BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
The residents of California’s 43rd State Assembly district are children of misfortune now because of who represents them, Mike Gatto.
Grimy Gatto is a member of the Democratic Party, so, by and large, the Republicans in the district are bound to be dissatisfied with him. Unfortunately, the Democrats in the district also have cause to be dissatisfied with him. As to the Armenian community, the largest to be found in any of California’s 80 assembly districts, the reasons for dissatisfaction are legion.
You’re probably surprised that Democrats are annoyed with a representative of their own party. But a recent example might help you understand why that is. Whether or not you agree with the particular law in question isn’t the point, it is Gatto’s behavior that you’ll find very insulting. Democrats are generally recognized as the advocates of basic animal rights. A proposal to ban an abusive hunting practice came up in the State Senate as SB 1221. Once it passed that chamber and moved to the Assembly for a vote, Gatto had said he’d vote for it.
When the time came, he was nowhere to be found. He had not left the Capitol, otherwise there would have been a record of his departure. One can only assume he hid to avoid voting, motivated by some political calculation. I can just picture Mike cowering in a broom closet as his colleagues cast their votes in a dignified way on the Assembly floor. What kind of person does this? Promise one thing then avoid delivering on the promise by disappearing so he can’t be held accountable. Is this the kind of person who should be representing over 450,000 citizens in the most populous state of the Union?
But that’s not the end of the story. Because of Mike’s “abstention”, the bill did not pass. Of course, he came under tremendous pressure to change his vote, in the form of over 2000 constituent signatures and a letter to the editor from a leader of the Humane Society (the main proponent of the bill) published by the Glendale News Press. He did change his vote when the Assembly revisited the issue. What would you attribute this “change of heart” to, other than the upcoming election? All this happened back in June and July, but still wasn’t the end of the disingenuousness of this Assemblymember.
In August, Gatto was appointed chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee, meaning the bill would pass through his jurisdiction. Amendments had been made to it, as part of an agreement with the bill’s sponsor, so it would have enough votes to pass. Those changes were accepted by the sponsor of the bill in the interests of having it pass. The sponsor pledged not to remove the amendments, otherwise, it would not be allowed to pass. However, the Humane Society opposed those changes. So Grimy Gatto went to work again. Since he knew about the agreement regarding the conditions under which the bill would be allowed to pass, he decided to play games. When the bill came to his committee, he removed the amendments so he would look good to the Humane Society, but knowing full well that under those circumstances, it would not pass. That’s what he really wanted, based on Sacramento scuttlebutt, since a lobbying group had gotten hold of him on this issue. Luckily for the humane society, the chair of the Water, Parks, and Wildlife committee who had set up the agreement let the sponsor off the hook since the sponsor hadn’t broken his promise and abided by his commitments. Rather, the sponsor had become a victim of Gatto’s games. So, happily the bill passed, despite Gatto’s best efforts to kill it.
Now we turn to the third group of voters who have cause to mistrust Mike, the Armenians. Let’s explore an angle that is not likely to be very well known. Mike Gatto is an attorney. Prior to his election, he worked for the noted law firm, Mayer-Brown. In all likelihood, once out of office, he’ll return to his practice there. You’re probably wondering why this relevant.
It turns out that Mayer-Brown is representing the anti-Armenian side in the Movsessian case. In this court case, a German company, referred to as “Victoria”, is refusing to pay the descendants of Armenians to whom it sold life insurance policies. It is fighting to declare unconstitutional the California law that enabled people to go after such deadbeat companies. How far do you think Gatto will go in standing up for this law? Sure, he introduced the legislation that extended it. In a district full of Armenians, politically, he can do nothing else. But he also knows where his bread is buttered. Would you trust this guy on such a sensitive issue?
Would you vote for such a spineless person to represent you in the legislature?