By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
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By New Times
Gomez's ongoing battle with Westbrooks has been particularly nasty. He views Westbrooks as a disingenuous politician who courted the Hispanic community to get into office and abandoned it when Hispanics needed support after the roundup. Because he describes Westbrooks as a slave to Tibshraeny's whims, he publicly calls Westbrooks "Kunta Kinte" at every opportunity. In an interview with New Times, Westbrooks leaves little doubt that the antipathy is mutual.
"He gives the human rights movement a bad name," Westbrooks says. "He just makes a lot of noise, but he never accomplishes anything. He's turned out to be a joke."
"I question his truthfulness sometimes," says Chandler Police Chief Bobby Joe Harris, another of Gomez's chief targets. Harris says Gomez has a lingering vendetta against the Chandler Police Department because it did not meet his demands to arrest his personal enemies during his spate of complaints from 1992-96.
"He'll tell one organization that they're the only one not coming to a meeting, then he turns around and tells someone else that they're the only ones not coming. I don't think he has any credibility in the city of Chandler."
Few took Gomez seriously last month when he told friends that the National Civil Rights Movement is negotiating with an unnamed Hollywood studio to make a feature film about the Chandler roundup.
Similarly, his plan to turn Salvadoran singer Elmer Cortez's song "Hermanos Latinos" into a Latino "We Are the World" by enlisting such artists as Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Juan Gabriel to join together to record the song has been met with some skepticism in Chandler.
Gomez can't resist such utopian dreams, but on some level he seems to recognize the need to tone down his act. He insists that his recall effort against Anderson is serious and well-considered, not at all similar to his impulsive campaigns against other council members.
The recall move came in response to a near-physical confrontation in the council chambers last month between Anderson and Sepulveda, after Sepulveda told Anderson that he'd been disrespectful to council member Donna Wallace during a debate concerning a full-diamond interchange at the corner of Santan and Dobson.
Wallace praises Gomez "as someone who is very passionate, and who tries to put together solutions to problems," an assessment echoed by Glendale Police Chief David Dobrotka. Dobrotka, who has worked with Gomez over the last two years on the issue of bringing more minorities into law enforcement, credits Gomez with keeping the peace in Glendale after a controversial police roundup of suspected Hispanic gang members in that city in December.
"He could have created controversy, but he sat and listened to our side, and was reasonable," Dobrotka says. "It's always refreshing to me to find someone who's trying to represent the community, but does it in such a way, not to create dissension, but to find a resolution."
Gomez, who for so long has taken on the traits of a Latino Al Sharpton, now seems to prefer the idea of playing Martin Luther King. Briefly setting down his overactive cell phone, he lights up one of his beloved More filter cigarettes and ponders his fractured reputation.
"I don't want to be the scandal-crazed, psychopath Hispanic boy," he says, with characteristic urgency. "I don't want to be seen like that anymore. I've made mistakes, I'm not perfect. But I've never made mistakes out of malice."