LA City Council Has Voted To Censure De León And Cedillo. But What Does ‘Censure’ Mean, Exactly?
The L.A. City Council voted today to censure councilmembers Kevin de León and Gill Cedillo, and former member Nury Martinez, for their roles in the racist tapes. It’s likely the first time the council censured its own members.
What does censuring do? Censuring is like a public reprimand. In City Hall, it’s a resolution condemning an official whose actions were “a gross failure to meet” the council’s high standards of conduct, according to the city charter. It doesn’t carry any legal weight, but it’s a way for the council to distance itself, at least on paper.
Can the council do anything more? The council’s options are slim. De León and Cedillo have already been removed from committees, and the council has repeated calls for them to resign. Neither members have been present at recent council meetings. If they’re absent for more than 60 days without council approval, or don’t fulfill their duties for 90 days, their seats could be deemed vacant. How a failure to meet those duties is defined is not yet known.
Can anything else happen? The charter has provisions about determining incapacity, such as when there is reasonable cause to believe the member will not be able to fulfill their duties — something Council President Paul Krekorian said plainly to de León in a letter on Monday. But it’s not clear if the rules could be applied this way. The other viable option available is for the public to recall de León before his term ends in 2024.