The Alarcons, one of Los Angeles most prominent political families, is experiencing the old adage that when trouble rains, it pours.
Andrea Alarcon, heiress to a family that for the last quarter century has controlled Los Angeles politics in the San Fernando Valley, has had to take a leave of absence from her $130,000-per-year city position for one of the most damning allegations a mother could face.
Alarcon, president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, is accused of abandoning her 11-year-old daughter alone late at night at City Hall of all places and inexplicably not turning up until the next morning.
By then, her daughter had been taken to the LAPD’s Central Division station—where a child endangerment report was taken, and a representative from the Department of Children and Family Services summoned.
Andrea Alarcon retrieved her daughter only after being reached shortly before 2 a.m.
The incident occurred on Nov. 16 when Andrea Alarcon apparently was attending a City Hall dinner gala honoring Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The dinner event ended by about 9:30 p.m.
The trouble for Andrea Alarcon, 33, comes as her longtime lawmaker father—Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon—who with his wife is facing trial on 23 felony counts of perjury and voter fraud stemming from allegations that they lied about where they lived so he could run for the City Council in 2006 and 2008.
The legal problems for Andrea Alarcon are further complicated by an arrest last December on suspicion of driving under the influence with her daughter in the car.
Alarcon was charged by prosecutors with drunk driving and committing cruelty to a child by endangering her health, according to the criminal complaint.
She pleaded not guilty to those charges and is due back in court in connection with that case next month.
Now the latest incident has left City Hall in an uproar and caused some embarrassment for Villaraigosa, Richard Alarcon’s political ally who appointed Andrea Alarcon to the presidency of the Board of Public Works in 2011, two years after naming her to the board.
In fact, it was Villaraigosa, just before serving Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless on Skid Row, who issued Andrea Alarcon’s first statement on her latest legal trouble.
“My daughter is my top priority and nothing could be more important to me than her well-being,” Alarcon said in the statement. “In order for me to be the best parent possible, I have decided to seek professional help and treatment. I ask that the media respect my family’s privacy during this difficult time.”
The statement did not specify what type of treatment or professional help she will seek.
Villaraigosa has said he does not think Alarcon should resign.
“My only comment is that both she and her daughter [and] her dad are in my prayers,” the mayor told reporters as he served Thanksgiving dinner.
Andrea Alarcon leaves daughter at City Hall
According to police, Alarcon’s daughter secretly followed her mother out of City Hall at about 10:30 p.m. The girl told police that when she caught up with her mom she was with a man and woman she did not recognize.
Alarcon told her daughter to go back and wait inside City Hall, the girl told police, where a security officer later saw the child and took her to a nearby LAPD station about 11:45 p.m.
At about 1:30 a.m., the girl’s cell phone rang. It was Lorraine Green, an administrative assistant for one of the mayor’s top aides. The child answered and gave the phone to police.
Alarcon was with her at the Doubletree Hotel two blocks from City Hall, Green reportedly told the officer.
According to police Alarcon got on the phone but had trouble understanding what she was being told by the officer.
Alarcon arrived at the LAPD station to pick up her daughter about 2 a.m., and was interviewed by a county Children and Family Services official.
Later, Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders told the Los Angeles Times that the mayor was not with Alarcon “at any time after he left City Hall (that) Friday night.”
The girl’s father, Herschel Chalk, who lives in Cincinnati and spends summers with the child, expressed concern about his daughter when reached on Thursday, according to reports.
“Andrea and I no longer have a relationship, but my priority is the safety of my daughter,” said Chalk.
Andrea Alarcon is a graduate of Georgetown University and Loyola Law School. She has worked for the offices of California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Attorney General Jerry Brown.
Richard Alarcon, 58, whose own legal troubles led to his loss this month in seeking a State Assembly seat, later issued his own statement of support for his daughter.
“My daughter and granddaughter have a beautiful relationship and I am proud of Andrea’s ability to balance single parenting with an intense professional career,” he said. “Obviously, as a father, I am concerned about the recent reports in the media about my daughter.”
“As a family, we take these matters very seriously and are supporting Andrea and my granddaughter through this difficult time.”
“I do not believe these incidents have affected Andrea’s job performance. She is recognized as an amazing talent at City Hall. But I am pleased that Andrea is seeking the professional help she needs to resolve these matters.”
“Andrea has my full support and I am confident that our family will overcome this challenge.”