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Lincoln Heights | Community News File

Hernandez Backers Denounce Call for Councilman to Resign

September 30, 1997

A group of Eastside activists and residents of City Councilman Mike Hernandez's 1st District said the councilman should get support as he returns to City Hall, angrily denouncing a Los Angeles Times column that called for Hernandez to step down.

About 25 people holding signs that read "Boycott the LA Times" and "We Support Hernandez" gathered in front of a Lincoln Heights church Monday morning to express their anger about a Sept. 28 opinion piece. In it, columnist Frank del Olmo wrote that Hernandez's cocaine addiction has undermined his effectiveness.

"The editorial in The Times and efforts to recall Mike Hernandez remind me of people kicking a human being when he is down," said attorney Antonio Rodriguez. "He has been the best councilman for this area and rather than applaud his efforts to rehabilitate himself, they attack him."

Del Olmo said he wrote the piece as a longtime "admirer and friend" of Hernandez.

"He's an elected official and, however painful, you have to hold him accountable to a higher standard," del Olmo said. "Right now, I'd rather see him take care of himself than work in the district."

The protesters said The Times is biased against Latinos, citing recent coverage of allegations of voter fraud in the congressional race in which Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) defeated Robert K. Dornan and coverage of Councilman Richard Alatorre's ethics violations.

The Times disclosed in July that two charities Alatorre has championed were being investigated by transit officials for steering money to an event-planning company founded by his wife.

Alatorre agreed this month to pay $6,000 in penalties in a settlement with the city Ethics Commission. Alatorre admitted violating ethics laws by making a phone call to the city's top charity regulator, seeking a license extension for a company in which his wife was a key executive. In another settlement expected to be approved by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Alatorre agreed to pay $2,000 for his intervention.

A Times representative reiterated Editor Shelby Coffey III's earlier statement that the newspaper "is proud of the broad and growing coverage of the many Latino communities in our area."

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