LA politicians to lose committee positions over race scandal

Oct 16, 2022, 11:57 PM | Updated: Oct 17, 2022, 4:21 pm
Acting Los Angeles City Council President Mitch O'Farrell discusses the ongoing scandal a week afte...

Acting Los Angeles City Council President Mitch O'Farrell discusses the ongoing scandal a week after a leaked recording of racist remarks by council members came to light during a news conference at City Hall in Los Angeles on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)

(AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The head of the Los Angeles City Council stripped two members of much of their power Monday to pressure them to resign for participating in a private meeting in which they did not object to a colleague’s crude and racist remarks and at times joined in the offensive banter.

Acting Council President Mitch O’Farrell removed Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon from committee chairmanships and assignments and named them instead to a board that rarely meets as he turned up the heat on the veteran Democratic politicians.

“These members have lost all credibility, all standing,” O’Farrell said at a City Hall news conference.

The two men have refused widespread calls to step down despite widespread condemnation that led former council President Nury Martinez to resign last week.

The leaked recording of the three powerful politicians discussing with a labor leader how to maintain their grip on power and expand Latino influence in the city has plunged the council into chaos as angry protesters shut down meetings last week.

The recording has also derailed their personal ambitions.

By losing committee assignments, their influence in City Hall has dwindled and they have largely become token figures, unable to participate in the day-to-day work of the council and unwanted in council chambers where their appearance is likely to cause an uproar.

The council has moved to censure Cedillo and de Leon but doesn’t have the power to remove fellow elected officials from office unless they’ve been charged with a crime.

O’Farrell said the only path forward is through their resignation or a recall election in the case of de Leon, whose term ends in 2024. Cedillo lost his seat in the primary and will be replaced in December.

Both had been on several high-profile committees, with Cedillo chairing the Housing Committee and De Leon chairing the Homelessness and Poverty Committee.

Under city rules, each council member has to be assigned to one committee, so each man will now serve on the Board of Referred Powers, a rarely used body that takes over when other boards have a conflict of interest.

O’Farrell said the two men should not show up at Tuesday’s meeting, which will be held virtually Tuesday because two members have tested positive for COVID-19 since the Oct. 11 meeting.

Councilmember Mike Bonin — the target of Martinez’s most offensive remarks — tested positive for the virus after being consoled in the crowded chambers and appeared virtually at the following day’s meeting. Councilmember Paul Krekorian tested positive Monday and was experiencing mild symptoms, his spokesperson said.

Meeting remotely will prevent a repeat of last week when angry protesters drowned out O’Farrell as he tried to call Wednesday’s meeting to order. He canceled Friday’s meeting, saying the council couldn’t conduct business until the two men resigned.

Tuesday’s agenda includes several items related to the incendiary recording made during a private meeting about the contentious issue of redrawing council districts, which can give some lawmakers significant power and dilute the influence of others — and by extension, disenfranchise the ethnic or racial groups they represent.

Martinez dominated the conversation, using profanity and racist slurs as she aired personal grievances. She called Bonin, who is white and gay, a “little bitch.” She used a Spanish term to compare his young Black son to a little monkey.

De Leon and Cedillo chimed in and laughed at some of the gossip.

At the meeting, Ron Herrera, who was the president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor before resigning over the recording, called the group “a little Latino caucus of our own” as they discussed how to undo maps drawn up by a commission to benefit themselves and shore up power.

Some of the conversation focused on the influence of Black councilmembers and their allies, with de Leon referring derisively to Bonin, a white man, as the “fourth Black” on the council who wouldn’t stand with Latinos.

While Latinos make up about half the population, they are underrepresented on the council with only four of the 15 seats at the time. Black people, by contrast, make up about 9% of the population and hold three seats.

In addition to electing a new president Tuesday to replace Martinez, the council is scheduled to discuss a charter reform proposal that would add more seats to the City Council to increase representation and decentralize power. It will also discuss creating an independent redistricting commission. Currently, the council appoints the members and then has authority to approve the maps.

Bonin, other council members and Democrats as prominent as President Joe Biden have called on de Leon and Cedillo to resign.

De Leon has apologized for seeming to make or condone “insensitive comments.” Cedillo has said he should have objected to the language but didn’t make derisive remarks himself.

Both men appeared at the Oct. 11 meeting but walked out after being jeered by raucous protesters who demanded they leave. They haven’t appeared in public since.

O’Farrell has spoken with Cedillo and said he is “reconciling his feelings about this transgression and understood the gravity of the moment.” He has not been able to reach de Leon.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

arrest...
Associated Press

Police: Washington officer shot, wounded while making arrest

Pasco Police in southeast Washington state said one of their officers was shot and wounded Thursday afternoon while making an arrest.
15 hours ago
State hospital...
Associated Press

7 die from flu in Washington state, activity ‘very high’

Flu activity in the state is now considered very high, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
15 hours ago
FILE - This image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) sho...
Associated Press

US plans end to mpox public health emergency in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government plans to end in January the public health emergency it declared earlier this year after an outbreak of mpox infected more than 29,000 people across the U.S. Mpox cases have plummeted in recent weeks, with just a handful of new infections being reported every week in the month of […]
2 days ago
FILE - A Dixie Valley toad is seen around the hot spring-fed wetland in the Dixie Valley in Fallon,...
Associated Press

Endangered listing for Nevada toad in geothermal power fight

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A tiny Nevada toad at the center of a legal battle over a geothermal power project has officially been declared an endangered species after U.S. wildlife officials temporarily listed it on a rarely-used emergency basis last spring. “This ruling makes final the listing of the Dixie Valley toad,” the U.S. Fish […]
2 days ago
FILE - Tennessee Valley Authority President Jeffrey Lyash speaks with the Times Free Press from the...
Associated Press

Utility recommends natural gas plant despite objections

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The nation’s largest public utility on Friday recommended replacing an aging coal burning power plant with natural gas, ignoring calls for the Tennessee Valley Authority to speed its transition to renewable energy. TVA announced the completion of its environmental impact statement for replacing the Cumberland Fossil Plant near Cumberland City, Tennessee. […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Friday 12/2/2022

Worries about inflation weighed on Wall Street, leaving major indexes mixed after another bumpy day of trading. A government report showing that wage growth accelerated last month spooked investors since it could mean the Federal Reserve will be less able to ease up on its fight against inflation. The yield on the two-year Treasury, which […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
LA politicians to lose committee positions over race scandal