Despite the fact that Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was suspended from office by a divided Council last October, the 10th District staff has carried on.
Ridley-Thomas and USC’s Marilyn Flynn both pleaded not guilty of bribery and conspiracy and will, in August, face arraignment on 20 charges stemming from Ridley-Thomas’ time serving on the county Board of Supervisors. He is accused of getting his son into USC’s graduate school and receiving other benefits in exchange for steering favorable county service contracts to the university.
The City Council suspended Ridley-Thomas pursuant to City Charter section 211, which states: “Pending trial, the Council may suspend any elected officer, and the appointing power may suspend any appointed officer, against whom felony criminal proceedings, or criminal misdemeanor proceedings related to a violation of official duties,” and “The temporary vacancy shall be filled in accordance with the Charter.”
Karly Katona, Ridley-Thomas’ Chief of Staff, who was appointed by Council President Nury Martinez, does not have a council vote during its weekly meetings. Katona spent the past 12 years as a senior deputy to Ridley-Thomas when he served as a County Supervisor. She is currently working with a staff of 23 persons to keep the 10th District running.
Katona was to be relieved of her duties, however, when the City Council voted unanimously for former City Councilman Herb Wesson to replace Ridley-Thomas as the district’s representative.
Wesson represented the 10th District as Councilmember from 2005 until December, 2020.
“With over 30 years in public service representing the residents of Council District 10, there is no better choice at this time than former Councilmember Herb Wesson,” said Council President Nury Martinez. “Mr. Wesson cares deeply about the communities he represents and knows the district better than anyone. The constituents of Council District 10 need a voting member who understands their community to represent them within Council Chambers.”
At a preliminary injunction hearing today, the city will need to show why it believes it is legal for Wesson to fill the seat and that there will be harm if the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) restraining order isn’t released.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel granted a temporary restraining order which prevented former Councilman Herb Wesson from being seated as District 10 councilman, although Wesson was sworn in on Feb. 22.