The Los Angeles City Council is set to resume in-person meetings next week in the council chamber, according to the city clerk’s office.
This week’s meetings were either delayed, adjourned, canceled or held virtually as protesters filled the council chamber demanding the resignations of the council members involved in the City Hall racism scandal. While former Council President Nury Martinez has resigned, Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo have defied calls for their resignations.
De León, in an interview with ABC7 late Friday, claimed he couldn’t step down because in doing so, he sould be betraying them.
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“No, because — this is ultimately — it’s not about me. It, ultimately, it’s about the voice of my constituents for [Council District] 14 — a district that for decades, if not for generations, has been historically marginalized for a variety of reasons. If I were to step down, then they’d have no voice in City Hall.”
When it was suggested that someone else — anyone else in some Angelenos minds — could do the job, de León replied, “I’m not the only one who can represent them, and I know that. But if a caretaker were to replace me, if I were to step down, then they would have no vote in City Hall. That’s just the bottom line. This is a district that has been underrepresented, it’s a district that has been undersourced, it’s a district that has been underfinanced.”
If neither councilmember resigns by Tuesday — and de León said this week he does not plan on stepping down — protesters could attempt to disrupt the meeting again if it is held in-person. They certainly did earlier this week.
Items scheduled to be taken up next week by the council include calling a special election to fill Martinez’s vacant seat and censuring de León and Cedillo.
The agenda for next Tuesday and Wednesday’s meeting, posted Friday afternoon, notes the meeting location as the council chamber at City Hall. A representative from the city clerk’s office confirmed the in-person meetings to City News Service.
The council held meetings virtually this week due to Covid exposure, with 10 members — the minimum for a quorum — present for most of all three meetings.
After hearing from many public speakers virtually today demanding that the Los Angeles City Council stop holding meetings until Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo resign over their involvement in the City Hall racism scandal, several council members explained why they were continuing with the city’s business, and said that whether they meet has no leverage over the two embattled councilmen’s decisions.
“We will not shut down meetings because one person out of 4 million people chooses not to do the right thing and resign from his office,” said Council President Paul Krekorian.
Krekorian maintained he cannot imagine a scenario in which de León can continue to operate as a member of the council.
The October 2021 conversation between de León and fellow council members Nury Martinez and Cedillo, along with Ron Herrera, president of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, included racist comments and discussions over favorable redistricting — and led to Martinez resigning her council presidency and later her council seat last week.
On Friday, the council heard from speakers who described the meeting as illegitimate, stating that the city’s business cannot continue without resignations. The council took public comment for an hour and 23 minutes, hearing from every speaker in the queue.
Denise Kniter, policy manager with the Los Angeles County Business Federation, spoke for the group of more than 200 businesses.
“We have lots of pressing, important issues that we need to tackle that cannot be addressed in good faith while you are still holding office,” she said, addressing de León and Cedillo. “You’ve proven yourself completely unfit for public office.”
However, council members suggested that neither de León nor Cedillo care whether the council meets.
The reforms that we need to do, we need to meet in order to do them,” Bonin said, adding that the council also needs to hold a session in order to certify a potential recall campaign against de León.
There is not enough time left in Cedillo’s term — which ends in December after his defeat to Eunessis Hernandez in the June primary — for him to be recalled.
Both the embattled council members were stripped of committee assignments last week. But council members make over $228,000 in annual salary — or more than $8,700 every two weeks. De León and Cedillo are continuing to collect paychecks as long as they stay in office.
A spokesman for Cedillo said Wednesday night that the councilman remains at “a place of reflection,” echoing a comment he made Monday.
O’Farrell said on Friday that the council “cannot be held hostage from doing the people’s business.”
“The longer they refuse to resign, the wounds just keep getting deeper and deeper,” O’Farrell said. “I’m hopeful that they will realize the inevitable and do the right thing and resign.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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