The City Council action to suspend Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas disenfranchised Council District 10 constituents. It effectively denied him the presumption of innocence, due process and his compensation and health benefits. Tragically, it robbed the 10th District of representation by our duly elected representative. The Council decision was an arbitrary use of discretionary power and unnecessarily punitive. The subsequent attempted appointment of a termed out former Councilmember was both legally dubious and conducted without public hearings.
These problems cannot be cured simply by a unilateral appointment of the Council President’s surrogate by the City Council without public hearings and broad outreach to CD10 residents and stakeholders. A transparent, community-driven process must be developed and used to arrive at a democratic solution to CD10’s representation, including discussion of Councilmember Ridley-Thomas’ reinstatement and the person best suited to advocate for the vision of the district his campaign articulated and the voters supported.
Those who care about being represented should care as much about the process leading to the selection of their representative, especially when the selection is being done for them by someone else.
For your review, here is Where We Stand as publicly stated:
February 22, 2022- Letter to LA City Council from LA Urban League President and CEO Michael Lawson
The members the City Council have taken it upon themselves to ignore one of the principal guidelines that make this country stand out as a beacon of light for the world — the assumption that a person who has been charged with a crime should be treated as innocent until they have been proven guilty in trial or other judicial proceedings.
No such process has been discussed regarding Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas — at least not publicly. Nonetheless, a verdict has been rendered, and penalties have been imposed. These penalties include removing Councilmember Ridley-Thomas from his role as the duly elected representative of the 10th Councilmanic District and eliminating his salary and healthcare coverage. This is not fair to Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas and his family; this is not fair to the constituents who elected him to his position, this is not fair to the citizens of Los Angeles.
These members of the City Council of Los Angeles have chosen to ignore this pillar of our democratic structure in favor of a concept that once government official is accused of a crime, judgment must be rendered before the defendant has had an opportunity to present a defense.
Read more here.
February 22, 2022- LA Daily News Op-Ed “We Can’t Celebrate Black History Months with Our Rights Ignored at City Hall” by James Lawson, Jr., Mary S. Minor and Xavier
While the media has made it easy to cast a sinister eye on all politicians accused of wrongdoing, the history of our communities ensures we are not so naive to lump all indictments into the same box.
Martinez asked the Council to move forward with no findings of fact, no opportunity for the Councilmember to rebut the charges, no disclosure of the legal rationale for suspension, no consideration of alternatives, and most egregiously, no consultation with those most impacted by the decision. This empowered City Controller Galperin to revoke Ridley-Thomas’ pay and benefits, thus denying his income and livelihood at the very moment he would be in most need of financial resources to fund a robust defense. The presumption of innocence, due process and constituent representation were discarded in favor of political expediency.
Her effort to appoint someone of her choosing raises troubling questions about the motivation to render the seat vacant in the first place.
Read more here.
February 17, 2022- Our Weekly Op-Ed “Martinez Effort to Hand-pick District10 Representative Draws Controversy” by KW Tulloss and Norman Johnson, Sr.
We are alarmed by the blatant contempt Council President Martinez has shown us and the CD10 constituents she and the Council majority disenfranchised. They did so with total disregard for Ridley-Thomas’ presumption of innocence. In our view, these two issues are inextricably linked. An appointment alone cannot cure the problem Martinez and company created.
Nevertheless, in what must be considered a punitive move, the City Council waived the customary public hearing requirements in order to hear the Martinez motion, effectively denying CD10 constituents a voice in their disenfranchisement.
The Council considered the Martinez motion with no findings of fact, no opportunity to rebut the charges, no disclosure of the legal rationale for suspension, no consideration of alternatives and no consultation with those most impacted by the decision.
Read more here.
February 16, 2022- The Wave Op-Ed “City Council President is Exploiting 10th District Residents” by Bev Rowe and Harry McElroy
Simply put, Council President Nury Martinez is engaged in a power grab that exploits the vacancy in CD10 — that she created — to pursue her own political agenda. She is doing so in a manner that is deliberately disenfranchising our community, disrespecting our votes and our tradition of civic engagement and vision of democracy.
Even more insulting to the residents of CD10 is that Councilmember Martinez is claiming to be listening to us. That’s simply not the case and to claim so further disrespects our community. She’s had almost four months to outline an appointment process and solicit broad input and participation in the effort to identify and appoint a CD10 representative. But she has not.
We demand transparency and input. CD10 residents have a proud history of civic engagement. Why have no public hearings been held on the options for filling the seat to solicit our views?
Read more here.
February 6, 2022- City Watch “Nury Martinez’ Power Grab on the Backs of South LA Residents Must Be Stopped” by Bridget Gordon
Martinez seems to be following the Donald Trump playbook which seeks to consolidate power by any means.
If she is successful in getting a motion approved by the Council to install her handpicked member to the 10th Council District seat, that person will be beholden to her and will no doubt help to solidify her reign as Council President AND Acting Mayor at a critical juncture in the political life of our City. As both Acting Mayor and Council President, Martinez will have enormous power to influence this year’s mayoral race by highlighting the presence, priorities and campaign platform of her preferred candidate.
Martinez has also reportedly failed to reach out to the Council’s two other Black members who represent adjoining districts in South L.A. and share common interests with CD10. Why refuse to meet with them? What is she trying to hide? Where is the transparency? What does this say about progressive multi-racial politics and Black-Brown solidarity?
Transparency, accountable representation, self-determination, empowerment, checks and balances must be the order of the day. We must keep a watchful eye on Martinez to ensure that anti-democratic values don’t become the norm in L.A.’s politics.
Read more here.
February 3, 2022- Letter to California Attorney General Rob Bonta from CA Sen. Steve Bradford and CA Asm. Mike Gipson
On October 19, 2021, City Council President Nury Martinez introduced a motion for consideration the following day, that called for the Councilmember’s immediate suspension, thus stripping him of all representational duties, prohibiting him from discharging all obligations and rendering CD10 constituents without a voice in Council deliberations.
The motion was considered by the City Council a mere 24 hours after it was introduced, and before the Councilmember could formally enter a “not guilty” plea. The Council waived the customary public hearing requirements before voting to suspend the Councilmember, effectively discouraging opportunities for 10th Council District constituents to be meaningfully heard on the matter.
…we are mindful of our forebears’ pursuit of equal protection and enfranchisement as citizens of the United States and the State of California. We watch anxiously as our colleagues in Washington, D.C. struggle to preserve and defend the democratic rights we still hold dear. In the current political climate, we are concerned by any action that could disenfranchise historically marginalized communities and lead to the unseating of an elected official - especially an African American man with a three decades-long legacy of exemplary public service - without the most thoughtful consideration and objective legal advice.
Read more here.
January 28, 2022- Letter to LA City Council President Nury Martinez from South Los Angeles Clergy for Public Accountability
Tenth Council District constituents were summarily denied their elected representative on important matters through an arbitrary, hasty, legally questionable, punitive and pernicious decision made at the sole discretion of a City Council majority under your leadership. In the process, your leadership has produced two irreconcilable issues: providing independent, credible and accountable CD10 representation and preservation of the seat to which Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas was elected with a 60% majority in November 2020 pending the outcome of his trial.
It is our understanding that without the courtesy of a conversation with him to explore this option, the very next day, you introduced a motion to be considered the following day that called for the Councilmember’s immediate suspension. The motion stripped the Councilmember of all representational duties and prohibited him from discharging all obligations, despite the fact that consideration of alternative action short of suspension was well within your discretion. The Charter did not require you to suspend our Councilmember and we have serious doubts about the propriety of your action.
Furthermore, the motion to suspend the Councilmember was considered a mere 24 hours after it was introduced, thereby discouraging opportunities for the constituents of CD10 to meaningfully weigh in on this matter. The very introduction of the motion appears to have provided the basis for City Controller Ron Galperin to terminate the Councilmember’s pay and benefits, including health insurance, during a once-in-a-century pandemic.
Constituents have expressed concern that they were denied representation and made voiceless in the process to remove the specific representation of a Councilmember who had earned their votes, trust and respect.
Read more here.