We all Lose When Our Children's Education Is Disrupted.

We all agree that workers deserve living wages. Yes, anybody who works shouldn't live in poverty.

Nevertheless, in light of the large-scale disruption that LAUSD students had in the last three years due to the pandemic that kept them home without learning. Labor leaders representing workers at LAUSD should use their imagination and explore other venues to advance their members' interests before they disrupt our students' education.

SEIU Local 99 and its 30,000 workers reached an impasse with LAUSD.   Bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, instructional aids, teacher assistants, and after-school program workers went on strike Tuesday. UTLA and its 35,000 teachers are participating in a solidarity strike and joined SEIU Local 99. Schools can't operate without teachers and these essential workers; hence they had to be closed. SEIU demands a 30% pay hike and wants $2 per hour for the lowest-paid workers.

On Friday, LAUSD made an offer of 19%, presenting a 19% ongoing increase over three years. It was reported on Monday that the district had increased its offer to a generous "23%, plus a 3% cash-in-hand bonus, a $ 20-an-hour minimum wage, and full health care benefits for those working at least four hours a day." The district has offered  77% of what is being demanded, which was insufficient for SEIU to avert the strike so students wouldn't miss class instructions.

Negotiations demand that parties understand that this process involves give and take and that parties negotiating must be able to make concessions. Local 99 is unwilling to return to the table of negotiations unless they get all they want. This approach elicits a dangerous self-assured hubris that might not advance the interest of workers.

Our student's education should never be sacrificed or factored into any strategy to help unionized workers to be lifted out of poverty. Fighting poverty by sacrificing poor Latino and Black students' education at Los Angeles Unified District makes no sense.

LAUSD, the nation’s second-largest school district, where 73% of its students are Latinos living in poverty, according to the district's website. The recent Covid-19 Pandemic immensely affected students; many reports and articles have been published showing the learning loss that occurred among our poor students. Many students were not just academically affected by the pandemic. They were also emotionally affected, as many lost family members that might have included their families.

During the pandemic, students started receiving classes online, and many struggled with access to technology and the poverty of their families. Many students never signed up for these classes and wasted months staying home doing nothing.

Furthermore, it was widely reported that half of all LAUSD students were constantly absent in 2022. Experts tell us that children by age 9 must be able to read and write to avoid falling behind academically. With all the challenges facing families with children at this age, It is not hard to extrapolate that many of our children are woefully behind—clearly, a crisis of biblical proportions.

Test scores for assessment last year showed that nearly seven in ten students could not meet the state minimum standards, and 1 in 2 students didn't meet the English standards. When these scores are compared to the year before the pandemic, the performance drop should alarm those in charge or care for the education of our children.

It is worse for low-income Black and Latino students - "84% of Black and 79% of Latino and low-income students" couldn't meet this state math standard.

To the LAUSD's credit, leaders in the district have tried to address the learning loss by increasing and extending the school day or adding additional days to the school year. But, such efforts were astonishingly rejected by UTLA, even though the district was willing to pay fully, including other benefits to those who wanted to help students. Many parents were disturbed and disappointed to see UTLA reject additional student learning.

In addition, the undue burden imposed on parents in these three days is vast. A three-day strike would affect the poorest resident in Los Angeles. Many parents are utterly confused and angry because LAUSD provides not only education for their children but also childcare and food. Schools are where many poor students eat breakfast and lunch, and many are even given food for dinner. Shutting down campuses is devastating for these needy students.

On Monday, many students brought home packages for school work, not just for the three but ten days. Who will help these children with their homework? A good 80% of the students at LAUSD live in poverty, and their parents have to work long hours, leaving them no time to help their children.

Students have no defenders. There is no secret that children's parents at the district are usually ignored in the decisions that will affect their children. The fight over resources and LAUSD's direction is consistent among the UTLA, Local 99, Charter Schools, and the district leaders. Children's parents are usually expunged from these vital conversations.

Parents need to unite and engage with a deeper level of thinking about how they can become relevant and effectively influence decisions that benefit their children's education.

This strike's guiding principle or theme is to attack poverty in Los Angeles. t is true most of the workers represented by Local 99, like other millions of workers in LA, can't afford to live in this city.   Many SEIU members truly live in poverty, which begs the question of why their union spends lavishly on politicians. They should demand more of these politicians who they send to the legislature in Sacramento.  Roughly 90% of LAUSD's funding comes from Sacramento.  UTLA and Local 99 spend a lot of money on politics. Both unions should demand the state send more money to the district.  So LAUSD can pay living wages to workers and better salaries to its teachers.

Living in Los Angeles is not easy, and surely workers represented by Local 99 need help. They are not alone; many people living in Los Angeles need help. But we can not be oblivious to the district's budget constraints. The pandemic funding for the district is no longer coming or is about to stop. And many parents with school-age children are moving to other cities or states, and the decline in enrollment will profoundly affect state funding. Back in 2000, the district had almost 750,000 students. Today's enrollment is just a little more than 400,000 students.

So much for LA being a bastion of liberalism! Come on, progressives, where is the outrage? Speak up for the poor, struggling students. This strike disproportionally impacts poor Latino students. Seven out of ten students at LAUSD are Latino students who live in poverty. And in California, 40% of the population are Latinos. There is no future in this city or this state, for that matter, if Latinos don't get educated.

Thank you for reading

Chamba Sanchez
Lecturer of Politics at LACCD

Photo Credit: Pictures used purchased from Stockphoto.


How Could the US Not Have Known? Genaro Garcia Luna's Conviction Is Not Justice For The People in Mexico

The conviction of a Mexican drug czar was received with great fanfare on both sides of the Mexico-US border. Genaro Garcia Luna, the former security minister under Mexican President Felipe Calderon, was convicted in a New York court for taking millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel. It was also alleged that Genaro Garcia was instrumental in helping the Sinaloa cartel to move more than fifty tons of cocaine into the U.S.

The amount of money being delivered to Genaro Garcia Luna by the drug traffickers, according to some witnesses, raked many peoples' senses raw. It has been widely publicized that he received more than $200 million from Sinaloa Carter. A witness testified that on two occasions, cartel members delivered $5 million nicely packed in briefcases-nothing but Benjamin Franklin bills. On another occasion, Garcia Luna stopped at a warehouse in Chiapas and picked up $14 million in cash.

Adding insult to injury, lawyers defending Genaro Garcia Luna put his wife on the witness stand. She audaciously told the court that her family's millions were the product of her family's hard work.

The information revealed in the trial that took over a month disgusted and angered many people in Mexico and embarrassed the United States. It is difficult to fathom that the U.S. intelligence officials working closely with Garcia Luna didn't know he was helping the Sinaloa Cartel. 

Many viewed this conviction as justice being served to the people in Mexico. They praised the American justice system, hoping it would send a strong message to all corrupted Mexican officials.  

Reuters reported today, Monday, February 27, that the United States is asking for Ovidio Guzman to be extradited. So he can face criminal charges in a U.S. court.  He is the son of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.  Two Mexican government sources confirmed the request.

The U.S. bringing corrupted Mexican officials or drug cartel leaders to justice is great, but it is a pretty low bar of expectations. The United States should do and can do more. For starters, the U.S. can do a better job stopping the flow of U.S. arms going to Mexico's drug cartels. It is well-documented how these weapons have brought so much bloodshed in Mexico. It is estimated that "2.5 million guns from the U.S. crossed the southern border in the last ten years."   

Genaro Garcia Luna served as security minister during President Calderon's tenure from 2006 to 2012. His conviction in New York is a blatant indictment of former president Calderon's leadership abilities. At the very least, it was a massive display of incompetence.

In 2006 when Felipe Calderon was newly elected, he was very receptive to Washington's demands. Calderon had barely defeated left-wing populist candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador by almost one percentage point. U.S. President in 2006, President Bush seized on the opportunity of Calderon's vision of fighting cartels and other organized crime. Hence the "Merida Initiative" was structured and implemented. It was a partnership in which the U.S. provided around $350 o $400 million a year in military aid to Mexico. The literature as to how this foreign policy initiative epically failed is thick. The number of people killed related to drugs grotesquely increased. Almost 10,000 Mexican people were killed just in 2009.

After Garcia Luna's conviction was known, former President Calderon made no apologies and told BBC News that he had done more than any president to take on organized crime. "I fought to build an authentic rule of law, without which there is no freedom, justice, or development," he told the news organization.

It is very telling that not much information came up in the trial about how U.S. intelligence folks worked with this corrupted man and were in the dark about this man's illegal activities. One might have assumed that based on the information that came up during this trial, Washington would be conducting congressional investigations as to what happened during these years that U.S. law enforcement officials were working with a corrupt official. 

After all, Garcia Luna worked closely with U.S. counter-narcotics and intelligence agencies. He also met with top U.S. officials, including then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder. How could the U.S. agencies not have known? 

Many, including current Mexican President Amador, are calling for an investigation of all those U.S. law enforcement officials who worked closely with Garcia Luna. It is not beyond the possibility that Garcia Luna might have corrupted them. The Biden administration has yet to release a statement on this demand.

It is surreal that at one point, Genaro Garcia Luna was the good cop that everybody thought was saving Mexico.   And now, he has been convicted of corruption and illicit enrichment. Many were skeptical about the charges. After all, this man was working closely with American intelligence agencies officials. He even got a CIA award from then-director General David Petraeus.

If the U.S. wants to help people in Mexico and other countries in Latin America, it must make a genuine effort to help these countries to build social and economic conditions. So people in Latin American countries can feel safe and find employment to support their families. Convicting corrupt Mexican officials and drug cartel leader is easy; developing well-thought solutions to the drug trade and even solving the immigration problem will require strength. 


Latinos don't usually speak in unison but the great majority responds with a resounding "no" to "Latinx"

At the end of 2021, Pew Research Center discovered what many of us already knew about the term "Latinx" - most Latinos do not like it and do not use it. According to the research, only an abysmal 3% of Latinos used it.

Furthermore, two in five Latinos point blank said that any political candidate who tries to pander to them using the term would immediately lose their vote. White liberal political consultants, who run political consulting firms locally and nationally, went back to the political "war rooms" to strategize how best to reach Latino voters.

"Latino" and "Hispanic" have been widely used, but some Latinos profoundly disliked both terms. "Latino" is viewed as anti-indigenous, and "Hispanic" as paying homage to Spanish colonizers. However, in the end, many Latinos have learned to live with "Hispanic," and the majority use it to describe themselves, while some prefer Latino/a. Others use other terms, and some reject anything to do with Latinos and joined other ethnic groups.

"Latinx" emerged in the last decade as an effort to include transgender and non-binary individuals. Latinx allows people to opt out of the gender binary. It is used as a gendered-neutral or non-binary option for Latinos/as.

Many Latinos tend to reject labels that lump them together and unfairly describe them as individuals or omit their culture or history. Latinos, whose primary language is Spanish, find the term "Latinx" so horrendous and irrational that they respond venomously. Some asserted that using "Latinx" is silly as it disrupts the gendered nature of Spanish.

Some Latinos even argue that "Latinx" is nothing but "linguistic imperialism" of the Spanish language or some "politically correct lexicon" that the "woke white" liberals want to impose on them. It is also viewed as an elitist term with the potential to destroy their culture and history.

Selling the term "Latinx" to Latinos was an ambitious endeavor and a profound display of the lack of knowledge of Latinos in this country. Among all the groups in American society, Latinos are the most diverse and complex group. Latin with the x, to many native Spanish speakers, makes no sense. "Latinx" defies the basic rules of pronunciation. It was a huge undertaking that was doomed to fail.

Those who came up with this term didn't understand the gendered form of Spanish and the profound diversity among Latinos. We, Latinos as a group, are very diverse. Latinos don't just roll over. We are thinking beings who do not just embrace superficial labels that we find inadequate or silly.

And many news organizations, without much research, started using the term "Latinx" in their articles when they refer to Latinos. Almost half of all residents in Los Angeles are Latinos. To reach out to Latinos in this city, Los Angeles Times hired young and hip journalists in an effort to legitimize the term. They even developed a section called "LatinX files."

Some Latino organizations have also dropped the term "Latinx." The League of United Latin American Citizens [LULAC], a Latino civil rights organization, stopped using "Latinx" in 2021. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also does not use the term.

Superficial labels do nothing for the people they intend to help. Changing the dictionary or adding words to it will not do anything for transgender and non-binary individuals who are constantly attacked. We need to create policies that protect them.

There have been published articles about the real struggles facing transgender and non-binary individuals and how their rights are grossly violated.  Uber being an exhibit A, personal documents transgender individuals presented to the company were considered fraudulent, and many were dropped from Uber's platform.   That was tragic and unfair.  These individuals couldn't make a living. Here is where advocates need to focus, these transgender people need jobs to support themselves and provide for their families.

Yes, we, all Latinos, should continue to endeavor to understand the complexity of the gender identity movement in our community with an open mind. The majority of Latinos are for all people to be themselves and be included and for their rights to be respected. Nonetheless, imposing "Latinx" in the name of inclusivity creates unnecessary tensions that derail its purpose or goals of inclusion among the diverse Latino communities. Our community does not need a divisive fight over a superficial term.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
Photo Credit: Stock photo used


Stop Using Title 42 and Fix not Exploit the Massive Immigration Problem

On Monday, the Supreme Court dashed a glimmer of hope for many immigrants hoping that Titled 42 would be lifted this week. Chief Justice John Roberts put a temporary hold on the termination of Title 42.  Whatever is in place will stay the same, and Title 42 will not end this week.  Many immigrants from different countries stranded at the southern border were anxious and hopeful that Title 42 would be lifted this week so their application for political asylum could move forward.

Lawyers representing families seeking asylum had filed a lawsuit, and a federal judge ordered President Biden to stop using Title 42 by this coming Wednesday, December 21, 2022. It was claimed in this case that Title 42 is "arbitrary and capricious."  The Biden Administration tried to stop using it, but a federal court in Louisiana immediately blocked it. States controlled by Republicans argued that Title 42 was needed and that if it were lifted, that would create chaos in their states.

Title 42 is a public health order that the Border Patrol enforces. It gives the power to detain and immediately expel immigrants trying to enter the US.  Title 42 is used to keep diseases out of the United States.  The head of the executive branch of the government, via the Department of Homeland Security, uses this public health law.

Before October 2022, Venezuelans were exempted from Title 42. Because both countries, Venezuela and Mexico, wouldn't accept them once they had been expelled. Ukrainians who showed up at the southern border with valid documentation from Ukraine and would not pose a risk to this country's public safety were also exempted. Undoubtedly, immigration advocates immediately accused Biden's administration of racism.

Year in and year out, we see the immigration system in this country crying out for reform with no fix in sight.

Most Americans tell news organizations that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. Their demand for fixing this problem has fallen on deaf ears for the last three decades.

The political paralysis continues in Washington on the issue of immigration. This new surge of immigrants at the southern border has forced many cities to declare public emergencies while seeking federal financial help to accommodate these newly arrived immigrants.

It is reported by MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News that the number of immigrants currently crossing the southern border ranges from 6,000 to 8,000 daily. Border patrol people complain that they don't have the resources to deal with this crisis and blame the Biden administration privately for their approach to this immigration problem.

Many states being led by Republicans fretted about what could happen if Title 42 were lifted. That would be the end of the Republic as we know it, some of them assertively argue while being interviewed by the usual talking heads on Fox News and other conservative news outlets.

Both political parties use the immigration issue to campaign during elections, and they never legislate on it once the elections are done. This issue has been debated for over two decades. Leaders from both political parties never went beyond posturing to serious deal-making.

Both political parties have disgustingly exploited the issue to advance their political goals. When we had Trump in the White House, we saw Democratic Congressional Representatives going to the southern border and engaging in partisan grandstanding. Now that we have President Biden, we see Republican Congressional Representatives doing the same thing.

It has been reported that the new incoming Republican Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, will be holding hearings at the border next year and is planning to impeach the secretary leading the Homeless Security. Another partisan-political grandstanding that offers no real proposal to deal with the immigration issue.

Florida and Texas governors have removed recently arrived immigrants from their states and sent them to other state municipalities unapologetically.

Republicans use the immigration issue to mobilize their base and offer draconian enforcement, while Democrats use immigration to mobilize the Latino vote. Trump's evil approach to immigration flipped the foundational belief about immigrants. Their hard work and contributions to this country were questioned. President Trump literally cast them as an imminent threat to the well-being of this country.

Democrats are just as guilty, President Obama promised immigration reform, and Latinos who voted for him got draconian immigration enforcement instead. He even used the scriptures in his speeches when discussing the immigration issue. Obama told crowds not to oppress the stranger while deporting 10,000 hardworking non-criminal immigrants daily.

The immigration issue is very complex, and finding common ground or compromising on this issue is nearly impossible. Activists, non-profits, and other advocates must abandon whatever they have been doing for the last three decades because it has not worked. Their advocacy needs a deeper level of thinking to help this country's 11 million undocumented people.

President Biden and Republican leaders in Washington need to be lectured that the 11 million undocumented people in this country are a source of income for their home countries back in Latin American countries. The yearly remittances these undocumented immigrants send are in the billions, vastly exceeding the US aid to these countries.

The Biden Administration pledged $5 or $6 billion over four years to countries in Central America. In this very same year, immigrants from just Guatemala sent more than $10 billion in remittances. It can also be argued that these immigrants' remittances stop massive waves of immigration heading north. The eleven million undocumented immigrants send money to their relatives back home.  Hence they don't have to head north. If these immigrants get some legalization, they will make more money and send more to their relatives back home.

If our political leaders in Washington use the virtues of common sense, they will legalize the eleven million undocumented immigrants.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
Lecturer of Politics at LACCD

Photo Credit: Pictures used purchased from Stockphoto.


Here Is What Bothers Latinos In The Struggle For Political Power With African Americans In LA

It has been a chaotic week in Los Angeles. City Council President Nury Martinez's vile remarks have been an immense distraction that has obscured all the crises of biblical proportions that this city is facing. That political meteorite shook up the entire L.A. political firmament.

Latino and African American political leaders have had macro and micro tensions for a long time. This city is doomed if African Americans and Latinos don't find a way of finding common ground in asking questions of justice for their communities. Both groups must summon their courage and be brave enough to engage in an honest conversation about what bothers them.

At the macro level, there is discontent among Latino leaders that nearly 50% of all residents are Latinos in this city, yet they only hold four council seats. In comparison, African Americans have three council seats when they are roughly 8% of the population. Latino leaders say in private that the demographics in city council districts 8, 9, and 10 have become browner. Yet, they can't run serious Latino candidates there because they will be called "racist" for trying to disenfranchise black people.

After the audio recording was leaked, Council President Martinez was accused by black leaders of wanting to diminish the power of the black community while drawing the district border lines for all fifteen districts. Where were these people when Council President Wesson dismantled a district of the only black woman in the city council, Jean Perry, Latinos ask? Wesson, as Council President, blessed the final border district lines for the 15 districts. Wesson gave community assets from Perry's district to corrupted Councilman Jose Huizar. Nobody complained, and nobody was called "racist," Latinos contend. It might not be suitable for the city, but this is an established process used by those running city hall.   It is about preserving the current politicians in power who agree and want to protect the status quo. Herb Wesson did the very exact thing when he was running the city.

Another problem for Latinos with black leaders was when the entire council voted to suspend Mark Ridley Thomas. The African American city council members, Marquee-Harris and Curren Price, voted "no," while both voted "yes" to suspend embattled Councilman Jose Huizar. Latino council members were visibly agitated seeing black council members protecting a corrupted person just because he was black. And then, Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson took the council floor and made silly arguments about why Thomas should not have been suspended. De Leon, Cedillo, and Martinez couldn't believe their ears of what these Black Council persons were saying to defend Thomas.

In addition, Latinos politicians also see how Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell has become a kingmaker and how she selects the next assembly person, the next state senator, and the next member of Congress in South Central. They are all African Americans, even when districts' demographics have changed. Supervisor Mitchell will only support a Latino candidate if such an individual is outside her area. Her protege, Sydney Kamlager, went from being on the board of trustees of L.A. Community Colleges to the state assembly to the state senate. And, now, Sydney Kamlager is nearly going to Congress roughly in less than five years. Where is the outrage? Latinos ask. No Latino agenda is moving forward even when these districts have become browner, Latino leaders privately argue.

Latinos also feel woefully ignored in the conversations of diversity. Discussions solely focus on opportunities for African Americans, even when Latinos are making noises for opportunities for everyone.

And then there are tensions at the micro level that have never been fully addressed.

African Americans and Latinos are lumped together in many communities in Los Angeles. They can't seem to see a common agenda with Latinos. Both groups clash over jobs and resources in their communities. African Americans resent seeing Latinos invading their communities and that they are unable to communicate with them. Indeed, they see these immigrants moving into communities known as Black communities and changing them for the worse. It has been the replacement of Marvin Gay for Vicente Fernandez. Recently arrived immigrants tend not to understand the African Americans' struggle and dislike them. They hardly ever have been exposed to black people, and the ones they had were unpleasant. Hence these immigrants unfairly generalize the entire group based on those experiences.

There is so much misunderstanding between the two groups. Case in point, In a mayoral debate, Representative Bass was asked about Latinos and homelessness, and she replied that the first thing she would do was to address the questions of citizenship. So Latinos homeless wouldn't be afraid to apply for services. Then, another debate revealed that a powerful Latino club in L.A. had endorsed Rick Caruso. She immediately asked Caruso how much he had paid for such an endorsement. Both responses by Representative Bass were troubling and disappointing.

I was taken aback by Representative Bass' responses. She should have known that not all Latinos need legalization. And on the endorsement for Caruso, that off-the-cuff comment could be construed as racist. Not all of us are dumb, unethical, and sell out for money.

This poor city has been under tremendous stress since Eric Garcetti took over. We have had sitting council members indicted and then pleading guilty to corruption charges. There have also been attorneys at the L.A. City Attorney's Office involved in scandals and might go to jail. Then, the person in charge of the DWP is in prison for bribery. And, of course, we have Mayor Garcetti's opportunity in India evaporating because his top aide was a sexual predator who used his power to attack people sexually. And we have some people alleging that Garcetti looked the other way.

This city's stability is not sustainable when these two groups are all in open warfare. African Americans see political power essentially as a zero-sum competition with Latinos. Yes, that is true if one sees it with ethnocentric political lenses used in the past. But it is not true if one realizes that coalitions need to be formed to advance progressive policies that benefit both groups.

These are sad and sobering times in L.A. We should all still make an effort to elevate ourselves and see that these times are also offering opportunities for examining the foundation and effectiveness of our democratic institutions. We should do whatever we can to preserve the multicultural mecca of this city where all groups get along and work together. We are in this together, and the future of this city connects us. We should be able to see that what binds us together is much stronger than what might divide us.

There would have never been Mayor Villaraigosa without the support of African Americans. And there would have never been Speaker Bass without the support of Latinos in the Assembly.

P.S. My observations above are analytical in nature and are not intended to be anything more.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
Lecturer of Politics at LACCD

Photo Credit: Pictures used purchased from Stockphoto.

Sources consulted.

Dakota, Smith, et al. "L.A. City Council votes to suspend Mark Ridley-Thomas amid federal charges." Los Angeles Times 20 Oct. 2021
Waldie, D. J. "The Wrath of Wesson: Friday's Redistricting Fiasco." KCET-So Cal Focus 19 March 2012.



New emerging LA's political class: Self-proclaimed "police abolitionists."

Progressive leaders currently leading our city have literally proven that they are genetically incapable of solving the profound challenges facing Angelinos. Known as a bastion of progressiveness, this city’s political leadership has failed the poor. People in LA want leadership, In the absence of leadership, people listen to whoever steps up to the microphone.

The newly elected socialist individuals now calling themselves “progressives” are telling the poor in this city that help is on the way. And that they will use the power of their offices to advance their interest. They swear they are committed to justice and that the poor in L.A. will no longer be expunged from the official narrative of power. Is this real?

I am unsure how to interpret the L.A. city elections on June 7. Some experts say a new tidal wave of left-wing politics is washing over this city. Others argue that the structural change in the voting process made it easier for left-wing candidates to mobilize non-conventional voters.

I have noticed visible new groups with energized activists. I have had lefty activists knocking on my door in the last couple of city elections.

Emerging leftist candidates have been active with Democratic Socialists of America-Los Angeles, People-Budget-LA, a coalition led by Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, and Ground Game L.A., to mention some. They were all inspired by Bernie Sander's two runs for the presidency.

Ground Game L.A.is the main group behind these activists; the organization emerged from an electoral campaign in district 13 in 2017. Those leading this organization understood that building communities in L.A. must be connected with building electoral power.

Jessica Salans, a candidate who challenged Mitch O'Ferrel in 2017, is credited with igniting this movement. After losing to O'Ferrel in 2017, Jessical Salans called for a meeting with her volunteers who were unhappy with progressive leadership in Los Angeles. Salans was determined to change what had happened to her campaign that lacked money and creativity.   She called on all Bernie Sanders' young progressives who were frustrated with the current state of affairs of the city. This group eventually morphed into Ground Game L.A.

Three years after that meeting, Jessica Salams had the first chance to practice what they had learned, and she successfully ran the Nithya Raman's campaign for the L.A. council.   They defeated a sitting councilman, David Rye. A movement set in, activists began to raise money, motivated people to volunteer, and became savvy in using social media platforms. They even created catchy videos with powerful messages for recruiting new members.

People were shocked when Nithya Raman, the first South-Asian-American woman, defeated a sitting councilman in 2019. Raman was not part of the circle of those holding power in this city who determine who should be next in line to serve in this city, on the county, board of supervisors, or state legislature. Organized labor has checked out of electoral politics. They used to be a force in this city and would speak with one voice. Now, labor unions are divided into supporting different candidates.

This past Tuesday, we learned that sitting Councilman Gilberto Cedillo has also been defeated by Eunisses Hernandez, an activist backed by Game LA's people. It is a done deal. It is statically impossible for the incumbent Councilman to reverse the current results.  The final results will be available at the end of June.  These groups of activists have worked hard and finally started getting dividends.

Current Councilwoman Nithya Raman and Kenneth Mejia, leading the race for city controller, are the most polished candidates among these new emerging candidates. Councilwoman Raman is calm and can articulate solutions to this city's problems. Her views on public safety are not always welcome in the communities she serves. Kenneth Mejia has excellent research skills and a business degree that would make him a competent and knowledgeable city controller. He will be scrutinized in the looming run-off. There have been allegations of him saying some silly things.

I will venture to say that the weakest link among these activists running for office is Hugo Soto-Martnez.  Although he managed to make it to run off in district 13. He is the least articulated and he is visibly not ready for prime time.  He uses socialist language loosely, and his lack of understanding of socialism he uses is notable. He openly talks about a silly "common enemy" in our communities. And his dislike for law enforcement has shown while campaigning. Soto-Martinez can't seem to understand that the highly caffeinated and latte drinkers folks in Silverlake and Los Feliz, whom he wants to represent, own property.  The last thing these voters want to hear is "defunding the police." Soto-Martinez will be a suitable candidate in either district one or the seven district.

Another candidate who is part of this movement and might be the one replacing Mike Bonis is Eric Darlin. He got the outgoing councilman's blessings, and it looks like he is coming to city hall, joining Councilwoman Nitya Raman and Councilwoman elect Eunice Hernandez. Three councilman members with policy-focused on helping renters in this city is a big start for building political power at city hall. It will be interesting to see if they are able to establish a paradigm shift needed for the creation of more progressive policies for the poor.

These self-proclaimed new candidates, "police abolitionists," have seen some communities pushing back in candidates' forums.  They heard the message and turned down their rhetoric. They all argue that all the money spent on the police department should be spent on more productive endeavors that would make communities better. Their optimism is palpable and well-intentioned but utterly disconnected from reality on the ground.

In light of the brutal, brazen crimes in L.A., these candidates don't understand that nobody needs more public safety resources than the poor. Unlike the poor, wealthy folks in Silverlake, Los Feliz, Hollywood and the west part of the city have their own security. Granted, police officers can be abusive and can easily disregard people's rights. These candidates should focus on radical reforms that would lead to constitutional policing instead.

With these incoming newly elected individuals, Los Angeles is about to get interesting. We might end up with a "law and order" mayor and a handful of candidates who aggressively advocate for defunding the police.

The underlying question is whether these candidates are ready to lead in a very diverse Los Angeles. And if they will have the ability to pivot and make the needed changes that will advance the interest of the poor they claim to represent. They will need to understand the line between compromising and selling out. Furthermore, these new leaders should endeavor to form coalitions with those whom they might dislike. Most of them have never had the experience of running a significant organization. Marching and giving the finger to the establishment is easy. Now, at one point they will have to realize that they have become the establishment.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
Lecturer of Politics at LACCD

Photo Credit: Pictures used in this piece were taken from candidates' websites and organizations they belong to

Sources consulted.
Nieves, Alexander. "L.A. campaigns enter a new phase." Politico 6 June 2022.
Wick, Julia. "Unseating an L.A. City Council incumbent is exceedingly rare. Will it happen in 2022?." Los Angeles Times 3 March 2022.
Zahniser, David. "Urban planner Nithya Raman unseats Los Angeles City Councilman David Ry." Los Angele Times 6 November 2020.


Progressives Have Massively Failed L.A.

Voters who like to vote on election day in Los Angeles will be heading to polling places and voting for a whole bunch of people next week-June 7th.  We will be handed a massive eight-page ballot.

In 2015 civic leaders hoping to increase turnout in Los Angeles asked voters to amend the city charter. Voters agreed and mayoral elections were moved to even-numbered years.  Next week, California will hold its primaries; candidates of all parties will be participating in a non-partisan primary.  Party affiliation will play no role, and the two top vote-getters will advance to the general election in November.

I was recently asked how Caruso's candidacy gained traction in this liberal city.  Yes, money is a factor but not the overall factor.  We have had candidates with so much money who didn't win the office.  Money without a message will not go far. Candidate Caruso has capitalized on the profound lack of progressive leadership in this town.

Progressives leading this city have spectacularly failed us.  Voters are angry; their anger and discontent are palpable. They want a new leadership fueled with action.

Piles of trash everywhere, people being followed to their homes and then robbed at gunpoint, civic leaders indicted for betraying the public trust, tents at every other block with homeless individuals, and communities of color have been flooded with marijuana dispensaries.  The quality of life in this city has been significantly reduced. L.A., a city, once known as a bastion of progressiveness, has become a place of chaos and filth.

This is why Representative Bass and Councilman Kevin De Leon have not generated enthusiasm in this mayoral race.  Both candidates represent a nod to continuity at a time when continuity is not warranted.

I had voted and helped De Leon and Karen Bass when they first ran for the assembly.  Yes, they are decent, intelligent, and well-liked people, but the city's profound problems are beyond their paygrade.  They both have been in leadership positions in this state.  Kevin De Leon was the President of the State Senate, and Karen Bass was the speaker.  Moreover, Kevin De Leon became a councilman not long ago and is now looking for another job.  He is an illustration of the so-called progressive politicians in California. They get elected to an office and begin looking for the next gig the following day.  They are not interested in solving problems. They all think about the next job whenever they make decisions.

According to recent polls, homelessness is in everyone's mind. I don't think I have ever seen a community problem with considerable public resources getting such a slight incremental improvement. We, voters, agreed to pay more taxes, hoping the homeless problem would significantly decrease. No, outgoing Mayor Garcetti monumentally wasted resources.

Los Angeles Times has reported that those mobile restrooms we see around the city serving homeless individuals cost $339,000.00 a year.  And then the housing units insanely cost $837,000.00.  It is a glaring display of the high-level incompetence of outgoing mayor Garcetti.  The next mayor should immediately stop whatever Garcetti was doing and fire anybody connected to him.  Yes, this new mayor must carefully evaluate all contracts dealing with these housing units.

Serious crimes have also spiraled out of control.  Even those who truly believe that we have to invest more in proactive endeavors and less in LAPD cringe when the "woke left" demands "defunding of the police department."   The rich have their own security in their gated communities. They don't need police departments; poor communities of color do.  Representative Bass skeptically revealed that she would increase LAPD by 100 officers.  We all saw how ruthlessly the woke left went after her.

I have been following this mayoral race closely with an open mind. I have watched most of the debates, and I have attended two.  Like many people in this city, I feel helpless and hopeless.  I pay attention to what the candidates say and do and I could see that a persuasive narrative is escaping Representative Bass. She likes to improvise and says many things. I am still not clear what her plan of action is.  I see her at events with the same advisors who have been advising other establishment candidates here in L.A. for years.

In addition, Karen Bass recently told Steve Lopez from LA Times that she didn't have big ideas. And at debates, it shows that she doesn't have the fire in the belly displayed by politicians who want to win elections. Representative Bass' responses to these debates don't go beyond her conducting audits and identifying waste and fraud.

She offers nothing new. She recycles proposals other candidates had previously offered.

Rick Caruso's narrative centers on the city's challenges and how his background in building empires gave him the foundation needed to take on the major underlying tasks to fix L.A.  He tells voters that the city teeters on the brink and that other candidates have been in positions of leadership way too long and didn't do anything significant for the city. He also tells them, I am not your candidate if you want more of the same.

Caruso's message resonates very well with the non-frequent voters and those who are not politically connected. He also mocks other candidates; they have spent their lives in politics protecting the status quo, he tells audiences.

At least 40% of voters have not decided who to vote for.  Most people, including me, see Representative Bass and Rick Caruso moving to the general election next Tuesday.  A lot of money is being spent on those undecided voters. Candidate Caruso has barraged voters with slick ads about his candidacy.  He has been relentless that some pundits are whispering that he might win this thing outright next week by getting over the 50% and avoiding a runoff.  It is doubtful that this will happen.

If you have not heard from the mayoral candidates, Los Angeles Times interviewed the major candidates. Here are links for three of them still running: the link for Karen Bass, link for Caruso, and the link for De Leon.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I am voting for Rick Caruso next week.
Photo Credit: Bigstock photo used for this piece.

Resources consulted.
Karen Bass for Los Angeles mayor." Editorial. Los Angeles Times 1st May 2022.
"Los Angeles is spending up to $837,000 to house a single homeless person." KTLA 24 Feb. 2022.
Lopez, Steve. "Karen Bass wants to end homelessness. Are know-how and connections enough?" Los Angeles Times 7 May 2022.
Reyes, Emily R. "$339,000 for a restroom? L.A. politicians balk at the cost of toilets for homeless people." Los Angeles Times 10 June 2019.





Rick Caruso Might Win this Thing, Here is Why

When career politicians were unable to solve problems in 1993, voters in L.A. voted for a white, wealthy, and Republican candidate. Investment Banker Richard Riordan replaced legendary Tom Bradley and became mayor of democratic Los Angeles.

"Tough Enough to Turn La Around" was mayoral candidate Richard Riodan's slogan in 1993. It was a fitting slogan at that particular time in Los Angeles. The city was a dangerous place to live. The aftermath of the L.A. riots was still being felt, and crime was high as notorious violent gangs terrorized many neighborhoods in L.A. People wanted a sense of security and a tough leader. Mayoral candidate Riordan told people, "I will protect you."

Los Angeles has a strong mayor-council form of government. The position of a mayor is a full-time job, and voters, unlike small cities, get to vote for them. A mayor in Los Angeles can select general managers and commissioners and propose budgets. L.A. mayors are also responsible for directing the city's bureaucratic structure and have veto power.

Voters in Los Angeles want to see progress.  The current chaotic status of this city is not sustainable. Crime and homelessness have become permanent fixtures of this city.

Wealthy businessman Rick Caruso decided to put his name on the ballot for the mayoral race and changed the dynamics of the race. He will make this election competitive, exciting, and the conversation about the profound challenges facing Los Angeles might become more robust. Rick Caruso has the professional folks and the resources; now, he has to make his case to all the communities that are part of Los Angeles that he can house people, bring law and order, and clean house at city hall.

Furthermore, Rick Caruso entering the race made this mayoral race is a two-candidate race. This was good news for Karen Bass and bad news for Kevin De Leon. The establishment and the progressives have already started rallying behind Rep. Karen Bass. Latino "leaders" behind Bass will press De Leon to stop his campaign. I will give De Leon a month to end it. Karen Bass will indeed have the establishment support and other progressive activists in the city. Although BLM's folks are anxious and perplexed that she recently promised more cops if she is elected.

Caruso's team also needs to factor in that one out of two Angelenos is Latino; hence, he needs to allocate resources for our community if he wants to win this thing. He is not well known among Latinos. I also have to say that we are not monolithic, and we have stopped following our so-called civic leaders. Latinos are fatigued. We have marched, voted, and stood with Latino politicians who never delivered. Caruso might have a chance in light of this pronounced apathy toward Latino politicians.

Candidate Caruso has been very successful in business, and he has built a real estate empire. He couldn't have done it without being organized, structured, and focused. He knows that execution is everything. Translating his business skills into running the city of Los Angeles, a city of four million people, will be a challenge.

Most business individuals have skills that might come in handy when running bloated and unproductive government bureaucracies. Successful business people can articulate a vision and persuade and inspire people. Of course, the task of running a business and running a government is very different; the "objectives, structure, obstacles, and stakeholders" are not the same.

Rick Caruso has served on boards in the City of Los Angeles. He was a board member of the Department of Water and Power, led the police commission, and chaired the Board of Trustees at USC. He has also donated to many Democratic candidates, including his opponent Representative Karen Bass. Caruso is a devout catholic and is accused of being anti-abortion.

The central theme for this race will be leadership, who is the one who can make difficult choices—the one who will tell us, not what we want to hear but we need to hear. We don't need position papers on policies anymore. We all know the problems, and we have listened to promising policy proposals, and they were never carried out for lack of leadership. Mayor Garcetti gave us well-thought-out proposals, and he articulated them reasonably well in public. But, he couldn't translate his ideas into action.

Many people, including myself, were seeking more ideas and better candidates in this mayoral race. All these establishment people running for mayor, from Kevin De Leon to Mike Fuer, to Karen Bass, if one of them gets elected, that will be a nod to continuity at a time when continuity is not warranted or acceptable.

Voters don't want to hear more speeches. They want action and an acknowledgment that the principal institutions of this city have massively failed.  We, voters, want a leader who provides a feasible plan to take on homelessness, crime, and corruption at city hall. We don't want politicians making decisions based on what is good for them for the next election rather than what is for the best interest of Los Angeles.

Rare is the day that I don't see a mentally-ill homeless person running naked or yelling profanities in the streets of Los Angeles. The human degradation that takes place day in and day out in L.A. multiplies by the hour.

During my time in labor, I walked, called, and mobilized people for Karen Bass when she first ran for the Assembly.  I did the same for Kevin De Leon too.

I am a progressive, but I am not blind to this city's pressing problems. I can not keep voting for the same people who have been presiding over the paralysis that has made this incredible city a third-world country. We need a new vision, new ideas, and a leader who can bring us together. One who tells us not what we want to hear but what we need to hear. One who is not controlled by the same political machines that keep giving us incompetent civic leaders.

The sniping started an hour after Mr. Caruso had filed the needed paperwork to join the mayoral race.  The forces of the status quo were connecting him to Trump and talking about all the money he has. I found that ridiculous, but I was not surprised. Come on, let the man litigate his case.

The political class in this city has proven in significant ways that they lack the independence needed to make the tough decisions to turn L.A. around.  They are overly beholden to powerful groups.

I am exhausted and frustrated being governed by the same people and seeing our communities decaying. This is not the time for that manipulative tool that establishment politicians constantly use; yes, that silly novelty of the first woman, the first Latino, the first black, etc.

Rhetoric that makes us feel good does not solve problems.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
Photo Credit: Stockphoto used

Resources consulted.
Cowan, Jill. "Rick Caruso, Billionaire Developer, Jumps Into Los Angeles Mayor’s Race." The New York Times 11 Feb. 2022.
Simon, Richard and rich Connell.  "LOCAL ELECTIONS / L.A. MAYOR: Wachs Raps Riordan on Gifts to Democrats." Los Angeles Times 1st April 1993.
Wick, Julia and Benjamin Oreskes.  "Rick Caruso has entered the mayor’s race. Will L.A. elect a billionaire?" Los Angeles Times 11 Feb. 2022.
---.  "Does L.A. want a billionaire mayor? Rick Caruso is trying to find out." Los Angeles Times 23 Jan. 2022.



Stop Supporting Racist NFL !

A  substantive structural change is desperately needed at the NFL league.  The current profound lack of diversity in the league is outrageous. 70% of NFL players are black, out of the 32 NFL teams' owners, not one is black, and among the head coaches, Mike Tomlin is the only black head coach in the league. He coaches the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also, the offensive coordinators, a position that is a springboard to becoming a head coach in the league, only four are black.

Sundays and Mondays, NFL teams' white owners watch games from their luxurious boxes, sipping expensive wine and top-notch vodka.  While on the field, black players risk their lives in this dangerous game.  They endure painful hits to their bodies and heads.  We all know what happens to these players when they retire.

Progress in this league has indeed been painfully slow. It looks like the activists' reservoir of ideas to force the needed structural change at this NFL league has dried up.

With the recent ordeal involving Coach Flores and the New York Giant, this NFL league reached a new low of racism. I concur with Coach Flores equating the NFL organization with a "plantation."

The so-called Rooney Rule is a joke.  The NFL tried to appease some voices demanding more diversity in the league and implemented this rule back in 2003.  This is what this rule does, NFL teams just need to interview minorities for head coach positions.  And that is precisely what the NFL teams' owners do. They just check that box that a minority individual has been interviewed. Blacks candidates who applied for head coach positions do not have to be given full consideration.

Rooney Rule was grotesquely displayed recently with Coach Bryant Flores, who, after losing his job with the Miami Dolphins, landed an interview for a head coach position with the New York Giants.  Coach Flores was excited about the opportunity and looked forward to interviewing with the Giants.  Sadly, he inadvertently learned via a text message that the position he was getting ready to be interviewed for had been filled.  He knew this information way before his interview took place.  New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had monumentally mistaken Bryan Flores for Bryan Daboll. He wanted to congratulate Daboll and texted Flores instead.  Bryan Flores still showed up for the interview, knowing that it was just a formality and that he never had a chance.

Understandably, Coach Flores has filed a lawsuit against the NFL league and made serious accusations against the owners.  He called them racist and stated that he sees no difference between "plantation" owners and the filthy wealthy white NFL teams owners.

As disgusting as the ordeal with the New Year Giants was, it was not the first time Coach Flores had experienced such discriminatory behavior from NFL teams' people toward him. In 2019, Mr. Flores interviewed with Denver Broncos, and it was the same thing.  Denver just wanted to comply with the Rooney Rule.  Interviewers showed up late, John Always being one of them, and it was apparent they were not interested in Coach Flores.  Another white man was hired as head coach to lead the Broncos.

Some people question the timing of this lawsuit and argue that Coach Flores is just a disgruntled former coach with limited talent. They further claim that Coach Flores figured it was better to play the "victim card." Since his prospects for coaching another team, given his talent, were very limited. These critics praised John Elway for his vigorous response to Flores' accusations. One thing is clear for these people: Coach Flores will never coach again.

What is the best way to move forward?

We need to go from the Rooney rule to the Biden rule, for starters. Yes, The NFL needs to pledge just like President Biden has done, pledging to appoint a black woman to the highest court in the land.  NFL folks will have to call a press conference and pledge that the next five head coaches will be "black" coaches.  Let's people call it affirmative action's coaches or whatever they want.  We need more black coaches. That critical mass has to start building.

Cosmetic change shouldn't be acceptable anymore. These NFL teams need structural change.  Policies need to be formulated with real teeth for enforcement. After teams interview candidates, an in-depth independent analysis must ensure all candidates were given the same consideration and opportunities.

Of course, we will hear accusations that sports are all about talent, and hiring people based on their skin color will destroy the game. "Talent" should drive decisions, not people's background, critics argue. These people do not tell you that affirmative action is already in place in this league. It has been reported that 1/3 of all white coaches in the league are related. It is hard to believe that the current Rams head coach would be a coach without assistance from his family that had a history with successful San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s and 1990s.

Finally, I always have this thing against professional sports teams.  They practice the worst type of capitalism, and sports are always a profound distraction for many people who need to be more civically engaged.

Emperors in the Roman Empire methodically thought of an effective way to keep the masses happy.  So they wouldn't ask questions.  "Bread and Circuses" were it; they gave the poor cheap food and entertained them.  Those gladiator games and chariot races were exciting, and the poor flocked to arenas and, of course, to the Colosseum. It worked then, and it works today.

Here in L.A.is crazy, we have two soccer teams, two football teams, a baseball team, a hockey team, and we have concerts every other day.  It is insane.  Who cares about the demise of communities and civic life if the Rams win the Super Bowl.  People following games leave no time for engaging in decaying communities in Los Angels.

Furthermore, I have always been mystified about why we build stadiums with public money.  NFL teams owners are billionaires; no city should sacrifice the community interest for these billionaires.  These NFL folks can also be sneaky and manipulative. It was widely known in the league that the NFL had the "colossal L.A. media market vacant" so teams around the country could threaten cities where they were located to leave if they wouldn't build new stadiums.  That evil strategy worked; many stadiums were built as a result.

It has been proved that stadiums don't create the needed good-paying jobs that politicians tell us.   These state-of-the-art arenas and stadiums, after they are built, create low-paid seasonal jobs. Ticket sellers, vendors, janitorial staff, and others are not jobs where individuals can support families.

I am sure I will find better things to do than watching this game at this majestic "plantation" place known as Sofi stadium.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
A lecturer of Politics at L.A. Community Colleges
Photo Credit: Stockphoto used

Resources consulted.
Fenno, Nathan and Sam Farmer. "How Stan Kroenke and the NFL turned SoFi Stadium into a $5-billion reality." Los Angeles Times 4 Sept. 2020.
McCollough, Brady J. "Seven things you need to know about Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL." Los Angeles Times 1st Feb. 2022.
Paulas, Rick. "Sports Stadiums Are a Bad Deal for Cities." The Atlantic 21 Nov. 2018.



Latinos, Redeem Yourselves in 2022, Vote This Man Out!

Sheriff Villanueva has been such a disappointment for Latino voters.

Once elected L.A. County Sheriff, Villanueva proved to be incompetent, corrupt, and grotesquely contemptuous of criticism. He woefully lacks grace and civility when interacting with other elected officials. That Ph.D. from Laverne in public administration that he holds did not help.

Villanueva had no chance if Latinos had not supported him.

Two reasons why Villanueva beat incumbent Sherriff McDonell:  First, former Sherriff Mcdonell had no love for immigrants accused of a crime.  Latino voters wanted him out because he had embraced Trump's ruthless policies against immigrants in this city.  Second, Villanueva convinced the political strategist behind "Citizens PAC," Javier Gonzalez, that he could be a viable option in replacing Sherriff McDonell.

Villanueva never held a senior law enforcement leadership position under corrupted Sheriffs Lee Baca and Sherman Block.  He had no vision or message to run United States' largest Sheriff's Department, with approximately 20,000 employees with almost 11,000 sworn deputies, 9,000 unsworn members, and a budget of about $3.5 billion.  Villanueva was just resentful that he was never given an opportunity.

Consultant Javier Gonzalez is well connected to community-based organizations and labor groups with a lot of resources.  He was the primary force to line up all these community and labor groups for Villanueva.  Candidate Villanueva was politically naive with no message other than a message for those disgruntled sheriff deputies. Javier Gonzalez schooled him how to navigate L.A. politics.  He crafted a broader message for Villanueva and eventually convinced labor groups to invest in Villanueva.

What were we thinking? Those of us who voted for Villanueva thought that this man had the potential to grow in the job.  Seeing this man running the Sherriff's Department in the last three years, many of us had to come to grips with reality. Villanueva did not grow into the job because he just couldn't.

He had barely been sworn in when he reinstated Sherriff Deputy Carl Mandoyan, who had been fired by Sherriff McDonnell for "domestic abuse, stalking allegations, and breaking into a woman's home."  This was the man who drove him around while campaigning.   A video was produced showing Mendoyan breaking into the apartment.

Villanueva spent some serious cash pursuing graduate degrees, first through the extension program at CSUN and then at Laverne, both degrees in public administration. Villanueva disliked the Sheriff Department's leadership with a passion.  At both institutions, most of the papers he wrote were on the problems at the Sherriff Department. Yes, his dissertation was about the Sheriff's Department too.  Most academic advisors in major educational institutions make a case for students to explore the world and not just use this educational opportunity to assail their employers.

We all thought our challenges with the Sheriff's Department would go away if we had one of our own leading this department. No. Los Angeles Times and other news organizations reported that the sheriff deputies aggressively target Latino bicyclists for riding their bicycles on sidewalks. Deputies handcuffed them and put them in the back in patrol cars while they searched their belongings. No matter how these actions are sliced or diced, Sheriff Villanueva is racially profiling our community.

Stopping these bicyclists in Los Angeles is similar to what the Sheriff's Department was doing in 2018 on the five freeway. Sheriff deputies stopped cars for potential contraband.  The drivers who were constantly stopped were disproportionately Latinos.  After public outcry, the Sheriff at that time, McDonnell, stopped the searches. The 5 freeway stops resumed under Sheriff Villanueva.

Sheriff deputies also killed Latino men Samuel Herrera and Andres Guardado.  The inspector general for the county sheriff and probation, Max Huntsman, has gone public accusing Villanueva of blocking him from obtaining vital information when he investigates deputy shootings.

This is troubling. Villanueva sees demands for accountability as attacks on himself and the sheriff's department. He has also put together a group of deputies to target his critics.  And,  adding insult to injury, he calls this unit "Civil Rights and Public Integrity."

Furthermore, a new report produced by the Rand Corporation details how gangs exist in the Sherriff Department and how these deputies connected to these gangs actively recruit other members. Although Congresswoman Waters has asked the Justice Department to look into this department, it is not clear why there is no federal government probe yet.

Sheriff Villanueva knows he is up to re-election next year, and predictably he is now going after homeless people. He is not offering solutions other than criticizing what others are doing. He is catering to the rich liberals in the west part of the city who are frustrated with the lack of progress to homelessness.

Villanueva spent more than three decades in the Sheriff's Department and never held any position of influence. We should have known that running the largest sheriff's department in this job would be big for this man.

Latino Voters will have the opportunity to redeem themselves next year. The sheriff is up for re-election, and clearly, he is counting on us to be re-elected.  Forget about the mayoral or midterm elections. The election for Sheriff is the one we need to focus on and elect someone decent, ethical, and with the ability to work with the rest of Los Angeles County's elected officials.

Yes, police or sheriff departments must be given all the independence they need to provide safety to our communities.  Nonetheless, these departments must operate within an environment that protects citizens' rights. Villanueva has ignored Civilian Oversight Commission's subpoenas. The commission wants to look into deputies linked to internal gangs and the investigative unit that targeted Sheriff Villanueva's critics.

Sherriff Villanueva underlines the need for urgently exploring the possibility of making this sheriff position an appointed position. We need a constitutional amendment to appoint sheriffs for all 58 counties in this state.

Villanueva’s tenure has been nothing but unneeded scandals, political battles, and abuses of powers. It is a sad state of affairs when this level of malfeasance goes on in the country’s largest sheriff’s department. It is exhausting.

Sheriff  Villanueva must go!

He is such a distraction, and his behavior has added an extra layer of burden to the already chaotic county government.


Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
A lecturer of Politics at L.A. Community Colleges.

Photo Credit: The photograph above came from Wikipedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Coscgove, Jaclyn.  "L.A. County leaders request inquests into three fatal shootings by sheriff’s deputies." Los Angeles Times 28 Sept. 2021.

Dickenson, Tim.  "Executioners,’ ‘Reapers,’ and ‘Banditos’: Gangs of Sheriff’s Deputies Are Wreaking Havoc in L.A." Rolling Stone 14 Sept. 2021.
Lau, Maya, and Marisa Gerber.  "Alex Villanueva, the county’s new top cop, has been quietly fighting for a political win for decades." Los Angeles Times 5 Dec. 2018.
Tchekmedyian, Alene and Ben Poston.  "Inquiry ured into deputies' bicyclist stops." Los Angeles Times 9 Nov. 2021.