Return of Richard Alatorre

Alatorre coverThe cover story in CityBeat charts the "terrible rise, fall, and slow resurrection" of the former Eastside power broker Richard Alatorre. Chip Jacobs writes that Alatorre could have been a contender, but for the cocaine, the unreported cash, the house arrest and the squabble over custody of a young girl. He was one of the smartest on the city council and the candidate for mayor who Ricard Riordan most feared in 1993, Jacobs says.

Had a few things gone differently, it might’ve been Richard Jose Alatorre taking the oath as Los Angeles’ first Latino mayor in modern times, not the slick, cherubic-faced Villaraigosa (should he unseat Jim Hahn May 17). Had Alatorre not tried to house a little girl who lost her mother nine years ago, some grand building might now bear his name.

Destiny, however, had other ideas. His storybook ascent from barrio kid to Hispanic political royalty collapsed in soap-operatic disgrace in 2001 with a graft conviction and drug allegations. He was banished to the Siberia of house arrest, his legacy tarnished no matter the heartfelt tributes from senators and do-gooders.

Should Villaraigosa need a primer on toughness, the man who has been his unofficial campaign consigliere can go one better. He knows history can be viciously ironic.

Alatorre, now 63 and preaching the AA line, says he makes more money than ever as a government consultant. He's also in the Villaraigosa tent: "I recognize Antonio’s shortcomings, but he has the best chance of getting done what L.A. needs." On Hahn: "I go back to when Jimmy first ran for City Controller, and I had the distinct impression he fell into politics. It’s not where his gut is...If you asked his ex-aides, they’d say he’s lazy. He doesn’t live and breathe politics like his sister does." On Chief Bratton: "He’s so far up Jimmy Hahn’s butt, and Jimmy is so far up his, neither of them can see."

Also in CityBeat: Assemblyman Keith Richman, the phantom Mayor of the Valley, disses Hahn and talks up Villaraigosa.

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