Early this morning we looked at some changes in Congress and in the California congressional districts-- one of which was CA-40, one of the most heavily Latino districts in the country, in southeast L.A. A large piece of Long Beach was just added to it and Lucille Roybal-Allard decided to retire. Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia hasn't decided whether or not she's running, but I've been speaking with her and I have the feeling that she is close to declaring. L.A. progressives are begging her to. More conservative elements have their own idea. PunchBowl, the most insider of the DC insider media outlets, reported this morning that "Roybal-Allard’s current seat is set to be redistricted into the same seat as retiring Rep. Alan Lowenthal. With the twin retirements in the past week, the path is being cleared for Long Beach’s Democratic Mayor Robert Garcia to head to Congress." How do they know? Because they get their information from the DCCC Comms department, which will always push neoliberal conservatives like Mayor Robert over fighting progressives like Cristina Garcia.
You know the old saying, "the more things change the more they stay the same." Now, while I have always found that saying cynical and anathema to the very essence of being a progressive-- I have to admit every once in a while, I mutter under my breath, "Ain’t that the truth." Nothing can put me into that irritable mood more than yet another over ambitious neo-liberal politician acting like the political universe has somehow anointed them to higher office. Take the case of current Long Beach Mayor, Robert Garcia. Congressional maps haven’t been finalized or released by the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission, but Robert is already asking people to start calling him Congressman Garcia. He posted tweets announcing his candidacy. He posted a Garcia for Congress website that includes a heartwarming narrative about his late immigrant mother and the American Dream. If you’re not already questioning the less than transparent and basic ingenuous nature of Mayor Robert’s timing let me give you a couple of other reasons.
But before I go there let me share with you a couple of facts. Hispanic women make less than 43-cents on the dollar for the same work as white men. At the current rate we are going, Latinas won't achieve equal pay until the year 2197. In addition, Latinas hold only 1.1% of California Fortune 1000 board seats, although they make up 20% of the population. They are the most underrepresented group. Suffice to say, hard working Latinas see the worst effect of systemic racism and any progressive worth their salt would understand that our society seems to have no problem with it.
Okay, let’s get to the point about Mayor Robert. As part of this sprint of a campaign roll out he was careful to point out he had spoken with incumbent Congressman Alan Lowenthal and that Congressman Lowenthal would be retiring so Garcia would be running for Congress. Very respectful Mayor Robert. But apparently Mayor Robert doesn’t know how to read a map (best case scenario) because the biggest chunk of the new Congressional district is actually in the district of legendary Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who was the first Latina to serve in Congress. Latinos activists and politicos that I have spoken to tell me that Roybal-Allard was taken aback by the fact that Mayor Robert never called her to announce his intention. Despite the blatant show of disrespect, it was reported in Politico yesterday that Congresswoman Roybal-Allard will soon announce her retirement. Too bad and too late for Mayor Robert to take back the disdain he has shown for the career of the Congresswoman, who has opened so many doors for others. Robert, like the press, and much of society are way too quick to erase, ignore, and disrespect Latinas, even those with worthy titles and activist records like Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.
We already know Robert, Democrat for Congress hasn’t always been well… a Democrat. Yes, the son of a Latina immigrant mother, but that doesn’t dismiss the fact that his basic political values led him to Republicanism, in spite of those roots. He was a Republican and in support of the infamous anti-immigrant Prop 187 and Pete Wilson. The same Prop 187 that would enable fascist Federal goons to raid California elementary schools and remove children of undocumented immigrants from schools. Or deny many immigrants basic things like access to emergency health care or an education. Today we call many of those kids Dreamers as in American Dreamers. They are the young people who forced Barack Obama to create the DACA program. Today progressives fight to continue to fend off Trump Era efforts to dismantle DACA and push for comprehensive immigration reform in order to honor our working class community members that prop up much of our economy. Sure, Robert has an excuse, but that doesn’t erase the fact that until he decided to run for office in Long Beach and being a Democrat was a necessity, he changed party registration, long after Prop 187 had passed and was overturned by the courts. Long after it enabled and empowered a whole generation of Latinos to organize, vote, and move California to the Left once and for all. Can't help but be reminded of Manchin and ask myself, when will we learn and say "enough?"
So this all begs the question if a true progressive will announce her intent to run for Congress in the district and thus provide an alternative to the cynical and overly ambitious Mayor Robert. I am personally infatuated with the possible candidacy of Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia. A progressive soul rebel, Garcia has distinguished progressive credentials on issues from environmental justice to fighting local government corruption to women’s issues like period equity and outlawing stealthing. I reached out to Assemblywoman Garcia to gauge her interest in Congress and was met with a quick, "That’s Congresswoman Roybal-Allard seat and there’s no need to discuss anyone running until she decides if she’s running for re-election." As far as I’m concerned that’s exactly the right way to approach the situation. Now I hope that she hurries up and weighs her options quickly and announces her candidacy.
Long Beach is filled with progressive activists and community organizers. One sent me a good summary of how progressives in Long Beach look at Mayor Robert, who is widely seen, at least outside the corrupt Democratic establishment--- watch the cavalcade of self-serving scumbags who endorse him-- as a duplicitous betrayer. Corrupt establishment shill, Newsom's dreadful appointed Attorney General Rob Bonta, was the first to jump on Mayor Robert's bandwagon; watch for even worse garbage politicians to join him in the coming weeks.
Mayor Robert betrayed our environment because while he was speaking about preventing climate change, he promoted the drilling of 120 new oil wells in our most environmentally sensitive area, the Los Cerritos Wetlands.
Mayor Robert betrayed the LGBTQ+ community by speaking at the Boy Scouts of America Centennial, thanking them for 100 years of service to the community while ignoring the nearly 100 years of homophobia.
Mayor Robert betrayed our many undocumented residents and their allies, by allowing the Long Beach Police Department to share automatic license plate reader data with ICE.
Mayor Robert betrayed our Latin American community by converting the Long Beach Convention Center into an unaccompanied child detention center. He called it a "humanitarian shelter."
Mayor Robert betrayed our majority renter population, most of whom are Black and Brown, through policies that resulted in the longest and harshest period of gentrification and displacement.
Mayor Robert betrayed Black and Brown people after the George Floyd protests by calling the behavior of the police department "heroic," after they shot, clubbed, gassed, and arrested peaceful protesters while allowing looters to do their thing right in front of the police.
Mayor Robert betrayed the Black and Brown communities by endorsing LBPD's Chief Luna for L.A. County Sheriff, knowing that under his watch the police department's rank went as low as it can go; the worst police department in all of California and 4th worst in the nation. Chief Luna also put Long Beach on the map by holding the largest superspreader event during the height of COVID last year, about which the mayor went silent even when the news made papers all over the US and abroad.
Mayor Robert betrayed the Cambodian community-- mostly exiles that fled the murderous Pol Pot regime-- by visiting Cambodia and bowing down to the government allied with the Pol Pot dictatorship.