Following Huntington Park, CA (or as critics deride, Little TJ or Illegal Alien Park) decision to appoint two illegal aliens to two city commissions, Southern California Public Radio commented: “As Huntington Park goes, does Southern California?”
One could argue “goes the United States?” The troubling trends of this Southeast LA County suburb, 97% Latino with more than half of the residents foreign-born (if not illegal), are not just the focal point for demographic changes in California (or even the country), but the meeting point over a larger federal fight: are we a nation of laws or men? Does the rule of law matter anymore, and to what extent has municipal malfeasance engendered state and even national political dysfunction? Will fights at the local level restore the rule of law and limited governance once again?
Yesterday evening (Monday, Aug. 17), I attended my first city council meeting outside of Torrance, CA. I have witnessed fireworks and confrontation in the relatively calm and content “Balanced City,” but last night the crowd exploded from the volatile mixture of supporters and vocal opponents to the appointment of two illegal aliens to city commissions. Huntington Park, CA, which bills itself as “The City of Perfect Balance” demonstrated how unbalanced local government has become in Southern California, and its foray into federal immigration policy is turning heads.
Protesters had their signs up ready to take down the city council: “Recall Pineda!” “Wake Up City Council!” “Appointment Legal Citizens!”
We the People Rising, a diverse activist group opposed to illegal immigration, showed up in full force, including members from Upland and Apple Valley as well as former HP resident. Another group, America First Latinos, propped up their signs: “Get Back in Line – Come in Legally!” and “All Lives Matter.”
The council chambers had room for maybe 100, but judging from the growing number of visitors, plus five Huntington Park, CA police officers, only those who showed up early would have a chance.
The police officers read off the code of conduct, reminding the audience to avoid catcalls, booing and cheering, or they would be removed. Most of the audience gleefully ignored the directives, and the police could do little about it.
One local activist, Alex Reynoso, explained to me before the meeting began that he and a small group had been fighting hard against the corrupt council members and mayor since their election earlier this year. Aside from Councilmember Valentin Amezquita, the council approve the appointment of two illegal aliens.
Reynosa explained the council’s shenanigans to discourage or prevent public commentary. For nearly 30 minutes, presenters from different interest groups, including representatives from State Senator Ricardo Lara’s office (the senator who pushed taxpayer funded health insurance for illegal aliens). Finally, public comment ensued. Despite the numerous request cards submitted, Mayor Karina Macias was clearly shuffling out the negative ones and putting them aside.
A few residents, some who announced themselves as undocumented, praised the council’s decision. Their speeches gave off an affected ring, as though someone else had written their statements. A few other supporters, some from HP as well as elsewhere, called Jhonny Pineda, the main instigator in this conflict, brave and bold for his decision.
Before I spoke, Councilmember Amezquita addressed the whole council. Calm yet determined, he reminded the council that he voted against the appointments because of the negative press that would follow (Boy, did it!). Later in the evening, a protester shouted at the council: “God bless Donald Trump. And You’re Fired!”’
I addressed the council about their egregious insult to all legal residents, including their “piecemeal, de facto amnesty” (read my full comments here). Shirley Husar, the leader of Urban Game Changers California, excoriated the council for putting aside the needs of legal residents who need jobs, and instead promoted two illegals to city posts. Several members of We the People Rising condemned the city for ignoring the many unemployed and capable legal residents in the city. One woman read a litany of federal and state laws which the council had violated. Raul Rodriguez of “America First Latinos” gave the city council resignation papers and “You’re Fired!” slips.
Legal immigrants in the city blasted the council for enabling illegal immigration. Francisco Rivera, an immigrant who has lived in Huntington Park for 30 years, denounced the council appointments. Nick Ioannidis, a Greek immigrant and 45-year resident, recounted the routine harassment he has endured from illegal aliens openly residing in the city. Before he spoke to the council, he had shared with me the destruction done to his property as well as the threats and taunting: “This is Mexico! Get out of here!” one of them had told him. Now immigrants are getting attacked? Sandra Orozo, a southeast political activist, shamed them for making her wait (she was one of the first attendees to submit a card), then told about her parents (who came legally) and how they fought for this country. Then she told the audience that the city attorney is under investigation, too.
More raucous commentary exposed festering problems in Huntington Park. One resident complained that he was paying $2,000 more in property taxes than residents in Walnut Park, CA. Why? Another resident, Reynoso, explained: the city faces a $350 million pension liability, and yet the councilmembers are taking in mucho dinero for their own pensions. The city has hired two city managers. Why?
Linda Caraballo rolled out allegations against the councilmembers, including statements (and she provided me the evidence) that Mayor Macias does not live in Huntington Park, but Walnut Park: “I drove you home. I know where you live,” she chastised. Then she outlined the pay-for-play “political nepotism” eating up the council’s diminished integrity.
Financial mismanagement, voter fraud, corrupt city council officials, investigations into city officials, and now pandering to illegal aliens: Huntington Park is turning into Bell Part Two. This cannot be the future of Southern California or the country.