JOHN PEREZ, ONE MORE MEXICAN WORKING TO TURN MEXIFORNIA INTO A MEXICAN WELFARE AND PRISON TERRITORY OF NARCOMEX.
Hey, Perez is ANTONIO “TACO RUNT” VILLARAIGOSA’S COUSIN!
California Assembly Speaker-elect Pérez has ties to deep pockets
The legislator, who has cultivated an image as a crusader for the marginalized and powerless, has also advocated for the powerful.
By Patrick McGreevy and Jack Dolan
February 28, 2010
Reporting from Sacramento
Supporters of incoming Assembly Speaker John Pérez say his rapid climb from rank-and-file lawmaker to one of the most powerful offices in the state is due to his intellectual prowess and unwavering commitment to the working poor.
But Pérez, a Democrat who was chosen as speaker in December and will be sworn in Monday, has something that left-leaning former labor leaders and freshman lawmakers usually lack: a financial pipeline to billionaire developers and white-shoe investors who rank among the most politically active power brokers in the state.
Forged during his years as an executive with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, those ties have helped fill his campaign coffers. They have also outraged consumer advocates. And two of his mentors from the union came under the microscope in recent political corruption investigations.
Many of Pérez's legislative efforts have been consistent with the image he has cultivated as a crusader for the marginalized and powerless. He said he's most proud of a bill that authorizes a study of foul drinking water streaming from taps in the small, poor city of Maywood in his district.
But he has also championed causes that seem directly at odds with his political persona.
In 2009, his first full year as a lawmaker, Pérez carved a lucrative exception into state law for billionaire developer Philip Anschutz. He also introduced a bill at the request of Enterprise Car Rental that would have helped boost the company's bottom line by stripping away a significant consumer protection.
Before his election to the Assembly, while a member of the Los Angeles redevelopment commission, Pérez voted to give millions in government subsidies to a giant real estate firm that contributed heavily to his union's political fund.
Pérez, 40, a cousin of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- a former Assembly speaker himself -- responded philosophically when asked about his involvement with powerful patrons.
"Exposure to people with different points of view, I hope, helps you make better decisions," he said, adding that it's impossible to help union members if their employers don't do well. "I come out of private-sector labor. There is a notion that business has to thrive."
But in the state with the most expensive legislative races in the country, there is also the reality that lawmakers who want to become leaders have to accumulate rich backers, said Tony Quinn, co-editor of the California Target Book, a nonpartisan publication that tracks political contests.
"Legislators turn to somebody who has developed a knack for tapping all the corporate interests, the big money," Quinn said. "In the Assembly, it has become a prerequisite for the speaker to be in a position to protect legislators by building a huge war chest."
Pérez was a 25-year-old labor activist when he was hired in 1995 to direct the Western states council of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents more than 200,000 Californians employed by grocery stores and in related industries. As he moved through the ranks, eventually becoming a political director and vice president, Pérez learned to press the UFCW's agenda with lawmakers and wield the considerable power of its campaign funds.
He worked closely with fellow union executive Sean Harrigan, who said he had been a Pérez mentor and who in 2000 was appointed to the board of the California Public Employees Retirement System, the world's largest pension fund.
Consumer groups and government watchdogs were shocked by what the union did next: raise more than $374,000 in political contributions from investment firms doing business with CalPERS.
"That's one step short of payola," said Doug Heller of the Santa Monica-based nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog.
Four firms targeted in an investigation into corruption in the New York state pension fund contributed to the union while Pérez was vice president. They include Markstone Capital Group, which agreed in December to pay $18 million in restitution after founder and former Chairman Elliott Broidy pleaded guilty to felony charges related to gifts and political donations to top decision-makers in New York.
In an interview, Pérez acknowledged that the union's solicitation of money from CalPERS investors while Harrigan worked in both places was awkward. But he distanced himself, saying Harrigan alone raised the money.
"In retrospect, yeah, I would have asked questions," Pérez said. "But I didn't know what business [the contributors] had with CalPERS then. I only know that now after what I've read."
The CalPERS investors donated to a union fund that contributes to ballot-measure campaigns, although not to candidates. Pérez benefited from the union's overall fundraising success, however. When he ran for the Assembly in 2008, the UFCW and its locals put $86,000 into his campaign.
Harrigan said there was nothing improper about the fundraising.
Last spring, Harrigan resigned from a separate post, on the Los Angeles Police and Fire Pension Fund board, after being questioned by authorities looking into financial firms doing business with it. No charges were filed.
Another Pérez ally from the UFCW is Dan Weinstein, a former regional political director of the labor group who recruited him to run the regional council and later helped fund his election to the Assembly. While Pérez was a local political director and Harrigan sat on the CalPERS board, Weinstein's financial firm made millions of dollars helping clients land CalPERS business. Weinstein also put $18,000 into the union's political accounts.
Weinstein and his firm later became embroiled in a probe of New York state pension fund business, agreeing to repay the fund $1 million, although Weinstein admitted no wrongdoing and has not been accused of illegal activity.
Weinstein and Pérez say they have remained friends.
"I feel horrible for all the difficulties he's found himself in," Pérez said.
Harrigan was executive director of the union's regional council from 2001 through 2005. Pérez was local political director starting in 2001 and served concurrently as a regional vice president beginning in 2003, until he left the union in 2008. One of the council's most generous contributors during those years was the CIM Group, a Los Angeles real estate development firm that donated $51,000 to a UFCW political fund.
During those years, the company prospered in front of public boards that Harrigan and Pérez sat on. CIM got $280 million to invest from the state pension fund and favorable decisions from the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency while Pérez was on the agency's board of commissioners.
In December 2005, Pérez voted to allow CIM to use a $4.3-million redevelopment grant to pay off a private loan financing the firm's downtown Gas Company Lofts project. Months before the vote, CIM had given $12,000 to the UFCW's political committee.
In May 2006, Pérez voted to approve the use of public money to subsidize CIM's Reseda Theater renovation. Two months later, CIM gave his union an additional $6,000.
Pérez said there was no connection between his votes and the contributions, adding that he didn't "know that CIM was still contributing to the union while I was on the CRA board."
CIM spokesman Bill Mendel said each contribution paid for an advertisement in the souvenir book for the union's "Person of the Year" award ceremony, a donation the company made annually from 2002 to 2007.
Nothing Pérez did on the redevelopment board generated heat like his vote in 2005 to let CIM install "supergraphic" signs on Sunset Boulevard.
The previously banned billboards, which can cover an entire side of a building, outrage some residents who say they destroy the aesthetics of a neighborhood. Chris Schabel, an elected member of the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council, said Pérez should have recused himself.
"If the union was receiving money" Schabel said, "he should not have voted on it."
Pérez said recusal is necessary only if a board member has personal business ties with an applicant. "I had no business with them," he said.
Three years later, Pérez rented an apartment from CIM.
In 2008, when he ran for the Assembly seat representing downtown and areas to the east and south, Pérez needed to move from Loz Feliz into the district. So he rented a 900-square-foot apartment in CIM's Gas Company Lofts -- the project he'd voted to subsidize.
"I looked at about 12 buildings downtown," hoping to find somewhere that wouldn't become a political liability, Pérez said. But, "as you can imagine, almost every building downtown has some business with" the redevelopment board. So he just chose a place he liked.
He would not say how much rent he pays, only that it's market rate and "exorbitant."
Proposals draw fire
Since his arrival in Sacramento in December 2008, several of Pérez's proposals have drawn fire from consumer advocates. One was a measure that would have made it easier for car rental companies to hold customers liable when vehicles get stolen. Under existing law, the companies must prove that the client acted recklessly in order to collect.
Pérez concedes that Enterprise wrote the bill and asked him to submit it, while noting that most lawmakers in Sacramento sponsor legislation written by private interests. "It's not uncommon," he said.
Enterprise made a $2,500 contribution to Pérez less than a month after he introduced the bill, campaign finance records show.
"We approached Mr. Pérez because he is a thoughtful and knowledgeable member, who displayed interest in the car rental industry," said Enterprise spokeswoman Laura Bryant.
Pérez said he let the bill die because, although he had submitted it at the company's request, he never liked its liability provision and was unable to negotiate more reasonable terms for consumers.
Another measure that Pérez pushed made an exception to state law that allows billionaire developer Anschutz to advertise alcohol inside Club Nokia, part of his $2.5-billion L.A. Live entertainment project.
The bill seemed dead last year, but Pérez revived it. The move surprised political observers because Pérez is openly gay and Anschutz, who lives in Denver, supported a measure to overturn Colorado laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Pérez, who received $4,600 in contributions from Anschutz's company and lobbyist, said he championed the cause to help create jobs in his district, a worthy goal even if the businessman in question is "a jerk."
THE LA RAZA AGENDA
TAKEN FROM TRANSCRIPTS DATED 1995. MANY OF THESE LA RAZA POLITICIANS HAVE WON HIGHER OFFICES WITH THE VOTES OF ILLEGALS.
“WE WILL TAKE CONTROL OF OUR COUNTRY (U.S.) BY VOTE IF POSSIBLE AND VIOLENCE IF NECESSARY!”
Agendas of MEChA, La Raza, MALDEF, and Southwest Voter Registration Projects These are transcripts of live, recorded statements by elected U.S. politicians, college professors, and pro-illegal alien activists whose objective is to take control of our country "by vote if possible and violence if necessary!" 1. Armando Navarro, Prof. Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside at Latino Summit Response to Prop 187, UC Riverside, 1/1995
"These are the critical years for us as a Latino community. We're in a state of transition. And that transformation is called 'the browning of America'. Latinos are now becoming the majority. Because I know that time and history is on the side of the Chicano/Latino community. It is changing in the future and in the present the balance of power of this nation. It's a game - it's a game of power - who controls it. You (to MEChA students) are like the generals that command armies. We're in a state of war. This Proposition 187 is a declaration of war against the Latino/Chicano community of this country. They know the demographics. They know that history and time is on our side. As one community, as one people, as one nation within a nation as the community that we are, the Chicano/Latino community of this nation. What this means is a transfer of power. It means control."
“THE NEW LEADERSHIP OF THE AMERICAS... IS MEXICAN!”
“REMEMBER: (PROPOSITION) 187 IS THE LAST GASP OF WHITE AMERICA IN CALIFORNIA!”
2. ART TORRES
Art Torres, former CA state senator, currently Chair of California Democrat Party at UC Riverside 1/1995 "Que viva la causa! It is an honor to be with the new leadership of the Americas, here meeting at UC Riverside. So with 187 on the ballot, what is it going to take for our people to vote - to see us walking into the gas ovens? It is electoral power that is going to make the determination of where we go as a community. And power is not given to you -- you have to take it. Remember: 187 is the last gasp of white America in California. Understand that. And people say to me on the Senate floor when I was in the Senate, 'Why do you fight so hard for affirmative action programs?' And I tell my white colleagues, 'because you're going to need them.'"
“WE ARE NOT IMMIGRANTS THAT CAME FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY TO ANOTHER COUNTRY....WE ARE FREE TO TRAVEL THE LENGTH AND BREADTH OF THE AMERICAS BECAUSE WE BELONG HERE.”
3. Jose Angel Gutierrez, Prof. Univ. Texas at Arlington, founder La Raza Unida Party at UC Riverside 1/1995 "The border remains a military zone. We remain a hunted people. Now you think you have a destiny to fulfill in the land that historically has been ours for forty thousand years. And we're a new Mestizo nation. And they want us to discuss civil rights. Civil rights. What law made by white men to oppress all of us of color, female and male. This is our homeland. We cannot - we will not- and we must not be made illegal in our own homeland. We are not immigrants that came from another country to another country. We are migrants, free to travel the length and breadth of the Americas because we belong here. We are millions. We just have to survive. We have an aging white America. They are not making babies. They are dying. It's a matter of time. The explosion is in our population."
“WE HAVE TO BAND TOGETHER, AND THAT MEANS LATINOS IN FLORIDA, CUBAN-AMERICANS, MEXICAN-AMERICAS, PUERTO RICANS, SOUTH AMERICANS, WE HAVE TO NETWORK BETTER......”
BILL RICHARDSON. WE ALL WERE WITNESS TO OBAMA, ALWAYS THE HISPANDERER, ATTEMPT TO PUT RICHARDSON IN HIS CABINET TO SIGNAL THE ILLEGALS THAT AMNESTY WAS COMING. LIKE MOST HISPANIC POLITICIANS, RICHARDSON WAS TOO CORRUPT TO PASS EVEN THE CORRUPT CONGRESS AND WITHDREW HIS NOMINATION.
4. Bill Richardson, New Mexico Governor, former U.S. Congressman, U.N. Ambassador, U.S. Secretary of Energy interviewed on radio Latino USA responding to Congressional Immigration Reform legislation in 1996 "There are changing political times where our basic foundations and programs are being attacked, illegal and legal immigration are being unfairly attacked. We have to band together, and that means Latinos in Florida, Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, South Americans, we have to network better - we have to be more politically minded, we have to put aside party and think of ourselves as Latinos, as Hispanics more than we have in the past."
“WE’RE GOING TO TAKE OVER ALL THE POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS IN CALIFORNIA. IN FIVE YEARS THE HISPANICS ARE GOING TO BE THE MAJORITY POPULATION OF THIS STATE.... ANYONE THAT DOESN’T LIKE IT SHOULD LEAVE IT!”, Mario Obledo,
Mario Obledo, founding member/former national director of Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), former CA Secretary Health/Welfare on Tom Leikus radio talk show "We're going to take over all the political institutions in California. In five years the Hispanics are going to be the majority population of this state." Caller: "You also made the statement that California is going to become a Hispanic state and if anyone doesn't like it they should leave - did you say that?" Obledo: "I did. They ought to go back to Europe."
“WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA.. THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION STATE!”6. Mario Obledo CCIR commentary on Mario Obledo: When CCIR, the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, erected a billboard on the California/Arizona border reading, "WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA, THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION STATE", Mario Obledo, infuriated, went to the billboard location and threatened to blow it up or burn it down. Even after this threat to deny American citizens their freedom of speech, President Clinton awarded Obledo the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. CCIR question to Obledo: "Jose Angel Gutierrez said, 'We have an aging white America, they are dying, I love it.' How would you translate that statement?" Obledo: "He's a good friend of mine. A very smart person."
“THEY’RE AFRAID THAT WE’RE GOING TO TAKE OVER THE GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS. THEY ARE RIGHT, WE WILL TAKE THEM OVER....”
7. Richard Alatorre, former Los Angeles City Councilman at Latino Summit conference in Los Angeles opposing CA Prop. 209 ending affirmative action in 9/1996 "Because our numbers are growing, they're afraid about this great mass of minorities that now live in our community. They're afraid that we're going to take over the governmental institutions and other institutions. They are right, we will take them over, and we are not going to go away - we are here to stay, and we are saying 'ya basta' (enough!) and we are going to turn... and de... not elect or re-elect people that believe that they are going to advance their political careers on the backs of immigrants and the backs of minorities."
MEXICAN SUPREMACIST LA RAZA PARTY REP. FROM INLAND EMPIRE WHERE HE WORKS HARD TO THE EXPANSION OF THE MEXICAN OCCUPATION AND WELFARE SYSTEM.
“THE LATINOS ARE COMING... THE LATINOS ARE COMING!!! AND THEY’RE GOING TO VOTE!”
8. Joe Baca, former CA Assemblymember, currently member of Congress at Latino Summit Response to Prop 187 UC Riverside 1/1995 and Southwest Voter Registration Project annual conference in Los Angeles, 6/1996 "We need more Latinos out there. We must stand up and be counted. We must be together, We must be united. Because if we're not united you know what's going to happen? We're like sticks - we're broken to pieces. Divided we're not together. But as a unit they can't break us. So we've got to come together, and if we're united, si se puede (it can be done) and we will make the changes that are necessary. But we've got to do it. We've got to stand together, and dammit, don't let them divide us because that's what they want to do, is to divide us. And once we're divided we're conquered. But when we look out at the audience and we see, you know, la familia, La Raza (the family, our race), you know, it's a great feeling, isn't it a good feeling? And you know, I started to think about that and it reminded me of a book that we all read and we all heard about, you know, Paul Revere, and when he was saying, 'The British are coming, the British are coming!' Well, the Latinos are coming, the Latinos are coming! And the Latinos are going to vote. So our voices will be heard. So that's what this agenda is about. It's about insuring that we increase our numbers. That we increase our numbers at every level. We talk about the Congressional, we talk about the Senate, we talk about board of supervisors, board of education, city councils, commissions, we have got to increase out numbers because the Latinos are coming. Because what's going on right now, with 187, the CCRI (CA Civil Rights Initiative against affirmative action), and let me tell you, we can't go back, you know, we're in a civil war. But we need to be solidified, we need to come together, we must be strong, because united we form a strong body. United we become solidified, united we make a difference, united we make the changes, united Latinos will win throughout California, let's stick together, que si se puede, que no? (it can be done, right?)
“IF THEY’RE SUPPORTING LEGISLATION THAT DENIES THE UNDOCUMENTED DRIVER’S LICENSE, THEY DON’T BELONG IN OFFICE, FRIENDS. THEY DON’T BELONG HERE!”
9. Antonio Villaraigosa, Chair of MEChA (student wing of Aztlan movement) at UCLA, former CA assemblymember, former CA Assembly speaker, currently Los Angeles City Mayor, and formerly Councilman at Southwest Voter Registration Project Conference in Los Angeles, 6/1997 "Part of today's reality has been propositions like 187 (to deny public benefits to illegal aliens, 1994), propositions like 209 (to abolish affirmative action, 1996), the welfare reform bill, which targeted legal immigrants and targeted us as a community. That's been the midnight. We know that the sunny side of midnight has been the election of a Latino speaker - was the election of Loretta Sanchez, against an arch-conservative, reactionary hate-mongering politician like Congressman Dornan! Today in California in the legislature, we're engaged in a great debate, where not only were we talking about denying education to the children of undocumented workers, but now we're talking about whether or not we should provide prenatal care to undocumented mothers. It's not enough to elect Latino leadership. If they're supporting legislation that denies the undocumented driver's licenses, they don't belong in office, friends. They don't belong here. If they can't stand up and say, 'You know what? I'm not ever going to support a policy that denies prenatal care to the children of undocumented mothers', they don't belong here."
GLORIA MOLINA, RACIST MEXICAN SUPREMACIST IS NOW ON THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. A HUGE PORTION OF THE COUNTY’S REVENUES ARE PAID OUT TO ILLEGALS. LOS ANGELES COUNTY CALCULATES THAT THE TAX-FREE MEXICAN UNDERGROUND ECONOMY IS ABOUT $2 BILLION PER YEAR AND GROWING FAST.
“I’M GONNA GO OUT THERE AN VOTE BECAUSE I WANT TO PAY THEM BACK!”10. Gloria Molina, one of the five in Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at Southwest Voter Registration Project Conference, 6/1996 "This community is no longer going to stand for it. Because tonight we are organizing across this country in a single mission, in a plan. We are going to organize like we've never organized before. We are going to go into our neighborhoods. We are going to register voters. We are going to talk to all of those young people that need to become registered voters and go out to vote and we're are politicizing every single one of those new citizens that are becoming citizens of this country. And what we are saying is by November we will have one million additional Latino voters in this country, and we're gonna march, and our vote is going to be important. But I gotta tell you, there's a lot of people that are saying, 'I'm gonna go out there and vote because I want to pay them back!' And this November we are going to remember those that stood with us and we are also going to remember those that have stood against us on the issues of immigration, on the issues of education, on the issues of health care, on the issues of the minimum wage."
“LONG LIVE OUR RACE!”11. Vicky Castro, former member of Los Angeles Board of Education at Southwest Voter Registration Project Conference, 6/1996 "Que viva la raza, que viva la raza (long live our race)! I'm here to welcome all the new voters of 18 years old that we're registering now in our schools. Welcome, you're going to make a difference for Los Angeles, for San Antonio, for New York, and I thank Southwest for taking that challenge. And to the Mechistas (MEChA students) across this nation, you're going to make that difference for us, too. But when we register one more million voters I will not be the only Latina on the Board of Education of Los Angeles. And let me tell you here, no one will dismantle bilingual education in the United States of America. No one will deny an education to any child, especially Latino children. As you know, in Los Angeles we make up 70% of this school district. Of 600,000 -- 400,000 are Latinos, and our parents are not heard and they're going to be heard because in Los Angeles, San Antonio and Texas we have just classified 53,000 new citizens in one year that are going to be felt in November!"
“I STARTED THIS VERY QUIETLY BECAUSE THERE ARE THOSE THAT IF THEY KNEW THAT WE WERE CREATING A WHOLE NEW CADRE OF BRAND NEW CITIZENS IT WOULD HAVE TREMENDOUS POLITICAL IMPACT.”
“WE HAVE PROCESSED A LITTLE OVER 78,000 BRAND NEW CITZENS.”12. Ruben Zacarias, former superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District at Southwest Voter Registration Project Conference, 6/1997 "We have 27 centers now throughout LAUSD. Every one of them has trained people, clerks to take the fingerprints. Each one has the camera, that special camera. We have the application forms. And I'll tell you what we've done with I.N.S. Now we're even doing the testing that usually people had to go to INS to take, and pretty soon, hopefully, we'll do the final interviews in our schools. Incidentally, I started this very quietly because there are those that if they knew that we were creating a whole new cadre of brand new citizens it would have tremendous political impact. We will change the political panorama not only of L.A., but L.A. County and the State. And we do that we've changed the panorama of the nation. I'm proud to stand here and tell you that in those close to three years we have processed a little over 78,000 brand new citizens. That is the largest citizenship program in the entire nation."
“I HAVE PROUDLY AFFIRMED THAT THE MEXICAN NATIONAL EXTENDS BEYOND THE TERRITORY ENCLOSED BY ITS BORDERS....”13. Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico announcing the Mexican constitutional amendment allowing for dual citizenship on 6/23/97 "I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican national extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders, and that Mexican migrants are an important - a very important part of it. For that reason my government proposed a constitutional amendment to allow any Mexican with the right as he desires to acquire another nationality to do so without being forced to first give up his or her Mexican nationality. Fortunately, the amendment was passed almost unanimously by our federal Congress and is now part of our constitution. I am also here today to tell you that we want you to take pride in what each and every one of your Mexican brothers and sisters are doing back home.
“WE’RE HERE... TO SHOW THE WHITE ANGLO-SAXON PROTESTANT L.A., THE FEW OF YOU WHO REMAIN, THAT WE ARE THE MAJORITY, AND WE CLAIM THIS LAND AS OURS, IT’S ALWAYS BEEN OURS, AND WE’RE STILL HERE, AND NONE OF THE TALK ABOUT DEPORTING. IF ANYONE’S GOING TO BE DEPORTED IT’S GOING TO BE YOU!”
“WE ARE THE MAJORITY IN L.A. THERE’S OVER SEVEN MILLION MEXICANS IN L.A. COUNTY ALONE.”
LA RAZA – “THE (MEXICAN) RACE”….
THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA
1126 16th Street, N.W.
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