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- American politician
To the editor: Los Angele City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, just as much as we all are so entitled. It is one thing for a federal grand jury to bring an indictment; it is quite another matter to have a jury arrive at a guilty verdict.
The Times Editorial Board's argument that Ridley-Thomas should resign the position to which he was elected, because "it's hard to see how he could continue serving on the City Council effectively and without being a disruptive influence," is weak.
No one denies that Ridley-Thomas is a formidable and able public servant. The potential good he could accomplish for the people of Los Angeles and his district far outweighs any "disruption" this indictment may cause.
I regret I did not make similar public comment regarding Councilman Jose Huizar after he was indicted last year, but just because I made the mistake of staying silent once doesn't compel me to make it again. Let Ridley-Thomas stay on the job to which he was elected, and let him and his lawyers make their case in court.
Rick Tuttle, Culver City
The writer was city controller of Los Angeles from 1985-2001.
To the editor: There is no doubt that Ridley-Thomas has been a valuable leader in the Black community in Los Angeles. But I wonder if those community leaders who are now voicing strong support for him have actually read the indictment.
Ridley-Thomas, as a county supervisor, and Marilyn Flynn, a top USC leader, are accused of taking official actions and spending taxpayer money to benefit each other; in Ridley-Thomas' case, those benefits are alleged to have accrued mainly to his son.
Both of the accused deserve their day in court, but it is unseemly and unwise for L.A.'s Black leaders to trip over themselves to show support for Ridley-Thomas despite what appears on its face to be a damning accusation.
If you want to see former President Trump and his minions who gave us Jan. 6 brought to justice, you can't have it both ways. Right-wing leaders who royally screw up should be brought to justice. If Black politicians screw up, they should be too — no matter how brilliant they are, no matter what their policies are, no matter how effective they've been.
I am Black. I am progressive. I was born in L.A. and have lived here many years. I have watched Black politics in L.A. and California for years. It's time for the Black community here to demand better from its leaders.
Herbert Sample, Los Angeles
The writer was a journalist for 25 years who covered national and state politics throughout the country, including for the Sacramento Bee.
To the editor: The Times is dead wrong in calling for Ridley-Thomas to resign from the City Council.
I am a resident of the 10th District and have no desire to be left without representation in city government, particularly now as so many urgent issues are confronting our community. Homelessness, police reform and pandemic recovery are among the crises we face, along with the critical need for effective and equitable community development.
As The Times has long documented, these are all among the issues that Ridley-Thomas has addressed courageously and effectively during his long tenure in public service. Progress in the 10th District is underway and must not be interrupted.
Mary Lee, Los Angeles
To the editor: When I started college, I entered an incorrect birth year on my campus ID application which, if approved, would have allowed me to drink alcohol two years earlier than the legal age. I am sure the authorities had seen this trick before, and in short time my parents received a letter from the dean saying that I was being placed on probation.
My mother responded with a letter to the dean stating something along the lines of, "Do what you want to with her; she was not raised this way."
If the charges against Ridley-Thomas — that he misused county money to benefit his son, who had resigned amid scandal from the state Senate in 2017 — prove to be true, then I'll say this: Teaching children to deal with the consequences of their mistakes is loving them. Teaching them to get ahead by helping them cheat is not and, I suspect, more about the parents' needs than the children's.
Mary Weaver, Studio City
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.