Our Weekly: Controller and LA City served by MRT's attorneys

Our Weekly: Controller and LA City served by MRT's attorneys

L.A. Superior Court case highlights Controller’s unauthorized, unlawful and politicized decisions to deny Councilman’s salary and benefits.

LOS ANGELES – On September 21, 2022, lawyers for Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas formally served the City of Los Angeles with notice of the lawsuit filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court on July 28, 2022, that seeks to rectify Controller Ron Galperin’s “unauthorized,” “unlawful” and “politicized” decision to terminate the councilman’s salary and benefits following his suspension from the City Council after he was indicted on unrelated federal charges.

According to Ridley-Thomas’ attorneys, they delayed formally serving Controller Ron Galperin and the City with the lawsuit after filing it in court on July 28 in response to two City Council motions that would, if acted upon by the City Council, have allowed City officials to handle the compensation issues outside of costly litigation.

On August 2, 2022, City Councilmember Paul Krekorian introduced a motion requesting that the City Attorney look into whether or not the Controller had the legal authority to make a unilateral decision to suspend pay benefits. The requested motion, seconded by Councilmember Gil Cedillo, gives the City Attorney 30 days to report back on Mr. Galperin’s legal authority and what options the City Council has.

A week later, on August 9, 2022, City Councilmember Curren Price introduced a similar motion, seconded by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, that asked City Attorney Mike Feuer to report to the council within 10 days on whether Galperin could legally suspend Ridley-Thomas’ pay. The motion claims that Ridley-Thomas is suffering an “extreme personal financial burden … especially if ultimately the litigation is resolved with exoneration….We need quick action by the City Attorney to opine as to the legality of the Controller’s action to withhold salary payments.”

The motions were referred to the Rules and Elections Committee for consideration.  The Committee regularly meets the third Wednesday of the month. Neither motion has been placed on the Committee agenda by Council President Nury Martinez, who chairs the committee.

In a letter sent to Controller Ron Galperin in February from South Los Angeles Clergy for Public Accountability, they stated:

“We note with irony that even police officers in high profile police shootings and use of force cases receive their salaries while the police department and prosecutors investigate, in some instances, while they await trial. In the Councilmember’s case, you discarded the presumption of innocence and due process in favor of a rush to judgment and political expediency.”

A full copy of the letter can be found here.

A chronology of events related to the salary and benefits issue can be found here.

To date, neither City Attorney Mike Feuer nor Controller Ron Galperin have responded to the lawsuit.