Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Ridley-Thomas will “retreat”, but will not leave the city council of Los Angeles

Ridley-Thomas will "retreat", but will not leave the city council of Los Angeles

Los Angeles City Councilor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was indicted on federal charges last week, said on Monday that he would “immediately step back” from city council meetings and committees, but would not step down.

In a letter to fellow councilors, Ridley-Thomas said he would fight “outrageous accusations” and plans to resume his participation in the influential legislature “at an opportune time soon.”

“I fully understand the importance of the council being able to conduct its business with minimal distractions,” Ridley-Thomas said in the letter, adding that he backs down with that in mind.

Ridley-Thomas returned to City Council, where he began his career as an elected official in 1991, for his fourth and final term in 2020.

Ridley-Thomas is a very influential player in urban politics with deep connections in South Los Angeles, where he represented the interests of voters at the municipal, county and state levels for three decades. Many community leaders expressed support for the politician on alert and called on him to stand firm on the council.

“Ultimately, there is room for forgiveness in the hearts of many in Black Los Angeles because he was such an effective champion of resources for this community,” longtime South Los Angeles activist Naji Ali told The Times last week. …

Monday’s letter marked a turning point from earlier days, when Ridley-Thomas announced that he was not going to retire or neglect his duties. Ridley-Thomas said Friday that he intends to continue the work for which he was elected, such as solving the problem of homelessness in the city and the housing crisis.

Several councilors questioned last week whether Ridley-Thomas would be able to carry out his duties while simultaneously responding to a 20-point indictment alleging that he and the former USC dean committed bribery, conspiracy and other crimes.

Councilor Nitya Raman urged Ridley-Thomas to step down from his committee responsibilities, including the powerful Homelessness and Poverty Committee, which he chairs. Councilman Joe Buscaino went even further, arguing that Ridley-Thomas should step down.

Council President Nuri Martinez, who has the power to remove members from their committees, warned last week that the council will have to take “appropriate action.” But she refused to indicate what kind of action it might be.

Martinez spokeswoman Sophie Gilchrist did not immediately comment on the letter. By submitting it, Ridley-Thomas may have sought to get ahead of any public discussion by board members about how much to reduce his responsibilities or whether he should continue to carry out his duties.

Three years ago, Councilor Jose Huizar was dismissed from the committee after FBI agents raided his home and offices. In June 2020, the council removed Huizar, effectively depriving him of the ability to exercise authority in his office, hours after he was arrested and charged with a massive corruption case.

Husar continues to fight these allegations. A few months before Husar’s departure from his post, city controller Ron Halperin stripped the council member of his salary.

Since July 1, when the wage increases took effect, city councilors have received an annual salary of $ 223,829.

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