Amid ugly acrimony, state Senate approves Isadore Hall for ALRB post

Amid heated allegations of state cronyism and racism, the California state Senate voted along party lines to confirm Isadore Hall to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB).

The bitter floor statements featured those who viewed Hall’s appointment to ALRB as an effort by Governor Jerry Brown to keep a political crony financially viable.

Last year, Hall lost a congressional campaign to Rep. Nanette Barragán. A Democrat from Los Angeles, Barragán called Hall a crook.

Critics of Hall’s ALRB appointment, led by Senator Andy Vidak (R), wanted the Senate to investigate multiple accounts that Hall committed a crime earlier this year by intimidating and threatening witnesses scheduled to testify against Hall’s confirmation.

Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D) prevented senators from investigating the allegations.

Hall did not deny the allegations that he threatened witnesses. The Los Angeles Times editorial board called Hall’s ALRB appointment “shameful,” and a symptom of what it called the “loathsome” system of cronyism in Sacramento.

Hall’s supporters blocked investigation and accused critics of racism

  • Senator Toni Atkins (D) claimed to be concerned that Hall didn’t know about agricultural labor, but that she’s now pleased with him. She praised the Senate leadership for giving “Senator Hall an opportunity to reach out and meet with the farming community and to try and allay their concerns. And, I understand that he has followed through on that commitment.” (Hall continues to block anti-UFW farmworkers on Twitter.)
  • Senator Ben Hueso (D) accused Hall’s critics of being motivated by racism and hate, and did not discuss the merits of the allegations against Hall. “I’ve seen some of the attacks that have been waged upon Senator Hall in the media. And, I have to say with lots of disappointment in my community, that I have never seen comments and statements and a campaign waged against a person of this body that is more racially motivated than that,” he said.
  • Senator Kevin De Leon (D) called Hall his “friend,” and used his position as president pro tempore of the Senate to protect Hall from determining the truth of the witness threat allegations against him. “It is not a practice to review or investigate barroom conversations,” he said.
  • Senator Holly Mitchell (D) made light of Hall’s criminal threats and intimidations against witnesses, calling them a private matter. GV Wire quoted her as saying, “the actions and statements you make as adults out of the building on your own time; whether it is witnessed by colleagues or not.”
  • Senator Nancy Skinner (D) defended Hall against multiple witness accounts that he had intimidated and threatened witnesses before they testified against him. She called the accounts “hearsay” but was not interested in having them investigated.

Hall’s opponents rejected state cronyism behind Hall appointment

  • Senator Joel Anderson (R) said that allegations of criminal activity against Hall follow a string of other senators who have gone to prison for wrongdoing. He said, “this body already has a black cloud over it, having seen in my short time in the legislature three senators go to jail because of lack of ethics.” (Those convicted senators were Leland Yee, Ronald Calderon, and Roderich Wright).)
  • Senator Patricia Bates (R) said the Senate should delay consideration of Hall’s confirmation in order to permit an investigation to clear his name.
  • Senator Tom Berryhill (R) objected to Hall’s bias in openly leading a UFW protest in support of state government action against his own constituents.
  • Senator John Moorlach (R) denounced Hall and his appointment to ALRB as evidence of state cronyism. “I’ve looked up the word cronyism, and it says ‘the appointment of friends and associates to the position of authority without proper regard to their qualifications.’ So, that is my reason, Mr. President, for opposing this appointment.”
  • Senator Jim Nielsen (R) called the Hall debacle another sign of corruption and abuse of state power.
  • Senator Andy Vidak (R), who represents thousands of farmworkers in his district, led the fight against Hall, and gave an impassioned statement about the allegations against Hall and why the Senate should reject the ALRB appointee.

Isadore Hall is now a fully Senate-confirmed member of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), although he admitted he knows nothing about agricultural labor issues.

Days before the Senate voted to confirm him, Hall declared his intention to run for congress again from Los Angeles.