In September of 2007, I published a story on LatinoLA.com titled "The Hope of Saving a Dying Mural", my 2-part story about a dying 30-year old mural in the Los Angeles community of Highland Park that has received its share of new graffiti and its lack of care and attention by Councilman Huizar and his staff. I would like to share with you its tragic follow-up.
The death of a mural.
When we last left off in early September, I had been speaking with an individual by the name of Paul Habib, an assistant to Councilman Huizar. After hearing the worst of excuses on why responses were never sent back and why the mural is still the way it is, Mr Habib took my name and number and assured me that he would keep me updated with what was going on with the mural. With roughly 2 1/2 months gone by without an update via phone,I would be the one to contact him regarding an update.
On Friday, November 16th, while making my weekly drive to my barber shop, I was both shocked and angered to discover that the mural, located on the At&t building on the corner of Meridian and Avenue 56, was given its worst coating of graffiti ever. Several large gang initials were tagged on the Avenue 56 side of the building, covering roughly 1/4 of that side of the mural. It was a sad day in the history of Highland Park.
Once at home, I immediately emailed Councilman Huizar, Mr. Habib,and Ms. Loera and lashed out at all of them for having done nothing about the mural since I first brought it up in late August. I made it clear to all of them that they have practically spit on the faces of every Highland Park resident who has grown up with the mural. I demanded an answer to why I have yet to receive the updates I was promised back in September. Of course within the hour, by no surprise,it was only Mr. Paul Habib who contacted me via email. He requested I send him my phone number so that he can call me with my updates. WAIT A MINUTE! WHAT HAPPENED TO MY NUMBER THAT I GAVE HIM BACK IN SEPTEMBER? Listen to this excuse....according to Mr Habib, my number was in his phone book which was in his car which he currently did not have access to since he was currently using a loaner vehicle.
There are 365 days a year and he is going to tell me that the same day I demand my updates is the same day he can't get to his phone book? I told him he can go ahead and give me a call once he gets access to his phone book. A second time he requested my phone number and a second time I told him he can call me anytime once he gets his phone book.
No one can deny him access to his car which contains his phone book. I then get an email from Mr Tom Topping (Boulevard Sentinel's editor) who requested my number. HMMMM...I wonder why he needs it? When attempting to explain to him what happened to the mural in the form of a paragraph, his only response was,"I don't plan on reading your email".
"If you don't want to give me the number, tell Mr. Habib yourself".
That same day,I was reading the California section of the LA Times when a story caught my attention. It was a story about the local SO-CALLED leaders of LA and the raises they were given. Some accepted their raise while others refused. Councilman Huizar was one of two politicians who accepted their raise but vowed to give their part to charity. According to the article, he had yet to figure out who he would give it to.
I then emailed Mr. Habib and made him a challenge. I challenged his boss to give his part to a new fund that would help fix the mural. Since I refused to give him my number and instead suggested he get access to his phone book in order to respond back to both the updates and my challenge, he runs to a fellow co-worker by the name of Mr. Casas and has him request my number via email. LIKE A CRYING BABY RUNNING TO HIS MOMMY.
After requesting once again for my number without responding to my requests, I called Mr. Habib a liar and a coward and told him unless he emails me the response to my updates and the challenge, then our conversations via email were over. A phone call would still be welcomed once he had access to his phone book. Be aware that my refusal to give him my number was done in order to prove he is a liar. I told him I don't tolerate a liar and that I would have commended him had he been honest by admitting he got rid of the number back in September. He only dug a deeper hole by lying about a so-called phone book.
I also made it clear that I would be meeting with a representative of a local publication who also was concerned about the mural. Mr. Ed Rivera of the Arroyo Seco Journal had read my 2-part story on the mural and was interested in meeting up with me for an interview regarding my fight in saving the mural. The meeting was set days before seeing the newly damaged mural.
I warned Mr Habib that this publication would be aware of our online chats, his lies about his phone book, and his refusal to respond on the updates and challenge. No responses by Mr Habib on November 26th. This interview with Mr. Rivera was the step into the right direction....or was it?
Around 1pm on the 26th of November, Mr. Rivera and I were to meet up at Carrow's restaurant across from the old police station and discuss what I have been doing regarding the mural and what little Councilman Huizar has been doing regarding the mural. After waiting in my car for roughly an hour and fifteen minutes, he finally shows up. Somewhat irritated from waiting but relieved, we talked in the restaurant for roughly an hour regarding what has happened since November 16th (the mural, the lies,the phone book, etc.)
He also gave me a copy of what was the rough draft of the story his publication was going to do on the mural in the upcoming December issue of the AS journal. He assured me that bits and pieces of my 2-part story would also be included as well as my updates on what has happened since the 16th. At the end of the meeting,I shook his hand and thanked him for the opportunity.
On Tuesday, December 4th, I picked up the copy of the December issue of the AS Journal at the Highland park library and guess what? NOTHING MENTIONED REGARDING MY STORIES OR UPDATES. The only thing published was the rough draft that he had given me a copy of. This mural may had been on its cover but it was mentioned in maybe 4-5 sentences (roughly no more than 10% of the story). What an insult! What a waste of time on the 26th of November! Why even show up that day?
I told Mr Rivera these comments/questions via email that same day and warned him not to leave messages of any type (phone, email) because I intended on deleted them a.s.a.p..
THE TOWEL HAS BEEN THROWN IN AND THE BATTLE HAS BEEN LOST!!!!!
Nothing may likely save this mural. All the petitions,stories, or celebrities in the world won't come to the rescue. The well-known names whose help I requested in part 2 never responded back. Sid Garcia of KABC did not respond to my multiple requests. Neither did musician Beck, a one time Highland Park resident. Comedian Ernie G, whose website states he responds to all of his emails, forgot to respond to mine. And Tu Ciudad magazine, whose magazine focusing on LA is a magazine I still love, chose to be 2-faces by refusing to help expose a serious tragedy regarding art in LA. Maybe I am just not the typical restaurant or fashion store manager who can offer huge discounts to its editors or writers in exchange for a great story in a Tu Ciudad issue.
As for Jose Huizar....Yeah,somewhere out there, his staff is telling those few concerned individuals the same ol' lies on how he is working on the mural and yeah, he is trying to look good by waving to the people of Highland Park at the recent Christmas parade while sitting aside with his kids and wife (FACT...DID YOU KNOW HIS WIFE, ROCHELLE HUIZAR, WAS THE CO-CHAIRPERSON OF THE "STARS FOR THE ARTS" SHOW FOR THE LA SCHOOL OF MUSIC AND ARTS YET HER HUSBAND CONTINUES TO IGNORE A DYING 30-YEAR PIECE OF ART? PURE HYPOCRITES! SOURCE...LAMUSART.COM).
And sadly for lovers of this mural, he is probably going to get re-elected in 2010 or 2011 or whatever year it is only because he is Latino and/or because Highland Park makes up a small percentage of the district he covers. Boyle Heights, his neighborhood of residence, will strongly support him.
If you look up his site at lacity.org,you will see how he does far too much for that community compared the rest of the communities in his district. And of course he is going to look good on camera when shaking your hand and asking for your vote and of course he's going to sucker you with his ad mentioning the typical "I was born the parents of struggling immigrants" line in order to sucker you into believing that he's the true example of achieving the American dream. But once he is in the door...NOT ONLY WILL HE NOT HAVE TIME FOR YOU BUT YOUR VOICE WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE GOING INTO ONE EAR AND OUT THE OTHER.
FINAL SCORE.....JOSE HUIZAR/TAGGERS....1
PEOPLE OF HIGHLAND PARK....0
William Gallegos was born in Los Angeles in 1971 and currently resides in the San Gabriel Valley. email@example.com