The Los Angeles City Council is in crisis. Secretly recorded audio revealed three council members — Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, along with a local labor leader who has now resigned — engaged in a racist conversation and the kind of slimy backroom politicking that we usually see only in the movies.
But not everyone pays close attention to local politics, so you can be forgiven if some of these names, terms and concepts are unfamiliar.
To start at the beginning, the L.A. City Council is the legislative body for the 4 million people living in the city of Los Angeles. That means one of its most basic functions is to create policy for the city, typically by passing ordinances. Martinez led the council as its president.
The council’s ordinances are approved or rejected by the city’s elected mayor. Currently, that’s Eric Garcetti, but there’s a big election next month to pick the person who will succeed him. (Cedillo, meanwhile, lost his reelection bid in the June primary and will leave office in December if he doesn’t resign first.)
November’s election makes all of the revelations and resignations, potential and actual, an even bigger deal. A lot of new leaders will be taking office when many current officeholders’ terms end in December.
Here is some background on L.A.’s 15 council members (Martinez resigned Wednesday, so technically there are 14 members now) and their statuses.