Column: In OC, hating LA is an obsession that comes with the hashtag
Orange County Dist. Atti. Todd Spitzer showed up at our meeting last week with a busted upper lip. A shaving-cut razor, he admitted shyly, a deep razor that had clogged up enough that Spitzer winced a little as he sipped coffee.
It wasn’t the self-inflicted wound I was interested in, though.
In front of us was a folder with a press release for Spitzer’s re-election campaign that featured a hashtag he invented: #NoLAinOC.
“Look how beautiful it is on the banner,” the 61-year-old father of two said proudly at one point in our hour-plus chat. His finger brushed the last three letters of his last name, where the slogan was.
Spitzer didn’t like it when I called him juvenile.
“I’m not a ‘caveman’ prosecutor,” he insisted, referring to the self-proclaimed moniker of ’90s OC GOP members who continue to define the county’s peculiar politics. “Well, that’s probably how I was trained. Yes, but I have evolved.
I’ve admitted he’s at least better than his predecessor, Tony Rackauckas, whom Spitzer defeated in 2018 following a jailhouse whistleblower scandal that overturned dozens of criminal convictions and over which the US Department of Justice is still investigating.
But Spitzer’s weak salsa hashtag, I continued, was the latest entry in a decades-long obsession by Orange County residents with slamming LA as Sodom while portraying OC as a perpetual Eden.
It was a line used in 1936, when then-Orange County Sheriff Logan Jackson accused Angeleno “agitators” of inspiring Mexican orange pickers to go on strike that he ruthlessly crushed. It was a tactic used in the 1950s, when middle-class Mexican American families tried to integrate schools only to see white parents fight them all the way to the courts.
The spirit of #NoLAinOC is something Orange County politicians inveighed against during the Watts Rebellion, during the 1992 The LA riots, and in recent years, as homelessness has exploded in Southern California. The civic insult even surfaced in Anaheim recently, when the city cracked down on street taco vendors after responding to public complaints that included “please don’t let Anaheim become East Los Angeles or Compton”.
Your campaign slogan sounds like a racist dog whistle, I told Spitzer. He immediately opposed it.
“It’s about educating people,” retorted the first term prosecutor.
And the lessons he wants us to know? This Los Angeles is less safe than Orange County due to LA County Dist’s leftist policies. Atti. George Gascon. Spitzer’s opponent in this year’s DA race, Pete Hardin, is a Gascón clone whose primary adviser was Gascón’s spokesman in San Francisco. A victory for Hardin, in Spitzer’s world, would destroy the Orange County paradise he has defended so diligently in his 30 years as a politician.
Oh and he insists that #NoLAinOC is not an insult to Los Angeles.
” I love the ! Spitzer said with a sincere smile. It’s a sentiment the Montebello native expressed in some form at least three other times during our conversation. “I studied there. I went to UCLA. I was a cop there. … There’s culture and great food and tremendous diversity and great culture, museums and libraries and just great stuff.
“But I can’t stand what’s going on there,” he continued. “I don’t want that to happen here.”
#NoLAinOC caused rolled his eyes through OC and beyond, and elicited the same response: How stupid. How aggro.
“Why doesn’t he talk about the issues he’s facing in OC?” said Hardin, a former Orange County prosecutor. He pointed out how Spitzer’s office is facing multiple lawsuits from its own prosecutors who allege a senior executive sexually harassed them, and Spitzer has done little to stop the abuse. “He’s more about LA crime. Maybe he should move to LA and run there.”
Square-jawed, well-groomed, charming and tireless, Spitzer — who has never lost an election in a career that has included stints as a school counselor, OC supervisor, state assemblyman and now DA — is one of Southern California’s most frustrating politicians. As someone who’s covered him off and on for 20 years, he’s always struck me as a middle-aged Eagle Scout who really wants to do good, but just can’t earn all his badges – because that he must always put out his own fires.
He’s a conservative who has long antagonized local Republicans by blasting unethical party members and who told me the US Capitol insurrection on January 6 last year left him “disgusted of what my party has become, just like the way people try to explain themselves” – yet he remains in the GOP.
He’s a top prosecutor who released a statement last year saying ‘we as a society have prosecuted people of color differently’ and admits his office ‘may have consumed’ a glass of social justice Kool-Aid now available at all DA offices. at national scale. But when I said that some of his policies — hiring more women and minority prosecutors, going after neo-Nazis, creating mental health and recidivism reduction units — made him look like a prosecutor progressive, Spitzer said people like that should be called “regressive.” “, then took credit for coming up with this bad pun.
He appeared on Fox News and other right-wing news outlets to blast Gascón, but later joined LADA’s reform alliance of progressive California district attorneys and said he would have lunch with Gascón “in two seconds” because “I would love to see this guy succeed.
Spitzer is the same guy who speaks fondly of his time as an English teacher at Roosevelt High in Boyle Heights and Schurr High in Montebello, then says in the same breath, “I’m trying to say there’s a very clear line between what is happening in Orange County, and what is happening in LA”
Spitzer wants to pass himself off as an informed truth-teller, but he really believes in the exceptionalism of Orange County, as absurd a cult as there is left in Southern California. We’ve never been better than our neighbors to the north, especially at a time when the same issues that plague LA are very present in OC
We’re a county that believes homelessness — up 41% since Spitzer took office — only exists in Santa Ana, where cities gutted their homeless for decades until this have a federal judge tell them to take it down. Statistics from the US Department of Justice show that aggravated assaults, auto thefts and burglaries in Orange County increased significantly from 2019 to 2020, the latest year for which the federal government has complete statistics.
Spitzer claimed that Los Angeles and San Francisco have seen the greatest net migration of any city in California right now, largely due to progressive ADs, and that Orange County has the lowest rate. of all counties. “People appreciate what I’m fighting for,” he said. “That’s why they want to live here.”
Still, a December study by the UC-based California Policy Lab showed Orange County lost more residents to net migration than Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. Statistics from the California Department of Finance show that the percentage of people who left LA County from 2020 to 2021 – 0.9% – is only a tenth of a percentage point higher than that of Orange County. . And Irvine — where Spitzer said Los Angeles residents “all come here from there” — lost a higher percentage of its population over the same period as the City of Angels.
Towards the end of our conversation, Spitzer dabbed his wound lip for the umpteenth time (it never bled) and looked at me with another smile. He really, really wasn’t an Orange County lunatic. Why, his liberal family even stopped buying grapes during the UFW boycott!
“You’re going to have a really hard time putting me in that box,” Spitzer said with a laugh, “because I’m not that person.”
Well, I don’t need to put someone in a box when they so often do it themselves. Unnecessarily.
Like one person letting another person rent out so much real estate in their mind – like obsessed Orange County politicians do it over and over and over again.