Since the news broke this weekend of leaked audio recordings from a private 2021 city council redistricting conversation among City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon, Gil Cedillo and local labor leader Ron Herrera, in which the participants made racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments about other members of the council, reactions and fallout have been coming fast and furious from all over the city.
After yesterday’s City Council meeting was interrupted by protestors and adjourned before any business could be conducted, City Council President Pro Tempore Mitch O’Farrell announced in a press conference today that Friday’s Council meeting will be cancelled, too.
The move came after Martinez announced her full resignation from the Council yesterday afternoon, and calls for the resignations of de Leon and Cedillo grew stronger across the city…including from fellow City Councilmembers.
“I stand with the people of Los Angeles, and we cannot heal until Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo also resign from the City Council,” O’Farrell said in his announcement. He went on to say that, “in the court of public opinion, the verdict has been rendered and they must resign. There’s too much pain, there’s too much deep injury to the soul, to the spirit of this city, and this must happen.” He also said the remaining councilmembers won’t be able to conduct their business until the other two members at the center of the scandal are gone.
O’Farrell said he would use tomorrow’s day off to return to his district to listen to the people who have been hurt by the now infamous comments. And his fellow councilmembers will likely do the same. “This is a moment of crisis,” he said, as well as “a very reflective moment for the City of Los Angeles.”
O’Farrell clarified later in his talk that the meeting cancellation is just for Friday, not indefinitely. He spoke of the mounting pressure, both locally and at both the state and national levels, for de Leon and Cedillo to step down, and said they are both likely taking time to assess their long-term political careers before making any definitive announcements. O’Farrell made it sound likely that there would be news soon from both councilmembers…but he said we wouldn’t likely hear from both today. (He also said that if he did expect both de Leon and Cedillo to resign today, he wouldn’t have cancelled tomorrow’s meeting.)
O’Farrell’s announcement was just the latest development in the ongoing scandal whirlwind. Since the weekend news, a variety of current city officials, candidates currently running for local office, and even community and neighborhood organizations have weighed in with demands that those involved resign their positions.
On Monday, the Windsor Square Association publicized a letter it sent to city officials, the Miracle Mile Residential Association followed suit on Tuesday, and last night, just a few hours after Martinez’s full resignation, board members of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council voted unanimously at a special meeting after their regular monthly board meeting to send a similar letter to the the city.
The GWNC updated the text of its draft letter just after Martinez’s news, and did some minor wordsmithing at the meeting, then voted to send the following statement to the city:
To the Honorable Los Angeles City Council, etc.
RE: Call for the Resignation of Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin De Leon
We, the members of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC), call for the immediate resignations of Gil Cedillo and Kevin De Leon from the Los Angeles City Council, and we are in full support of Nury Martinez’ resignation earlier today.
The words of these Council Members, as recorded at their October 2021 meeting with labor leader Ron Herrera, have laid bare a corruption of the spirit, a cynical lust for power, and a shameful arrogance.
The failure of each to rebuff the anti-Black, racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic language of the others shows a weakness of character which is incompatible with the office of Council Member. Furthermore, their actions support the notion that politics is an insider’s game belonging to the few, and inaccessible to the many. Like Martinez, Cedillo and De Leon can no longer be seen as coalition builders, for they have alienated too many millions of Angelenos.
As a Neighborhood Council, we measure success by our ability to connect with and to faithfully represent the perspectives of our many and diverse communities, not only the perspectives of constituents with whom we have the most in common. We expect no less from our elected representatives and City employees.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as elected leaders of the GWNC. We strive to work toward the betterment of our community and of all communities of Los Angeles. To that end, we reject racism, bigotry, and hate.
Therefore, be it resolved on this day, October 12, 2022, that the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council calls on Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin De Leon to immediately resign from the Los Angeles City Council; furthermore, the GWNC will file a Community Impact Statement (CIS) for (in support of) Council File 22-1189.
The Windsor Square Association’s letter, sent on Monday, came before Martinez’s resignation and read:
The Windsor Square Association condemns the racist and homophobic remarks in the recorded conversation recently released of the three Los Angeles City Council members Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon, and Gil Cedillo. Our city requires and deserves a local government that champions our common humanity. These brazen remarks undermine the trust of the people that the city councilmembers purport to serve, and those three councilmembers should resign from the City Council immediately.
The Miracle Mile Residential Association’s letter on Tuesday (also before Martinez’s resignation) was very similar:
The Miracle Mile Residential Association condemns the hurtful, racist, and homophobic remarks in the recorded conversation recently made public, of three Los Angeles City Councilmembers: Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon, and Gil Cedillo.
Our community requires moral uprightness and leadership to defend our common humanity. These shameful remarks disappoint and upend our community’s expectations that the City Councilmembers are public servants working diligently in the best interest of all.
In closing, to restore our community’s faith and goodwill, those three Council members should resign from the City Council immediately.
Meanwhile, the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, another influential community group, did not send a full letter, but in response to an inquiry from the Buzz, HPHOA President Cindy Chvatal provided this statement:
“Hancock Park condemns and calls for the resignation of all three Council Members for their despicable racist and homophobic remarks. The City desperately needs new leadership…full stop.”
In addition to O’Farrell’s prominent comments in the last few days, our other Greater Wilshire-area City Councilmember, Paul Koretz, has also been pushing for the resignations, first with a statement urging all three offenders to resign, and then yesterday, after Martinez’s resignation, in a second statement saying, “Having been one of the first Councilmembers to call for Councilmember Nury Martinez to resign, I know she did the right thing today. Now it’s time for Councilmembers de Leon and Cedillo to follow suit so we can begin the healing process for the city.”
Many other Councilmembers seem to be on the same page, and although the Council has met only once since the news broke, they have already passed a number of resolutions addressing the situation. These included motions:
- Confirming Council President Pro Tempore Mitch O’Farrell the acting President in the wake of Martinez’s resignation.
- Removing Martinez, de Leon and Cedillo from their various committee leadership positions
- Officially censuring the three council members
- Requesting both a potential ballot measure to increase the size of the city council and the creation of a truly independent city council redistricting commission
- And forming a new ad hoc committee on city governance reform
O’Farrell has also appointed the the office of the City’s Chief Legislative Analyst as the non-voting caretaker for Martinez’s now-vacant Council seat until a special election can be arranged.
Finally, City Attorney Mike Feuer this week called for a special election to amend the city charter to allow an independent redistricting commission to re-do last year’s redistricting maps, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced he will also be looking into the Council’s 2021 redistricting process, a move O’Farrell said in today’s press conference that he welcomes. “Let’s rout corruption all around,” he said.
About Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.
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