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Tipsheet

LA City Council President Gets Ensnared in a Racist Fiasco

It’s terrible, but Los Angeles City Council members could dodge an actual bullet here to a certain degree. The story won’t get zero media coverage. It already has, and it should, but if the economy wasn’t atrocious and the 2022 midterms weren’t around the corner—this would get a lot more attention. In this public relations nightmare, the media initially followed protocol regarding burying the members' political affiliations. If you didn’t already know—the city council president, Nury Martinez, said some racist things about the child of a fellow council member. The remarks were leaked over the weekend, covered by The Los Angeles Times on October 9, where Ms. Martinez was caught making disparaging remarks about the black adopted child of Councilman Mike Bonin—she called his son a “monkey.”

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These racist statements were made last fall during a meeting about redistricting in the city. Martinez took responsibility and apologized, but she didn’t mean it. She must be contrite because she got caught, which also carries some legal fallout since California is a two-party consent state. So, expect an investigation into how this conversation was recorded and leaked, but that’s a peripheral issue. Martinez resigned from the council presidency but will remain on the 15-member governing body. The other person recorded during this appalling conversation, Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, resigned on Monday. Fellow council members Kevin de Leon, ghost gun man, and Gil Cedillo were also featured on the tapes. De Leon also apologized, but all three are facing calls to resign from prominent California Democrats. Additionally, Ms. Martinez called Oaxacan immigrants living in Koreatown “short little dark people” (via NYT):

In the profanity-laced recording, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times and which was first reported by The Los Angeles Times on Sunday, the City Council president, Nury Martinez, who is Latina, compared the Black child of a white council member to a “changuito,” Spanish for little monkey. She also called Oaxacan immigrants living in Koreatown “short little dark people.”

 At another point in the private conversation, Ms. Martinez used an expletive in reference to the Los Angeles County district attorney, George Gascón, saying that “he’s with the Blacks.”

It was unclear who leaked the recording, which was of an October 2021 meeting between Ms. Martinez; Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, council members representing parts of the city’s East Side; and Ron Herrera, who was the head of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor before he resigned Monday night. They had gathered to discuss how to create new City Council boundaries under the redistricting process.

 It was also unclear who had made the recording, which was initially uploaded to Reddit earlier this month by an unidentified, now-suspended user and continued to circulate via email after the post was taken down.

 Ms. Martinez, who is not up for re-election until 2024, added that Nithya Raman, a council member of South Asian descent, should not represent Koreatown, which is now largely Latino.

 During the conversation, Ms. Martinez also weighed in on a dispute between two Black council members over whose district would include Exposition Park and the University of Southern California. Rather than fight among themselves, Ms. Martinez said, they should demand a map in which one of them gets the massive Los Angeles International Airport. That asset, she noted, is in the district of a white council member, Mike Bonin, whom she referred to with a vulgarity.

 In the ensuing exchange, Mr. de León referred to Mr. Bonin as the council’s “fourth Black member” and joked with Ms. Martinez that Mr. Bonin carried his adopted son, who is Black, as if the toddler were a designer handbag. Ms. Martinez complained that on a parade float on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Mr. Bonin had failed to control his son and said that the child’s antics had nearly tipped the float over.

“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Ms. Martinez said on the recording. “I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner, and then I’ll bring him back.”

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Because all three involved are Democrats, they’re allowed to make this initial step of not resigning, but if this had been a Republican scandal—there is no way these clowns would have survived. They’re facing local heat, and they might be gone by the end of the week, but for now—it remains good to be a Democrat, even if you hurl horrific slurs at black people and other immigrants.  

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