Of course, from that minute at 5:00 a.m. on February 6, 2017, that the Los Angeles Times, house organ of this city’s zillionaire political elite, endorsed his opponent, damn hippy upstart bike rider Joe Bray-Ali, Council District 1 incumbent Gil Cedillo was effectively thrown under the bus. But just like in every western movie ever made, it’s not the shot that knocks the hero off his horse that hurts,1 but rather the subsequent nibblings of a thousand attack-ducks that really ends the guy’s career.2
Which is why it’s so interesting to note that on the very same day that the Times announced that incumbent Cedillo no longer enjoyed the support of L.A.’s zillionaires and was thus fair game for the death by a thousand nibbles, Mr. Attack Duck himself, CD13 scheduler Dave Cano, smelt the way the wind blew, jumped on the anti-Gil train and donated $125 to Joe Bray-Ali. And does any one at all think that council staff donate money to non-incumbents without the permission of their bosses? It’s never going to happen in a zillion years.
The incumbent is almost always reelected, and the Councilmembers all badly need one another’s good will in order to maintain their patronage system. Thus Dave Cano’s donation was effectively an endorsement of Joe Bray-Ali by Mr. Mitch himself. If you don’t believe me that this is an incredibly rare event, turn the page for some half-assed perfunctory comparative analysis which, as half-assed as it might be, as perfunctory as it certainly is, is nevertheless pretty darn illuminating.
Consider these two searches, both of them starting on July 1, 2016, since I had to start somewhere to be sure we’re only dealing with the 2017 campaign:
It’s necessary to do both because the Ethics Commission’s forms don’t enforce a standard way to enter fields.3 The analysis is complicated by the fact that many of the council staffies seem reluctant to admit what it is that they actually do for a living. That is, Dave Cano styles himself a “secretary” rather than Mr. Mitch’s scheduler. There are many examples of this, e.g. David Ryu’s factotum Nick Greif’s occupation is “public policy” rather than “council flunkie.” It’s not universal, though. E.g. CD13 Council Aide David Giron lists his occupation as “Council Aide.”
Now scroll down through those searches. Notice that every single Council staffer on there is giving to an incumbent or else to one of the two mainstream CD7 candidates. Every single one except Mr. Dave Cano, that is. Either he’s gone rogue, which isn’t likely, or else Mr. Mitch thinks the time has come to let the ducks off the reservation. It may yet backfire, though. It’s not at all clear that Joe Bray-Ali will win.
After all, Gil Cedillo got more than 49% of the vote with Bray-Ali getting 38%. Assuming everyone who voted for the top two votes the same way in the runoff, this leaves less than 13% of the vote in play. Cedillo only needs to get the votes of 1 out of 13 undecided voters in order to win.4 And won’t that be embarrassing for Mr. Mitch?
As much as we here at the blog want the bike rider to win this one, mostly to put City Council’s incumbents on notice that once in a while one of them might get picked off for being criminals, unresponsive to their constituents, and so on, we also long to see a little chaos descend on our City Council’s understood-but-never-spoken-aloud vote-trading conspiracy. If reelecting creepy uncle Gil is going to bring that about, well, it’s hard to say which we prefer. I guess that means we’ll be happy no matter who wins, which is a good place to be.5
Oh, and wait! See something else in those searches? Mitch O’Farrell’s staff gives him money at a rate that far, far outstrips the staff of other Council Districts. Ten members of Mitch’s staff, which is net nine non-Mitch members, gave him money, totaling (not counting the $500 he gave himself) $2,543 to Mitch from his staff. No other Councilmember has anything like this rate of
kool-aid drinking staff giving:
- Tony Arranaga gave Mitch $113
- David Cano gave him $250
- David Giron gave him $130
- Chris Robertson gave him $100
- Mary Rodriguez gave him $500
- Amy Ablakat gave him $250
- Gigi Galias gave him $450
- Mitch O’Farrell gave himself $500
- Star Parsamyan gave him $250
- Marisol Rodriguez gave him $500
Image of Dave Cano started its life as a public record in the way, shape, and form of the guy’s official CD13 portrait, but it’s now been sufficiently modified for me to announce that it is presently ©2017 MichaelKohlhaas.org.
- After all, it’s just a flesh wound, whatever that means.
- I’ve never actually watched every western movie ever made, so it may be that most of them don’t have attack-ducks. But they should!
- This isn’t a criticism, it’s a hard problem to solve, and I don’t have any suggestions to improve this part of it.
- This analysis is admittedly far too simplistic. After all, the turnout was effectively a rounding error away from zero. It’s likely that whichever candidate can best mobilize supporters who didn’t vote in the first election will win this one. There’s no way to predict how that’s going to play out.
- For real, though, for the good of the City, we prefer Joe Bray-Ali. CD1 voters take note!