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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/8/22

Maria Brenes' Ties To Rogue LA Sheriff's Campaign

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"What did they do? Whose life did they take that they shouldn't have?"
"- Javier Gonzalez on LASD's Deputy Gangs

(Image by María Brenes for LAUSD School Board 2022/VILLANUEVA FOR LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF 2022)   Details   DMCA

Javier Gonzalez, the campaign manager for Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva, does not seem to have gotten his boss' memo. The Sheriff is on record questioning the existence of deputy gangs within his department, challenging Los Angeles County Supervisors to name deputies "who they can prove are 'gang members'" under the law. He even sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Board of Supervisors "demanding they and others stop using the phrase 'deputy gangs' to refer to secretive groups that operate within department stations". Villanueva has ignored six different subpoenas demanding his appearance before the civilian oversight commission investigating the presence of these gangs and is now facing contempt charges.

When asked about these deputy gangs, Gonzalez appears to have no question about their existence. Instead, he tries to argue that they are not that bad. "What did they do? Whose life did they take that they shouldn't have?", he asks. The fact that the county has paid out at least $55 million in settlements over the misdeeds of these groups suggests that Gonzalez is minimizing their actions. Also ignored are allegations by families of those killed by deputies "that the deputies were 'chasing ink'"trying to earn a tattoo" signifying their membership in one of these gangs. Anonymous whistle-blowers at the East L.A. Sheriff Station have stated, "If you get in a shooting, that's a definite brownie point" with the Banditos, the gang that controls that station.

Gonzalez has also stated that he is "fine" with sheriff's deputies "stopping Black and Latino cyclists at an inordinate rate". After all, this happens in high-crime areas, he says.

(Image by Los Angeles City Clerk)   Details   DMCA

For someone who describes herself as having an "impressive work ethic and civil rights track record", LAUSD School Board candidate Marà a Brenes should be acutely aware of the threat that these deputy gangs pose to the residents of Los Angeles. The same students that she seeks to represent in Board District 2 are the alleged targets of the illegal deputy gangs that Sheriff Villanueva protects. She should be working to defeat Villanueva in November so that accountability can be brought to the streets of East Los Angeles. Instead, her allies have hired a firm controlled by Gonzalez, "Villanueva's self-proclaimed 'soldier'", to produce mailers promoting her candidacy. This has put hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of Gonzalez's company.

(Image by Los Angeles City Clerk)   Details   DMCA

While the law is supposed to prohibit coordination between the Brenes campaign and SEIU 99, there are strong ties between the candidate and Lester Garcia, the person responsible for the union's independent expenditures. Garcia assisted in the efforts to help Brenes' husband, Luis Sanchez, push through a last-minute map to change the borders of Board District 2 in a way that was more favorable to his wife. Garcia, Sanchez and Gonzalez have all been long-time supporters of outgoing board member Monica Garcia despite her animosity towards children with special education needs and promotion of charter schools, the majority of which are anti-union. Reports are circulating that Brenes plans to make Monica Garcia her Chief of Staff if she wins the race in November.

(Image by María Brenes for LAUSD School Board 2022)   Details   DMCA

Brenes, like Gonzalez, may have started out as an activist with good intentions, but at some point got sidetracked and lost sight of those she is supposed to be an advocate for. Gonzalez admits in his interview with the Los Angeles Times that he "just stopped believing" when "despite all his work, 'janitors are dying. They're still poor.'" He cashed in with a Sheriff who defends the status quo. Brenes found her payday in the Astroturf world of nonprofits where wealthy billionaires launder their money through people willing to push their agenda. Substituting the needs of those holding the purse strings for those struggling in the inner city, Brenes lost sight of her mission. She will maintain those same alliances if she wins a seat on the LAUSD Board and students will pay the price.

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with special education needs and public education. He was elected to the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and is the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him "a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles." For links to his blogs, please visit Opinions are his own.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

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