Political corruption does not take a summer break and Calpeek is here to bring you the latest. Let’s start in the Central Valley: the Fresno County District Attorney has charged Fresno City Council President Nelson Esparza with one count of attempted extortion and one count of violating the Fresno City Charter. Esparza allegedly told the City Attorney not to work with certain councilmembers or he would be fired. Esparza has denied the accusations and believes he will be exonerated. An arraignment date has been set for September 20.
Further north, the City of Sacramento has launched an investigation into the residency of Councilmember Sean Loloee. Loloee is accused of not living in the home where he is registered to vote. His wife owns a $1.4 million home outside of the City of Sacramento. In June, reporters with the Sacramento Bee visited his home “multiple” times and spoke with neighbors. According to the reporting, someone rents Loloee’s home, and neighbors don’t believe Loloee lives there. Loloee refutes the accusations; Calpeek can find no reporting that indicates Loloee has shown anyone the inside of his residence proving that he lives there. This month, the City issued a code violation against Loloee for having unpermitted structures on the property at which he claims to live.
And now for an update on the continuing saga of Los Angeles City Council District 10: who is actually representing the over 250,000 residents? Former L.A. City Councilmember*, former Assemblymember, former State Senator, former L.A. County Supervisor, and now suspended L.A. City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas is not representing the constituents. After his 20-count federal indictment alleging conspiring with a USC Dean to get his son a job, the Council voted to suspend Ridley-Thomas. The Council then voted to appoint former Assemblymember and former L.A. City Councilmember Herb Wesson as an interim “caretaker”. Ridley-Thomas’ supporters went to court last week and received a temporary win. According to the L.A. Times, a L.A. County Superior Court judge ruled Wesson is not allowed to perform the duties of a Councilmember. The judge’s ruling still leaves questions, as did her previous rulings, but maybe we will find clarity at the next hearing on August 16.
When Wesson took over the Council seat, he fired Ridley-Thomas’ Chief of Staff and installed a different person who will now “run” the office while the Wesson and Ridley-Thomas camps battle on.
*Ridley-Thomas served on the L.A. City Council from 1991-2002 and was elected again in 2020.