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Monday, October 18, 2021

The "Remarkable Vicissitude" of Mark Ridley-Thomas

 By Daniel Guss

@TheGussReport - You can infer a lot by what an indicted politician says when accused of federal crimes that could put him in the federal pokey for the rest of this life and a good part of his next one.

But in this case, pay closer attention to what Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, MRT, did not say in the wake of last week's 20-count federal indictment of him.

The federal government alleges that MRT committed crimes including bribery and conspiracy with his already-disgraced son, former California State Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, and Marilyn Louise Flynn, a former USC dean. It says that the corruption took place while MRT was in his previous gig as one of the five LA County Supervisors. 

Borrowing from MRT's vocabulary, what a remarkable vicissitude!

Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas  
Photo Credit: ABC7

Marilyn Louise Flynn
Photo Credit: ASUmag.com

A day after the criminal charges against him went public last week, MRT declared himself shocked - shocked! - at the allegations! Through his representatives, the deliberately..... speaking..... baritone..... lawmaker..... issued a full-throated denial including that other trite thing politicians in his predicament often say: he looks forward to his day in court and clearing his good name.

One thing MRT did not say was I will not accept a plea deal under any circumstance.

So suppose this indictment is a set-up or just a big misunderstanding. We anticipate, then, that MRT will fight the allegations tooth and nail by going to trial and proving his case.  

That is, unless and until a plea deal requiring spilling the beans with the FBI about his current and former political peers, like those trying to oust him from his $200,000+ LA City Council salary and their friends and family members, makes more sense.

In other words, MRT won't take a plea deal, for the time being.

I wonder what MRT's predecessor Herb Wesson might think about that. Wouldn't you love to know what MRT might have to say about Wesson's wife's qualifications for her $250,000 gig, one son's false voter registration residency claims and who paid for another son's rent, as well as an array of curious land-development deals made by Wesson's "best friend" on LA City Council, Jose Huizar, who is slated for his own corruption trial in early 2022? Imagine being a fly on the FBI or U.S. Attorney's office wall when they chat with MRT about Councilmembers Curren Price, Joe Buscaino, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer or L.A. County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl?

Or do you believe that Mark Ridley-Thomas, an icon of L.A. politics, doesn't know a thing or two about everyone's dirty laundry?

And where is the LA Times right now? 

Despite writing extensively about what MRT allegedly did in this dubious deal, it still endorsed him over Grace Yoo, a self-made grassroots leader and attorney in MRT's District 10.  

Instead of a mea culpa, the Times has little to say about its MRT endorsements the same way it was mum after others it consistently endorsed, like Huizar and former LA City Councilmember Mitch Englander, were indicted and convicted, respectively. It even stands by its endless endorsements of Eric Garcetti, despite his pathological destruction of Los Angeles over the past two decades.

MRT is entitled to his presumption of innocence and can maintain his current elected job unless he is convicted. However, nothing can stop LA City Council president Nury Martinez from stripping him of his powerful committee assignments - today - unless she has some personal conflict for not doing so.

Nury Martinez

Photo Credit: Beverly Press

That's precisely what Martinez did upon Jose Huizar's indictment. 

So why not treat MRT the same way, Ms. Martinez?

Other politicians should read the writing on the wall. It says you may get away with nepotism and other micro-corruptions for a while but those who you consider your friends now may become future cooperating witnesses and are already taking copious notes. 

So this column will be the first to predict that Mark Ridley-Thomas will - eventually - take a highly conditioned plea deal from the federal government.  

His silence about taking one makes me think that he eventually will.

And most everyone in LA's political kleptocratic universe should run for cover.

Tell your friends to follow me on The Twitters @TheGussReport.

(Daniel Guss, MBA, was runner-up for the 2020 Los Angeles Press Club journalism award for Best Online Political Commentary and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star-News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers.)

Presently using mi amigo Scott's sign-in until our new Mayor Sam 2.0 tech matters are ironed out.


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