Acting Los Angeles City Council President Mitch O’Farrell removed Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo from an array of council committee assignments on Monday, in yet another attempt at pressuring the two men to resign.
With Cedillo and De León refusing to step down, O’Farrell said the two had been removed from committees that deal with real estate development, housing, homelessness and other issues.
The announcement was only the latest example of fallout surrounding the racist comments heard in a conversation that was secretly recorded among Cedillo, De León, then-Council President Nury Martinez and Ron Herrera, president of the L.A. County Federation of Labor. Martinez and Herrera resigned in the wake of the furor over the audio.
O’Farrell has said in recent days that he is determined to bring stability to City Hall, where one councilmember has already resigned and a vast number of political figures — including President Biden — calling for Cedillo and De León to depart as well. At the same time, O’Farrell made clear that he and others have not been successful in persuading those two to step aside.
“The only recourse is resignation or recall,” he said. “I do not see the remaining two members who haven’t resigned coming back to council with any level of credibility whatsoever.”
For decades, L.A. Black and Latino political leaders formed vital alliances. But these partnership now face unprecedented challenges.
An O’Farrell spokesman said the council will keep Cedillo and De León on the five-member Board of Referred Powers, a committee that rarely meets, in order to remain in compliance with the City Charter, which requires that every council member sit on at least one committee, according to city officials.
Monday’s announcement comes at an extraordinarily turbulent time for the council and City Hall as a whole. The council is scheduled to vote Tuesday to elect a new president, a position that O’Farrell has already said he does not want permanently. Martinez had been president for nearly three years before resigning from the council.
One of the people seeking the presidency, Councilmember Paul Krekorian, tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend. An aide to Krekorian said he currently expects to attend the meeting, since it will be held via Zoom, and he is experiencing only cold-like symptoms.
Also seeking to become president is Councilmember Curren Price, who was recently reelected to a third four-year term. Price, who is Black, has been described as a coalition builder, since he represents a district that is 78% Latino.
De León had spent the last year presiding over the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, which has been grappling with the city’s response to the homelessness crisis. He also had been serving on the powerful Budget and Finance Committee.
In the furor over the racist leaked audio, calls are growing for the city to throw out the boundary lines drawn last year for the council’s 15 districts.
Cedillo, whose term ends in December, has been the chair of the Housing Committee and also sat on the committee that reviews and approves major development projects.
De León and Cedillo have given no indication in recent days that they intend to resign in the wake of The Times reporting on the leaked audio, which was recorded during a meeting at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor headquarters in October 2021.
In that recording, Martinez made racist remarks about Councilmember Mike Bonin, who is white, and his son, who is Black. She also used a profanity while discussing Dist. Atty. George Gascón, saying that he is “with the Blacks.”
Neither Cedillo nor De León responded to requests for comment on O’Farrell’s announcement.
Cedillo apologized last week for his involvement in the recorded conversation, saying he “should have intervened” when his colleagues made derogatory and “racially divisive” language. De León expressed regrets about “appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family.”
This content was originally published here.