Post yours here!
This is the city: Los Angeles, California. I work here. I'm an ex-mayor. Los Angeles is a magnet for people from all over the world. Some of them run for public office. Inevitably some of them stray from the golden rule and rule for those that have the gold. That's when I go to work. My name is Yorty. I'm a dead pol.
As posted earlier, Huggy Bear called on five Hahn commissioners to be removed by Poopy in the wake of revelations that they are raising money for Hahn IE campaigns. While still "legal" under Hahn's self professed toughest ethics rules, this is a loop hole big enough to drive a Mac truck through. If the spirit of the law is to be followed, Hahn needs to act. Is there truly a difference between raising dough for the campaign directly or through an IE? Not really. I hate to break it to all of the Hertzberg haters (or Hahn staffers) who posted earlier, but huggy appears to be very much in the right with this accusation.
February 28, 2005Mayor Jim Hahn
5518 Wilshire Blvd.Mayor Hahn:
Los Angeles, CA
Since taking office almost four years ago, your administration has continually been hampered by allegations of corruption. Staff and supporters have been accused of everything from awarding contracts to campaign contributors to allegations of money laundering and misappropriation of public funds. Several members of your staff have been forced to resign over these allegations. There are several ongoing federal and local investigations into the conduct of your administration.
Your initial response to these scandals was to say: I don't know what the argument for it (banning fundraising by city commissioners) is. (LA Times, February 21, 2004) You finally heard the persistent outcry from the people of Los Angeles and last year you proposed a small number of reforms to attempt to address these issues. Since introducing those reforms, you have consistently pointed to the City Council for their lack of action. However, while you possess the authority to take several steps to restore the voters confidence in local government, you have yet to take action on items directly within your control.
You have appointed, reappointed and oversee a number of city commissioners who, in their other duties, oversee or raise hundreds of thousands of dollars that are being spent to benefit your re-election. As of today, you have nearly $400,000 worth of mail, radio and other election help directly tied to these commissioners.
At a time, when your administration is under such strong suspicion of wrongdoing, and when the people of Los Angeles lack confidence in their citys elected and appointed leadership, it makes no sense to keep these people onboard as officials in your administration.
You should immediately remove the following commissioners from their duties or ask them resign. It is absolutely inappropriate for them to act as both representatives of the public trust at the same time they are working actively to help you further your personal political goals.
The commissioners are:
Commissioner Julie Butcher
Commissioner Miguel Contreras
Commissioner Tyrone Freeman
Commissioner Sergio Rascon
Commissioner Sid Stolper
Commissioner Butcher is the head of SEIU Local 347 and is spending more than $14,000 to help your campaign. Commissioner Contreras is spending nearly $125,000 to help you as the head of the LA County Federation of Labor. Commissioner Freeman is in control of nearly $40,000 as the head of SEUI Local 434B. Commissioner Rascon and his Laborers Local 300 organization are spending more than $45,000 on your behalf. Commissioner Stolper is spending $50,000 to get you re-elected. In addition, current commissioners have given $205,372.42 to help your election and legal defense.
In addition to these commissioners, the brother of your own Chief of Staff is in control of nearly $125,000 that is being spent to get you back into office.
A mayor who was serious about restoring the publics confidence in City Hall would immediately remove each of these individuals from office. However, after observing this Administration in action over the past four years, I have tempered my expectations.
Demand the resignations of at the least one of these commissioners, to show the people of Los Angeles that you will not tolerate the abuse of political power on the city payroll.
If I were the mayor of Los Angeles, I would immediately fire all of these campaign aides from their responsibilities in city government. All Im asking you to do is fire a single one of them. If a housecleaning is too much to ask for, even a little dusting might help as a first step toward cleaning up City Hall.
Show the people of Los Angeles that government positions are not the reward for partisan political activity. Show the door to at least one of these campaign aides masquerading as commissioners.
On the first day I take office as Mayor, I will issue a directive to current city commissioners not to engage in city politics through donations, fundraising or participating in independent expenditures for or against candidates running for elected city office. Such participation will result in immediate dismissal. Candidates for commissioner assignments in the Hertzberg Administration will sign a pledge to this effect before their appointment.
The people of Los Angeles deserve a city government that they can be proud of. Take at least these small steps to restore their confidence in their citys leaders.
The originally scheduled debate being televised by CBS Channel 2 this evening is being pre-empted for post-oscar coverage. The tape-delayed broadcast will air tomorrow evening. The debate can still be heard live on KFWB 980 AM this evening at the original scheduled time from 6:30 to 8:00.
MEDIA ADVISORYThis should be fun. Nice punch right before the debate. Any guesses on who?
February 28, 2005
Hertzberg to Call for Resignation of Hahn Administration Officials TODAY
What: Mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg will hold a news conference today to
call for the resignation of multiple Hahn administration officials. Hertzberg will provide the media with detailed information and rational for the call
for resignation at the news conference.
Who: Mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg
When: TODAY Monday, February 28 1:00 p.m.
Where: Hertzberg for Mayor, Eastside Field Office 4448 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Suite G, Eagle Rock
Before the previous post gets overun with gushing love for Cynthia Ruiz, let me provide you the forum to carry on your conversation. To get you started, here's the e-mail from Rick Acosta to Bill Christopher laying out his complaints with Cynthia Ruiz.
For more commentary, see the comments in this post.
From: "rick acosta"
Subject: Formal Complaint East La/ South Area Representative
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005 21:42:19 -0800
Dear Mr. Bill Christopher,This is a formal request and complaint to remove Cynthia Ruiz as the East LA/ South area representative for the following reasoning.
1. She is a family member of a mayoral candidate Councilmen Antonio Villaraigosa.2. She is working on his mayoral campaign.3. She is involved in fund raising for the Villaraigosa mayoral campaign.4. You have placed Ms. Ruiz in a position that compromises the integrity of the Mayoral debates with her ability to provide insider information to one of the candidates, such as what questions will be asked and to which candidate , which N.C. Representative will be asking the question and to which candidate. This was not the intentions of CBS and the Alliance which would lose all credibility.5. Ms. Ruiz has set up her own standards as to who will attend the mayoral debate.6. Ms. Ruiz has not participated in an Alliance meeting.7. Ms. Ruiz was part of a group of board members of the LA-32 NC that sent a letter to the Alliance criticizing the Alliance on the Mayoral Debates.8. Ms. Ruiz has shown partiality over candidates, with comments made in reference to Mayor Hahn, (She was glad to leave a sinking ship, after she was dismissed as commissioner.)9. Ms. Ruiz was not asked to fill in at a meeting by the assigned East LA/South area representative Robert Jimenez as stated by the Alliance.10. Ms. Ruiz was not asked by the East LA/South area representative to replace him as the current representative.11. The Current East LA/South area representative Robert Jimenez is supporting me as his replacement.12. Ms.Ruiz failed to work only with the President of the LA-32 but did notify all other board members via e-mail as to who was on the list. This was not the intention of the alliance in setting up the guest list from each NC.SincerelyRichard AcostaLA-32 NC President
Mayor Sam, here's an excerpt from Betty Pleasants' Soulvine column printed today.
Some more election stuff: Assemblywoman Karen Bass endorsed Villaraigosa for mayor last week. … The three Parks — father, son and holy, er, wife — were denied the opportunity to cast their votes when the New Frontier Democratic Club members voted on which mayoral candidate they would endorse. Rosemary Spriggs, the club’s membership chair, said the dues for Bernard, Bernard Jr. and Bobbie Parks were not current and they were, therefore, ineligible to vote. Even though he wasn’t eligible, Spriggs admitted giving Bernard Sr. a voting card, and not giving one to Bernard Jr. and Bobbie. “I was willing to let him vote because he’s the councilman,” Spriggs said. But she said the elder Parks did not vote either because he arrived at the meeting too late. Those were three votes Parks needed but did not get from the club to try to stop the Mayor Hahn endorsement raid. “I was very sorry about it,” Spriggs said. …
Congrats on reaching the 50K mark.
Why don't you list the sad endorsement of Antonio by the LA Weekly today. How embarrassing! They make it sound as if it was more work then it was worth.We like that the LA Weekly has endorsed two candidates for Council - Dennis Zine and Janice Hahn - because they primarily have big mouths. And Jack Weiss because everyone thinks he's jerk. Great! Maybe the Mayor Sam style is coming back.
L.A. May be About to Elect a Hispanic MayorI can't wait!
Political Wire reports on a SurveyUSA poll that gives Antonio Villaraigosa a 17 point lead over the incumbent mayor James K. Hahn in the upcoming mayoral primary in L.A. This is a rematch of the 2001 L.A. mayoral race. Villaraigosa's strength is among Hispanics, young voters and liberals. Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg is the choice of Republicans and Conservatives, but in L.A., that does not provide much in terms of ballot box strength.
blah blah blah...
Second, if Villaraigosa wins, he will quickly be crowned as a leading Democrat to run against Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006. This will then test Hispanic political ascendancy statewide (Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamente's silly and somnambulic "vote no on recall, but yes for me" campaign does not count).
Before you all pounce, I apologize for Yorty and I not posting the "newest poll" info last evening. Yes, LA Voice and Boi From Troy, beat us to the punch. I'm glad to see you all took it upon yourselves to comment all over the NY Times post last evening in our absence. We were tying one on down here in celebration of "the miracle on ice". Vodka is very good. Anyways, moving on -
Pete's Café and Bar is an upscale place on a decidedly downscale corner in downtown Los Angeles. It is only four blocks from City Hall, so Mayor James K. Hahn thought it would be a good place to meet one recent afternoon.
This could be the start of a great "guy walks into a bar" story, except it has no punch line. The mayor of the second-largest city in America entered Pete's with two bodyguards and a press aide, and nothing happened. No heads turned, no conversations stopped, no well-wishers or job seekers or gripers walked over to bend his ear.
The midafternoon crowd was fairly sparse, but for a mayor seeking re-election less than three weeks from now, it was not a good sign.
The NY Times on Hertzberg:
"If we had a mayor, I wouldn't be running," Mr. Hertzberg said. "The guy is just invisible."
Mr. Hertzberg, 50, is in many ways the opposite of Mr. Hahn. He is burly and gregarious, famous for hugging strangers. During an interview at Art's Deli in the Studio City neighborhood, he was repeatedly approached by customers and waitresses as he wolfed down a corned beef sandwich, a plate of new pickles and three unneeded cups of coffee.
"Everything in politics is personal," Mr. Hertzberg said. "It's all personal."
Many people, including aides to the mayor, characterize Mr. Parks's campaign as an act of political revenge.
"That's the farthest thing from the truth," Mr. Parks said in an interview at his headquarters. "This is about the mayor's inability to run this city. He has an answer for everything, but he doesn't have a solution for anything."
Mr. Villaraigosa, slender and impeccably dressed, complained over a cup of coffee at a Starbucks in the Little Tokyo district that Mr. Hahn had sunk to race-baiting in their last contest.
"I believe Jim Hahn will do and say anything to get re-elected, including his efforts to create a climate of fear," Mr. Villaraigosa said. "It will not work a second time. People know me now. I've been councilman for a year and a half."
Yet this is just what Mr. Hahn's main challengers, all Democrats, say Los Angeles lacks. His top rivals are Robert M. Hertzberg, a lawyer from the San Fernando Valley and a former speaker of the State Assembly; Bernard C. Parks, a member of the City Council and the former chief of the Police Department whom Mr. Hahn pushed out of office three years ago; and Antonio Villaraigosa, a city councilman and also a former speaker of the Assembly. Not a typo above re: Alarcon. They didn't even include him...(OUCH!)
Bolstered by surging poll results and a steam of momentum, Hertzberg decided yesterday to call Hahn out on the carpet and challenged him to keep the race clean, or at least have the courage to make the attacks directly and not hide behind independent campaigns and the bulldogs of Carrick and Kawata.
"James Hahn has demonstrated a pattern and practice of going negative in each (of his) elections," Hertzberg said. "I think Los Angeles deserves better."From the Times:
On the campaign trail, Hertzberg challenged the mayor to run a clean campaign in the final days before the March 8 primary, as well as to ensure that no negative attacks are made independently on his behalf.
Hertzberg vowed to vigorously respond to any negative attacks, those that are false, engage in the politics of "personal destruction" or involve innuendo.
"I won't stand on the sidelines. I'll hit back as hard as I can in response," he said during a press conference at his campaign office.
Attacking Villaraigosa and Hertzberg in a City Hall interview last week, Hahn appeared to indicate potential lines of attack should he run negative television ads. He renewed criticism of Hertzberg, who was speaker during the state's energy crisis, for taking campaign money from power companies.
And he pounded Villaraigosa for backing legislation that favored campaign donors whom Hahn described as "payday loan companies" that charge "450% interest over the course of the year and put poor people in terrible situations."
But, Hahn said he had no plans to run negative ads, but added, "If I'm put in a position of having to respond, we'll respond."
"I will be fair and honest with the people, but I will hit back just as hard as I possibly can in response to what he seeks to do," said Hertzberg.Any guesses as to who runs the "crack-pipe" ad first?
Hahn strategist Bill Carrick, citing a series of Hertzberg mailings attacking the mayor, called the challenge "disingenuous political doubletalk."
"As far as I'm concerned, Bob Hertzberg already started running a negative campaign, and for him to suggest now that he wants to call it off is deceitful," Carrick said.
The issue stirs passions in the North Valley, where residents have long endured the diesel fumes, scarred landscape, odors and blowing trash. But their problems don't inspire much emotion among voters elsewhere in the city who enjoy the benefits of lower-cost urban landfills and who experience none of the disadvantages.As the article says, its not something that is going to stir the passion of the City as a whole, but you have to have some sympathy for these folks' plight and hope that the candidates will addres and deal with the complex issue.
The Los Angeles Times will endorse two candidates again. I know this for sure. But I don't know which ones yet, though I predict it will be Hertzberg and Villaraigosa. Is this the deathknell for the mayor?
Don't worry, MEAT or some other flack-let will resurface when there are more bogus polls to pitch. Word is they have their own internal (yeah, right) polls now showing ADV at 27-28, Hertzberg at 22-23, and Hahn at 21.
A mano-a-mano confrontation between estranged, onetime roommates insn't something we'd normally want to witness, but the people of Los Angeles would be well served by a runoff election between Bob Hertzberg and Antonio VillaraigosaI'll let you decide from here - blog away!
It's not just that either would make a more dynamic leader than Hahn, Hertzberg and Villaraigosa offer LA a clear choice in both style and substance. A face-off between these two would prod LA to really think about what it wants of its mayor - and of itself.
The Idea Machine: In this first phase of the election, Hertzberg has been the most dynamic presence. A high-velocity wonk, he loves BIG ideas, and will flesh out every one of them for you if you give him the time. ... Hertzberg all but explodes with plans
The Coalition Builder: Villaraigosa, the runner-up in the 2001 mayoral race and now a city councilman, is more familiar to voters. He got his start as a teachers union organizer, but it would be a mistake to view him solely as the liberal, pro-union candidate. If Hertzberg is analytical, quick to rattle off the names of five big-city mayors he admires or to hand out hick copies of the borough plan he drafted to head of secession, Villaraigosa is intuitive - quick at reading situations and people. He is the anti-wonk who operates from the gut.
February 18, 2005 Contact: Ace Smith
For Immediate Release 213-687-7777
An Open Question to Mayor Jim Hahn – Who Is Going to Pay
The Legal Bills for Your Corrupt Appointees?
As the “graft inquiries” into the Hahn administration intensify, important questions remains unanswered:
“Who is going to pay the bills for the legal fees being run up by Troy Edwards, Ted Stein and company? And how much has been spent by the City so far?”
Last April, the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the City could be liable for many of these legal bills:
All the inquiries under way into City Hall's contracting practices have produced an unintended consequence: Full employment for attorneys representing city employees and officials who are being called as witnesses. And some bills that might end up being paid by taxpayers…dozens of officials being called to testify - and all taking the precaution of contacting attorneys for advice.
With the average rate at about $500 an hour these days for white-collar legal advice in criminal proceedings, it won't take long for the bills to soar so the City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo's Office is reviewing the potential impact.
A number of workers asked to testify before the grand juries are hiring their own attorneys, however, and planning to submit those bills to the city for payment. (The Daily News of Los Angeles, April 19, 2004)
Jim Hahn has already answered the question of who will pay his legal bills. He has set up a “Legal Defense Fund II” and filled it with money from special interests.
But what about the legal bills of the former and present city officials and workers who have been drawn into the graft and corruption probes of the Hahn administration?
Mayor Hahn owes the people of Los Angeles a clear answer: Will he allow public funds to be used to cover these legal bills?
So far, the number of cops not hired because of Jim Hanh’s wasteful Fleishman-Hillard contracts is 150. How high will that number climb when the City is done paying millions of dollars in legal bills that could result from defending Hahn appointees?###
Some of Villaraigosa's proposals were similar to those advanced by former Mayor Richard Riordan, such as having the city work with the Los Angeles Unified School District to ensure all eligible children are enrolled in the state's Healthy Families program.Well there you go - the Riordan-Villaraigosa Health Plan. Just don't get sick.
Blog away dums dums.Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 23:00:43 GMT
From: "Parke Skelton, Villaraigosa for Mayor
Subject: Become one of Antonio's Friendraisers today!
The caps are off. And so are the gloves.
Due to more than $200,000 in planned "independent
expenditures" by groups supporting Jim Hahn, the
$2.251 million spending cap for each candidate in the
mayor's race has been lifted. That means that our
campaign is going to have to raise even more money.
Antonio can raise enough money to compete. But he's
not going to do it from just a handful of large donors
-- he's going to do it in $10, $25, and $50 donations
from friends and supporters all across Los Angeles.
That's where you come in. Today we're pleased to
announce the launch of our new "Friendraisers" program.
Sign up just 10 new supporters and raise just $200
from your friends & family for Antonio's campaign, and
you'll be invited to a special reception for our
Tonight is the regular meeting of the RPLAC at 7-9 PM with Bill Simon and it includes the Agenda Item, "Clarification of Local Endorsement Procedures".The Los Angeles County Republican Party would do best to start getting it's act together, educating the public on conservative policies, become more relevant to young people and minorities, and start grooming some candidates to run for school board, City Council, etc. so we can actual have a decent candidate for Mayor down the road. Instead, they play games and sit around waiting for the second coming of Richard Nixon, which isn't going to happen.
However, per the bylaws, 10 members signed a petition calling for a special meeting at 8 PM tonight under article VII, Section 4 of the RPLAC bylaws with Item 5, "Endorsement of a Republican Candidate for Mayor of the City of Los Angeles"
The meeting is presumably on, as it was signed by 10 RPLAC Executive Committee Members:
James McCutcheon (CD35), Wayne Miller (CD34), Julius Wilson (CD36), Barbara Ferraro (AD 54), Vernon Brown (SD25), John Nunn (CD46), Gladys Miller (AD50), Carl Davis Jr. (AD51), Henry Eicher (AD53) and Cheryl Liddle (SD28).
Undersigned is a petition to endorse Walter Moore signed by 8 County Central Committee members--it requires 10, but lines 1 and 9 were left blank. (oops!)
Labels: mariel garza
From: Hahn for Mayor 2005
Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2005 12:13 PM
Subject: Hertzberg's Vignali connections
February 15, 2005
To: Interested Parties
From: Julie Wong
Re: Hertzberg's Vignali connections
In today's Los Angeles Times, John Shallman, campaign
strategist for former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg
attacked Mayor Hahn as "an equal opportunity
slanderer" because Mayor Hahn had mentioned that
Hertzberg wrote a letter to the White House seeking a
pardon for convicted drug dealer Carlos Vignali.
There is nothing slanderous about reporting the truth.
As the LA Daily News reported, former Speaker
Hertzberg wrote to President Clinton on Dec. 7, 2000
requesting his "immediate consideration of approval"
of Carlos Vignali's request for his sentence to be
commuted, according to a copy of the letter released
by his office. "It is time to return Carlos Vignali
to his family and again, become a productive member of
society," he wrote. According to the LA Times, "In his
Dec. 7, 2000, letter to Clinton, Hertzberg, an
attorney, pointed out that 'neither guns, drugs nor
drug money was found in Mr. Vignali's possession.'"
According to that same report, former Speaker
Hertzberg knew Carlos Vignali's father, Horacio
Vignali, before he was elected to the Assembly in
1996. Horacio Vignali was an early contributor to
Hertzberg's Assembly campaign in 1995, writing a
$1,000 check on June 28, 1995. And Vignali
contributed to the 1994 Assembly campaign of Antonio
Villaraigosa, co-hosting an April 1994 reception for
him. Former Speaker Hertzberg was Villaraigosa's
Mayor Hahn disagrees with former Speaker Hertzberg's
and former Speaker Villaraigosa's efforts to obtain
clemency for a large-scale drug trafficker who was
convicted for moving 400 kilos of cocaine. He's even
more troubled that they were written as a favor to a
The Daily News of Los Angeles February 16, 2001,
Friday, VALLEY EDITION
Copyright 2001 Tower Media, Inc. The Daily News of Los
February 16, 2001, Friday, VALLEY EDITION
SECTION: NEWS, Pg. N1
LENGTH: 1195 words
HEADLINE: HERTZBERG HAD PART IN PARDON FLAP
BYLINE: Dominic Berbeo Staff Writer
BODY: State Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg urged
then-President Clinton to grant executive clemency to
a former Encino cocaine dealer, the lawmaker's office
The disclosure came on the same day that two leading
mayoral candidates came under fire from civil rights
groups for asking Clinton to release Carlos Vignali.
Meanwhile, campaign records reviewed by the Daily News
show that Vignali's father - Horacio Vignali - has
donated at least $ 140,000 to mostly Democratic
politicians and their political organizations since
the arrest and conviction of his son in 1994 for his
role in distributing some 800 pounds of crack cocaine.
''The spirit of executive pardons is to be fairly
applied to all,'' said Dan Macallair, vice president
of the Justice Policy Institute, a San Francisco-based
justice watchdog group. ''It should not be for sale.''
Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, wrote to Clinton on Dec. 7,
recommending ''your immediate consideration of
approval'' of Carlos Vignali's request for his
sentence to be commuted, according to a copy of the
letter released by his office.
''It is time to return Carlos Vignali to his family
and again, become a productive member of society,'' he
Hertzberg declined to comment. His spokesman Paul
Hefner said he did not know who had approached
Hertzberg to petition the president.
Besides Hertzberg, others who sent letters to Clinton
include Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, and former
Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, the latter two
among the leading candidates for mayor of Los Angeles.
On Jan. 20, his last day in office, Clinton set the
younger Vignali free by commuting his sentence.
''How do you reconcile these actions?'' said Earl
Ofari Hutchinson, president of the National Alliance
for Positive Action, a Los Angeles-based civil rights
group. ''We call on our elected officials to give the
same attention to those who can't afford to make large
Becerra and a political committee he controls called
Leadership of Today and Tomorrow received some $
15,000 in donations from the elder Vignali, mostly
last year. The congressman took a leading role in
contacting the White House to review the case and
consider a commutation of sentence.
While acknowledging that Vignali family members are
close friends, Becerra insists that he urged Clinton
to review the case for the sake of fairness at the
request of Horacio Vignali.
''I wrote a letter to the president requesting further
investigation of the Vignali case to assure justice
was served and I placed calls to the White House and
U.S. Department of Justice to check on the status of
this request,'' Becerra said.
Villaraigosa, who says he ''regrets'' sending the
letter, received at least $ 275 from Horacio Vignali.
Hertzberg has known the elder Vignali since before
being elected to the Assembly in 1996, and was moved
by the man's belief in the innocence of his son, said
The only record of a Vignali contribution to
Hertzberg, Hefner said, was $ 4,000 in 1995.
While there is nothing illegal with the
communications, some are raising questions of the
appropriateness of large political donors having
access to high-ranking public officials.
''People are outraged by this,'' said Bob Stern,
president of The Center for Governmental Studies, a
Santa Monica-based political watchdog group. ''How
many parents of other convicted criminals have this
kind of access?''
Carlos Vignali had served more than six years of a
15-year sentence after being convicted in Minnesota
for his role in an interstate drug ring. Vignali, a
onetime Encino resident, is still subject to five
years of probation.
Other Los Angeles figures who supported Vignali
include former Democratic Congressman Esteban Torres,
Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles Archdiocese
and state Sen. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles, who is
running for the City Council seat in the 1st District.
Mahony apologized Monday for his intervention.
Horacio Vignali, a mechanic and owner of a used-auto
shop in downtown Los Angeles, had close ties to many
local Latino politicians and hosted fund-raiser meals
in a parking lot he owned across the street from
Staples Center, with one as recently as last June for
Becerra, said one political insider.
Some other big donations made by Horacio Vignali since
1998 include $ 48,400 to Gov. Gray Davis and $ 35,000
to the Democratic Party and various Democratic
officeholders in California.
Los Angeles Times February 16, 2001 Friday Correction
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times All Rights Reserved
Los Angeles Times
February 16, 2001 Friday Correction Appended Home
SECTION: METRO; Part B; Metro Desk; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 973 words
HEADLINE: MOLINA, HERTZBERG WROTE LETTERS FOR
CONVICT'S PARDON; CLEMENCY: BUSINESSMAN ALSO ENLISTED
MIKE HERNANDEZ TO CONTRIBUTE TO 'CONSTANT BARRAGE OF
REQUESTS' TO HELP HIS SON.; FOR THE RECORD
BYLINE: TED ROHRLICH and RICH CONNELL and ROBERT J.
LOPEZ, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
A Los Angeles businessman waging a six-year campaign
to free his drug-dealing son from federal prison
persuaded state Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, Los
Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and Los
Angeles City Councilman Mike Hernandez to write
President Clinton late last year, urging Clinton to
commute the son's sentence.
The officials joined six other high-profile
politicians with strong ties to the Latino community,
and the cardinal of Los Angeles, who all wrote letters
for Horacio Carlos Vignali, a gregarious downtown
parking lot operator, car dealer and real estate
investor who has been active in recent years as a
On his last day in office, Clinton ordered the release
of Vignali's son, who had been convicted of conspiring
to sell 800 pounds of cocaine.
The commutation drew attention to officials who helped
the father in his quest. Some of them said they had
never written such appeal letters before.
Why they did so this time appears to be, at least in
part, a tribute to the extraordinary persistence and
access of Vignali, who spent years badgering elected
officials to help him spring his son, Carlos. In 1994,
the younger Vignali was convicted in federal court in
Minneapolis and sentenced to 14 years, seven months in
prison. He was 22 at the time.
Since then, the elder Vignali has given about $
152,000 in campaign contributions, including $ 1,000
to Hertzberg, a Sherman Oaks Democrat with strong ties
to Latino politics, public records show. Hertzberg was
the Sacramento roommate of former Assembly Speaker and
current Los Angeles mayoral candidate Antonio
Villaraigosa, who also wrote the White House on behalf
Hertzberg's spokesman, Paul Hefner, said Thursday that
the speaker met Vignali in the early 1990s at a
community event. Ever since, he said, "Mr. Vignali has
expressed profound love for his son." Hefner said the
letter was not related to any campaign contributions.
In his Dec. 7, 2000, letter to Clinton, Hertzberg, an
attorney, pointed out that "neither guns, drugs nor
drug money was found in Mr. Vignali's possession."
Prosecutors used wiretap recordings and testimony from
informants to win Vignali's conviction.
Hefner said, "the father was just adamant about his
son's innocence." Hertzberg was not available for
Hernandez and Molina addressed their letters to
Molina said the Vignali family had neither donated to
her campaigns nor raised money for her. She came to
know the elder Vignali in the past two or three years,
Molina said, because he is a friend of her husband,
Ron Martinez, an affirmative action consultant.
She said Vignali made "a constant barrage of requests"
to her to write a letter. She said she had been
approached before by other parents in similar
situations and had declined to write on their behalf.
Vignali finally wore her down. "He kept literally
begging," she said Thursday.
As Christmas approached, she said, she agreed but told
him it would probably do no good.
Vignali had furnished her with information about his
son's prison record, which she cited in the Dec. 20
letter, calling upon Clinton to consider commuting his
Molina, who was vice chairwoman of the Democratic
National Convention, said she would not write any more
such letters because such cases should be evaluated by
judges and prosecutors who know the facts.
Hernandez, who himself pleaded guilty to a cocaine
possession charge in 1997, said Thursday that he wrote
his Dec. 4 letter because "I understood his the elder
Vignali's concern as a father. . . . He the younger
Vignali had already had done time . . . I thought
writing the letter was appropriate.'
Records show the elder Vignali and his family gave $
2,500 to Hernandez during his successful 1993
campaign, before Carlos Vignali was arrested. Vignali
later hosted the councilman and his staff in a retreat
at his Pacific Palisades home.
Hernandez' letter, like Molina's, cites Carlos
Vignalis' good prison record, noting he earned his
high school equivalency degree and was named "student
of the year" while behind bars.
Molina said that, in persuading her to write a letter,
the elder Vignali said he had even talked to the
governor. A Davis spokesman said Thursday: "We have no
requests from Horacio Carlos Vignali to write a letter
and there were no letters written by Gov. Davis."
Campaign finance reports show that Vignali held a
fund-raiser for Davis in June that raised more than $
75,000, including $ 25,900 from Vignali himself.
Vignali had given Davis $ 23,500 before he became
Other previously reported letters came from:
* Democratic U.S. Rep. and Los Angeles mayoral
candidate Xavier Becerra, who wrote Clinton in
November, citing the "personal crusade" of the
imprisoned Vignali's parents, who "are dear friends of
mine." The Vignalis have donated more than $ 5,000 to
* Villaraigosa, who wrote the White House pardon
secretary in 1996, and who received more than $ 5,000
from the Vignalis.
* Former U.S. Rep. Esteban E. Torres, who wrote Atty.
Gen Janet Reno in 1996 and Clinton in 1998. No
contributions were reported to Torres.
* State Sen. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles, who wrote
the White House pardon secretary in 1996. The Vignalis
have given Polanco more than $ 20,000.
* Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre,
who also wrote the pardon secretary in 1996. The
Vignalis had donated $ 1,500 to his campaigns.
* Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who later expressed
regret, calling his letter "a serious mistake."
Villaraigosa and Becerra have also expressed regret
about their letters.
* Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who urged only
that prison officials move the younger Vignali to a
prison closer to Los Angeles. Two years after Baca's
letter, Carlos Vignali was moved to Arizona from the
Location: Los Angeles
Celebrity: Kenneth Hahn
Restaurant: Nic & Stef's Steakhouse
The mayor of Los Angeles came into the restaurant and got great service. Even shook my hand after the meal and told me what a great job I did. Then he stiffed me. Nice.
The LAUSD must prove that it can succeed as the nation's second-largest district, he said. Board member David Tokofsky said he's not surprised that the "Terminator" weighed in on the district's structure. "Next thing, Spongebob will be coming out for the breakup," Tokofsky said.
LAUSD board President Jose Huizar said in the same article that the question of breaking up the district will be tied to Hertzberg's candidacy, although it will remain on people's minds until the district develops a solid track record or the political climate shifts.
"I think it will die off if Hertzberg doesn't win," Huizar said. "The momentum will not be as great."
Schwarzenegger support improves chances of LAUSD breakup. When he first suggested breaking up the LAUSD, many thought L.A. mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg had to be dreaming. Not any more. Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he, too, thinks the district is too large and unresponsive, and he supports a breakup. So now with the most powerful force in California politics on his side, Hertzberg doesn't seem like such a pipe dreamer, does he?
The people of Los Angeles must make a decision.
Do you want a city that is safe for families and businesses to thrive? Or do you want to rely on hope that the gangs and violence endemic to some neighborhoods won't threaten the places where you live and work?
During the last two years, the Los Angeles Police Department has shown that it has the courage and knowledge to reduce crime and to do it largely in a lawful and accountable way. But to achieve our goals, we need greater resources. Throughout our history, we've been asked to do too much for too long with too little.