L.A. City Council taps brakes on Price suspension, holding off until late August

Community members cheering at a meeting as a news camera films
Community members cheer for comments supporting Councilmember Curren Price during a Los Angeles City Council committee meeting on Friday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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After more than 90 minutes of impassioned testimony, a Los Angeles City Council committee Friday tapped the brakes on the effort to suspend Councilmember Curren Price, postponing a recommendation until at least the end of August.

Price, who has maintained his innocence, was charged last week with 10 felony counts in a case that partly involves votes he cast on affordable housing projects developed by companies that employed Price’s wife as a consultant.

Members of the council’s three-person Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee argued that the council should slow down, give Price’s constituents more of a voice in the process and take time to research the best ways to move forward.


Ultimately, Council President Paul Krekorian and Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Hugo Soto-Martínez agreed to table the suspension proceedings until the committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 25.

They also approved Harris-Dawson’s proposal to “transparently and expeditiously explore all options” for filling a temporary vacancy, and creating a process for soliciting public input from constituents and civic institutions in the district.

Price said he was pleased with the committee’s decision, noting that he has “not yet had the opportunity to answer the unwarranted charges” against him in court.

“I hope that the committee, and the full council, will extend to me the same presumption of innocence that the law extends to me, and I look forward to proving my innocence,” he said.

Curren Price says it would be ‘inappropriate’ for the council’s rules committee to recommend his suspension while he fights felony charges.

June 21, 2023

Dozens of people spoke in ardent support of Price during the meeting, including pastors, labor leaders and a long list of South Central community members. They urged the three committee members to let the legal process play out and not penalize Price — or his constituents — before he had a chance to defend himself in court.

“If Councilman Curren Price is presumed innocent until proven guilty, that means that you would be suspending an innocent person,” Pastor Shep Crawford of the Experience Christian Ministries told the committee.


Speakers praised the third-term council member as a friend and leader who had long fought for some of the poorest communities in the city. They recited a litany of examples of Price bringing badly needed resources to his district, and beseeched the committee not to leave them without representation.

Price, who is Black, represents a district that is four-fifths Latino. He has been characterized as a bridge builder who brought his district’s Black and brown communities together. Many speakers also argued that Price was being unfairly targeted or judged under the harshest possible light because of his race.

A profile view of union co-president Kurt Petersen in glasses, a button-up shirt and a jacket
Unite Here Local 11 Co-President Kurt Petersen addresses the City Council rules committee on Friday in support of Councilmember Curren Price.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“I have no doubt that if Curren Price looked like me, he would not be facing these unwarranted felony charges,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, the politically influential hotel and restaurant workers union. Petersen is white.

Price has been a staunch ally of organized labor during his decade on the council, and Petersen issued a full-throated defense of Price during the meeting.

Several called the charges “bogus” or raised concerns about their “flimsiness,” with some drawing distinctions between Price’s case and those of other council members who were charged with corruption in recent years.


Adriana Cabrera, president of the Central Alameda Neighborhood Council and a former District 9 candidate, was one of the few who spoke in support of suspending Price.

Cabrera said Price’s actions in the community “accelerated gentrification” and argued that “his leadership has benefited developers and further marginalized renters.”

This is the council’s third suspension proceeding in three years. Former Councilmember Jose Huizar was suspended within hours of being arrested by FBI agents in 2020. A year later, the City Council took the same action with Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, suspending him one week after he had been indicted on his own set of federal corruption charges.

Now, led by council President Paul Krekorian, the council is taking a slower, and markedly different, approach this time around.

The committee’s more cautious approach has been widely seen as a reaction to its handling of Ridley-Thomas’ suspension, which left his district with three temporary replacements over a 12-month period and sparked multiple legal challenges. Krekorian later said that it had been a mistake to suspend Ridley-Thomas so quickly, “without thinking about what would come after that.”

Should Price be suspended, the path ahead will be equally difficult.

Krekorian could appoint a nonvoting caretaker to fill the seat while Price’s battles the charges, but that would leave his district without a voting representative. The council could instead vote instead to appoint a temporary voting member. But that would pave the way for an unelected representative to make decisions on behalf of Price’s constituents.


Under the City Charter, the council has the power to suspend — not remove — a colleague facing criminal charges, meaning any vacancy would be temporary, lasting only until his case is resolved or he leaves office. (Ridley-Thomas was ultimately forced from office by his felony conviction.)

With yet another colleague facing criminal charges, the City Council is weighing its third suspension vote in three years. This time around, council members are taking a more cautious approach.

June 14, 2023

Suspending Price would also leave the 15-member council with only one Black representative who has been elected by voters. Councilmember Heather Hutt, who is Black, was selected by the council to replace Ridley-Thomas for the next 18 months and will have to run for the seat for the first time next year.

A child speaking at a desk as seated people look on
Creed Brojek, 8, speaks to city officials in support of Councilmember Curren Price.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

At one point, Creed Brojek, 8, described Price’s role in the community and the help he had provided to the boy’s family.

“We need to keep Curren Price, because when I grow up I want to be just like him,” he said to applause, before finishing his comment with an “amen.”

Prosecutors have charged Price with perjury, saying he failed to disclose his wife’s business dealings with developers whose projects he voted on. They also say Price violated conflict-of-interest laws by voting to support two of those developers’ affordable housing projects between 2019 and 2021.


In addition, prosecutors have charged Price with embezzlement of public funds, saying he had his now-wife receive city health benefits at a time when their marriage was not legally valid.