Friday, February 12, 2016

Huntington Park's Ric Loya Tells It Like It Is

Corruption is rearing its ugly head, like a green hydra, yet the residents of Southeastern Los Angeles county will not quit in their quest to destroy this monster.

Ric Loya

Councilman Valentin Amezuita stood up to the bribery scams of HP Tow and the two business owners are facing federal indictments.

Former mayor Ric Loya stood up to corruption, too.

The Los Angeles Times tells the story:

Taking the oath of office seriously to fight corruption inSoutheast L.A. County

Richard “Ric” Loya, the former mayor of Huntington Park, helped the FBI bring down a corrupt casino owner.

Richard "Ric" Loya was in an unusually quiet mood, his car radio turned off as he pulled into the parking lot of the FBI offices.

He was 55, the mayor of Huntington Park and about to become an informant in a federal bribery case involving a local casino.

"What am I doing?" he asked himself.

That was 14 years ago, and Loya helped earn a corruption conviction.

Loya's efforts were held up as a model for how local officials can fight the graft and greed that has long plagued the small, heavily immigrant cities that line the 710 Freeway south of downtown Los Angeles.

Yes! Now, there are some voices which cannot distinguish between migrant and illegal. It's time that we recognize that law-abiding citizens and legal residents, and put an end to the bad policies which put illegal aliens, and illegal actions, ahead of the best interests of our communities.

Whether the bribe is $5 million or $5, the action is the same. You're saying: I'm in it for myself; I'm not in it to serve the public.

WHAT! No bribes! Do the right thing, or go home (or jail).

Many of these towns — Bell, Vernon, South Gate, Cudahy — have been scenes of major corruption scandals. In many of those cases, residents lamented that more elected officials didn't come forward to report what was going on.

Why didn't they?

After the Huntington Park corruption case ended, the U.S. attorney issued a statement praising Loya for upholding the oath of his office and for doing "exactly the right thing by reporting this bribe attempt to the FBI."

Who else is going to jail soon? I can think of four who belong in jail:

I can think of a few more in Cudahy, too. Francisco Torres and Rocio Pacheco are helping to expose Los Corruptos de Cudahy:

and specifically this fraud:

El Corrupto "Cudahy Chris" Garcia

Loya used much the same words last month when he ran into Huntington Park Councilman Valentin Amezquita at a council meeting. Like Loya, Amezquita had recently played the role of FBI informant in a federal bribery case against the owners of a towing company.

I was there when Loya recounted his efforts against the corruption in Huntington Park.

Here's the video:

"As a voter, it's important to let an elected official know when they have done something good," Loya said later. "And voters should let them know when they've done something bad too."

Though the alleged bribes Amezquita received while working undercover were not very large — as in Loya's case — experts say the amount of money involved is often beside the point.

"Whether the bribe is $5 million or $5, the action is the same. You're saying: I'm in it for myself; I'm not in it to serve the public, and I'm willing to go around the rules and break the law," said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor. "It leads to a general dissatisfaction of government."
In Southeast Los Angeles County, a region made up of a cluster of small, working-class cities such as Huntington Park, poor civic engagement by residents and political volatility have been the norm for years. Even intensely contested elections are often decided by a tiny number of voters.

Though this part of the county has been the focus of several prominent corruption investigations, L.A. County has 88 cities and it's unclear whether municipal malfeasance is common elsewhere.
Last year, a pastor who worked as a management analyst for Pasadena was charged by county prosecutors with embezzling more than $5 million from the city over the course of a decade. The allegations against Danny Wooten were an embarrassment for an affluent city that prided itself on good government.

The L.A. County district attorney's office declined to comment on the issue of municipal corruption, but former top prosecutor Steve Cooley said Southeast L.A. County generated the most complaints.
"We were so active down there conducting investigations, inquiries and prosecutions," said Cooley, who started the district attorney's Public Integrity Division. "We handled a number of complaints and resolved them. Some were unfounded and some were well founded."

No surprises there. I wish that Cooley had won the Attorney General office in 2010. To this day, Cooley supports cry "voter fraud" about the final outcome. Cooley did remarkably well in otherwise heavily Democratic enclaves.

Cooley said there was no way to completely eradicate corruption, but that media attention, "an engaged and informed electorate" and skilled prosecutors were key to tackling it.

Media attention? Check. Engaged and informed electorate? Working on it. Skilled prosecutors to tackle the corruption? Coming right up!

In June 2001 Loya's principles were put to the test when Harry Hwang, owner of LA Casino, paid him a visit at Huntington Park City Hall. According to Loya and federal authorities, Hwang offered to pay off Loya's campaign debt, provide political contributions and pay for a family vacation to Italy in return for the mayor's support of a measure that would forgive a $40,000 debt the casino owner's business owed the city.

Loya reported the bribe to the FBI. Officials asked him to wear a wire the next time he met with Hwang. Going undercover was stressful, Loya recalls.

His mind raced: "Be careful what you say." "What if the mic slips out?" "What if he figures it out?"
Loya said, "You feel lonely. There were things I couldn't tell my wife."

I can't imagine what it would be like to expose this kind of rot.

Then again ... We the People Rising are pushing the envelope on this crap, and LOVIN' EVERY MINUTE OF IT!

Amezquita has declined to comment about the case, but previously said in a statement to The Times that he took his oath of office and the rule of law seriously.

"I could relate," Loya said of the councilman. "He did the right thing. It restored faith in government, for a while."

How about restoring faith in private practice and citizenship?

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