Compton Corruption and Political Predators – We’ve been robbed

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Despite Compton’s rich history, its reputation of corruption and scandal is one of the worst worldwide. No matter where you are in the world it’s likely that you’ve heard of Compton. Most people’s idea of Compton lies somewhere between Boyz n the Hood and prodigy rappers but the truth is, Compton is SO much more.

Nevertheless, whether you really know Compton as a gem or not, since 2014, the Southern California community has been ranked as the state’s most “financially distressed” city again and again. Though the city council has continuously tried to dispute this ranking (with no actual proof of the contrary), there is one fact that cannot be argued against: the people of Compton deserve better. 

Even as I type this article, we currently have a seated Councilman fighting three separate trials, two of which are criminal. A councilwoman who has stepped down with no warning and an immediate resignation, and our assistant city manager that has been with the city for over 15 years resigning suddenly shortly after. Time and time again Compton has continued to be a city in political peril.

How did we get here?

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You may be surprised to learn of the great lengths that individuals and entities went through to ensure that Hub City would never reach the heights of economic growth & self-sufficiency, the way Black Wall Street had done decades before.

A 1970s article titled “Compton—a Self-Sufficiency Test for Black Leadership, Other Majority Negro Cities Wait and Watch” outlines the significance of the success of the “Black City” and how it could serve as a template to show other communities of color how to be sovereign and self-sustained.  

“But if they fail, a great many people will share the consequences….The bell will also toll From Oakland in the West to Newark, NJ in the East, and in each of several other important cities destined in the near future to become predominately black.” 

This is during a time when Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated, and J Edgar Hoover was still the Director of FBI, who’s model was “to disrupt, discredit and destroy,” Black politicians, leaders, and political organizations. 

The success of White supremacy across the nation was dependent on Compton being the model for bad government. For this model to be successful, the city had to embody every negative stereotype that could be associated.

Compton had to fail. And fail it did.

Political Corruption in Compton Runs Deep. 

One of the primary factors contributing to the distress facing Compton lies with the politicians. The Hub City sits directly in the heart of LA County’s “Corridor of Corruption”, and has continuously fallen victim to election fraud, political corruption, and bad government. 

It is speculated that the FBI’s counterintelligence program had been leading the City of Compton down the corridor of corruption since 1973 when COINTELPRO first took interest in Doris Davis’ run for Mayor against Douglas Dollarhide. Whispers of kickbacks and corruption swirled through City Hall all the way through the crack epidemic where Compton’s urban dream turned into a nightmare. 

The bad behavior was carried into the new millennia with years of national headlines for extortion, bribery, misappropriating funds, pot holes, poor ethics, and just being incompetent crooks. City leaders continued to fall into the stereotypes that were laid out before them. With the most notable arrest in 2003 when Mayor Omar Bradley, the city manager and 3 council members were arrested for misappropriating tax funds.  That was followed by the 2017 scandal when former Deputy Treasurer Salvador Galvan pleaded guilty to stealing more than $3.7 million of Compton city funds. 

Most decisions that affect the residents of Compton take place in the city council. And, unfortunately, the political corruption here continues to run rampant. Just last year, in 2021, our beloved city made headlines once again when a witness came forward to formally report election fraud. 

The sheer volume of criminals representing this city is concerning. It begs the question: How does so much corruption continue to emerge when our political system is designed to produce good government?

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New Activists are emerging, eager to make change and reclaim the city with new vision.  

Business owner and community activist Andre Spicer ran his campaign with a platform to turn Compton back into the national model for municipal services but reportedly lost to Incumbent Isaac Galvan in the city’s June 1, 2021, general election by just one vote, 855-854 

But the election wasn’t valid. Days after the election it was reported that the corruption had been witnessed firsthand. Kimberly Chaouch, who was also eventually charged with Conspiracy to Commit Election Fraud, formally recorded the disturbing details about how she was instructed to vote for Isaac Galvan and Emma Sharif, even though she didn’t live in Compton. 

Chaouch’s report was groundbreaking. Election fraud had been rumored in Compton for years, but the proof could never be found. 

Until now. 

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In the same 2021 election, the councilwoman for District 4, Emma Sharif, decided to run for Compton’s mayor. She defeated businessman and realtor Christian Reynaga, who was on track to being the cities first Latino Mayor by just 218 votes and leaving her council seat vacant. 

This wasn’t a problem, promised Mayor Sharif, as there would be an application and interview process to select the right person for the job. But the promise was quietly abandoned, and in late July, she made a motion to appoint Lillie Darden to take her seat. 

The motion was seconded by Galvan and resulted in the current representation of Lillie Darden as the 4th district councilwoman. 

When Political Leaders Become Criminals.. Foxes Guard the Henhouse

Just two months after the election, on August 16, 2021, Councilman Isaac Galvan was arrested and charged with Conspiracy to Commit Election Fraud and Attempted Bribery. Five others were arrested alongside him, including Kimberly Chaouch and Jace Dawson, who also ran for council in the 2021 Primary Election. 

According to the County’s District Attorney, at least three improper ballots were counted in the runoff election. Like Chaouch, Barry Reed, and Toni Morris have already taken plea deals admitting to illegally voting in an election outside of their residence. 

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s criminal complaint quotes from numerous text messages between Jace Dawson and Isaac Galvan which appear to make the case that the two wanted to collect enough votes to ensure that Galvan held onto his council seat following the June 1 election.

May 21 (Galvan): “Are you home? I want to drop off some ballots and I’m picking up some more tomorrow.”

Galvan sends Dawson a link to an agenda for the May 25 City Council meeting. 

At that meeting, Galvan moved to appoint Dawson to the city’s Taxpayers committee, and the appointment was approved by a council vote of 3-1 over the objection of then-Mayor Aja Brown.

May 23 (Dawson): “We got 4 more ballots today.”

(Galvan): “You the man.”

According to prosecutors, the two met later that day at City Hall.

May 26, (Dawson): “Got more people to vote. Also another Ballot … need three more lost ballot forms. … Just tracked down my neighbor who moved going to take her this paper that’s another Ballot. So I only have one empty sheet left.”

On May 28, prosecutors said, Dawson sent Galvan the Long Beach address of a woman who he said, “needs a paper ballot.”

Residents living in Compton have continuously demanded Isaac Galvan’s resignation. Outraged by his actions, they are insistent on being represented by who was actually voted for. 

Residents in the second district took immediate action by forming a “D2 Coalition.” Organizing and mobilizing, they insisted that they voted for change with Spicer. The coalition continues to have block club meetings with community leaders and residents keeping each other informed on the trial as well as working to move the city forward despite their current lack of representation. 

Nevertheless, Galvan continues to sit on the council seat for the 2nd district, making decisions for the residents of Compton, and contributing to the corruption of the California government. 

Due to the councils failed motion to censor or strip Isaac Galvan of his political power, and the communities’ relentless effort and outcry, opposing candidate Andre Spicer and his Attorney Fred Woocher filed an election contest to remove Isaac Galvan from the council and are requesting a judge appoint Spicer as the 2nd district elected official. 

The trial began March 21, 2022, and concluded the afternoon of March 22, 2022, despite Galvan’s attempt to delay the trial with claims of having Covid-19. Galvan was represented by former Carson Mayor, Albert Robles while witnesses took the stand outlining the details of Isaac Galvan’s poorly disguised attempt at defrauding city residents. 

Judge Michelle Williams now has 10 court calendar days from March 22, 2022 to make her decision. 

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Trouble with Isaac Galvan has Gone on for Years

Isaac Galvan’s arrest in 2021 wasn’t his first run-in with the law. Just one year before the election, in November 2020, his home was raided by the FBI in connection to a cannabis corruption investigation. 

Three years before that, in 2017, Galvan was subpoenaed to testify in grand jury proceedings against the former mayor of Maywood, Ramon Medina. The charges related to corruption and bribery, but Isaac invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to testify. 

This is all in addition to the 2018 drunken brawl he was involved with at the CCCA Conference, and the racial and homophobic slurs he was accused of using against colleagues in 2016. Put simply, Galvan has been publicly disparaging Compton headlines for years. 

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The Consequences of a Disconnected Community

One of the foundations of a democratic society is the voting process. It is believed that granting all residents a voice is an effective way of curbing corruption and establishing a good government. If this is true, then a major problem lies within Compton’s voting records. 

Though 51% of the 94,000 residents are registered to vote, a shocking 6%-8% typically show up on Election Day. In the city’s 2021 Mayoral race, the city had its largest voter turnout with a mere 8,701 votes cast, which allegedly included hundreds of illegitimate or deceased names. 

This was an improvement from the November 2015 election where 69,688 registered voters authorized a failing school district to increase its debt by up to $350 million through issuing general obligation bonds. Approved by just 587 votes. 2,762 to 2,175 opposed. 

Less than 5,000 people went to the polls even though all Compton homeowners would feel the weight of this financial burden when they received their Property Tax Bill. 

Decisions are being made at the polls. Decisions that have power over your day-to-day life. 

The Power Behind Compton’s School Board

I know many eyes begin to glaze over at the thought of attending school board and city council meetings. However, it’s important to know the true power that these people have over your day. Decisions about your finances, your children’s education, and even your ability to generate wealth are made at this level. 

Did you know?

A background in education is not required to sit on the Board of Trustees. This means that uneducated, inexperienced individuals are given the power to make decisions regarding the education of the children of Compton. Sadly, our latest test scores reflect this dynamic.

Despite this, the school district receives approximately $340 million annually, which is required to be allotted appropriately. Surprisingly, students throughout the city have reported horrific conditions, including a lack of toilet paper and soap in the bathrooms. Some are even missing doors on the stalls for privacy. As a result, high rates of UTIs have been reported in the area due to children holding their urine all day. 

It sounds like a horror movie, but these conditions were made possible by the people you voted to represent you and your children. When residents refuse to participate, corrupt politicians run wild. And, on the local level, the effects have been devastating. 

The Future of Compton Lies with its Residents

The true state of Compton’s political environment is unsettling and terrifying. New Activists across generation lines are becoming more involved as embarrassing headlines continue to drive residents to take their city back to the suburban dream it was once known for. 

It can be difficult to see all the facts in black and white. However, it’s up to the people of Compton to stand up and demand a change, or we will continue down the same path of corruption. 

There’s Power in Numbers

The answer is clear: Compton needs more civic engagement. This is one of the very best ways to curb corruption and ensure that the residents remain properly represented. A voter turnout that sits around 10% just isn’t enough. It’s a lot easier to rig or steal an election when no one’s watching. The top actionable ways for Compton residents to become more involved include:

  • Voting: This is the best way for residents to ensure their voice is heard and also helps prevent election fraud. 
  • Supporting local businesses: Supporting other residents of Compton keeps money circulating within the city, which helps generate more wealth. 
  • Staying up to date on politics: Join a community Face Book group! Do you know your politicians? Do you know when the next election is? In order to get involved, you have to know what’s actually going on. 
  • Start/Join a block club: Another great way to ensure that everyone has their voice heard (including those ineligible to vote) is by starting a block club where you can discuss important issues within your community. 

The best thing you can do is care. We are our community. What we put into it is what it will be. So, it’s up to us. 

Try to remember that just because you don’t take an interest in politics, doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you. As Compton residents can attest, ultimately these names or “politicians”, are people who determine the kind of life you live and the price you will pay for it. We represent the standards we’ve set and what we continue to allow. 

“The city government the blacks inherited was weak, but it is their island of black sovereignty, and they know their futures lie there. They must make it work.”  

-William J. Drummond, 1970

 

Article written by: Alysia Rivers

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