Why I Frustratedly Still Support Joe Bray-Ali for City Council

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Today, the L.A. Weekly quoted me in response to the controversy that has embroiled my friend Joe Bray-Ali’s candidacy for L.A. City Council. I wanted to post somewhere to clarify part of my take on this. The other places where I write about bike stuff (Streetsblog L.A., Bikas, and L.A. Eco-Village) are non-profit (either actual or potential), so I can’t post opinions about political candidates there, so I am doing it at my kinda-backwater catch-all blog here.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bray-Ali’s offensive comments and the ensuing scandal, please read my piece at Streetsblog L.A. last Friday.

Up front, I’ll mention that I’ve been friends with Bray-Ali for more than a decade. I know that he can be a mean-spirited attacker, but he was generally attacking anti-bike folks like City Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Here’s the conclusion of today’s L.A. Weekly article:

Bike activists are split on whether to continue supporting Bray-Ali. The group Bike the Vote rescinded its Bray-Ali endorsement; prominent activists like Damien Newton and Don Ward have done the same. Activist Joe Linton says he’s still supporting Bray-Ali and tries to put a positive spin on the whole affair.

I mainly want to clarify what I meant by what the Weekly calls putting a “positive spin” on this. I don’t and can’t put a positive spin on Bray-Ali’s comments. Bray-Ali’s online comments are offensive. His comments are derogatory to transgender people, blacks, fat people, and others. These comments marginalize and harm people. The comments are not defensible. 

Bray-Ali is running against incumbent Gil Cedillo, whose actions as a councilmember have been profoundly anti-bike, anti-pedestrian, anti-safety and anti-participatory. These positions harm people. Cedillo’s record is also not defensible.

So, in my opinion, there are two candidates in this race who have done offensive indefensible things. As a person who gets around L.A. by bike, I choose to frustratedly continue to support the candidate who, in my opinion, would be less flawed: Bray-Ali. I think that he is the candidate who would best support my personal physical safety. I had actively supported the Bray-Ali campaign, and last week’s revelations have been frustrating, depressing and discouraging.

So, in terms of what the Weekly summarized as trying to “put a positive spin,” here’s the story that I am pretty sure I told the reporter but was not included in the article: I called and spoke with Bray-Ali last Friday, and urged him to get out in front of this. At this point, he has pretty much struck rock-bottom, so he has freedom to do some courageous stuff. I suggested to him to meet with folks who he has offended – such as transgender leaders – and to make commitments to carrying their legislation at the city council – and to challenge Gil Cedillo to do the same. I think that if Bray-Ali would do this in a strong, loud way it could help make something positive come out of a doubly negative council race.

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8 Responses to “Why I Frustratedly Still Support Joe Bray-Ali for City Council”

  1. Jill Reposto Says:

    Here is my problem with the explanation of why Joe should still be supported. Even if one is prepared to forgive and forget the horrible comments on racist forums, what about the taxes?

    Ok lot’s of people have the occasional tax problem. Joe’s is $48,000 at least according to “last time he bothered to open the envelop.” Must be disheartening to owe so much but geez. One has to be quite a procrastinator to sleep every night knowing that this issue lurks, unsettled. The state will negotiate way for tax debtors to make payment arrangements. Apparently, Joe just decided to wait it out ?

    A person with a bit of good sense would have gotten “out of in front of this” BEFORE it predictably blew up in his face. Owing taxes? Forgivable. Being coy about it, not ok. Not arranging a way out in advance taking endorsements, money and the heart-felt work of people supporting a run for public office. Naw.

    JBA may have a good rap and have many a friend but he clearly lacks the key elements of personal accountability and good judgment needed for public official.

    • Erik Griswold Says:

      I am reminded of the Kennedys (Jack, Bobby and Ted) who were terrible womanizers, didn’t support civil rights until shamed into it, and in at least Ted’s case, murdered a person. Did I mention the alcohol and drug use? And yet they are lionized and held up as the example of what one can do in public service.

      • Jill Reposto Says:

        Wow there’s a real stretch- comparing John F. Kennedy to Joe Bray-Ali.

        John Kennedy was a decorated war hero when he was discharged from the Navy in 1945 at the age of 28 after serving 6 years. He was elected to Congress at 30 years old and held office until he was elected to the Senate in 1953 at the age of 37. He served in the Senate until elected President at the age of 42. He graduated from Harvard and wrote some notable books. Such achievements are not the full measure of a person but they do count for something.

        The only comparative between JBA and JFK is what you call “womanizing.”

  2. gargozo Says:

    I can’t see why people won’t realize that Josef was just trolling the trolls. Please read my father’s honest account of Cedillo’ s staff hiring someone to discredit Joe. rocketremney.blogspot.com/2017/04/hardball.html

    • Paul Motschall Says:

      People can’t can’t analyze the words because the forums are too offensive. Joe has a loose sarcastic way about him, and that doesn’t communicate well to a lot of people in this context. Also there are people Joe has offended in the past for calling them out on their BS and so they have no problem casting him as LAs trump. Brains shut down and all they can do is associate Joe with the bigots. They got played and we all are worse off for it.

  3. Nate Baird Says:

    Excuses are not helpful. Real action is needed, instead of the communications flailing JBA’s emails have been doing since this story “broke”. I half-heartedly and very hesitatingly agree that Josef could theoretically still help the District, but only by seriously committing to helping those he’s hurt. Trolling the trolls doesn’t work for politicians that purport to want to pass actual progressive policies. We need collaborative builders in office, not ego centric deflecting apologizers. If I were still a white guy in the district, which I was at one point, I wouldn’t/couldn’t vote for him. It’d destroy good will toward me, and rightfully so. I appreciate and agree with much of your approach, Mr. Joe Linton, but Josef himself needs to make the appeal to those he’s hurt. I like that you went and talked to him. I don’t like that you’re ready to vote for him still. Progressive votes need to count for more. He needs to earn votes. And I wouldn’t promise him mine until he’d done the work that’s needed. If he were able to do that, if those he’s hurt were advocating for voting for him, then I’d consider voting for him. That’s the bar now, in my opinion. And right now, i see absolutely zero chance of him meeting that bar. His initial emails afterward proved his unfitness for office. He ought to double down now on the good he has been capable of. That shop of his needs to be his focus. He’s done good community work there.

    • gargozo Says:

      He did apologize. Did you not see it?

      Also, I feel this recent quote is pertinent:
      “I am very interested in people I totally disagree with. I am interested in oeople who argue their point with 100% commitment. That is where my mind goes, that is what I was doing on these crazy hate-filled sites – exploring the depths of human hate online.

      I am an anthropology degree holder, and I like to see what people are up to. Good, bad, and ugly.

      The LAist article was a complete mischaraterization of who I am and what I said.” -JBA

  4. When a Progressive Community Fails to See Its Own Biases, Bullying and Bigotry Get a Pass – Streetsblog Los Angeles Says:

    […] did not expect to see my own colleague wipe myself and Butler from this community’s map when he argued, without a hint of irony, that Bray-Ali had really only attacked anti-bike people […]

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