By Ray Richardson
LOS ANGELES — The City Council’s decision on June 23 to not suspend Ninth District Councilman Curren Price allows Price to attend City Council meetings and resume his committee assignments, but the veteran public official continues to maintain a low profile in the aftermath of 10 felony counts filed against him by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Price did not attend City Council meetings June 27 and 28, although a spokesperson for Price’s office said the council member has been “meeting with constituents and doing work in the district.”
Eighth District Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said Price is welcome to return to his normal duties “at his discretion.”
“There were never any restrictions,” Harris-Dawson told a reporter regarding Price’s status. “He’s free to come to meetings and participate in committees. We know the council member asked for time off.”
The City Council rules committee agreed not to suspend Price and allow the judicial process to play out. Price is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court July 13.
In a statement last week, Price proclaimed his innocence of all charges, which include allegations of embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest. Price said in his statement that he’s “looking forward” to defending himself in court, but he opted to step down from his major roles with the City Council when the charges became public. He indicated he did not want to be a distraction for the City Council.
Price was president pro tempore on the council, second in command to Council President Paul Krekorian. Harris-Dawson was chosen to replace Price as president pro tempore after the charges were announced.
The Rev. William Smart, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California, lives in the 10th District but has kept close watch on developments with Price. Smart praised the City Council for “acting with fairness” with Price.
“There’s a lesson learned here,” Smart said. “You cannot attack a council member without facts. Price has a strong demeanor. He’ll come through this.”
The City Council is scheduled for a summer recess July 7-28. Price will have only two meetings to attend before the recess — June 30 and July 5.
Krekorian, who chairs the rules committee, said the City Council would review Price’s status in August, a move that could give attorneys on both sides more time to sort through the allegations and determine their merit.
“We don’t know what situation caused the D.A.’s office to prosecute,” Harris-Dawson said. “I want to know more from the D.A. The onus is on them. The council has tried to be as fair as possible to council member Price.”
Price’s wife, Del Richardson Price, is a key figure in the allegations. Price is accused of casting several votes in the City Council between 2013 and 2017 that allegedly benefitted Del Richardson & Associates, a real estate development company operated by his wife.
The allegations also claim Price had Del Richardson Price on his medical benefits plan with the City Council before the couple were legally married.
The District Attorney’s Office complaint indicates that Price’s divorce from his first wife, Lynn Suzette Green, had not been finalized at the time of the allegations. Price and Del Richardson reportedly were legally married in 2018.
Allowing Price to effectively defend the charges and continue in his role as council member was viewed as a major victory for Price’s supporters. More than 50 people from the Ninth District attended the June 23 council meeting at City Hall to urge the council not to suspend Price.
“Councilmember Price has not lost the trust of the people who voted for him, and that’s an important factor in all of this,” said Pastor Shep Crawford of Experience Christian Ministries, a church located in the Ninth District. “We don’t know what the D.A. has. Right now everybody is asking for more information. For what’s out there, compared to his record, we didn’t see a reason to suspend him.”
Price has continued to attend events in his district, including a recent brunch involving the Bloods and Crips, the infamous rival street gangs based in South Los Angeles. A source close to Price said the council member met with the gang members to discuss a peace strategy.
“Price is part of the family in CD9,’’ Crawford said. “He’s not just a photo-op person. He has integrity and a proven record that has enhanced the district and the city.”
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.