In the past few days, another scandal started to emerge in a small city that is a suburb of Los Angeles: Cudahy. This is the county’s second-smallest city, which is less than one square mile in size but densely populated with almost 24,000 residents-96% of whom are Latino, many of them immigrants.
In the same tradition of other Los Angeles satellite cities that are geographically close, like South Gate, Vernon, Lynwood and most recently, Bell, accusations that sound very familiar keep coming up. There is talk of bribes, election fraud, threats and attacks against possible political challengers. There are stories about cancelled elections for “lack of candidates,” but there is at least one candidate whose vehicle was attacked with a Molotov cocktail. It’s no wonder there were no “candidates” for the elections, allowing for the incumbents to be automatically re-elected.
What is going on in these cities? To begin with, few voters and fewer institutional control mechanisms. Changing and relatively new populations, immigrants who are just starting to fit in or who are unable to vote because they have not become citizens yet. A closed group of government officials exchanging favors and bribes with the same ease with which they receive them, to keep mouths closed or attain accomplices.
A true disaster that, again, begs the question: Why is Cudahy an independent city, when it seems unable to have a minimum of democratic control over its institutions? How many more of these corruption-filled small cities exist in our area? The answers, for now, will be left up in the air.