Do Huizar’s Problems Leave Him Any Time to Do His Job?

2018 December Editions Front Page

NELA’s City Councilmember, José Huizar, engulfed in legal problems, has all but disappeared from public view.
In September and October, Mr. Huizar was named in a personnel complaint and two lawsuits by former employees alleging various violations, including workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation. On Nov. 7, his home, City Hall office and field office in Boyle Heights were raided by the FBI. On Nov. 15, he was stripped of his committee assignments on the City Council by Herb Wesson, the City Council President.
Mr. Huizar has denied the allegations made by his former employees and, as of press time for this issue of the Boulevard Sentinel on Nov. 29, the FBI had given no indication if or when any arrests would ever be made in connection with the raids. The reason for the raids also remains unknown, as the search warrants authorizing the raids are sealed. But one thing that is known is that a search warrant must be based on probable cause and detail what law enforcement hopes to find. A legal raid is not a fishing expedition.
What is also known is that Mr. Huizar has missed nearly all of the City Council meetings since Oct. 22, when the first lawsuit was filed. On Nov. 20, at the one City Council meeting he has attended since the raids, he answered reporters’ questions about the raids saying, “I’m here to do my job. I’m here to work,” according to the L.A. Times.
As a practical matter, however, much of the work of city government gets done in committees, and Mr. Huizar has been bounced from those. The Boulevard Sentinel sent questions to Mr. Huizar’s chief of staff, Paul Habib, and spokesperson, Rick Coca, asking how Mr. Huizar and his staff plan to function and make decisions through this time, but received no replies, a disturbing silence given the issues and problems, from homelessness to traffic safety, facing NELA neighborhoods.
Another aspect of the Huizar story that is certain at this point is that the political career of Mr. Huizar’s wife, Richelle Huizar, has been stopped in its tracks. Ms. Huizar announced on Sept. 13 that she would run for her husband’s city-council seat in the election of 2020, when Mr. Huizar is due to be termed out. She dropped out of the race on Nov. 21, two weeks after the FBI raids, saying that she was withdrawing in order to focus on her family. The Huizars have four children.
On Dec. 20, the City and Mr. Huizar are due to submit responses to the lawsuits filed in October by Mr. Huizar’s former employees, according to their lawyer, Terrence Jones.
So by then, if not before, another installment will be written in the Huizar story.

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