In a conversation last fall between three Latino members of the Los Angeles City Council and a senior district labor official that included racist comments, taunting comments about their peers and Council President Nury Martinez, they said a The white MP had his young black son treated as if he were an “attachment,” according to minutes of the meeting seen by The Times.
Council president Nury Martinez made racist remarks about MP Mike Bonin’s youngest son, and others joined the conversation. The panel discussed a dispute between Assemblymembers Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who disagreed last year over whose district USC and Expo Park will represent when the new map is completed. The clip begins with Martinez recounting her alleged conversation with businessman Danny Bakewell.
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Minutes after Martinez discussed Bonin’s son, the conversation shifted to the Los Angeles County area. Penthouse George Gascón faces growing political opposition.
At one point, Martinez also described Bonin as a “little bitch” in a conversation with Assemblymen Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
De Leon appeared to compare Bohning’s treatment of children to Martinez holding a Louis Vuitton handbag. He also called Bonin “the fourth black member of the committee.”
“Mike Bonin would never lash out at Latinos. He would never say a damn word to us,” he said.
On Sunday, after the article was published online, Martinez issued a statement apologizing for her comments, saying: “I have endured this situation at a time of extreme frustration and anger, and I take responsibility for these comments. I’m very sorry.”
“The context for this conversation was concerns about the redistricting process and the potential negative impact it could have on communities of color,” she added. “My job speaks for itself. I’ve been trying to guide the city through the most difficult times.”
“I regret, and I seem to condone, even privately making some insensitive comments about a colleague and his family,” he said in a statement. “I have personally approached this colleague.”
Reached by The Times on Saturday night, Zedillo said: “I don’t remember that conversation.”
Herrera did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but Julie Gutman Dickinson, an attorney representing the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, wrote in a letter calling the conversation a “violation of California privacy and concerns about Los Angeles County Federation property.” The Record Keeping Act of Labor Records. She added that if the New York Times published information from it, “it would condone this illegal behavior.”
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The Times general counsel Jeffrey Glasser responded to Gutman Dickinson in a letter Sunday morning defending the paper’s right to publish the material.
“In the United States, it is a fundamental principle that we do not prohibit or punish the receipt and disclosure of newsworthy information,” Glasser wrote.
The conversation, which took place in October 2021, focused on city council members’ dissatisfaction with the map proposed by the 21-member redistribution committee.
The fact that Hispanics make up about half of Los Angeles’ population but make up less than one-third of the city’s council area has led to complaints that the population is underrepresented.
The audio of the extensive conversation, which lasted about an hour, was posted to Reddit by the now-banned user. It’s unclear who recorded the audio, who uploaded it to Reddit, or if anyone else was present.
The leak comes a month before the ensuing city election, which will contest the mayor and several council seats. Martinez has backed several council candidates in the Nov. 8 election, and her fate could determine whether she retains the powerful council chair.
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