LA City Council unites around new president after leaked tape reveals bitter divisions

“Needless to say, this is one of the toughest times our city has ever faced,” Krekorian said after the vote.

Former president Nury Martinez resigned last week after the leak of the tape which captured her making racist and derogatory remarks during a conversation with two other members, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, and a union official.

De León and Cedillo — who have refused numerous calls for resignation, including from President Joe Biden — did not attend the meeting, which was held virtually because Council member Mike Bonin tested positive for the Covid-19.

Acting Council Chairman Mitch O’Farrell, wearing a mask, chaired the meeting from a nearly empty room while the rest of the council participated via video link.

During public comments, dozens of callers, some using expletives, implored the council to halt the meeting until Cedillo and de Léon resign. Several people specifically called on members Bonin, Marcqueece Harris-Dawson and Nithya Raman to leave the meeting and stop the process of choosing a new chair.

In front of City Hall, crowds of demonstrators gathered to denounce the Council. Police in riot gear blocked some people trying to force their way inside.

Martinez resigned last week following public outcry over the release of audio that captured her, León, Cedillo and a union leader engaged in a conversation that included racist and homophobic comments – many of them targeted board colleagues – and planned how members could influence the redistricting. treat.

Two city council members, Harris-Dawson and Bonin, declined to attend meetings last week to protest de León and Cedillo, but were present on Tuesday, giving the council its minimum quorum of 10 members.

Krekorian, in his acceptance speech, pledged to hold board meetings whether or not those two members resign.

“I just have to repeat that we simply cannot allow two members who are now in a position to have dishonored their duties, to – by their decision or lack of decision – to hold the business of the city hostage”, Krekorian said.

Council member Curren Price, who told POLITICO last week that he was in the running for president, was not present on Tuesday. His office shared a statement hours after the meeting began, saying Price did not want to sanction a meeting where public comment was limited.

“I made the conscious decision not to attend the council meeting this morning because as a city leader I could not support a virtual hearing that silenced the public outcry and excluded the Angelenos who continue to suffer from this breach of trust,” Price said in a Prepared Affirmation.

Board member Monica Rodriguez started the meeting by asking that the president’s vote be postponed for a week, arguing that the decision should be made when the board is able to hold in-person debates.

This motion was not voted on. Rodriguez, who had publicly indicated his support for Price, left the meeting shortly after his motion. A spokesperson for her office said Rodriguez went to see her mother, who was hospitalized.

“Unfortunately, after joining today’s council meeting, the councilwoman had to leave abruptly due to a family emergency,” spokesman Walter Garcia said in a statement.

The meeting marked the council’s first tangible step since the contents of the recording were made public on October 9. Now, as Cedillo and de León continue to resist calls to step down, the other members will have to carefully navigate the way forward — which could include sweeping changes to city government.

In the leaked audio, the members could be heard discussing ways to manipulate city neighborhoods for their own benefit and that of their allies, prompting widespread calls for the city to adopt a redistricting committee. independent. Many Angelenos, including mayoral candidates Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso, say an independent commission is essential to prevent further corruption. The comments made in the recording even prompted California Attorney General Rob Bonta to launch an investigation into the L.A. redistricting process.

Changes could come sooner rather than later. Council members on Tuesday passed a measure, backed by members Raman and Krekorian, that would direct the body’s legislative analyst to come up with possible ballot measures for voters within the next two months. O’Farrell told POLITICO last week that he would like to see the city redesign neighborhoods before 2024.

Some members also suggested that the council be expanded from 15 to 30 seats, to better represent the city’s four million residents.


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