Sierra Madre's old McMansion enabling nemesis Richard McDonald has his fingers in other pies as well. Lawsuit Richie (as he is jocularly known in some of the finest circles) sent a letter to the City of Arcadia a few weeks back. A crusading civil rights advocate when there is enough money in it for him, Richie is now representing a group demanding district representation in Arcadia because there is only a single Chinese-American sitting on that City Council.
This in a city where 60% of the population is Asian American. Richie's letter claims 50% of Arcadia's registered voters are Chinese American. However, the data shows only 1/3 of registered voters identify themselves as Asian American.
That's the thing about racial gerrymandering, of course. Sometimes it really is about people not having it together enough to actually vote. After all, local fun figures like Bart Doyle and Joe Mosca once pushed for something similar for the Pasadena Unified Board of Ed, and it still remains the Caucasian bastion it always was. With the only remotely Hispanic BOE member coming from its whitest bailiwick, Sierra Madre.
The Voter Rights Act was created to hopefully help low-income, minority citizens. Folks deemed underrepresented in various governments because they don't have the cash to support a candidate of their own ethnic persuasion. The easy assumption being minority candidates would never have the finances themselves to pay for a successful campaign. Even in Arcadia, where the minority in question is the majority and has lots of cash.
Richard McDonald, however, comes from a far more moneyed universe. He is an attorney for developers and has never before represented anyone's civil rights. Except now of course, when it is economically and politically convenient. He has never before represented a group for violations of the Voters’ Rights Act, either. He has only represented developers.
So which developer is he representing in Arcadia? Singpoli, aka Singpoli Pacifica, aka Park Place, aka Kin Hui. Kin Hui is the developer behind the Dusit Hotel in Pasadena. The Chinese American Equalization Association has some tactile ties to Kin Hui. They’re incorporated and use Singpoli's headquarters as their address. They also hold their press conferences there.
Why push for racially gerrymandered districts? It might be because their house coffee chaser, Councilmember Sho Tay, is politically threatened by the anti-McMansion Saving Arcadia movement. An organization that trounced Sho's ethnically diverse cronies in the most recent city elections.
Kin Hui, through his EB-5 Visa Regional Center, donated $10,000 to Sho Tay’s campaign in 2014. Mike Soo, a Singpoli board member, also donated $4,000 to Sho Tay’s 2014 campaign. As I am sure you've heard, there is plenty of green in Green Cards.
EB-5 Visa Regional Centers fare better with elected officials on their side. Kin Hui hoped that Arcadia City Councilmember Sho Tay might become the Mayor of Arcadia and then use his title to help promote his regional center, InvestLA in China. Those hopes were set back a bit when Bob Harbicht was denied his umpteenth term on the City Council by the voters.
Oh, and as we saw with John Wuo and the GemCoins debacle, the title of Mayor does go a long ways with the folks on mainland China.
Perhaps Kin Hui is worried that Sho Tay (aka: "The Man with the Miss America smile") won’t get re-elected unless there is a racially gerrymandered district for him to safely cocoon in. After all, how many times did Sho have to run for office before he was finally elected? Would it increase Sho Tay’s chances of re-election if he was running from a racially homogenous district?
It might also be about bad blood. The attorney for Saving Arcadia is John McClendon. McClendon represented a group of hotel union workers in a lawsuit against Singpoli/Kin Hui when the Dusit (Does It?) Hotel was approved by the City of Pasadena. This was very controversial in certain circles. Most developers dislike unions even more than they do slow-growthers. They're not big sharers.
The attorney for Singpoli, Richard McDonald, was serving on the Pasadena Planning Commission at the time Singpoli presented its plans. John McClendon is representing the group currently suing the City of Arcadia for CEQA and General Plan violations over that City Council’s approval of a project on 5th Avenue in Arcadia.
Richard McDonald has donated to Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek’s political campaigns as far back as 2009 when Singpoli was first presenting its plans for the Dusit Hotel in Pasadena.
In 2015, McDonald held a fundraiser for now Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek. Tornek was running for the district in which Singpoli’s project was located. Oh, and Tornek used Town and Country Rentals for some of his fundraising events. Town and Country Rentals is owned by Sho Tay’s nephew who is registered to vote out of his home in Arcadia.
One other tantalizing bit of info before we end this post. Down the hall from Richard McDonald's law offices in Pasadena is where Martin Truitt hangs out. Martin, an accountant who likes to run local political efforts (he managed Tornek's campaign), was the fellow who ran the "Yes On UUT" canard here in Sierra Madre (link). The fib-filled utility tax increase initiative that, outside of propping up Sierra Madre's beta-level police department, is now accomplishing none of the things its proponents said it would.
Yes, it is possible to be a pro-tax Republican like Martin Truitt. It is possible to be a Republican anything in the SGV. A long necked strutting giraffe, or even a porcupine. It all depends on whoever happens to be paying at the time.
More on all of this in the many months ahead.