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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Open Thread for Wednesday

Martha M. Escutia (born January 16, 1957), is a California State Senator of the 30th Assembly District. Her district serves the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, Montebello, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs, South El Monte, South Gate, Whittier, and Vernon.

She was first elected in 1992, to represent the largely Latino 50th Assembly Disttrict.

Currently, Senator Escutia serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications (EU&C) and was recently elected the first woman Chair of the 27 member strong California Legislative Latino Caucus.

As a Senator, Martha Escutia has held key leadership positions including: Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee as a freshman senator, the first Latina Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first woman Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee and Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.

Throughout her career, Senator Escutia has championed universal health care for children and is recognized as the creator of Healthy Families. Seeking to protect California’s children from unhealthy levels of air contaminants, she established the first-ever Children’s Environmental Health Protection Act.

A staunch supporter of school reform and equality, she has been instrumental in reducing class sizes in California, making Advanced Placement classes accessible for all California students and working tirelessly to ensure that struggling students have access to high-quality remedial education programs. As a well-known advocate in the fight against childhood obesity, Senator Escutia authored legislation known as SB 19, later signed into law, which limited the availability of junk food for children on school campuses.

Placing consumer advocacy at the forefront of her agenda, Senator Escutia was also successful in passing legislation to implement the first low-cost auto insurance program for low-income residents in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties.

The California Labor Federation AFL-CIO named her “Legislator of the Year” for her advocacy on behalf of working men and women. Her outstanding work on environmental issues has brought recognition from the California League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has commemorated her “Commitment to the People of Los Angeles County.” She was also awarded the “Good Housekeeping Award for Women in Government” for her work on the Children’s Environmental Health Protections. In 1999, the California School Boards Association gave her it's "Legislator of the Year Award" for her efforts on behalf of schoolchildren and K-12 education.

In November of 2005, The Corona New Primary Center in Bell, California was dedicated The Martha Escutia Primary Center in honor of the California Senate Representative.

Senator Escutia is an honors graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in Public Administration, and received her law degree form Georgetown University. She holds certificates in Advanced International Legal Studies of Trade and Tariffs from the World Court at The Hague, Netherlands, and in Foreign Investment from the National Autonomous University in Mexico City.

A native of East Los Angeles, Senator Escutia is married and the mother of two young sons, Andres and Diego.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Anonymous Anonymous said:

The governor lover her, Westly loves her... Not bad your last year in office.

May 16, 2006 10:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I meant the governor loves her. Sorry folks... Don't want to start any rumors.

May 16, 2006 10:22 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

And she can SING!


May 17, 2006 7:58 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

And she pressures candidates to hire her incompetent husband (Leo Briones) as a campaign consultant in exchange for an endorsement. And, she then pressures those candidates to go deeper into debt to pay her husband.

See July 8, 2004 LA Times Article entitled " As Lawmaker Rises, Her Spouse Prospers" where candidates discuss Martha's and Leo's tactics.

It is a great read and shows what a low-life Martha is.

May 17, 2006 8:42 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- As presidential elections near, many Mexicans fear the country is teetering on the edge of chaos -- a perception that could hurt the ruling National Action Party and benefit Mexico's once-powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party.

Some blame President Vicente Fox for a weak government. Others say rivals are instigating the violence to create that impression, hoping to hurt National Action candidate Felipe Calderon, who has a slight lead in recent polls.

A poll published Friday in the Excelsior newspaper found 50 percent of respondents feared the government was on the brink of losing control. The polling company Parametria conducted face-to-face interviews at 1,000 homes across Mexico. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

May 17, 2006 9:44 AM  

Blogger joseph mailander said:

What, no Janice juice? Janice Hahn goes roller derby on a security guard---where are the Mayor Sam wags to give us the play-by-play?

May 17, 2006 10:09 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

How about Hahn v. Cynthia McKinney?? Now that would be like the Hearns/Hagler fight..

May 17, 2006 10:17 AM  

Blogger ubrayj02 said:

Yo Mayor Sam!

LOS ANGELES - - The Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council will host a candidate's forum for the 45th California State Assembly candidates on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 at 6:30 p.m.

The forum will take place in the Abraham Lincoln High School Auditorium, 3501 North Broadway.
Participating candidates include: Samantha E. Allen-Newman, Republican;
Gabriel Buelna, Democrat; Christine Chavez, Democrat; Kevin de Leon, Democrat; Oscar A. Gutierrez, Democrat; and Elena Popp, Democrat.
All candidates will have the opportunity for an introductory and closing
statement. In addition, the candidates will be asked to tackle questions covering topics of immigration, Education, the environment and open space, housing, 3 strike law and questions from the audience.

May 17, 2006 3:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Croocked to the max. So is her husband Leo Briones. Read all about it.

Sacramento Power Couple See Fortunes Rise
Thursday, July 8, 2004
By Dan Morain Los Angeles Times

More Than a Wife, She's a Customer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- As state Sen. Martha Escutia has risen from the back bench to the California Legislature's leadership, her husband has made millions representing politicians and enterprises whose interests often intersect with her duties.

A Georgetown-educated attorney who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, Escutia, a Democrat, is a leading candidate to succeed John Burton as Senate president pro tem, among the most powerful jobs in California government.

As Escutia has ascended, her husband, Leo Briones, a former El Paso, Texas, television journalist turned political consultant, has gained an ever more prestigious clientele of legislative candidates, initiative campaigns, corporations and public agencies.

And though the couple say they keep their professional dealings separate, Briones could be in a position to garner more business if Escutia becomes Senate leader when Burton's term expires this year.

The post's responsibilities include overseeing campaigns to ensure Democratic control of the Senate.

As it is, Escutia regularly endorses Briones' clients. And by design or not, causes and candidates endorsed by Escutia often retain Briones.

Escutia's legislative salary is $99,000 a year. Briones' firm, Centaur North Strategic Communications, has billed clients for more than $3.4 million since 1997, the year Escutia began disclosing some of his clients in her required annual statements of economic interest filed with the state.

Briones and Escutia dismiss any suggestion that they coordinate their efforts. They say an agreement by Briones to work on a campaign does not ensure Escutia's endorsement. Nor does Escutia's endorsement come with a suggestion to retain Briones.

''Do I get him jobs? The answer is no,`` Escutia said, insisting, as her husband does, that Briones is capable of landing clients without her help. ''I know there is a lot of cynicism about politicians,`` she said, ''but I don't operate this way.`'

In an interview in her Capitol office, Escutia said that she and Briones rarely discuss one another's work. They don't have time, given their work schedules, her weekly commutes between L.A. and Sacramento, and their role as parents, she said.

``Do you think I go home and ask my husband, `How many clients did you land today?' Absolutely not,'' Escutia said.

``We just don't have time to talk about that.''

Escutia and Briones are not unique. Other lawmakers have family involved in campaign work. Democratic state Sen. Don Perata, widely regarded as Escutia's chief rival in the leadership contest, himself does both business and political consulting.

But Escutia and Briones at times give the appearance of working as a team.

Escutia, senior member of the Legislature's 24-member Latino Caucus, regularly taps her donors to help fund Latinos seeking legislative seats. Many candidates endorsed by the Latino Caucus hire Briones to run some or all of their campaigns.

And the caucus itself also hired Briones. Latino legislators are crusading to allow some illegal immigrants to have driver's licenses, and few Democrats have been more adamant about the issue than Escutia. Briones is involved too; he held a Capitol news conference last month to announce poll results suggesting public support for such licensing.

Escutia and Briones have not always worked in lock-step with the Latino Caucus. Escutia tried to block the caucus from endorsing Assemblyman Manny Diaz in the Democratic primary for a Senate seat this year. She favored former Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist, who won.

Alquist hired Briones as her campaign manager, and has paid his firm $114,000 so far. Alquist did not respond to several phone calls about the arrangement.

Escutia explained her endorsement by saying she and Alquist became close when they were seatmates in the Assembly. ``Elaine and I have known each other for years,'' Escutia said, adding that she endorsed Alquist before Diaz entered the race.

Briones and Escutia attribute their shared positions to a shared philosophy. Escutia called Briones a ``very progressive man.'' Briones said his wife's ``reputation speaks for itself.''

``If people think she's willing to fight for her constituents no matter what special interests are taking her on, then people know the real Martha,'' he said. ``If people think she has an ulterior purpose of helping my business, then people don't know the real Martha.''

In addition to their roles in state politics, Escutia and Briones have appeared to work in concert in local campaigns -- notably in the 2001 effort by Sunlaw Energy Corp. to build a power plant in South Gate.

Escutia's endorsement of the Sunlaw project drew criticism, given her past environmentalist stands. She has sought state money to clean polluted urban lots, pushed health authorities to track the effects of pollutants on women and children, and carried a bill this year to reduce rail exhaust along the Alameda Corridor in her district, which stretches from Montebello and Whittier to Norwalk and South Gate.

Escutia defended her support of the Sunlaw proposal, saying the facility would have been clean-burning, provided high-paying jobs and eased the energy shortage.

Sunlaw retained Briones, paying him $150,000 to battle a 2001 local referendum to block the plant. South Gate voters overwhelmingly approved the measure, prompting Sunlaw to withdraw its proposal.

Sunlaw President Robert Danziger said Escutia ``acted with the highest integrity.''

He also praised Briones, saying the consultant ``made it extremely clear that his role as campaign manager was independent'' of his wife. Danziger also said Briones probably ``would not have taken on the campaign if Martha was opposed to it.''

Escutia won her first legislative race, an Assembly seat, in 1992. She married Briones in 1994, the year before he started his firm. Escutia was elected to the state Senate in 1998.

As a private company, Centaur North is not required to disclose its earnings. But political campaigns and public entities must disclose what they pay Centaur North.

Campaign finance reports and other documents show that 33 clients have paid Centaur North at least $3.47 million since 1997. The $3.47 million figure is not a complete accounting of Centaur North's income.

Briones said the figure included money he had paid out to vendors.

Briones has been in involved some of the most bruising campaigns in the Los Angeles area, sending out mailings for Democratic state Sen. Richard Alarcon and against former Assemblyman Richard Katz, and for an Indian tribe on behalf of Mayor James K. Hahn in Hahn's 2001 race against City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa.

Briones also does consulting work for public agencies, including the Metropolitan Water District. He received $270,000 in no-bid MWD contracts in a two-year period ending last year. The MWD is a major lobbying force in Sacramento, and Escutia regularly votes on bills affecting it.

Briones' written pitch to the MWD seeking business offered biographies of himself and his associates. Briones' blurb was the only one that invoked his spouse's name: ``He lives in Whittier with his wife, Martha Escutia, and their sons.''

Briones worked for the MWD as an $8,000-a-month subcontractor in 1997, when Escutia was in the Assembly. The work ended abruptly when leaked documents revealed that the district was using public money to wage a campaign to undermine efforts by one of its member agencies, the San Diego County Water Authority, to gain some independence.

One document from that leaked batch, written by Briones, suggested that MWD, a governmental agency, establish a political action committee to fund legislative races.

Another document said Briones would be responsible for helping to identify ``champions in the Legislature who can be prepped prior to the discussion of major water issues, particularly those that negatively impact MWD.''

In an interview, Briones said he regretted his role. ``I wasn't comfortable with how close it got to dealing with legislators. I haven't done anything like that since,'' he said.

The incident has not stopped the water district from hiring Briones. He was paid $58,000 in 2001 and 2002 to help the agency win support for a water tunneling project, called the Inland Feeder.

He produced a brochure explaining the project, offered advice to MWD for dealing with an Indian tribe whose reservation is near the tunneling, and was assigned to explain the project to U.S. Rep. Joe Baca, a Democrat, and Democratic state Sen. Nell Soto, who is one of Briones' clients.

MWD spokesman Adan Ortega lauded Briones' work, saying he helped provide information to Baca and Soto, so that ``when I met with them, the meetings were more productive.''

Last year, Briones was a finalist for a major public relations campaign aimed at improving water education. Another firm won the contract, but the MWD granted Centaur North a related contract for $203,000 to conduct focus groups with children as young as 5 to determine attitudes toward the district's education programs. Briones' firm helped establish the agency's plan to improve the education programs.

Escutia said she doesn't know who all of Briones' clients are.

Indeed, the senator has not disclosed who some of the clients are on her past statements of economic interest, documents that lawmakers must file each year with the Fair Political Practices Commission.

FPPC official Dixie Howard said lawmakers are required to disclose the identities of sources of income that pay their spouses $20,000 or more in a year.

Escutia has failed to disclose clients that have paid Centaur North a combined $540,000 since 1997. Escutia said that when she fills out the forms each year, she asks Briones' secretary for the clients' names but does not verify that the lists are complete.

Briones took the blame for neglecting to fully inform his wife about all of his clients.

The FPPC would not comment on whether the omissions violated state law.

Some clients Escutia failed to disclose are:

-- The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, owners of a casino in Santa Barbara County. The Chumash paid $50,000 to Centaur North in 2001 for a mailing sent out on behalf of Los Angeles Mayor Hahn's mayoral campaign against Villaraigosa. Escutia has voted on measures affecting tribal gambling.

-- The campaign for Proposition 1-A, the 2000 ballot measure that legalized casinos on Indian reservations. The measure's proponents paid $30,000 to Centaur North. Escutia voted with most of the Legislature to place Proposition 1-A on the ballot.

-- The California Electric Transportation Coalition, made up of Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and other utilities.

The coalition paid Centaur North $21,728 in June and July 1997 to help bring attention to electric vehicles. In June 1997, the coalition hosted Escutia and four other Latino legislators at a breakfast, its public lobby filings show.

Escutia voted on bills that the coalition lobbied for or against, and wrote a 1997 bill to create the California Transportation Finance Bank. The bill, which failed, would have authorized state and federal money to finance transportation projects.

``I have never, ever heard of them,'' Escutia said, but she added that she embraces issues that the coalition has advocated.

May 18, 2006 1:18 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Let's put this in context...

This 2004 article came out during the contentious battle for leadership of the Senate.

One article from an ambitious reporter does not break an accomplished 14 year legislative career.

May 18, 2006 6:42 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Thanks for posting Martha 6:42 a.m.

May 18, 2006 7:47 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

is she available to clean houses?

May 18, 2006 11:04 PM  

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