The Los Angeles City Council resumed in-person meetings in the council chamber following a week of virtual sessions after two members tested positive for COVID-19, according to the city clerk’s office.
During last Friday’s meeting, the council heard from many public speakers 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.
The meeting marked the council’s first session since de León said earlier this week that he does not plan on resigning.
A spokesman for Cedillo said last Wednesday night that he remains at “a place of reflection,’’ echoing a comment the councilman made that Monday.
“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,’’ Council President Paul Krekorian said.
Krekorian said he cannot imagine a scenario in which de León can continue to operate as a member of the council. Cedillo had already lost his bid for re-election prior to the secretly recorded tape becoming public.
Neither de León nor Cedillo have attended a council meeting since Tuesday, Oct. 11 when they were forced to leave the chamber as protesters shouted at them.
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.
However, council members suggested that neither de León nor Cedillo care whether the council meets.
“We cannot let bullies continue to block the work of the council by refusing to resign,’’ Councilwoman Nithya Raman said. “And I don’t believe that us not meeting has any leverage on them making that decision. They have shown a clear indifference to calls from throughout this entire country.’’
Councilman Mike Bonin said: “Mr. de León and Mr. Cedillo don’t give a crap what anybody thinks. That is abundantly clear. Our meeting or not has no leverage over them whatsoever.’’
Bonin, whose 2-year-old Black son was the target of a racial slur in the tape, said he understands the anger and disgust of those calling for no meetings without resignations. He said he “couldn’t stomach’’ being in a meeting with de León or Cedillo, either virtual or in-person.
But both Bonin and Krekorian pointed to items that the council passed last week that they said are crucial to helping the people of Los Angeles.
On Friday, the council voted to approve an ordinance to prohibit misleading advertising by pregnancy services centers in Los Angeles, explore expanding the city’s Eviction Defense Program and seek reports on amending the city code to require air conditioning in all rental units in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, the council essentially extended certain renter protections due to COVID-19 by extending the local emergency declaration.
“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.
Bonin said both council members, who were stripped of committee assignments last week, are “effectively powerless’’ and have lost credibility with the council and the city.
Their removals have left the vital Homelessness and Poverty, and Housing committees without chairs. Councilwoman Nithya Raman is vice chair for both committees, though Krekorian has the authority to appoint committee members and chairs.
“I refuse to give them the power to determine whether or not this council meets,’’ Bonin said. “I refuse to give them the power to say that we can’t do things to help the people of Los Angeles.’’
Council members make nearly $229,000 in annual salary — or more than $8,700 every two weeks — with de León and Cedillo continuing to collect paychecks as long as they stay in office.
O’Farrell said 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.’’
This article is a part of a series of articles for Our Weekly’s #StopTheHate campaign and is supported in whole or part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library. #NoPlaceForHateCA,