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The X Files
Xavier Hermosillois the President of CrisisPros, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 20 years ago ( and is based in his native San Pedro, CA. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning print reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He is an elected member of the Board of Directors of CGI Holdings, Inc., ( a publicly-traded company that is headquartered in Chicago. He co-founded a NASDAQ company based in Chicago, serves as a Hearing Examiner for the L.A. Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds Honors degrees in Administration of Justice, Marketing and Management. He can be reached at

May 9, 2005

The first two weeks of May are very interesting this year for two big reasons. First of all, there’s a birthday to celebrate around here and secondly, the second largest city in America is about to welcome a new leader into its family.

Let’s talk about the birthday first. Information is the lifeblood of a free society. So is communication, the free flow of that information. On this, the fourth anniversary of HalEisner.Com, we are indeed fortunate to be communicators in the information business at all levels: print, radio, television, and the Internet, and to have a guy like Hal Eisner as the chief cheerleader.

Birthdays and anniversaries are sometimes like the weather - always changing and unpredictable - but always worth celebrating. And we should all be thankful that our host, veteran Los Angeles newsman Hal Eisner, thinks, eats, sleeps, and loves news so much, that he had to develop a website to promote it.

Celebrations can also bring about change and a couple of weeks ago, we saw this site take on a totally new look, sort of a sprucing up of the place before the big party.

Hal Eisner not only took on the difficult task of maintaining a relevant and current website for fellow members of the media and those who aspire to enter the industry, but he also decided to develop the APTRA (Associated Press Television-Radio Association) Academy to train future reporters, anchors, photographers, producers, writers, assignment editors, police officers, firefighters, public information officers, and others who enter the world of media.

Never content with just one ground-breaking achievement, Hal then developed the successful APTRA Academy En Espanol. And then he caps it all with a spectacular holiday party at Universal Studios. Leave it to Hal to never settle for just one level of accomplishment.

I became a columnist here on HalEisner.Com because our host was convinced I had a point of view he wanted on this site. We had met before I became a commentator on Channel 13, the UPN station in L.A. in the mid-90’s. I had been a journalist and an activist who ended up in front of the cameras enough times so that when I showed up at Channel 13, Hal and I were not strangers.

I had never worked in television and some of the contraptions and processes were new to me, so the ever-helping Hal was always willing to help me between getting his own stories ready for air. That’s the kind of guy Hal is, forever the willing teacher to news newbies. He’s truly one of the nicest guys in a business full of egomaniacs and we’re lucky to know him and work with him.

Happy Birthday, Hal. You’re a hell of a newsman, a heck of a guy, and a workaholic who likes to make people smile. And thanks for the forum.

Moving on to the world of political information and communication, there is another deadline coming along next week for all of us. May 17th is Election Day in Los Angeles, the second largest Spanish speaking city in the world (after Mexico City) and the second largest city in America, after New York.

Both of those little factoids come into play when you talk about who will go govern what is arguably the largest and most creative enclave in the free world, probably the most ethnically diverse city on the planet, and yet, one of the most divided and Balkanized communities this side of Africa or Bosnia Herzegovina.

Many of us are used to dirty political campaigns and people who will stoop to any depth to win a race for a government office. There are a lot of no-no’s in the political business and blatant racist attacks on your opponent are supposed to be taboo. Subtle racism is also not part of the rules and it is expected that in a best case scenario, candidates will talk about issues and why they deserve the vote of the people instead of trolling the gutters.

This race for Mayor has apparently ignored those rules and perhaps explains why with less than two weeks before voters hit the voting booths, a poll conducted by one of the leading television stations in town finds the challenger, Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, 29 points ahead of the incumbent, James Hahn.

For the uninitiated, if Villaraigosa sounds ethnic, he is - - a Mexican-American born and raised on the city’s historically Latino East side (except for the 1940’s and 50’s when it was predominantly Russian and Jewish). If Hahn sounds white, he is. As bland as vanilla and living off a family name of political success, Jimmy (as his friends call him) was destined for political greatness.

Alas, after just four years in office, many pundits say Jimmy’s famous political dad, the late Kenny Hahn, must be rolling over in his grave watching his wonder boy’s gaffs, lost opportunities, lack of control of his staff and appointed commissioners, and his general screw-ups.

One big question is how he got away with so much inaction, and the reported corruption that has become the centerpiece of federal and state investigations. The answer is a lot simpler than how Jimmy Hahn’s road to self-destruction began. The answer to this folly is the media, mostly the Los Angeles Times, which fell in political love with the lifelong politician and deemed him a younger version of his revered father.

As has often been observed in this column, the Times is the defacto assignment editor for news organizations in all of Los Angeles County, if not the entire southern half of the State of California. In these days where ratings and entertainment speak louder than true hard news in too many stations, where investigative reporters are the exception and not the rule, and where news stations “discover” hot topics in order to hype their May and November ratings sweeps, it’s no wonder we have so many problems.

Politicians have learned to play to the cameras of the stations with the biggest ratings, or for convenience sake, play to all of them. It helps raise political funds and is a sure way to get free media attention in order to help ensure re-election.

But the ugliest part of this story is that the news media has treated elements of this mayoral election like a full blown case of AIDS, with the disease so painfully obvious, but no one willing to call it like it what it is - - a tragic ignorance of reality and the need to cure L.A.’s multiple ills. This has been, to a certain extent, a campaign about re-electing the “White Man” and trying to convince non-ethnics that voting for the “Mexican” is dangerous and un-American.

Both finalists for Mayor of L.A. are proven, dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrats, but Jimmy Hahn chose to play Mr. Conservative (to get Republican votes) and to appeal to the worst fears of rednecks, anti-illegal immigration zealots, and xenophobes who are sick and tired of the Brown Tide (that means Latinos) that has swept into El Lay over the past 10 to 15 years.

Hahn has accused Villaraigosa of being pro-gangs, pro-drugs, anti-police, and just about anything Jimmy felt he could get away with in the campaign. And his handlers, all veterans of the political wars, knew Hahn could get away with a lot because the timid and in some cases, politically correct, media would fail to challenge him.

Villaraigosa, who took a licking from Hahn four years ago and was slow to respond to attacks, or in some cases just failed to respond, took a more aggressive approach this time. He had the benefit of the federal and county grand juries conducting proctologic exams of Hahn’s administration, and the fact that several Hahn deputy mayors have resigned in shame, along with two very prominent commissioners who also exited quickly out the back door.

But the one thing Antonio Villaraigosa has NOT been able or willing to do is to call a spade a spade. If, in fact, Antonio were to nail Jimmy for his intonations that the ties to gangs, crime, and drugs are all designed to bring out the worst in some people, the ANTI-Mexican vote, he would be crucified by the media for crossing the line that NO ONE is allowed to cross.

The media DOES NOT like anyone like Villaraigosa raising a topic that the media then is unwilling to cover. And the penalty for crossing that line is that the media will downplay or ignore the validity of his claim, but just as quickly, give credence to any retort from the Hahn camp. That’s what happened to Villaraigosa when he snapped back at Hahn for trying to demonize him by tying him to gangs, drugs, and the ACLU, which Villaraigosa once headed locally.

The media immediately gave Hahn cover. And when Hahn felt there was even more slime available below the L.A. sewer system, the media even gave him cover as he accusingly suggested Villaraigosa had been on the wrong side of the law 29 years ago when he defended his mother’s honor from a man who tried to assault her. While a misdemeanor charge was filed, Antonio was never convicted and the circumstances of the case eventually exonerated him in the court of public opinion as well.

Perhaps the worst result of Hahn’s race-baiting was that some elements of the African-American community openly attacked the notion that “a Mexican mayor” would be bad for Blacks. Hahn pimped off that fear by meeting with Black leaders in a struggle to win back the support he lost in that community after he fired Bernard Parks as Chief of Police, breaking his word to African-Americans that he would keep the 36-year LAPD veteran in place.

There are still many in the African-American community who openly express fears that “a Mexican mayor will only help Mexicans at the expense of Blacks”, as one prominent Black has erroneously and ignorantly predicted. This divide and conquer approach by the “anti-Mexican” camp has worked in many pockets of the Black community, but it will fail in the end, because Villaraigosa is a proven commodity in bring people of different communities together to solve problems.

But the “anti Mexican” mantra from Hahn’s Black supporters has also been blamed for the continuing hostility in schools and in the streets between L.A.’s ethnic youth. There’s an old adage to “be careful what you ask for because you just may get your wish” and that seems to be coming true in other parts of the mixed ethnic communities of South L.A. and around the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Hahn’s worst fears about Mexicans (and other Latino groups) have become reality. After recent fights among Latinos and Blacks at Jefferson High, lucid and non-political parents from both groups have coalesced behind Villaraigosa.

Another unintended consequence of Hahn’s conquer and divided strategy is that Villaraigosa and former mayoral candidate Bernard Parks have taken their Mutual Admiration Society show on the road in a very public way. On Cinco de Mayo, the celebration of a small band of Mexican soldiers defeating a French expeditionary force in the early 1800’s, rumors circulated that there would be a war between Latino and Black students in many L.A. schools.

To counter those rumors, Villaraigosa and Parks teamed up with Black and Latino parents to encourage students to go to school and assure them that the two ethnic groups have many more things upon which they agree than they have differences to exploit. This is more proof that Hahn’s divisive approach has failed and perhaps more validity to the polling numbers showing Villaraigosa beating the incumbent mayor by a margin of two to one.

It was the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, who taught us that “you can fool some of the people some of the time, and most of the people most of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Jim Hahn has tried to violate that axiom by trying to fool all the voters into thinking the more liberal Villaraigosa is the death knelt for L.A.

Jim Hahn has tried to play off his father’s support of and popularity with, the African-American community over the elder Hahn’s many years as an L.A. City Councilman and L.A. County Supervisor. But the proverbial Jimmy apple appears to have fallen quite far from the Kenny Hahn tree. Election Day is truly going to be Judgment Day for L.A. politics.

In an ironic twist of fate, perhaps it is an East L.A. Mexican-American, who has suffered the lifelong slings and arrows of being a minority, who will turn his success as a state legislator, Assembly speaker, and Eastside Councilman into a badly-needed L.A. coalition of people of all colors and backgrounds whose only hope and goal is for a better Los Angeles.

In accomplishing that, history will show Antonio Villaraigosa took all the disrespect Jimmy Hahn had to offer and turned that despicable negativity into positive action and unification that will take Los Angeles to new and productive heights of unimaginable success.

As for Jim Hahn, he’ll have plenty of time after the election to contemplate how he’ll try to fool the state and federal juries pondering his fate when all the corruption investigations are completed and indictments are handed down in what history will note as the most corrupt Los Angeles city municipal administrations in more than 75 years.