Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Breach of Faith: Who is the Real Jose Huizar?

A Breach of Faith:
Who is the Real Jose Huizar?

By Edward Rivera
Arroyo Seco Journal

When Jose Huizar filed in 2005 to run for the vacant 14th District seat of newly elected mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, many political observers were as yet aware of the surprising power the mayor could wield in seemingly “anointing a” a successor. As Villaraigosa’s endorsee, Huizar overwhelmingly defeated a field of candidates, which included former Councilmember Nick Pacheco.
Now however, as Huizar faces an election challenge from his former field director Alvin Parra, and a loosely organized revolt from former staffers, it seems many in the district find themselves wondering exactly who it was they voted for.
An Arroyo Seco Journal investigation has revealed a wide dissension within the Councilman’s office, and has uncovered several new allegations.
Among them:
o Huizar refused to act when his staff urged him to take action against a convicted child molester who had attempted to prey on the children of Huizar’s own staff.
o Huizar signed misleading documents to cover up an illegal improvement to an El Sereno residence while he served as an LAUSD Board member.
o After being informed by his staff that a Boyle Heights hazardous Waste transfer station was applying to the state to expand its operation, Huizar failed to act, even after being urged to do by State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo. The waste station, directly across the street from the new Sears mixed-use development, will go into expanded operations in February.

Over the course of its investigation, The Arroyo Seco Journal spoke with community activists, former members of Huizar’s staff, and local residents who had cast their vote for Huizar in the landslide that was his victory.
What emerges is a portrait of an ambitious politician who is often more concerned with the image and trappings of the office than a deep concern for the constituents.
In fact no local politician in the last 25 years has engendered as much dissatisfaction as Huizar. Not even Mike Hernandez, whose penchant for office sex and vodka, along with a serious cocaine habit, was legendary.
“People loved Mike Hernandez,” laughed one longtime political observer.
Many constituents expressed an overriding feeling that Huizar is a councilmember without a “big picture” vision. Others went so far as to say they feel ignored by his office.
“His leadership is sorely lacking,” said one longtime Glassell Park activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He is reluctant to take a solid position on a variety of issues, and too often he tries to straddle the fence,” she continued.
“ This could be a lack of experience and an unwillingness to stick his bead into something, but the 14th district needs a very strong advocate in that position.
“I would like to have he and his staff more directly engage the community and formulate a more specific progressive direction, and then put that into action.”
Local activist Maureen Blatt posted on a local website, “Mr Villaraigosa beat Mr Pacheco. Mr V promised to support the area. Mr. V promised he would stay. He lied. He became Mayor. Mr. V and the "machine" gave the position in CD14 to Mr Huizar with money, endorsement, etc., and a matrix for success. ... What he has done is too little, and too late. Mr. Huizar has told people that he is going to the state assembly in the next two years.”
Much of the dissatisfaction with the office has come from a staff that has seen what they consider Huizar’s lack of interest in day-to day issues.
“A lot of the original motivation for electing him was “Anyone but Nick Pacheco,” recalled former Field Deputy Alvin Parra, the only former staffer willing to discuss the councilmember on the record. Parra worked as the policy director for Huizar’s campaign, said he very soon came to believe he “had joined the wrong campaign.”
“He asked me, after I had agreed to work on his staff, ‘What does a field director do?”
Then, early on after taking office, Huizar began losing employees. And not replacing them.
Only very recently, with an election approaching, has Huizar had a full compliment of deputies.
Six months after Huizar took office, two field deputies were handling 150-200 cases in El Sereno, more than three times the usual caseload.
LA City Councilmembers have a $1.5 million budget to pay for employees, but Huizar was either not spending any money on new employees or spending too much on the employees he hired.
“Salaries are discretionary,” said one staffer, “but every time we complained about the lack of staff, we were told, ‘It’s a budget issue.’”
Finally in early summer Huizar hired a new employee--Roberto Aceves, a personal driver.
Then, according to Parra and other staffers, Huizar began to quickly lose interest in the weekly policy meetings.
“He would yawn, and look at his watch. He just was not interested.”
The Friday policy meetings were eventually cancelled in June of 2006.
District office hours were also becoming a problem. Originally, there were 2 hours per community per week where the councilmember would be available to deal directly with constituents.
But, as one staffer remembered, “He was unhappy with the open house meetings. He didn’t want to be bothered with constituents. He wanted the staff to handle them.”
It became serious enough that a internal follow-up e-mail was circulated that reiterated Chief of Staff Joe Avila’s emphasis that the ‘Councilmember prefers that staff (to the greatest extent possible) handle casework and irate constituents to avoid having (Huizar) experience them.”
The e-mail then asked at what level Huizar should encounter constituents directly (“Only Chamber Presidents, NC Leaders, CBOs, Educational Leader-types...?).
But there were bigger problems in the district.
Industrial Oil Corporation, owners of a large waste transfer station on Soto Street in Boyle Heights, had applied to the state for a Part B permit to increase its capacity and the amount of dangerous chemicals it would handle daily.
The station is located in the middle of a residential area and near railroad tracks and schools.
In the spring of 2006, Huizar’s staff alerted him to the problem and the potential public relations disaster brewing just across the street from the new Sears development. Huizar would not take a stand, curiously telling the staff, “I might have to vote on it later.”
County Supervisor Gloria Molina had previously voted against expansion and State Senator Gil Cedillo’s staff also came to Huizar’s office to remind him of the Tanner Act, state legislation which mandates an Environmental Impact Report and extensive community outreach in such cases.
For approximately six months there was no position or response from Huizar’s office.
In October, Senator Cedillo’s office held a briefing on the Tanner Act for City Council members and staff. Councilmember Ed Reyes sent a representative. Huizar did not.
On December 18, the state approved the Part B Permit without any community involvement or input whatsoever. The station will begin expanded operations on February 2.
Remarked Parra, “But let 20 garage doors in Mt. Washington get tagged and watch him spring into action.”
Huizar has been almost a model of responsiveness in Mt. Washington, a vocal and politically active community, but the lion’s share of the credit for that would have to go to his field deputy Amy Yeager, a fireball seemingly involved in every single local issue in her area.
Indeed, when a host of garages in Mt. Washington were tagged in one night this past December, something that occurs often in Boyle Heights and El Sereno, Yeager organized a community meeting to immediately respond to the neighborhood’s concerns.
(Note: Councilmember Huizar’s office did not respond to a list of questions or an offer of a phone interview for this article, which was e-mailed to him and his former Chief of Staff Tony Ricasa.)
Huizar’s confounding inability to respond to local issues has ranged from issues like the Southwest Museum (He told The Arroyo Seco Journal last August that he and Councilmember Reyes would be “issuing a statement on the issue in two weeks.” No such statement ever materialized), to a dangerous issue which affected a member of his own staff.
On July 11, 2006, Huizar’s office and the Department of Water and Power co-sponsored a giveaway of energy-efficient light bulbs in El Sereno. It was the picture-perfect event with media coverage and lots of community residents in attendance. (Huizar later told his staff he graded the event a “C” because the light bulbs did not have his name on the boxes.)
The next day staff member Cecelia Alatorre received an anonymous phone call from a constituent. A man had come to her home, wanting to take pictures of her children for a “program book” the council office was preparing.
As Alatorre described the suspect to the staff, others remembered the man photographing children at the DWP event.
The man’s name was Henry James Lugo, a convicted sex offender out on parole. He lived on Huizar’s block. With the help of local police officers Lugo was identified. But as yet, he had committed no crime.
Efren Mamaril, an Eagle Rock staff member, recognized Lugo immediately. Some weeks earlier, Lugo had attempted to take pictures of Mamaril’s own son at an Eagle Rock event.
“He tried to take my son,” Mamaril told the staff at a meeting.
When police officers questioned Lugo at his home, they found boxes of the free light bulbs.
Ricasa wanted to get Lugo off the streets as soon as possible. When he told Huizar, Huizar responded. “Do whatever you want, but my name should not be attached.”
Ricasa was livid. He told Huizar, “You are messing up!”
Huizar responded, “Just don’t use my name!”
The staff was in a bind. They had no evidence that would put Lugo back in prison, and the councilmember refused to back them, anyway.
Almost out of ideas, a staff member checked the conditions of Lugo’s parole. And there it was—Lugo could not possess a camera.
Lugo was subsequently arrested and is currently serving an 18-month sentence for parole violation.
Said Parra, ‘This affected me personally. And Jose has two daughters. Did he not care anymore, just because he doesn’t live on that block anymore?” (Huizar had since moved off La Calandria, where Lugo had lived.)
That home had issues of its own as well.
The basic story is that the hillside home at 4903 La Calandria Way, which Huizar purchased in 1999 while a member of the LAUSD, was improved three times between 2000 and 2005.
In 2000, minor improvements were made by the “owner,” Drew Smith and the Drew Smith Trust.
In 2003, Huizar applied to replace wood studs due to termite rot. The owner of the home was listed as Bousrah and Miriam Attalah, of Alhambra. Huizar is listed as the owner/builder. He signed the application in his tiny printing and then dashed off his signature. “D. Chang and “L.Quirante,” of the Department of Building and Safety, approved the job.
In 2005, Huizar then applied to convert 95 square feet of basement storage to a new bathroom and “legalize” 400 square feet of family room behind the existing glass door ...” This, according to LA regulations is an illegal improvement, something the average citizen would not be allowed to do. The improvement would exceed the room allowed on the lot for setbacks. The addition of the 400 square feet also creates a new construction, which would not be allowed.
Said one local architect, “I have been building homes in Northeast LA for 30 years, and I don’t know one City building inspector who would allow such an addition.”
But what is even more curious about the construction is that for the major improvement permit application, once again Drew Smith, the original seller, is listed as the owner. Jose Huizar is not listed anywhere on the application, but on the signature page is his now-familiar dashed-off signature, but without his name printed alongside. The mysterious Boushra Atallah does not appear either.
Yet somehow, five years after the sale of a home, the original owner’s name appears on a permit to improve the house and the applicant attempts, somewhat clumsily, to hide his identity.
The illegal home improvement is not the smoking gun or single indictment that buries Huizar, but it does speak to a visible pattern of fudging the truth or speaking conveniently when the situation warrants. Over the course of our investigation, numerous accounts came forward about Huizar either openly lying to a constituent or promising something that never came to pass. (At a recent LA County Democratic Committee meeting, he claimed endorsements he didn’t have, for example.)
Clearly, there is a wide sense of disappointment across the district with regard to the service his office provides and the lack of vision he has generated.
The March 6 election will be a strong test of the Mayor’s influence and endorsement power. Opponent Parra will have to either bring out, or find, big guns to stop the Huizar machine.

Editor’s note: The Arroyo Seco Journal (www.asjournal.net) serves Northeast Los Angeles, and has not made an endorsement in the 14th District City Council race.

5 comments:

Eddietor said...

Huizar V. Parra: The Fallout and the Follow-up
Huizar Response to Article Prompts New Questions; New Details Emerge

By Edward Rivera

Last issue’s article on 14th District Councilmember Jose Huizar (“A Breach of Faith: Who is the Real Jose Huizar?”) elicited a bizarre response not only from the Council office, but a wide swath of bloggers and callers who contacted the newspaper with more details.
Calling some accusations “outrageous and blatantly false,” the councilman responded with a letter to the Arroyo Seco Journal to address the major points of the story. The letter, sent by campaign consultant Parke Skelton, took issue with three allegations against Huizar leveled by his opponent Alvin Parra, and subsequently investigated by the newspaper.
The three allegations were that: Huizar failed to act when Henry James Lugo, a convicted child molester attempted was at a Council-sponsored event, in violation of his parole, even after Lugo attempted to molest a Huizar staffer’s child; that Huizar failed to stop the expanded permit of a Boyle Heights toxic waste transfer station; and that he signed misleading documents while making illegal improvements to a home he owned in El Sereno.
While addressing the charges, the letter raised new questions, and new details have emerged which contradict some of Huizar’s responses. (The full text of Huizar’s response is available at www.asjournal.net)
The Zuma Dogg Strategy
Huizar Chief of Staff Joe Avila led the curious response to the story by phoning not the newspaper, but “Zuma Dogg,” a community activist/rapper/artist known for his constant presence at City Council meetings where he continually (and loudly) takes on the Council for seemingly each agenda item. Mr. Dogg has no association with the Arroyo Seco Journal. At the Mayor Sam Blog Site, a site for political watchers, Zuma’s posted his own response to the Saturday night phone call, and nearly 300 blog responses ensued. (http://mayorsam.blogspot.com/2007/01/huizars-chief-of-staff-calls-zuma-dogg.html)
Councilmember Huizar’s office did not respond until a week after the story appeared in print and online. This was with a phone call from campaign manager Henry Casas who objected to the story, particularly a passage that quotes former Chief of Staff Tony Ricasas, but was unable to explain why Avila chose Dogg to respond to.
For his part, Alvin Parra used the story in a mailer sent to 14th District voters.

4903 La Calandria Way
In the last issue, it was reported that Huizar had made illegal improvements to a home he owned in El Sereno while a member of the LAUSD Board and signed misleading documents related to those improvements.
Wrote Huizar, “The outrageous and blatantly false statements regarding the legality of the La Calandria home improvements are easily verifiable as untrue through public documents…The fact of the matter is that La Calandria property improvements were started by the previous owner before the requisite permits were obtained and any and all compliance issues have since been corrected…Moreover, there have been no attempts by myself, any of my contractors, or other representatives to obfuscate facts or alter documents.”
So we searched public documents. Only one of the improvements is suspect, though all were eventually approved. A 2005 garage conversion brought the Huizar home to within inches of a neighbor’s property in apparent violation of hillside building regulations, but a planning department zoning administrator subsequently approved the job.
The home was first purchased in October of 1999 from the Drew Smith family trust. In January 2000, the first of many improvements, long after the sale, were begun on the home.
Though Huizar bought the home in 1999, Drew Smith is still listed as the owner in a 2000 application. According to a local architect, this is not uncommon, as county records might take a while to be updated by the City.
Yet, in 2003, a new name emerges as the owner—Boushra and Miriam Attalah of Alhambra. A title search reveals that the Attalahs own three properties in Los Angeles, none in El Sereno.
So we called Mr. Atallah.
Mr. Attalah told the Arroyo Seco Journal, “ I have never owned property in El Sereno. I do not know a Mr. Huizar.” Asked again, he repeated the same answer.
Asked why his name why his name appears on the building permit application, Attalah laughed and said, “I have no idea.”
Drew Smith’s name appears again on the 2005 garage expansion application. Huizar signed all of the applications.
The Arroyo Seco Journal sent Huizar’s office a set of questions for the original article, including an inquiry that specifically mentioned Mr. Attalah. His office never responded to those questions.

The Lugo Response
The article reported that Huizar had failed to immediately arrest Lugo after hearing of his presence at a Huizar-sponsored event. Wrote Huizar, “This charge is completely false and repulsive to me.”
Continued Huizar, “Once my field staff informed me of the Mr. Lugo’s presence, I immediately instructed staff to dispatch LAPD officers to Mr. Lugo’s residence…..At my request, an investigation was launched on Monday, July 17, by police officers…Mr. Lugo was taken into custody pending the completion of their investigation. …Thanks to the prompt and thorough investigative work of law enforcement officers and the diligence of my field staff (not Parra) a dangerous sexual predator was put in prison within days of my being notified.”
Parra, Huizar’s former field director at the time, told the Arroyo Seco Journal, “It was former Chief of Staff Tony Ricasa (not Huizar) who authorized the original arrest attempt (Ed. Note: Ricasa has reportedly been since demoted) and recommended the arrest on a charge of stealing City property. Huizar called off this strategy because it may have affected his image.
“According to Mr. Huizar's new response,” said Parra, “if he ordered the LAPD and Parole to visit Mr. Lugo the day the concern was reported, Lugo should have been arrested on Monday, July 10, 2007.”
Parra asked, “Why did it take 4 to 5 days later to arrest Lugo? Simple, because Huizar's (office) called off the arrest on Monday and a few days later, in a small staff meeting in the El Sereno office, I came up with the idea to check Lugo's parole conditions. Immediately, my co-worker Frank Torres called his friend in Probation to inquire on Lugo's conditions and we found what we were looking for--a violation. Lugo was not allowed to have possession of a camera. Huizar was not involved in any of these efforts to get Lugo off the street.”
Added Parra, “We all know that Mr. Huizar loves press conferences and has one for any little event. If he truly was responsible for Lugo's arrest, why didn't he have a press conference to announce it? Simple, because he had nothing to do with Lugo's arrest and his latest response was calculated and fabricated.”
Huizar’s office then filed a motion on July 18 asking for the LAPD, City Attorney, the County and State Department of Probations to develop a database “to aggressively target parole violators” and require LAPD better track and crack down on parole violations of sex offenders.”

Industrial Service Oil Company Inc. Expansion
Huizar responded that he wrote a letter to the Chief of the California Environmental Protection agency (date unknown), saying that he opposed “any discretionary land use action being granted by the City of Los Angeles to allow the expansion of the Industrial Service Oil Company, Inc (ISOCI) facility.” The county approved the facility, which begins expanded operations this week. Huizar also said that the LA Acting Chief Zoning Administrator advised ISOCI January 17, (two days after the article appeared) that the city had not approved the expanded land use.
Yet the county has priority in matters of toxic waste and the City’s jurisdiction would not hold sway, said one former City employee, who asked not to be identified. Huizar also wrote that the ISOCI facility was located near or in the Los Angeles River, the Adelante Eastside Redevelopment and the Eastside State Enterprise Zone, and its expansion “is not in keeping with the goals set forth in any of the aforementioned plans.”
Huizar claims that the facility now falls within the jurisdiction of the City, but according to an informed source, those arguments (which were formulated by the Community Redevelopment Agency, not Huizar’s office), were already rejected in December by the County Department of Toxic Substance and Control in response to the City’s request for an Environmental Impact Report, which was not brought by Huizar’s office.
“Those are land use issues, not jurisdiction issues,” said the source.
According to the state Tanner Act, The City could resist the expansion of the ISOCI facility by forming a Local Area Committee to argue against the development of the facility, but that committee would have to have been formed months ago either by Huizar’s office or the Planning Department. That committee was never formed.

Eddietor said...

The Huizar Response:

Mr. Rivera:
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond directly to your cover story featured in the January/February 2007 edition of the Arroyo Seco Journal. Specifically I would like to address the three “new allegations” revealed in your investigative piece around the Light Bulb incident, the Boyle Heights Waste Transfer Station and improvements made at the La Calandria Way property.

Over the past 12 months, I have tried to keep my focus on achieving three mains goals that comprise my core vision for the 14th District: namely making our communities Safer, Cleaner and Greener. To that end, I have been gratified by the efforts of the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) who successfully reduced violent crime including homicides in the Northeast by 10% and in the Hollenbeck Area by 21%. Moreover, as a member of the Budget and Finance Committee, I have and will continue to vigorously push for increased funding to improve Public Safety throughout the 14th District including, but not limited to, increased police patrols in support of Safe Passage Zones to make it safer for children who have a right to be safe as they walk to and from school.
That being said, I must address an extremely serious charge made by one of my opponents, Alvin Parra, in your newspaper and repeated in a recent campaign mailing. Specifically, Parra has accused me of failing to take action to protect children from a child molester. As a former prosecutor and father of two young girls, I have always fought to protect children from violent crime of all types. Accordingly, I wish to state unequivocally that this charge is completely false and utterly repulsive to me.

LIGHT BULB EVENT
On Saturday, July 15, 2006 (not July 11, 2006 as indicated by Parra), my office sponsored Operation Conservation, an energy efficient light bulb giveaway, as a way to help residents reduce their energy usage and electricity bills. Unbeknownst to my staff, Henry James Lugo showed up to the event uninvited and with a camera, which he used to take photos of attendees which included children.
When I learned that our children were in danger, I acted immediately and forcefully to protect the children of the 14th District. Once my field staff informed me of Mr. Lugo’s presence at the Operation Conservation event, I took swift action. I immediately instructed staff to dispatch LAPD officers to Mr. Lugo’s residence to ensure the safety of the community. At my request, an investigation was launched on Monday, July 17, 2006 by police officers including members of LAPD’s Registration Enforcement and Compliance Team (REACT) in cooperation with State Parole officers. Mr. Lugo was taken into custody pending the completion of their investigation. State Parole authorities found sufficient evidence that Mr. Lugo was in violation of the special conditions to parole resulting in his initial arrest and ultimate conviction. Thanks to the prompt and thorough investigative work of law enforcement officers and the diligence of my field staff (not Parra) a dangerous sexual predator was put in prison within days of my being notified.

In addition to engaging law enforcement authorities to respond to this matter, I also took decisive policy action. On Tuesday, July 18, 2006, I introduced Motion (Council File Index #06-1648) calling for the LAPD in cooperation with the City Attorney, County Department of Probations and California State Probation Department to develop a database to aggressively target parole violators whose crimes specifically impact children. The Motion would also require LAPD to better track and crack down on parole violations of convicted sex offenders, pedophiles and violent criminals living near schools, parks and other places where children are known to gather.

HAZARDOUS WASTE FACILITY PERMIT
Contrary to Parra’s claim that I allowed a large waste transfer station located in Boyle Heights to increase its capacity and the amount of dangerous chemicals it would handle daily, I am on record as having strongly opposed expansion of this facility. In fact, in a letter directed to the Chief of the California Environmental Protection Agency – Department of Toxic Substances, I stated very clearly that I objected to any discretionary land use action being granted by the City of Los Angeles to allow the expansion of the Industrial Service Oil Company, Inc. (ISOCI) facility. Although the County granted ISOCI its permit, the County permit does NOT grant approval from the City of Los Angeles for the facility to exercise the County-granted permit and nor does it allow for expanded use within City limits. The City’s Acting Chief Zoning Administrator formally advised ISOCI of this fact in a letter on January 19, 2007. The letter informed ISOCI that it had not received a discretionary local land use approval as required by Section 25199 of the California Health and Safety Code, thereby making the project subject to local land use agency decision pursuant to Section 25199.7 of the Health and Safety Code and Section 12.24-U of the Los Angeles Municipal Code.

Expansion of this facility runs directly counter to continuing development activities in Boyle Heights which I am actively engaged. First, this business is located within the Boyle Heights Community Plan. This Plan is among several community plans being rewritten this year by the Department of City Planning in cooperation with the community. The ISOCI waste station is also within the Adelante Eastside Redevelopment Project and the Eastside State Enterprise Zone. Finally, the ISOCI location is directly adjacent to the Los Angeles River which has been the focus of enormous resources and investment to prepare for the River Revitalization Master Plan. Further expansion of ISOCI’s facility is not in keeping with the goals set forth in any of the aforementioned plans, nor is it consistent with the plans for revitalization in the area. Therefore, although the ISOCI waste station is through the County process, it now falls within the City’s jurisdiction by statue. Accordingly, I will continue my long-standing objection to expansion of the ISOCI waste facility in Boyle Heights and will strongly oppose granting of any City of Los Angeles discretionary permit that would allow it either to increase its capacity or the amount of dangerous chemicals it can handle on a daily basis.

LA CALANDRIA WAY PROPERTY IMPROVEMENTS
The outrageous and blatantly false statements regarding the legality of the La Calandria home improvements are easily verifiable as untrue through public documents. Equally appalling are the insinuations of wrongdoing and sophomoric twisting of facts to create the illusion of credibility for Parra’s fairy tale about “dashed off signatures and hidden identities.” The fact of the matter is that the La Calandria property improvements were started by the previous owner before the requisite permits were obtained and any and all outstanding compliance issues have since been corrected by my former contractor prior to my assuming Council office in November 2006. Moreover, there have been no attempts by myself, any of my contractors or other representatives to obfuscate facts or alter documents. A full and complete chronology of the General Notes is readily available to the public from the City’s Building and Safety Department – Code Enforcement Bureau for the La Calandria property.

Going forward I am committed to providing quality constituent services to the residents of the 14th District. In short, I am and will remain focused on doing the job for which I was elected and will not be deterred or distracted by scandalous allegations. It is truly shameful that he would continue to make such outrageous and false charges merely to advance his political ambitions - Our Community Deserves Better. While I think we could have done a much better job of advertising what we have done, I believe the Year in Review report I recently published will help illustrate what we have accomplished thus far and hope that voters will grant me the chance on March 6th to continue our good work in making the 14th District a Safer, Cleaner and Greener place to live and work.

Sincerely,
José Huizar
Councilmember, 14th District

Eddietor said...

Alvin Parra Responds:

Dear Editor,

Councilmember Jose Huizar is lying to the community. He is lying to cover the fact that he cares more about his image than protecting our children.

My former boss, Congressman Edward Roybal once told me, "when you tell the truth, you don't have to remember what you said."

When your paper asked Mr. Huizar for a response to the original allegations over two weeks ago, you gave him five days to respond before you went to print. He chose not to respond.

Almost two weeks have passed since the original release of the story in your paper, and now Mr. Huizar finally has a prepared written response?

Why did it take Mr. Huizar nearly two weeks to respond to this charge? Simple, he needed time to fabricate a story. And not just any story, now somehow he was the one that led the charge to arrest Mr. Lugo.

It was former Chief of Staff Tony Ricasa (not Huizar) who authorized the original arrest attempt and recommended the arrest on a charge of stealing City property. Huizar called off this strategy because it may have affected his image.

According to Mr. Huizar's new response, if he ordered the LAPD and Parole to visit Mr. Lugo the day the concern was reported, Lugo should have been arrested on Monday, July 10, 2007.

Why did it take 4 to 5 days later to arrest Lugo?

Simple, because Huizar's called off the arrest on Monday and a few days later, in a small staff meeting in the El Sereno office, I came up with the idea to check Lugo's parole conditions. Immediately, my co-worker Frank Torres called his friend in Probation to inquire on Lugo's conditions and we found what we were looking for, a violation. Lugo was not allowed to have possesion of a camera. Huizar was not involved in any of these efforts to get Lugo off the street.

It's unfortunate that Mr. Huizar can not accept responsibilities for his actions. In his first year in office, Huizar took 7 vacation trips totaling 40 days. He hired a driver at taxpayers expense. These are signs of a man who care more about his leisure than rolling his sleeves up and getting the job done.

Based on the evidence of his hands off leadership style and dismal record this past year, it's easier to believe that Huizar did nothing to get Lugo arrested than to believe that he somehow sprung into action and took charge.

And finally, we all know that Mr. Huizar loves press conferences and has one for any little event. If he truly was responsible for Lugo's arrest, why didn't he have a press conference to announce it. Simple, because he had nothing to do with Lugo's arrest and his latest response was calcualted and fabricated.

It's time to give Mr. Huizar a permanent vacation.

Alvin Parra

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