San Fernando Valley Group Calls for Councilman John Lee’s Removal from Planning Committee – Daily News
When the Los Angeles City Council voted to suspend another member of its ranks, Mark Ridley-Thomas, last month amid federal corruption allegations, some residents of western San Fernando Valley wondered why the council wasn’t doing the same with another member got involved in a previous corruption scandal.
And earlier this week, a San Fernando Valley advocacy group joined the chorus, calling on city guides to discipline Councilor John Lee for his connection to a scandal that put his former boss in jail for obstructing a far-reaching, development-related corruption investigation would have.
The West Valley People’s Alliance urged Council President Nury Martinez and others to call on Lee, who is the 12th
Lee did not respond to a request for comment this week.
But the alliance that had formed during the pandemic to address institutional racism, the housing crisis, homelessness and other issues wrote in a letter emailed to Martinez and others on Wednesday November 10 that Lee’s continued presence in the Planning Committee “a slap in the face” to every Angeleno, especially the residents of Council District 12. “
It was “a strong reminder of the breach of trust by (former Councilor Mitch) Englanders and Councilor Lee’s involvement in this betrayal,” the alliance added. “So we are calling for Councilor Lee to be removed from the PLUM (Planning and Land Use Management) committee immediately.
Lee was not charged with any crime. But speculation continued last month when the federal prosecution accused Ridley-Thomas of bribery while he was a district overseer.
The several groups that have called for Lee’s resignation or suspension have done so on the assumption that the city council is the unnamed city clerk mentioned in the 2020 FBI indictments against England, which accused him while on a trip Accepting expensive gifts from a businessman in Las Vegas in June 2017.
Lee has admitted he was on the trip but said he was not aware of any illegal activity.
Since that confirmation, Lee has repeatedly declined to comment on whether he is “City Hall Clerk B” named on the records.
Nor did he comment on a mention of a person named “John” in a later filing in Englander’s trial.
However, the West Valley People’s Alliance said Lee faced consequences.
“While Mitch Englander was convicted and jailed,” the group said in their letter, “Councilor Lee, who was involved in every facet of this cheesy trip, remains on the council but sits on the same (Planning and Land Use Management.) . ) Committee, which is central to the prosecution of Mr Englander, and has not experienced any consequences from the Council as a body. “
Zach Volet, a West Hills resident and Alliance member who helped write the letter, said the subject has hung over our heads “since (Lee) was elected”.
“We just feel at this point,” he said, “should we just sit around and wait for the other shoe to fall until the FBI finally charges this guy?”
For its part, the council did not seem shy of disciplining its members. For example, more than a year before Ridley-Thomas was suspended in October, the council did the same to Jose Huizar after he was arrested and charged with extortion.
The Alliance meanwhile also sent a similar letter through Lee to the Planning Committee Chair, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, making the same request for the 12th District councilor to be removed from the committee. Volet said the group hoped to appeal to the chairman as he recently expressed his own reservations about Lee.
On a KCRW radio broadcast following the suspension of Ridley-Thomas, Harris-Dawson, who spoke out against the move, pointed out a colleague “who was involved in activities for which another council member was charged”.
“The indictment says this person was there and was involved,” he said, referring to Lee.
The comparison of the allegations against Ridley-Thomas with the Englander scandal, said Harris-Dawson, was “appalling and insulting”.
Neither Harris-Dawson nor Martinez responded to requests for comment on the Valley Group’s letter.
We must continue to fight corruption in the LA City Council.
John Lee needs to be removed from the PLUM committee! @ CD6Nury @ mhdcd8 pic.twitter.com/6H0cPs0wdM
– West Valley People’s Alliance (@WVPple) November 10, 2021
In that letter, the West Valley People’s Alliance argued that, like Ridley-Thomas, Lee could be suspended for events prior to his election to office.
“Mr. Ridley-Thomas’ alleged crimes occurred before he was on the council, as did Mr. Lee’s,” the letter reads. “When Councilor Ridley-Thomas is suspended for action taken prior to his election we see no reason why the same standard cannot apply to Councilor Lee, who at the time of the election was employed by the Council as Chief of Staff to Mr. Englander’s Vegas trip. “
Lee has faced efforts in the past to highlight and address his involvement in the activities mentioned in the investigation, including the passing of the Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council in June 2020 calling on Los Angeles to conduct an ethical investigation into its trip to Las Vegas perform. A spokeswoman for the city’s ethics committee said via email that the committee has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of an investigation.
He responded to these efforts, saying that he had “never had a single violation of ethics” during his 20 years with the city.
His testimony did not exactly match the content of the Neighborhood Council resolution, which linked him to the allegations described in the FBI files.
Lee had also been asked by a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News during a press conference a month earlier, in May 2020, on an unrelated matter whether he was City Staffer B named in the FBI records, but he answered the question not right on time.
After the charges against England became known, Lee made a statement that he was cooperating with the FBI and “did everything in my power to pay for and reimburse expenses related to this trip.”
Englander is serving a 14-month sentence and was transferred from federal prison to a facility in Long Beach last month before his scheduled May 28 release.