Hernandez at Crossroads
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Hernandez showed courage in his public apology and admission of drug and alcohol addiction at a Tuesday press conference at the criminal courthouse. But it is not enough to express regrets and seek “the forgiveness of those who I have harmed because of my illness.”
We recognize that the councilman has represented the 1st District with energy and commitment. Clearly he is popular; he has been responsive to the needs of his constituents. For instance, under the program called New Economics for Women he brought to the district two apartment buildings, Casa Loma and Centro de Nios, with 285 units of rental housing for single parents with children.
But Hernandez’s accomplishments in his district are not at issue now. His achievements honor him but do not absolve him of the crimes of which he is accused. It’s simply not plausible to commit a crime, admit it and expect to go on as before. Crimes have consequences. Councilman Hernandez must face this squarely.
He may be forgiven but, in our opinion, he cannot continue to hold civic office with this stain on his record. Hernandez should consider the harm that holding onto his council seat could do to the people he represents.
The councilman should resign.
He has admitted using cocaine. This may hold an element of illness, but the councilman knew what he was doing. He broke the law. He broke faith with his supporters and his city.
Hernandez says he will return to his council office on Oct. 7. Three weeks later, he’s expected to enter a plea of guilty to cocaine possession and undergo a specified period of treatment. That means he would be acting as a public servant before his treatment had been completed. That’s not right.
Having broken the relationship that must exist between a council member and constituents, he could not in good faith confront the drug dealers who plague the Pico-Union area in his district. What kind of message would he be sending to the young people in the district’s schools? The councilman must weigh these things.
“I have been a bad example. Now I am going to be a good example,” Hernandez said on the courthouse steps. Redemption is a fine goal, but to achieve it a dignified resignation is the proper start. It seems too late to be promising a better tomorrow.
His time may come again in politics. This is not it.