By Eric He

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – One day after electing a new council president and voting to start the process of placing measures before voters that would create an independent redistricting commission and expand the size of the council, the Los Angeles City Council is set to meet virtually today for the second straight day.

This week’s meetings are being held virtually due to multiple councilmembers testing positive for COVID-19, with the chamber open only to the media and city staff. Councilman Mike Bonin tested positive for COVID-19 last week and has since tested negative, but Council President Paul Krekorian tested positive on Monday. Last week’s meetings were also disrupted by protesters amid the City Hall racism scandal, resulting in last Friday’s meeting being canceled.

On Wednesday’s agenda, the council is scheduled to consider continuing separate local emergency declarations due to COVID-19 and monkeypox, continuing the allowance of remote meetings under AB 361 and designating locations in District 15 where encampments are not allowed under the 41.18 ordinance.

It is unclear if protesters will continue to show up at City Hall demanding the resignations of Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo. The two are facing intense calls to resign for their involvement in a recorded conversation that included racist comments and discussions over favorable redistricting that led to former Council President Nury Martinez resigning her council seat last week. De León and Cedillo have been under mounting pressure to resign since the release of the tape Oct. 9.

On Tuesday, a couple dozen protesters gathered outside City Hall, trying to enter the locked building during the meeting and chanting “No resignations, no meeting.” The protesters were confronted by police in riot gear, and a video posted by Spectrum News on Twitter showed one officer grabbing a protester on the back of the neck to keep him out of the building as another protester was trying to push him into City Hall.

Acting President Mitch O’Farrell presided over an empty chamber except for staff and media, as the council conducted business for the first time in a week.

In addition to electing Krekorian the new president, the council also voted to begin the process of placing a measure on the 2024 ballot or sooner that would create an independent redistricting commission for both the city and the Los Angeles Unified School District, and to explore a ballot measure that would increase the number of council districts in Los Angeles.

O’Farrell took nearly three-and-a-half hours of public comment on Tuesday, claiming to have heard every speaker who called in. Some speakers criticized the council for meeting without resignations from de León and Cedillo.

But Krekorian, in his opening remarks after being elected president on a 10-0 vote, pledged to continue holding meetings. He said the council can’t allow two members who have “dishonored their offices” to hold the business of the city hostage, though he will keep pushing for resignations.

“We cannot wait to continue to do the business of Los Angeles,” Krekorian said.

The council will have to be careful to maintain quorum during meetings. If de León and Cedillo continue to be absent, the council can only afford to lose two additional members for meetings to take place with Martinez’s resignation. Ten members are required for a quorum.

The council operated through most of Tuesday’s meeting with 10 members present. Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez left partially through the meeting due to a family emergency. Councilman Curren Price was absent because he was protesting the decision to hold the meeting virtually.

“I made a conscious decision to not attend this morning’s council meeting because as a city leader, I could not support a virtual hearing that silenced the public outcry and shut out Angelenos who continue to reel from this breach of trust,” Price said in a statement.

If Price continues to hold out, it could make Krekorian’s attempts to maintain quorum even more difficult.

It will be part of a number of tasks for Krekorian to immediately undertake, as he looks to guide the council through a turbulent stretch with fallout from the scandal continuing.

He stressed collaboration in his first remarks, in a likely attempt to contrast with Martinez’s efforts on the leaked tape to work behind the scenes to consolidate power during redistricting, as well as comments she made insulting her colleagues.

“The presidency will be a collective enterprise,” Krekorian said. “It is critically important to me that our leadership includes disagreement. Because that’s how we move forward as a community. By listening to each other and working together.”