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Wed, Jun

Resignations.  Then What?  And CA AG to Investigate Redistricting

GELFAND'S WORLD

GELFAND’S WORLD - What's the over-under for Kevin de Leon's resignation? One colleague of mine has it down for Friday.

But there is a predictable problem that will stem from the mass resignations of Martinez, de Leon, and Cedillo which isn't being discussed. This is a heavily Latino city with a population that is already a little underrepresented on the City Council. Last week, we could count the Martinez trio and one more. With the loss of these three, the Latino representation will be seriously lacking on the City Council. How should those empty seats be filled, even temporarily? This is something that will need careful thought. It will also require honorable intentions and wisdom, qualities that have been, shall we say, a little lacking among the current City Council. 

The current Council has had to face the problem of replacing members who have been indicted or who resigned abruptly. (I have to admit that this was an interesting sentence to write.) How do you replace three of the more powerful players in city government, and how do you do it on the fly? 

It's going to be a tough question and we're not hearing a lot about what the answer either should be or is going to be. 

Another obvious result of the leaked tapes is that there will be increased public distrust of the entire political class. Consider the following question, which is sure to be asked over the next few weeks: How did the rest of them not know about Martinez? 

Let me start with a negative answer to that question that was argued by a colleague of mine: We tend to have conversations among our own tribal groups where some things can be said only amongst ourselves. Each group allows itself to tell jokes about its own members, but gets outraged if somebody from outside tells a similar joke. Just visit a comedy club if you want to experience that side of this story. So perhaps the Martinez trio were merely letting off steam amongst themselves and were speaking as an ethnic minority while feeling safe that nobody else was going to hear their admittedly crude remarks. 

I tend to disagree with that argument. I tend to believe that every other member of the City Council knew that Nury Martinez is abrasive -- that she's got a mouth on her -- and that she was likely to come out with strong language. Is it likely that she went for years on the Council fighting for her own turf, arguing over motions, all without breaking the bonds of Victorian propriety every now and then? Do the other (male) members of the trio have an unblemished record among all of their colleagues? 

I've got to suspect that other members of the Council knew about Martinez, at least after she had become their council president. The question is whether she was known to be a problem before they made her the president. 

The redistricting issue 

The Attorney General of the state of California has now said that he will look into the Los Angeles redistricting. That would be welcome. 

How can anybody pretend that the new redistricting was based on what's best for the city rather than being a back room dirty deal? At least this City Council was upfront about the double dealing. They made clear that they were fighting over ownership of flagships like LAX and USC. 

Addendum: The latest hearing of the House Committee on the January 6 events 

I guess everybody wants to be on the front page every now and then. There wasn't much new in the October 13 hearing. It seemed like a staged reading of a carefully written script. Everyone got to get in on the act. 

So what was new? The committee revealed that they have received lots of Secret Service documents, in spite of the fact that cell phones were wiped of information from the crucial days around January 6. Still, the committee got enough to piece together the following conclusions: 

1) The Secret Service and other agencies were fully aware that armed insurrection was brewing for the January 6 meeting of congress, even if they didn't call it by that term. 

2) The Secret Service were actually preparing to drive the president to the Capitol while the rioting was going on, and they were donning protective gear as part of their preparation. This was halted a few minutes later. 

3) The president had been informed about the danger of violence at the Capitol, but chose to ignore the warnings or even to make use of the information. 

What we don't know for sure: 

Was Donald Trump a knowing and willing planner and participant in the violence, as part of his clear attempts to obstruct the congressional vote to certify Joe Biden? 

What we do know for sure: 

Donald Trump was aware of the Capitol takeover and chose to watch and wait rather than to intervene in a timely manner. 

Afterword: 

In watching multiple hours of these committee hearings, I've developed a strong respect for the process and the product. Yes, it has included a lot of political theater, but the result was that the story has been told in detail, the lies by the president have been refuted, and the idea of a free country which is able to consider its past and its future in an honest manner has been illustrated most wonderfully. 

We should compare what we have been seeing these past months with the avowed intention of the Republican Party should it manage to take control of the House of Representatives in the coming elections. That would signal the end of this committee and the end of truth seeking.

 

(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected])