LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A Superior Court judge Tuesday again blocked Herb Wesson from acting as a temporary replacement for suspended Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, adding more confusion to the representation of the 10th District.
The ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel prevents Wesson from performing any council functions. The decision effectively blocks him from representing the district, although it did not formally remove him from the post.
The ruling marked the second time Strobel has issued a restraining order against Wesson’s service on the council. On Feb. 24, Strobel sided with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California’s challenge to Wesson’s appointment, issuing a temporary restraining order that blocked him from serving.
But she later vacated the order and declined to issue a preliminary injunction, saying that procedurally, the SCLC needed to obtain permission from the state Attorney General’s Office to proceed with its legal challenge.
As a result, Wesson began serving on the council in mid-March. Last month, however, the Attorney General’s Office cleared the way for the SCLC to proceed with its challenge, opining that there were legitimate questions about whether Wesson’s appointment was legal.
The SCLC contends that Wesson is “termed out” since he already represented the 10th District from 2005 through 2020, serving as council president from 2012 to 2020. The group also argued that there was no public input in the process of choosing Wesson to temporarily fill the council seat.
With the AG’s opinion in hand, SCLC attorneys filed papers Monday and went to court Tuesday seeking a new restraining order, which Strobel granted, blocking Wesson from performing any council duties.
She set a hearing on a possible preliminary injunction for Aug. 16, so Wesson will be unable to perform any council functions until at least that date.
Attorneys for the city argued against the restraining order, saying in part that there was no urgency for such a ruling — as noted by the SCLC’s decision to wait roughly a month after the attorney general’s ruling to even seek an injunction. City attorneys also claimed that the restraining order would do nothing to address the SCLC’s primary allegation that the City Council had no authority to suspend Ridley-Thomas.
Ridley-Thomas was suspended from the council last October, following his federal indictment on corruption charges.
The motion to appoint Wesson as a temporary replacement was unanimously approved by the council on Feb. 22. According to the appointment, Wesson is supposed to hold the position through Dec. 31 unless Ridley-Thomas is acquitted or the charges against him are dropped.
This isn’t the first time Mark Ridley-Thomas has left residents without representation when he fought against naming a caretaker to the Los Angeles School board after the death of one of the board members.
Ridley-Thomas left minority students without representation when local control formula funding was made available to schools. He pushed for an election which helped him raise $1 million towards the failed campaign of his candidate Alex Johnson.
It came to light that Ridley-Thomas leveraged campaign donations in exchange for a vote for the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts after someone hacked the emails of Sony executives.
Ridley-Thomas’ federal trial is schedule to begin in November.
2UrbanGirls contributed to this report.