Alberto Torrico

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Alberto Torrico
Member of the
California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board
In office
May 13, 2008[1] – March 18, 2010[2]
Appointed by Karen Bass
Preceded by Karen Bass
Succeeded by Charles Calderon
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 20th district
In office
December 6, 2004 – November 30, 2010
Preceded by John Dutra
Personal details
Political party Democratic

Alberto Osvaldo Torrico (born March 18, 1969) was a member of the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. He formerly represented the 20th Assembly District which includes Fremont, Newark, Union City and Milpitas among other cities in the East Bay. A Democrat, former Assemblyman Torrico served in both the Hispanic Caucus as his father is from Bolivia and the Asian Pacific Island Caucus as his mother is Japanese.

Alberto Torrico sat on the governmental organization committee, which oversees Indian and Tribal Gaming, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Horse Racing. In addition he served on the Utilities and Commerce committee, the Public Employees, Retirement & Social Security committee.

Torrico ran unsuccessfully for California's Attorney General in 2010, finishing third in the race.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Torrico attended Irvington High School in Fremont, California where he was one of the Mission Valley Athletic League’s best soccer players. Torrico became the first member of his family to graduate from college when he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of Law.

Legal career[edit]

Torrico was admitted to the California State Bar in 1996.[4] His career in public service began as a policy aide for Santa Clara County Supervisor Ron Gonzales. He specialized in labor law at Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfield in Oakland and Los Angeles, taught labor and employment law at San Jose City College, and served as assistant general counsel at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose. In 2001, he opened a private law practice in Fremont where he worked with unions, took individual employee-rights cases and did criminal defense work, incorporations for small business, wills and trusts.

Early Public Service[edit]

An incident in law school inspired him to focus on public service and civil rights. As a volunteer at a legal clinic, he represented a Central American immigrant who had been denied more than $10,000 in overtime pay. The client wanted to settle the case for $3,000, but Torrico persuaded him to hold out and won a $10,000 settlement. The grateful client thanked him and called him a role model for other young Latinos.[citation needed]

Public service[edit]

Newark City Council[edit]

Torrico was elected to the Newark City Council in 2001 and was subsequently elected by his colleagues on the City Council as the new Vice-Mayor of Newark.

California State Assembly[edit]

Torrico was elected to the California state Assembly in 2004 to succeed term-limited John Dutra. Torrico is the first legislator to join two ethnic caucuses: the Legislative Latino Caucus and the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus. In his first term 17 of his bills were signed into law, an extraordinary feat for a freshman legislator. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security (PERSS) he led the battle to defeat Gov. Schwarzenegger’s drive to privatize public pensions and to eliminate benefits to the widows of fallen police officers and firefighters.

In his second term Torrico was appointed Chair of the Governmental Organization Committee. Torrico was later named Director for Majority Affairs. In this role Torrico was responsible for major Democratic legislative initiatives and for Democratic Caucus development. In May 2008, Torrico was tapped by Speaker Bass to become Assembly Majority Leader. He successfully authored legislation to increase public safety by establishing statewide standards for EMT certifications, disciplinary orders and conditions of probation. Since being elected to the Assembly, Torrico has authored 47 measures that were passed by the Legislature and 32 of them were signed into law by California's Republican Governor, Schwarzenegger.

Torrico's legislative priorities in his third and final term in the assembly included passing the safe surrender bill which allows parents, within 30 days of giving birth, to safely surrender their child over to a designated safe surrender location. Other legislation ranged from good government reform bills to oil extraction fees to fund higher education.

A bill he authored, AB 656 – Fair Share for Fair Tuition – proposes to raise funds for California’s public higher education system by charging a 12.5% tax on oil extracted within California. AB 656 is estimated to raise $2 billion annually for the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems

California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board[edit]

After Torrico left the Assembly due to term limits after his third term, Assembly Speaker John Perez appointed him to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. The Board was seen more as a soft landing spot for termed out members, like Torrico, and would pay their members upwards of $250,000 / year just to attend a few key meetings.[5]

Controversy[edit]

Non-Voting Controversy[edit]

During his tenure in the Assembly, Torrico was criticized by the press and advocacy groups for being a non-voter (known as "taking a walk") on an important consumer protection bill that would have banned the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in products aimed at young children. Once a high-profile supporter of Senate Bill 797, Torrico refused to vote even though he was present during the roll call, after manufacturers of BPA and the products that use it spent $5 million against the bill.[6] During the vote of this bill, Torrico asserted that he was seeking amendments that would make the bill "signable" by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.[citation needed] The bill was not amended and was in fact vetoed by the Governor. Torrico also did not vote on a gay marriage bill in 2005, which needed only 6 more votes to pass. Just two days later, after prayer and reflection, Torrico cast one of the deciding votes to pass the gay marriage bill out of the Assembly.[citation needed] Despite his work in civil rights, Torrico stated But it's all about what I think God wants for us, and I can't get around that." [7]

Physical Assault[edit]

On April 13, 2013, Torrico and his wife Raquel Andrade Torrico attended the Democratic State Convention. At some point during the event, Alberto Torrico's wife, Raquel Andrade Torrico, violently attacked the aide of a fellow Assemblymember, alleging an inappropriate relationship with her husband. Torrico's wife was witnessed violently choking the aide and had to be physically restrained and led away. The incident occurred outside of the Convention Center in downtown Sacramento, CA. Torrico himself, and both of the Torrico children were present during the entire event. Several witness statements confirmed that with the help of her husband, Mrs. Torrico hunted the aide for several hours before the attack. The report states that following the incident, Torrico’s wife bragged about the assault to several delegates and elected officials.[8]

Raquel's Kids: Non-Profit Revocation[edit]

In early 2006, Torrico and his wife formulated a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Raquel’s Kids. The mission statement set lofty goals to help disengaged youth and low income families sign up for healthcare and have access to computers. Board Members included Alberto Torrico, Raquel Andrade Torrico, Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski, Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison, and Newark City Council Member Ana Apodaca.[citation needed] The organization provided the funds for healthcare benefits for over 500 children throughout Alameda County. The organization also purchased computers for several of the poorest schools in Fremont, Union City, Newark and Hayward.[citation needed]

Subsequent to Torrico's final term in the Assembly at the end of 2010, Raquel's Kids was shut down.[citation needed] The organization did not file tax documents for the organization for three consecutive years between 2010 and 2012, leading to the automatic revocation of the organization’s exempt status with the IRS on May 15, 2013.[9][10]

Illegal Campaign Financing[edit]

In June 2013, Torrico was charged with failing to report campaign expenditures in the amount of $465,531 during his failed 2010 run for California Attorney General. Since the amount was nearly 20% of his total campaign income, the FPPC deemed it to be substantial and an illegal violation of fair political practices. The FPPC imposed a $1000 fine on Torrico as a settlement.[11][12] The fine was imposed despite the fact that the campaign treasurer accepted full responsibility for the error, and presented as mitigating evidence the fact that both he and his wife who assisted with the campaign reports suffered serious illness during the time period in question.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Torrico and his wife, Raquel, have an 8-year-old son, Mateo, and 4-year-old daughter, Amy-Elyzabeth.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clerk of the Assembly. "California Assembly Handbook - 2008-09". State of California. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  2. ^ Perez, John A. (March 18, 2010). "Perez Names Assembly Committees". Assembly Democratic Caucus of California. Archived from the original on 8 October 2010. Retrieved October 25, 2010. 
  3. ^ Torrico for Attorney General
  4. ^ CA State Bar Records
  5. ^ "Alberto Torrico named to state appeals board", San Jose Mercury News, Jan. 6, 2011.
  6. ^ "On the Defeat of State Legislation to Ban Bisphenol A From Children's Food and Drink Containers", San Francisco Chronicle, July 1, 2010.
  7. ^ "California gay-marriage bill fails", Boston Globe, June 3, 2005.
  8. ^ Wife of Alberto Torrico Attacks Aide", East Bay Citizen, April 16, 2013
  9. ^ "IRS Report for Raquel's Kids"
  10. ^ "Nonprofit Report for Raquel's Kids"
  11. ^ "Two Former Lawmakers Fined", Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2013
  12. ^ "Torrico Agrees to Pay Campaign Fine for Illegal Campaign Finance Reporting", East Bay Citizen, June 10, 2013
California Assembly
Preceded by
John Dutra
Assemblymember, 20th District
2004–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Karen Bass
Assembly Majority Leader
May 13, 2008–present
Incumbent