Councilman Jose Huizar pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal counts this week for a corruption scandal that has plagued his office and his constituents for five years. Charges included bribery, tax evasion, money laundering, and lying to investigators.
The allegations are a far cry from Huizar’s American dream story. He immigrated as a young child from Mexico, grew up in Boyle Heights, and then went off to Berkley, Princeton and UCLA Law School. Eventually, he became LA City Councilman of the 14th district. His constituents are now voicing how they’re coping as they watch Huizar’s fall from grace.
Javier Gonzalez is a political consultant who knew Huizar personally. He says, “You try to connect the dots. … Are you aware of things? … Is he living that kind of extravagant life? It was just sort of shocking all at the same time to see that level of accusations against him. Compared to that guy who lives right there in Boyle Heights, it was kind of hard to put the two together.”
Gonzalez spoke to other constituents who are disappointed by the news because they feel that Huizar made deals with real estate developers that were not in the community’s best interest. “They say we lost a chance at a lot of affordable housing because of things like this,” Gonzalez says.