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Kevin De Leon - Time to Go

THE EASTSIDER - “Kevin de León has spent his life as an educator, activist, and community organizer.

He was the first Latino leader of the California State Senate in 130 years, and represents the 14th District as a Los Angeles City Councilmember. Kevin has fought his whole career for the values his immigrant mother instilled in him from a young age.”  -From Kevin De Leon’s Website 

The Racist Rant Heard ‘Round the City

If you haven’t been hiding out in the wilderness, Angelenos were treated to some of the nastiest unscripted political racism in a long long time. As the LA Times put it on October 9: 

“I’m talking about the leaked audio of an October 2021 conversation among three members of the Los Angeles City Council and a prominent labor leader. Their ostensible purpose was to strategize about drawing council districts in a way that would give more power to Latinos.

For the record:

10:08 a.m. Oct. 10, 2022A previous version of this story said that Nury Martinez referred to Mike Bonin as the “fourth Black member” and that she said, “Bonin won’t f—ing ever say peep about Latinos. He’ll never say a f—ing word about us.” Those remarks were made by Kevin de León.” 

How De Leon Came to CD14

Aside from being termed out of the legislature, let’s remember the context in how Kevin De Leon came to be Councilmember for CD14. 

Basically, he was sitting in the waiting room while nobody was at the helm of CD 14, as his predecessor Jose Huizar got indicted for too many corruption charges to go into here.  As the LA Times put it: 

“Although residents voted in March to elect former state Senate leader Kevin de León to the Eastside seat, he is not slated to be sworn in until December. Former Huizar employees still staff the office, but district spokeswoman Laura McKinney, when asked about a recent decision at City Hall, sent along a statement not from Huizar but from “Council District 14.” 

When Huizar was suspended, “a traditional caretaker was not designated for CD 14,” McKinney said in another statement. “This gave the public perception that CD 14 was not in a position to carry out the delivery of essential city services.”

McKinney said that despite that perception, district staffers are currently working under the direction of Eduardo Soriano-Hewitt, Huizar’s chief of staff, to respond to residents’ concerns and ensure that city services are delivered during the pandemic. Navarro said that for day-to-day concerns about issues like street sweeping, “everything seems to be running as usual.”

But others complain that, without a council member to cast votes or introduce motions at City Hall, they are no longer represented like other Angelenos. Even before he was suspended, Huizar had stopped going to council meetings and voting. The last time he introduced any motions was in mid-May, according to city records.” 

As you can see, we’ve been really blessed with wonderful representation from our elected Councilmembers.  As to Kevin De Leon... 

It has always seemed to me that De Leon gets ahead of himself.  Back in 2018, he decided he could take out Dianne Feinstein and leapfrog into the United States Senate big time. 

I was and am tired of the CA Dems telling us who will represent us. After Eric Bauman and the corporate Dems tried to help De Leon take on Diane Feinstein, I wrote: 

“Certainly, if you are Eric Bauman and the democratic party establishment, it’s the narrative they want to push. Young, vigorous, PC progressive vs. old fuddy-duddy conservative Dianne Feinstein. 

If you live in Northeast LA, maybe not so much. I can still remember a Northeast Dems (NEDC) meeting where we were introduced to our next Assembly member, Kevin De Leon. It was a fiat, a fiat accompli. It was also clear from the gate that he was the next professional Latino democrat being guided through winning a safe district assembly seat by the Party Establishment. 

And speaking of professional Latino democrats, here’s the LA Times reporting on Maria Elena Durazo (of LA County Federation of Labor) in a mutual aid moment: “Durazo, who is running to take over De León's state Senate seat, said she was considering supporting him during a news conference Tuesday.” 

My point is, we in Northeast LA pretty much have top down democratic establishment candidates foisted on us, already loaded with big donor support/funds. Antonio, Kevin De Leon, Jimmy Gomez, it all starts to blur.”  

My take on him then is much the same as it is now: 

“As for Kevin De Leon himself, think of an inarticulate version of Antonio Villaraigosa. And so has he proven himself to be -- through two Assembly terms, two Senate terms, and even during his time as Speaker Pro Tem of the Senate. He has all the hot button Party issues covered: 

           - pro immigrant

           - pro environment

           - pro gun control

           - pro women’s rights (except for his roommate, Tony Mendoza)

           - pro Infrastructure (English translation: pro developer)

           - pro Medicare For All 

However, I do not recall seeing any robust staff presence in the actual communities that elected Mr. De Leon. You know, the troops. In fact, that has been the basic problem with most of the dems in Northeast LA. They are top down, instead of grassroots bottom-up based in and for the communities they serve.” 

As he termed out from Sacramento, he and the CA Dems pointed him to a “safe seat” in CD 14. During that race, my evaluation was not changed: 

“There have been a flurry of events over the last few weeks here in Northeast LA, featuring the 5 candidates to replace Jose Huizar. 

My take is that the heavyweights are two smart women; Cyndi Otteson from Eagle Rock on my side of the District, and Raquel Zamora from the opposite end of the District in Boyle Heights. 

The other three candidates are Kevin DeLeon, LAUSD Board member Monica Garcia, and outsider John Jimenez with no funding but good ideas.  Kevin is the favorite, of course, with all the outside money from all those lobbyists and special interests in Sacramento, paying off their debts from when he was Speaker Pro Tem of the California Senate. And Monica Garcia brings a ho hum campaign to the City with fuel from the Charter School folks who brung her to the LAUSD. 

But I think Cyndi Otteson and Raquel can give Kevin a grassroots home grown run for his money” 

Of course, they lost, Kevin De Leon won, and I think those of us living in CD14 lost too. 

Of course, as usual, Kevin was elected as Councilmember for CD14 , and wasted no time running for his next position - Mayor of the City of Los Angeles! I won’t go into the article in detail, other than to say that I think it reflects my belief that Kevin De Leon’s grasp for power is disproportionate to his competency level. 

Back to the Future

After the leaked audio from the secret (I mean private) meeting, Gustavco Arellano wrote a great article for the LA Times

“When you have an elected Latina official use words to describe Black people — children, no less — as changuitos (“little monkeys”) and negritos (“darkies”) while no one else in the room pushes back, it shows the rot, pettiness and paranoia that infests L.A.'s Latino political class. The four waded in grievance politics straight out of Sam Yorty’s City Hall. 

This wasn’t a case of your rancho libertarian cousins from Corona drunkenly mouthing off during a backyard carne asada, or small-town politics in southeast L.A. County or the San Gabriel Valley. These are some of the most powerful politicians in Southern California — and some of the most prominent Latino politicos in the United States.” 

It’s a great read - I recommend it. He understands the LA I know. 

The Takeaway

My reading of Kevin De Leon is that he lacks the moral character to admit what we all heard, and simply resign. As far as I know there is only one way to get rid of a sitting Councilmember (other than getting indicted and convicted).  It’s called a Recall.  Anybody interested? 

UPDATE: Monday evening, our  own Northeast Democratic Club (NEDC) issued a statement calling for the resignation of all involved - Here’s the quote: 

“We, as the Northeast Democratic Club of Los Angeles, are hopeful that the resignation of those culpable we can begin a healing path forward.” 


(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.) 


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