Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden, after visiting the ailing Gilbert Lindsay in the hospital, urged his council colleagues Thursday to wait at least three more months before deciding whether to vote the veteran councilman out of office.
Lindsay, who turned 90 Thursday, has been at Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Inglewood since suffering a debilitating stroke Sept. 2 that left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak or breathe on his own.
The City Council could consider a vote to remove Lindsay as early as Jan. 4. Under the City Charter, a council member can be removed if he resides outside city limits for more than 60 days without council consent. The council stopped excusing Lindsay’s absences on Nov. 1.
Holden, who visited Lindsay Wednesday, said the council should give Lindsay a full six months of recovery before deciding his political fate.
“I just don’t want to act hastily,” Holden said. “I’m not saying Gil Lindsay is going to be able to come back to work (but) for him to get to the state of mind where everyone is satisfied he is making the decision himself, then he can step down.
“Give the man a chance,” Holden added.
On Tuesday, Holden threatened to take legal action against Lindsay’s family unless council members were granted visitation privileges, which Holden said were necessary to make a first-hand assessment of Lindsay’s condition before taking any action to remove him from office.
Lindsay’s family had limited his visitors to about eight people, including Mayor Tom Bradley and Council President John Ferraro. The family agreed Tuesday to allow all council members to visit Lindsay as long as the visits are arranged through Ferraro.
On Thursday, Holden said Lindsay seemed to respond to him during his visit the day before.
“In my opinion, I think he was happy I was there,” said Holden, who stayed with Lindsay about 40 minutes. “I was able to communicate with him. He squeezed my hand when I asked him to and he blinked his eyes.
“When it was time to leave, he squeezed my hand so tight as if he didn’t want me to go.”
Earlier this week, Robert Gay, the only Lindsay council aide who has unrestricted visitation privileges, suggested that too many visitors could endanger the councilman’s health by preventing him from getting adequate rest.
But Holden, who said he cared for his late mother when she had a stroke and was an aide to Supervisor Kenneth Hahn when he suffered a stroke several years ago, disagreed.
“The worst thing you can do for a person who is sick is isolate him,” Holden said. “They need to know people still care.”
Lindsay, known for his gregariousness, was the city’s first black councilman when he was appointed to the City Council in 1963. He handily has won reelection ever since, including his most recent bid in 1989, a year after suffering an initial stroke.
The City Council set the stage for possibly removing Lindsay from office when it voted earlier this month to no longer excuse his absences, despite the fact that he was absent because of his illness.
If Lindsay’s condition does not improve before Jan. 4 and the council decides to oust him, his removal will be achieved through a technicality in the City Charter that allows the action without input from either Lindsay or his constituents.
Even before his stroke, Lindsay regularly missed meetings and appeared at times disoriented during council sessions, a condition many attributed to the effects of his first stroke in 1988.
Holden contended, however, that Lindsay’s constituents are being well served by his staff and suggested that by waiting a few more months doctors would be in a better position to provide a more reliable prognosis of Lindsay’s condition and any long-term effects of the stroke.
Holden also said that other council seats have been without leadership in the past for various reasons, including his own 10th District seat, which was vacant for 10 months after his predecessor, David Cunningham, resigned.