City Council divide widens between Wesson, Perry and Parks
Three African American leaders
The rift between Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson on the one side and council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry on the other continued to widen at City Hall after Wesson stripped both Parks and Perry of key committee assignments last week.
Wesson removed Parks from the Budget and Finance Committee. Parks had been chairman of the committee for eight years. The powerful committee does much of the early vetting of the mayor’s budget proposals.
At the same time, Wesson removed Perry from the Energy and Environment Committee, which oversees the Department of Water & Power. Perry chaired that committee for eight years.
All three council members are African American.
Although some voters may be unaware of the dispute between the council members, it is known that Parks had issues with Wesson, most prominently over Wesson’s appointment of one of his staff member to run the 21-member commission that has been charged with redrawing Council district maps. In early November, Perry resigned as Council president pro tempore in reaction to what she said were behind-the-scenes maneuverings by then-Council President Eric Garcetti and Wesson. It is a post she might have ascended to, if only to make history.
Garcetti stepped down to make more time to run for mayor. Perry also is running for mayor.
On Nov. 23, when the Council elected Wesson as its new president, the first African American to hold the post, neither Parks nor Perry were present. Their absence seemed to add to the bitter gulf between Wesson and the two other council members.
Both Parks and Perry struck a conciliatory tone in prepared statements after the reassignments:
Parks said: “I am pleased with my new committee assignments and I look forward to working with my colleagues. I’ve never felt guaranteed or entitled to any committee or chair assignment and I will continue to serve the residents of Los Angeles, as I have done throughout my 45-year career with the city, to the best of my ability. After all, it’s not about ‘me’; it’s about ‘we,’” he said, echoing a phrase from Wesson’s speech after becoming president. “I think this is a great time for a transition, and I’m looking forward to having an extra 20 to 30 hours a week to focus on my district and my constituents.”
Perry will now chair the Council’s Information Technology and General Services Committee, vice-chair the Education and Neighborhoods and Public Safety committees, and continue as a member of the Housing, Community and Economic Development Committee. She will also continue to chair the Ad Hoc Committee on the proposed downtown stadium and event center.
“I look forward to chairing the city’s Information Technology and General Services Committee,” she said. “I believe our city can be a leader in new technologies and support the growth of citywide infrastructure that will help us reach our potential as a wireless city. I also believe that we need to streamline our real property database so that we can finally maximize our city assets and create more government efficiency. I look forward to taking on these important tasks.”
The first thing on Herb J. Wesson’s agenda after his swearing-in as president on Jan. 3, could be whipping the Los Angeles City Council into shape, although those are not his words. Actually, what he wants to do is make the Council “run more smoothly—no multiple issues on the agenda, no lengthy debates and just work on streamlining things and making it more effective.”
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