After protests demanding the resignation of the three City Council members involved in the racism scandal at City Hall led to Friday’s meeting being canceled, Acting Council President Mitch O’Farrell announced Friday that the council meetings next Tuesday and Wednesday will take place virtually due to a COVID-19 exposure in the chamber.
Councilman Mike Bonin tested positive for COVID-19 this week and was present at Tuesday’s meeting. A news release from O’Farrell’s office did not mention the controversy over the leaked tapes or the fact that all three meetings this week were either delayed, adjourned or canceled due to the protests.
Nury Martinez resigned her council seat this week, but councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo — the other two council members on the tape — have yet to resign. Protests were expected again in the Council Chamber again next Tuesday if de León and Cedillo did not resign by then.
When asked by City News Service if the potential for another disruption led to the decision to hold the meetings virtually, Dan Halden, a spokesperson for O’Farrell, said the move was “about the COVID-19 diagnosis.”
Halden later said that it was important for the Council to move forward and have a meeting. Halden added that while the pain and anger that Angelenos feel from the release of the recording “comes from a real place,” but “at the same time, we do have to conduct business.”
De León and Cedillo, who attempted to attend Wednesday’s meeting but were asked to leave the chamber after protesters voiced objections to their presence, would be able to attend the virtual meetings without facing the public face-to-face. Their attendance would “not be appropriate, no matter the format in which we are meeting,” Halden said.
O’Farrell has been in touch with Cedillo but has not been able to reach de León since Tuesday, according to Halden.
O’Farrell, in a statement, said it is “possible, if not likely, that there will be more positive cases.”
“With the possibility that there will be more positive cases, out of an abundance of caution, we will hold both Tuesday and Wednesday’s meetings virtually, as we did for over a year during the height of the pandemic,” O’Farrell said. “I urge everyone who was in Council Chambers this week to get tested beginning Sunday, and continue testing.”
Public comment will be taken remotely. The agenda on Tuesday includes several major items, including the election of a new Council president following Martinez’s resignation.