Just when it seemed the political clout of District Latinos couldn’t nudge any closer to nil, the District’s third-largest demographic group is taking another hit. Earlier this year, Latino activists lost a high-profile fight to keep the Carlos Rosario Adult Education Center open. Then the community failed to field a single candidate for the council and school board elections. Now, the D.C. Latino Civil Rights Task Force is sailing without a captain. Formed after the 1991 Mount Pleasant riots, the task force has earned a reputation as the city’s most feisty Latino advocate. However, three months ago the group’s first and only executive director, Pedro Aviles, left for a year of graduate study in El Salvador. The telegenic Aviles had personal pull with city officials, which helped establish the task force’s credibility, and he has said he hopes to reclaim his job next year. But board member Roland Roebuck says the group is not going to wait around for him to return. In August, the task force hired ballyhooed Hill staffer Brandon Mitchell for Aviles’ job. According to reports in the Latino media, Mitchell bolted a few days into his tenure after discovering that the task force was nearly broke. Roebuck says the board had told Mitchell about the group’s financial straits, but he adds, “Based on the earlier lesson, we have to be a little more thorough in explaining that to the candidates.”