Two months after becoming embroiled in a racism scandal that shook public confidence in Los Angeles government, disgraced City Councilman Kevin de Leon has rejected calls to resign and is trying to rebuild his image as he faces an uncertain political future. .
As of Monday, de León, a former state lawmaker, is the only council member who is resisting President Joe Biden’s calls to resign and continues to collect his annual salary of about $229,000 — the city council’s highest salary. among the most lucrative salaries for their employees. the nation.
Gil Cedillo, another council member embroiled in a scandal over a racist tape that surfaced in October, disappeared from public view in the days after the revelations, but has refused to resign did His term ended at 12:01 a.m. on Monday after he lost his bid for re-election earlier this year.
The ongoing racial controversy is one of the issues facing the city’s new mayor, Democrat Karen Bass, who takes office on Monday. Meanwhile, three other current or former members of the Council have been indicted or convicted on corruption charges.
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After losing his ability to sit on council committees, facing widespread pressure to resign and not attending council meetings for long periods of time, de León has been vilified by colleagues who say he can’t work with them, despite being vilified by his colleagues. making public and private maneuvers to get out. him.
Her condition worsened on Friday when she got into an argument with an activist who cheated on her during a holiday toy giveaway, which was partially videotaped and posted on Twitter. The confrontation left children at the event in tears.
Council President Paul Krekorian, who called for De Leon’s resignation, said in a statement that the attack on a council member, one of his staff and a volunteer was intolerable. The Los Angeles Times reported that activists said de Leon was the aggressor.
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“This city has gone through terrible division and poisoning in recent months,” Krekorian said. “We must reject all forms of hatred and reject the atmosphere of intimidation, intimidation and threats.”
De León appeared on Friday at his first council meeting since mid-October, sparking chaotic protests among competing factions in the audience. About a dozen protesters demanded de León leave the chamber, which was decorated in opposition to him, while his supporters chanted “Kevin, Kevin.”
Some members of the council walked out and the police chased the two men away, fearing they would start a fight.
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“Kevin, Kevin!” one protester shouted at de Leon. he shouted. “That’s why these meetings need to be closed.”
The controversy led to the resignations of then-City Council President Nuri Martinez and powerful labor leader Ron Herrera in October, and calls for the resignations of de Leon and others from Biden and other elected officials.
The uproar stemmed from a scathing record of crude, racist remarks at a year-long gathering of Martinez, Herrera, de León and Cedillo — all Latino Democrats — in which they plotted to expand political power at the expense of black voters. district boundaries.
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The California Legislative Black Caucus said the recording “reveals an egregious effort to decentralize the black vote in a critical redistricting process.” A long line of speakers at the council meetings said it was in keeping with the Jim Crow era and a prime example of “anti-blackness.”
De León apologized several times but said he would not resign. He said he wants to continue working on homelessness, the effects of the pandemic and the threat of tenant evictions in his district, which includes downtown Los Angeles and the Latino Boyle Heights neighborhood.
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His colleagues have no legal way to remove him from office – the council can only suspend a member while criminal charges are pending.
Council President Krekorian said “the only way we can begin to heal as a city is for Mr. de Leon to take responsibility for his actions, accept the consequences and resign.”
While De León has largely stayed away from City Hall, he has quietly continued to conduct business, including attending holiday events and meeting with officials on homeless projects and illegal waste collection issues.
With his appearance at Friday’s council meeting, it’s clear he’s slowly trying to make his way back into the public sphere. At the same time, organizers trying to recall him from office allowed him to collect the petition signatures needed to get him on the ballot.
Council members also received numerous letters indicating they were de Leon’s constituents, defending him and urging the council to allow him to continue his duties. They also asked the board to waive any additional punishment under consideration, which could include limiting de Leon’s office funds.