Councilor Ridley-Thomas to step down from council and committee meetings


Los Angeles City Councilor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was indicted last week on federal corruption and conspiracy charges stemming from his time on the county supervisory board, sent a letter to his colleagues today saying that he would “immediately step back” from the board and committee. meetings, but he intends to remain in office and resume his participation “as soon as possible”.

Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, its first meeting since the charges against Ridley-Thomas were announced. A meeting of the council’s homeless and poverty committee, which Ridley-Thomas chairs, was called off last Thursday.

“I fully appreciate the importance for the board to be able to conduct its business with a minimum of distractions. With this in mind, and with deep respect for each of you, I am writing to let you know my intention to immediately withdraw from participation in full board and committee meetings, ”Ridley-Thomas wrote in the statement. letter.

On Friday afternoon, Ridley-Thomas announced in his first public statement following the indictment that he had “no intention of resigning” from his seat and that he was focusing on fight against allegations.

“Going forward, I intend to do two things: refute the allegations that have been made to me and continue the work I was elected to do – most importantly, tackle the crisis of homelessness and housing, ”he said.

The 20-count indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court on Wednesday alleges Ridley-Thomas conspired with Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, a former dean of USC’s School of Social Work, who , according to prosecutors, agreed to provide Ridley-Thomas’ son with admission to graduate school. , a full scholarship and a paid faculty position at the university. She also reportedly arranged to channel a donation of $ 100,000 from Ridley-Thomas campaign funds through the university to a non-profit organization run by her son.

In return, the indictment alleges that Ridley-Thomas, who was at the time a Los Angeles County supervisor, supported contracts involving the School of Social Work, including contracts to provide services to the department. child and family services and the county probation department, as well as an amendment to a contract with the Department of Mental Health that would bring the school millions of dollars in new revenue.

Ridley-Thomas is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles. Flynn’s arraignment was set for October 25.

Lawyers for both have denied any wrongdoing.

On Tuesday, the county supervisory board will consider a proposal from supervisors Hilda Solis and Kathryn Barger to hire an outside law firm to investigate the allegations against Ridley-Thomas and review “the county’s associated processes and policies in place.”

“Over the years, we have sought to prevent corruption by controlling opportunities, incentives and risks through strong processes and policies that ensure transparency and accountability,” according to the motion. “We re-commit to these principles and to a renewed assessment of future process and policy improvements. “

Ridley-Thomas, 66, is a giant figure in local politics, having previously served on Los Angeles City Council from 1991 to 2002, then State Assembly and State Senate before being elected to the powerful county supervisory board. in 2008, in office until 2020, when he returned to city council.

Councilor Joe Buscaino, who sits on the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, has asked that Ridley-Thomas relinquish his seat on the council. City council president Nury Martinez said the council “will have to take appropriate action” against Ridley-Thomas, although she did not provide details.

City Councilor Nithya Raman, who sits on the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, called on Ridley-Thomas to at least step down as committee chair and be stripped of other “short-term” committee duties .

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