Column: Council President Nury Martinez shamed the office

Resignation from the presidency?

That’s not good enough.

Nury Martinez needs to clean up her office, turn off the light and get out.

It is morally compromised, racially divisive and politically damaged.

“I take responsibility for what I have said and there is no apology for these comments,” Martinez said in a statement about stepping down from the Los Angeles City Council chief post.

As I started reading what she had to say, I assumed she would tell the city that she was stepping down altogether.

That would mean taking responsibility.

But she didn’t. And so now, a month before the mayoral and council elections, in a city that was already struggling with voter confidence, against a simmering backdrop of corruption and unresolved challenges, we have this new scandal of ugly remarks from one of the most powerful people in local government .

Martinez insulted council member Mike Bonin and called his young black son a monkey. Isn’t that alone enough to push her into retirement from public office?

She called Bonin, who is white and gay, a “little slut.”

She went after the Oaxacans, calling them small, dark, and ugly.

All of those redneck remarks came out with the release of a recording that was made a year ago and she’s not packing her bags?

I reached out to Miriham Antonio, a USC graduate student and UC Irvine freshman law student, because I know her determination to become a community leader herself and I know how inspired she was by people who who she considered role models.

“As a woman from Angeleno and Oaxaca, I am both angry and saddened by the racist and insensitive comments made against the Indigenous and Black community by the three LA City Council representatives,” said Antonio, who I met when she was one Voter registration campaign conducted as a student at Fairfax High School.

“These comments are representative of the racism and colorism that Black and Indigenous people continue to endure in this country,” Antonio said. “These ‘reps’ are a disgrace to Latinos and Angelenos; they don’t deserve to stay in office.”

By “they” she was referring to the others heard on the recording of the conversation about redistributing the city to get more Latinos into office. That would be councilors Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, and union leader Ron Herrera.

Her comments gradually became a little less offensive than Martinez’s. But political adviser Mike Trujillo made it clear whether residents of Martinez and De León counties could pay a price for their transgressions. (Cedillo lost his re-election bid and will soon be out of office.)

“If you’re one of them,” Trujillo said, you want your representative to be as effective as possible, whether it’s helping homelessness, picking up trash or filling potholes. “So who will be the first person to support Nury’s proposal? Do you really want to be the first person?”

Jane Demian, who is a member of the De León Neighborhood Council, was disappointed in him but shocked by what Martinez said.

“I’m glad she stepped down as Council President and she may have to step down altogether,” said Demian, who has campaigned hard to fight homelessness in her community. “My trust in Martinez was destroyed.”

The fair representation discussed on the recording is a legitimate issue in a city where Latinos are underrepresented in elected office and leadership positions. But the participants’ petty, rude, and demeaning language could serve to sabotage the cause and further divide the city.

“It’s a big story that has many tentacles,” said political adviser Dermot Givens.

Indeed it does.

Who recorded the conversation and why? Who released the recording and why?

Could it have something to do with a corruption investigation into a building that gives federal investigators full-time employment opportunities?

And how might it affect the mayoral race between Rep. Karen Bass (who says she’s a consensus builder) and Rick Caruso (who says he’s running to end corruption and lousy leadership by professional politicians)?

There is already chaotic maneuvering behind the scenes to determine who will step into the Council President’s seat and attempt to put out the dumpster fire. But I don’t know if anyone has a big enough fire hose.

Meanwhile, outgoing Mayor Eric Garcetti is awaiting word on whether his nomination to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to India is on hold due to a sexual harassment scandal involving one of his former top vice presidents.

“There’s no playbook for that,” Trujillo said of the recent fiasco. “It’s pretty unprecedented. I think any of these people who want to be a better person – and I think they are – will probably have to leave City Hall for a while.”

Martinez should be the first to leave.

Steve.lopez@latimes.com

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-10/lopez-column-nury-martinez-should-step-down Column: Council President Nury Martinez shamed the office

Alley Einstein

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