Claremont Insider: Hilda Solis of El Monte Tabbed to be US Labor Secretary

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hilda Solis of El Monte Tabbed to be US Labor Secretary

Hilda Solis, Congresswoman from the 32nd District in the San Gabriel Valley, has been named nominee by President-elect Barack Obama to be the next Secretary of Labor.

There's a local angle to this story. Claremont City Councilmember Sam Pedroza owes his political career to Solis. Pedroza, who worked for Solis, rose within the ranks of the San Gabriel Valley Democratic Party partly as a result of Solis' patronage.

That relationship with Solis is what landed Pedroza in the hot seat as the person spearheading the effort by the San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC) to build the controversial $30 million Discovery Center on the San Gabriel River in Whittier. While she was still in the State Senate, Solis sponsored the legislation that created the RMC.

The irony of the Discovery Center project is that opponents say construction of the proposed interpretive nature center will end up destroying much of what it is supposed it pay homage to. And, as we've noted previously, we suspect that Pedroza's ties to the RMC are what led the agency to funnel $850,000 in grant money that was supposed to go to park projects in underserved urban areas to Claremont's Padua Park, another habitat-destroying project sponsored by the conservancy.

Just another example of the power of patronage.

Labor Secretary-select Solis graduated from Cal Poly Pomona, worked in the Carter White House, and has been elected to the Rio Hondo Community College District, the State Assembly and Senate, and is serving her fourth term in Congress. Whew. Makes you wonder what you have been doing with your life.

Still, we did note that with all that star quality, Solis lives, according to her official biography, in humble El Monte. Here's a little description of our neighbor town to the west: