OP/ED - The corruption at City Hall has been of historic proportions. Recently, former councilmembers Mitch Englander, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Jose Huizar have been convicted of felonies, and Councilman Curren Price currently faces serious charges. Over a quarter of Los Angeles’ council districts and over one-million Angelenos have endured their representative coming under an ethical cloud. It’s depressing.
Council President Paul Krekorian served with those four councilmembers for decades, not just on the council, but with Price and Ridley-Thomas, also in the state legislature. Yet our city entrusts him with restoring the integrity of council. Has he suspended Price? No. Indeed, Krekorian has backtracked from his June 2023 motion to suspend Price and allowed him to continue in office. There can only be one explanation.
The Council’s Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee is supposed to be the first stop in policing their colleagues. For too long, the fox has guarded the henhouse, as Krekorian, Price and another reliably lax ally have sat on that committee. Voters, on the other hand, have risen up, forcing out or denying higher office every incumbent on the ballot.
It’s clear that changes are needed. I support empowering the City Ethics Commission to have the authority to suspend city councilmembers when criminally charged. Even Las Vegas has already passed an ordinance to take the decision out of politicians’ hands. Either the councilmembers who wish to rise above the fray, or the voters by ballot initiative, should propose something for Los Angeles modeled after Las Vegas’s. The ordinance must be strong, so the good ol’ boys at City Hall are unable to prevent a district from getting a caretaker while a councilmember is distracted by his or her criminal defense.
What else should those of us who care about rooting out corruption do?
First, we need to vote against obstructionist incumbents, and any spouses, children, and former aides who try to succeed them. Second, we need to support reform-minded outsiders who are unafraid of regulating bad behavior.
Our council has repeatedly failed us by fostering a culture of corruption. The continued coddling of councilman Price shows they continue to have certain blind spots. Our city can and should do better.
(Sam Kbushyan is a small business owner in Valley Glen and a Candidate for L.A. City Council in District 2.)