Los Angeles: Councilmembers admonished for racist comments

LOS ANGELES (HPD) — The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday formally reprimanded two members and its former president for their involvement in a racism scandal that has sparked days of protests, police and state investigations and shaken public faith in the City hall.

The 12-0 vote to admonish former City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León represented the strongest step the council can take to publicly reprimand them for their crude and bigoted comments during a 2021 meeting that was secretly recorded, in which Latino Democrats crafted plans to protect their political influence in the redistricting process at the expense of Blacks and tenants.

The council cannot expel members, it can only suspend one when criminal charges are pending. Although the reprimand is largely symbolic, it adds to pressure from across the political spectrum for Cedillo and De León to resign.

Councilman Paul Koretz said he remained shocked to hear the offensive comments he said had severely damaged confidence in the government. Whether he likes it or not, he regretted that the recording is a reflection of the entire council.

“It’s going to take us years to rebuild this trust,” Koretz said before the vote.

Councilman Curren Price called the reprimand a “crucial step on a long road to healing” and the harshest measure the council could take, lacking the power to expel members.

Martinez resigned shortly after the tape was released earlier this month, along with an influential union leader, Ron Herrera, who was also present at the meeting.

Yet Cedillo and De León have resisted widespread calls, including from President Joe Biden, for them to resign, and have become political outcasts among their peers.

Anyone who participated in the meeting “should not hold an elected position,” Koretz said.

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