los Angeles has had 507 corruption convictions.  

A City Councilperson in LA has one of the highest paying political positions in America and once voted in they usually carry three 4-year terms with little accountability to their community.  So, many vying for the office are willing to do whatever it takes to get and keep that job. 

CD 10 has a long and troubling history of voting for candidates who will do whatever it takes, to get whatever they want and not think twice about engaging in illegal actions to do so.  Two of CD10’s last three elected officials (Martin Ludlow and Mark Ridley-Thomas) actually got arrested and were found guilty of crimes.  

Vote for me, go back to TV and let me be, seems to be a popular motto.   

Some of the many examples of Council people gone wild in CD10.  

While representing the district, (2003 - 2005) Councilperson Martin Ludlow, allegedly as a favor to one of his volunteer lawyers, allowed the installation of traffic barriers in Western Heights while ignoring all the legal requirements for installing them.  Without any vetting or required subcommittee oversight, City Council approved the vote. 

In 2005 Ludlow left CD10 early when he resigned and was elected head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.  But in 2006, he had to resign as head of the County Fed and plead guilty in state and federal courts to charges that he had used union workers and union money to help his 2003 city council campaign for CD10.  

Next up? When Ludlow left, Herb Wesson stepped in and was elected Councilperson for the remainder of Ludlow’s term and another three terms.  He also disregarded the illegal actions taken to install the barriers, despite the laws being brought to his attention. When a records request was made to his office it was discovered that one of his staff members had lied to several city agencies about having the critical sign offs required.  Only when faced with a lawsuit did he backtrack and clean up some of the illegalities surrounding the installation of the barriers, and sealed the deal.  

Next up?  Mark Ridley-Thomas was arrested and convicted of a crime committed before he was elected to our district so he didn’t get a chance to serve out any of his term.   

That left another hole in CD10. Herb Wesson, stuck in the labor force, was eager to jump back into the position of interim councilperson until the elections put in someone permanent.  Council President Nury Martinez was tight with Herb while he was Council President, (and some say he helped her get the position when he left to run for Supervisor) returned the favor and gave him the job. So a favor for a favor, pretty much how City Council works. A lot of back scratching.  Herb, probably knowing his time might be limited, hired Heather Hutt as his assistant. (keep reading to connect these dots). He was soon ejected as interim councilperson because it was determined he had already served out his three term limit and Heather stepped in as CD10 caretaker with voting privileges in Sept. 2022.

Dizzy yet? 

In March, 2023 Mark Ridley-Thomas was found guilty of conspiracy, bribery and mail fraud services and it was time to find a permanent replacement to represent CD10.   The logical consideration would have been Grace Yoo who ran against Mark Ridley-Thomas forcing him into a run off. She ultimately walked away with the approval of 36,486 voters, well over half the 56,119 votes Mark had garnered. So she had already been vetted and approved by substantially more people than the number of people who showed up in support of Ms. Hutt the day she was approved by City Council.  But Ms.Yoo was never considered.  According to a councilperson, she was left out of consideration because it was known she was going to run for office and it would have given her a leg up.  

And Nury had other plans. Nury made a fast move to place Heather Hutt in position but was surprised when several people on the council balked at approval, claiming Heather hadn’t been vetted or (unlike Grace) community approved.  

LA Times Aug.30, 2022 - “Council President Nury Martinez had been hoping on Tuesday to persuade her colleagues to appoint Heather Hutt, who has been the district’s caretaker since mid-July, when a judge sidelined the council’s previous interim pick, former Councilman Herb Wesson. But five of Martinez’s colleagues blocked that proposal, using a procedural move to keep it from being considered on the council floor — and sending it to a committee instead.” 

So Nury did an end run.   

She organized a committee meeting that night and they voted to push Heather through to a council vote the next day. (Just in time because shortly after, Heather’s champion, Nury Martinez, fell from grace and got hounded out of office after she was caught on tape making racist remarks on a hot mike.) So, Heather was voted in by the council… and currently has two of Herb Wesson’s former staff members running her office. Dots connected? 

And now? Contrary to the concern of not choosing an interim council person with an eye towards running for office, Heather Hutt is running to represent CD10.  All well and good if you accept backdoor manipulations and front door shenanigans as part of “the way it is”.  

Now, of course Heather Hutt wants to win…but again, at what cost?    

It was brought to my attention that she has already begun to carry on the CD10 curse of stepping over some serious ethical and potentially illegal lines.  

Her campaign office was caught distributing campaign materials in the Vineyard Park community which included a community resource list with her name and title as councilperson on the header. This is Strictly Forbidden. As a city council member you are not allowed to endorse a candidate (even if that candidate is you) by “developing, displaying, or distributing campaign materials in any manner that implies you are speaking on behalf of the City or communicating a City position. This may include wearing a City uniform or insignia or using a City title or position.” 

A request was sent to her office asking for clarification.  Kimani Black, her Chief of Staff, called back and claimed the flyers were not printed out by their office. He claimed that the colored flier was not printed on the stock that their printer uses because it has a white background (where theirs has an orange background) and it also didn’t have the "bug" used by their printer implying that it was printed out by an independent person.   He also claimed that the white sheet with the header, Heather Hutt, Council Person, above the resource list and the office contact info at the bottom, was downloaded off the ethics commission website by an independent person who printed them out on their own and included them with the flyers. But that resource sheet was never one of the five sheets approved by the ethics committee for campaign materials and would never have been reported on the ethics commission site because it's NOT a campaign communication. It's an official city council office communication.  

When we requested email confirmation, to get it in writing that this was Kimani’s/CD10 position, we never heard back. 

The problem was compounded when more photos were sent in with actual distributors holding the materials and distributing them between Adams and Jefferson, and Crenshaw and Farmdale.  Lots of them. 

 

A little mistake? Quibbling over details you might say?   Perhaps but consider this. Her office is being run by two of Herb Wesson’s seasoned ex-deputies who know the rules. And they want us to believe that an independent person put out the money to print up these materials and hired the distributors to distribute all of these flyers? Hmmm. 

But Heather might not have known you might say?  Perhaps, but consider this, that would mean that one or more of her subordinates engaged in allegedly illegal shenanigans without her knowledge.  This would imply that she hasn’t got the reins in her office and is allowing important decisions to be made without her oversight. And, if she did know, then the CD10 curse of doing whatever it takes to get what you want, is alive and well in her office.   

Some say that CD10 must be represented by an African American but CD10 is now one of the most racially mixed districts in Los Angeles. That old way of thinking no longer applies.  It’s not about the color of your skin anymore but about the content of your character and in my mind the willingness to take right legal action to get what you want in order to help All the constituents regardless of the color of their skin.  Call me a dreamer. 

Time for a change in our district and in City Hall.

(Dianne V. Lawrence is the Editor of The Neighborhood News and a contributor to CityWatch.)