Embattled Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon triggered another chaotic City Council meeting on Tuesday, staying for several critical votes in the last City Council meeting of the year while protestors continued to disrupt the meeting.
De Leon has been the subject of severe scrutiny for several months now following the October Council racist recording incident, not attending nearly two months worth of Council meetings in the wake of the incident, refusing to resign despite lawmakers up to and including President Joe Biden calling for it, facing a possible recall election next year, and instigating a fight with a protestor during the weekend. Despite having avoided many meetings, de Leon chose to attend his first meeting in two months last week to address a constituent problem, but caused such a scene that he had to leave after only 20 minutes inside City Hall.
On Tuesday, even with protestors still inside and outside of the City Hall, de Leon stayed for several hours to cast his vote on several ordinances and policies needing the Council’s approval, including approving newly minted Mayor Karen Bass’ homeless state of emergency declaration. As it was the last Council meeting of the year, any delay, such as de Leon not attending to vote, could have delayed approvals by a month. An extension of the COVID-19 moratorium, and a formal welcoming of five new Council members also required as many Councilmembers to be present as possible.
While he wasn’t present at the beginning of the Council meeting, de Leon entered the chambers around two hours in to the meeting, prompting protesters to erupt into a furor and Council President Paul Krekorian to call an immediate recess and some members to walk off the floor in protest.
During the recess, de Leon and the others attempted to work out a way for de Leon to take part but also not be on the floor to cause a ruckus similar to what happened last week, with some wondering if the meeting should even continue. With protestors watching, a system was worked out where de Leon would be present, but staying out of site in a nearby room. Despite this, and de Leon casting his vote from there, protestors still delayed the meeting, calling him out for not facing the public yet again. A small number of supporters were also present, trying to shout them down.
De Leon Disrupts City Council meeting
Throughout the morning and afternoon, councilmembers left the chamber whenever de Leon reentered it, with de Leon leaving City Hall around 1 P.M., passing a line of protestors while doing so. Despite the protests, the Council managed to approve the Mayor’s homeless state of emergency and other agenda items before de Leon had to leave due to pressure from protestors.
“We have millions of folks who go to work every day with folks that they don’t like and they still get up every morning and go to work,” said de Leon shortly before leaving. “We just got to get back to work. We have to get this emergency order done.”
Political experts noted that while de Leon got some things done on Tuesday, his presence caused a lot of missed Council time as a result, with the meeting likely to have gone on normally had he not attended.
“Over two months in and he is still as much a pariah as he was in October,” said Maria Costa, a Los Angeles pollster who focuses on Latino communities, to the Globe on Tuesday. “These calls for him to resign are not stopping. He is getting support, and many are saying that he does have a job to do. But the fact is that he is not respecting the wishes of the people at all, and is now causing huge delays at City Hall and making normally peaceful events politically charged. If he doesn’t resign, he needs a serious PR kick. But, as we’ve seen from similar political instances in the past, no one wants to work with someone who said racist things or gets into fights with constituents. During the holiday break, de Leon really needs to think about his political future, especially if the recall effort stays on pace for signatures.”
The next LA City Council meeting, barring an emergency session, is scheduled for January.
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