Jose Ruiz, Steve It, Boyle Heights discussed on All Things Considered


Anna Scott reports on homelessness in housing, Ana. Thank you. Thanks, Steve. L. A City Councilman Jose Ruiz are pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal counts this week for a corruption scandal that has plagued his office. And his constituents for five years now bribery pay to play tax evasion, money laundering lying to investigators. These federal allegations are a far cry from the American dream that these are rose to power on. Immigrated to the United States as a young kid from Mexico. Raised in Boyle Heights went off to Berkeley, Princeton U. C L. A Law school eventually won himself a seat as councilman of the 14th District, a district that now is voicing how they're feeling and coping as they watch tweezers fall from grace. Javier Gonzalez is a political consultant who's run many A campaign out of the East Side has been watching the story unfold and he's here with us right now. Javi, You're welcome. Hey, how you doing? All right, our old friend John regard he's been covering. These are for 15 years. He's been following the story for L. A magazine. John. Thank you for being here is well, Thank you, Steve. Javier Air. You know, Jose Ways are personally right? Yeah. So? So when you first heard about the news of his arrest and all the The charges were talking nearly three dozen federal charges. How do you feel? I mean, at first, you just sort of shocked. I mean, it was so you know the accusations. They're so much greater than stuff that we've seen in recent years. I mean, obviously we have the stuff with Mitch Englander coming ahead of it in the most recent announcement, but I think early on It was just hard to believe in terms of the sheer numbers that we're talking about. But I mean, you know the the early? Yeah. You mention Mitch Englander and the things leading up to that moment of the charges being, you know, uncovered. But you had you also had the raid by federal officials going into Howie's ours. Boyle Heights office, right? I mean, there was all of that happening and you're like, Whoa, What's going on? Like what? What's what's in your mind at that time? Well, ironically, you know, I've just seen, Ho said at his home a few days before that when the raid happened, you know, I mean, you try to connect the dots. Have you seen things theory aware of things? Have you heard things? Is he living that kind of an extravagant life and I just sort of shocking all at the same time to see the level of accusations against them and You know, compared to the You know, the guy who lives right there in Ohio just was kind of hard to put the two together and just we have had that level of breaking news in a while. So it was just really shocking. John. You've been following Jose Ruiz are its trajectory for a long time. Now, what was your reaction when you first heard about the well the FBI, red and at his office and the charges then that were uncovered against him. You know what I mean? It's all studying, if you if you like Los Angeles politics, you know, this is the story of the summer. I mean, I've joked that it's the gift that keeps on giving because it wasn't just Jose. It was five people who've been indicted or pled guilty and in this sprawling public corruption scandal, and and certainly you are aghast at hearing about these allegations. No alleging, you know, shakedowns of developers. Allegations of councilman ways are in a sort of kabbalah that they literally called the CD 14 enterprise pulling in, you know, $1.5 million elicit benefits between cash machine casino chips, etcetera, But but at the same time, Steve it's so disappointing to see this I mean, This was so much potential squandered, you know, a legacy undone. And because of those raids, the reference with four way back in November of 2018 I mean, right after that the councilman was removed from his positions on committees, so it was essentially politically neutered. He had you know 250,000 residents off Boyle Heights downtown North East L, A and other communities. Who were barely represented at that point, you know, politically neutered. That's it's an interesting way to put it because Javier Air you know, you look at the story of who is our who was this immigrant growing up in a poor neighborhood? But then he ascended to, you know, like Ivy League schools. And I mean you have you spoken to a lot of the people who lived in his neighborhood, right? I mean, he was really popular in his district. Jose has always been very popular. I think it goes back to the story, you know, sort of. That you alluded to earlier. I remember when you ran for school board and just, you know, people were familiar with somebody who looked and talked like them going to Princeton and get a lot agree. And me the lawyer and you know, young, handsome man, you know, with a good family, and I think he was It's all the more shocking, I guess. On the flip side we've talked about. You know the news of the arrests and the allegations and stuff because it was such a great story. I think that's That's one of the tragedies hears it undermines you really overturned a great story with a great scandal. Well, what people say in his district. I mean, are you talking to folks? In Boyle Heights in the downtown area. You know who I think there's chatter. I mean, look against people who are on the inside and you know you have some of the policy folks that are involved in different issues, though, says they make some really good point that this is why we have a housing issue is that that was served. Some of the requests that were being made by the developers, Yu know so some people, you know, it's hard to argue with that. They say, you know, we we've lost a chance at a lot of affordable housing because of things like this. And then on the flip side. I just think people are not that surprised Having people off anything you hear. Amount of money being talked about is surprising to people but you know the But politicians to gifts and money. You are allegedly from, you know, people try and get away from the city. I don't think it's frank. These shocks people. What about the constituents there, John? I mean, the 14th District still needs representation. The council suspended him. They can't remove him because he hasn't pleaded guilty or hasn't been found guilty. So what happens to the district? I mean, who represents the 14th now? Well there, you know, there is still a you know, there is still a staff in there that is handling some district issues. But this Steve, it's a huge issue because again You're the district doesn't have someone there. Who? Congar O to bat for the district. The district doesn't have someone who, if there is a person who has a project that they think should move forward. Khun, Go to the council member Who can, you know, Advocate for that project, So you know we're in a situation right now. Where? Back In March. Kevin Daily on the former speaker of the State Senate. He outright won an election to be the next council member because council member was always going to be turned out at the end of the year. But as long as you know, Jose was Are technically remains in office, even if he's been suspended. Even if he's not getting paid, you know, until he is somehow forced out of the seat. There can be no steps made to bring in Kevin Day, Leone to potentially Philip. You'll fill the rest of this term before you know, before his own term would begin. So yeah, you still will wind up with a situation where 14 council district in Los Angeles. Have an active council member or accounts African active councilman or Councilwoman. One district doesn't and it's the 14th and as Faras we Zara's concerned what happens next. Well, you know, I think we're going to see a trial date set and you know, at that point, it becomes a waiting game. There's some people who think that okay, It's just gonna be a while. We're going to have to see what happens. But there's others who say You know, this is going to be the beginning of a long drawn out process with 34 counts on the table. It does potentially provide an opportunity for the councilmen and his. You know, attorneys to negotiate to perhaps plead down, you know he could face you know scores, if not hundreds of years in prison right now, if convicted on all counts..

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