We Need To Talk About Kevin De León | Crooked Media
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December 11, 2022
What A Day
We Need To Talk About Kevin De León

In This Episode

  • Congress has until Friday to reach an agreement on a spending package that will fund the government through the next fiscal year, but lawmakers are clashing over what to prioritize. Republicans want to invest heavily in military spending, but Democrats want to put more money toward the social safety net.
  • Karen Bass was officially sworn in as the mayor of Los Angeles yesterday, making her the first woman to serve in the role. Meanwhile, embattled LA City Councilmember Kevin de León is facing more scrutiny after he was involved in a fight with a local community activist.
  • And in headlines: American soccer journalist Grant Wahl died while covering the World Cup in Qatar, NASA successfully wrapped its historic Artemis 1 mission, and the city of Richmond, Virginia began removing its last city-owned Confederate monument.


Show Notes:



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Juanita Tolliver: It’s Monday, December 12th. I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day reminding everyone to take three deep breaths in between listening to the new SZA album and texting your ex. 


Juanita Tolliver: Put the phone down. You do not need to communicate with your ex. You broke up for a reason, remember? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, he’s just lucky I am no longer bustin windows out of cars, okay? 


Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] Yes. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Richmond, Virginia, is set to remove its last Confederate monument. Plus, the historic Artemis Moon mission ended with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. 


Juanita Tolliver: Y’all, that video was pretty cool to watch, so check it out if you haven’t yet. But first, the clock is ticking on yet another potential government shutdown if Congress doesn’t get its act together. They officially have until Friday, December 16th, to either reach an agreement on a spending package that will fund the government through the next fiscal year, which runs through September 2023, or to pass a short term continuing resolution to fund the government for another 3 to 7 days while they sort out the details. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Juanita, every single year we find ourselves back here. 


Juanita Tolliver: Come on. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Where the government is about to shut down. What is going on? 


Juanita Tolliver: It feels like a replay. And that’s right. Because this is not something anyone wants to deal with right before taking off for the holiday season. But this is what they do every single time. And similar to past years, there’s a big chance that the holidays will be delayed for members of Congress because they have to stay in town to get this done. The primary holdup here is that Republicans are saying Democrats want to spend too much money and that’s even before they’ve seen Senator Patrick Leahy’s proposed spending bill which will be dropping later today. Essentially, the GOP thinks that after investments to combat COVID and provide Americans with free testing and vaccines, as well as lowering prescription drug costs and investing in climate change measures, Democrats have spent too much money. Meanwhile, Democrats are eyeballing Republicans after their hefty investments in military spending. So now we’re approaching a staring contest that could leave us all with a government shutdown. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I think they just like looking in each other’s eyes. I think that’s what brings us here. 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh, you think it’s romantic? Oh.


Tre’vell Anderson: I, You know, it’s got to be. That’s the only logical explanation Juanita. Okay, so exactly how far apart are Democrats and Republicans when it comes to that top line number for government spending? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, the current projection is that they’re about $26 billion dollars apart. And again, that’s before Senator Leahy’s proposed spending bill even comes out. So I can only imagine that number potentially going up. And part of that separation comes from the fact that Democrats have been clear that they want to spend as much money domestically and on social programs as the nation spends on defense and the military. Remember just last week, the House approved the proposal for defense funding for 2023 that hit $858 billion dollars. That’s even $40 billion dollars more than President Biden asked for in his initial proposal. But now, when it comes to spending on domestic issues, especially as we’re in the beginning of a seasonal COVID spike that hospitals are not prepared for, and we’re still facing the impacts of inflation. Now, Republicans don’t want to drop the coins. They’re going with their standard posture of let people suffer. And we all know that’s not a solution. That’s just straight up cruelty. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And they continue to do it over and over. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So what happens if this isn’t resolved before the end of the year? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, that leads us to a pretty dark place, because a lot of members in Congress want to get this done before Republicans are set to take over the House in January. And I’m intentional in that wording because Democrats aren’t the only ones who want this done. Some Senate Republicans don’t want to wait for a GOP led House either. According to Politico, an unnamed senior Republican senator said, quote, “Nobody wants to hand Kevin McCarthy a grenade with the pen already pulled and say, okay, here’s your start.” And McCarthy clearly wants his hands on this, though, bragging, quote, “Wait until we’re in charge.” That’s something he’s been saying during recent interviews so we can all decipher that threat. And there is also another add on that Democrats and Republicans both want included in the spending package. That’s legislation for the Electoral Count Act, which would make it harder for losing presidential candidates to claim victory. Hmm. Wonder why we need that? [laughter] Now, this bill passed through committee in the Senate with bipartisan support in September, and the spending bill would be the last piece of legislation for this congressional session. So it’s essentially the last shot for this election law too. 


Tre’vell Anderson: All right, governmental folks, get it together. [laughter] Please and thank you. Do your jobs. Thank you so much. Thank you for that, Juanita. That was national politics. So now let’s go a little local to my stomping grounds here in Los Angeles, where on Sunday Karen Bass was officially sworn in as mayor. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yes! 


Tre’vell Anderson: Her oath of office was given by Vice President Kamala Harris. 


[clip of Vice President Kamala Harris] And that I will faithfully discharge the duties. 


[clip of Karen Bass] And I will faithfully discharge the duties. 


[clip of Vice President Kamala Harris] Of the office of mayor. 


[clip of Karen Bass] Of the office of mayor. 


[clip of Vice President Kamala Harris] According to my best ability. 


[clip of Karen Bass] According to my best ability. 


[clip of Vice President Kamala Harris] Madam Mayor. [cheers] 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh I love it.


Juanita Tolliver: I love that you can hear Kamala’s laugh. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. I requested that on purpose um to be left in the clip. But Karen Bass is now the first woman to serve as mayor of the nation’s second largest city. She’s also only the second Black person to lead L.A. as well. Of course, we love to see it. No Rick Caruso to be seen. This is good for us. Okay. 


Juanita Tolliver: Period. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now, we’ve already covered on the show the fact that Karen Bass has a fairly steep to do list to tackle. And homelessness is probably the biggest issue at the top of that list. We have a large unhoused population. On top of not having enough housing that is affordable. But then, you know, some of us can’t really call the cops when we feel unsafe because they got white supremacist gangs all up in the sheriff’s department. And the LAPD is a racist institution. 


Juanita Tolliver: That part. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And so, you know, policing is another major issue that Mayor Bass will have to address. Now, I could go on with four or five other issues that she’s going to have to tackle on this list of tasks, because it’s kind of long. But then, you know, I would have to have you here, Juanita, all day. And I don’t think anybody wants that. 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, I think a lot of people do, actually. [laugh] But I just can’t get over the fact that you have the first vice president who is a woman and a Black woman, no less, swearing in, the first woman mayor of L.A.. This is a huge, huge, historic moment. So I’m basking in the glow of that instead. Okay. Tre’vell, but– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 


Juanita Tolliver: –on your point about these housing issues, I hear that Mayor Bass is already taking some action on her first day. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. That’s what the streets are saying, largely because Mayor Bass has already said herself that she’ll declare a state of emergency regarding houselessness this morning. We don’t know exactly what the emergency order will say, but folks involved in the planning say the goal is for the mayor to centralize some of the power and authority needed to decisively act on the homelessness crisis. It also will allow her to redirect some resources and staff where she sees fit in service of her plan. So if and when that happens, it’s all a good thing. We like the– 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –sound of it. But there’s another item she’s faced with dealing with, which is the real reason I’m doing this story today. And that is pardon my french here, Juanita, the shit show, that is the L.A. City Council. Okay. 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh goodness. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you thought it was bad before, girl, they are out here fighting, okay. 


Juanita Tolliver: Not coming to fisticuffs, fighting? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: In front of kids no less. This is wild. Okay, before we get to the tea. Catch us up. Give us the context. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. So, boom. All right. Back in October, audio from a behind closed doors meeting with some local Latinx leaders on the city council was leaked. In this meeting, which had happened like a year earlier, these leaders said some racist, anti-Black things. For example, the former city council president herself referred to another council member’s Black son, using the word monkey. 


Juanita Tolliver: Uh uhh. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Now, the community heard this audio and have, rightfully so, been calling out the folks implicated in it. One council member heard on the tape stepped down and resigned. Another member’s term ran out with this past the election. And then you have Councilman Kevin de Leon, who was also caught on that audio. But he has refused to resign and has been trying to keep a low profile, not even attending city council meetings for the last two months. Okay. That’s all the background information there, Juanita, because this past Friday, he did show up to the council meeting ready to work like nothing happened. Okay. He apparently tipped into the meeting unexpectedly, which prompted some of his fellow council members to walk out. The protesters in attendance weren’t happy either. The meeting ended up going to recess. And by the way, one of those people who walked out was the father of the child they called a monkey. 


Juanita Tolliver: Can you imagine going to work and the colleague who disrespected you and your Black baby is sitting there like, oh. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s been 60 days. You forgot. You probably forgot. Right. No, we’re not forgetting nothing. These protesters clearly aren’t forgetting anything. And these other council members didn’t forget anything. So something tells me this story is nowhere near close to over. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, it definitely is not. And particularly on this same day of that council meeting that Kevin de Leon showed up to. He ends up not returning to the council meeting after the recess, but hours later, he’s at a public holiday event. A little toy giveaway moment for the community. Okay. And there he was, confronted by a group of activists who, as they have been doing for the last couple of months, are demanding he resign. Now there is video of what happens next– 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh lord. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –posted on Twitter by a grassroots collective called J-TOWN Action and Solidarity. I’m going to play it first and then tell y’all what went down afterwards. Take a listen Juanita. 


[clip of protestors to Kevin de Leon] Resign Kevin. Resign Kevin. 


[clip of Kevin De Leon] No, no. 


[clip of protestors to Kevin de Leon] You’re a racist. 


[clip of Kevin De Leon] No. 


[clip of protestors to Kevin de Leon] You’re a racist. What the fuck. What are you doing? What are you doing Kevin? Don’t fucking touch me Kevin. [indistinct yelling and chaos]


Juanita Tolliver: Why did that sound like a wrestling match? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: Why does this sound like some WWE? What did we just hear? 


Tre’vell Anderson: You just heard a physical altercation between Councilman Kevin de Leon and an organizer by the name of Jason Reedy. 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my god. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now, I’m gonna let y’all watch the video yourself and decide who touched whom first. Okay. But at the end of that video, the councilman grabs Mr. Reedy, throws him into a table, and they start tussling like they in the schoolyard. Okay. Juanita.


Juanita Tolliver: In front of the kids? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. It’s a lot going on. All right. Both De Leon and Mr. Reedy say the other person was the aggressor. I’m just going to say, my eyes watching that video says that somebody is lying um. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I see you put on your good glasses today. So we got 20/20 vision over here. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Okay. Somebody is lying. But, you know, the LAPD is investigating it. I’m sure they’ll be looking at the same video that I am looking at. But nonetheless. Right. It’s just not a good look to be a council member literally fighting, throwing [?] with people. You’re already in some stuff with over this horrible racist audio that you were implicated in. But this is what our dear mayor, Karen Bass, is coming into on her first day, Juanita. 


Juanita Tolliver: I’m just going to say nobody better ever step to Mayor Bass in this way, ever. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, they know better. They know better. But also, hopefully, her behavior won’t drive protesters right to feel like they need to show up in this type of way. Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Plain and simple. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. 


Juanita Tolliver: Plain and simple. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So when I say Karen Bass has a lot to deal with, I definitely mean it. Okay. She doesn’t have authority to remove someone from the city council and there is already an effort underway to recall De Leon, since he won’t leave willingly. But Karen Bass did call for his resignation during her campaign. And now that she’s the big boss, you know, we’ll have to see how all of this foolishness with the council impacts her in some of the things that she’s trying to get done. With that, you have the latest for now. We’ll obviously keep following this story and its various implications. And we will be back after some ads. [music break]. 




Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The Justice Department announced Sunday that a Libyan intelligence agent suspected of making the explosive used in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing is now in U.S. custody. The attack brought down Pan Am Flight 103, which was heading to New York from London as it flew over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. All 259 people on board were killed, including 190 Americans. And wreckage from the plane killed another 11 people on the ground. Only one other person has been convicted in what was the worst terror attack against American citizens before 9/11. And yesterday’s announcement comes two years after the U.S. formally charged the suspect for his involvement. 


Juanita Tolliver: The sports world is mourning the death of American soccer journalist Grant Wahl, who died suddenly over the weekend while covering the World Cup in Qatar. Wahl was rushed to the hospital on Friday, where he reportedly collapsed during the quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands. Wahl celebrated his 49th birthday just days before he collapsed. And while Qatari officials have not yet given the cause of death, Wahl said on his podcast that he sought medical attention for what he thought was a case of bronchitis and that he was starting to feel better after taking some standard medication. Wahl also made headlines earlier in the tournament when he was briefly detained for wearing a rainbow shirt in support of LGBTQ+ rights. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. The World Cup Organizing Committee said on Saturday that it’s working with the U.S. Embassy in Qatar to return his body to his loved ones and Tre’vell let’s just be real, his loved ones have questions. If you’ve seen on social media, his brother has posted about the urgency with which his family wants to not only receive his body, but all of his belongings to get an understanding of what happened to him. Because they’ve got real questions. And I do, too. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Same.


Juanita Tolliver: And elsewhere in the World Cup, a historic achievement by Morocco’s national team. It became the first African and the first Arab country to reach the semifinals after beating Portugal one nil. Fans of the Atlas Lions, as the team is known, celebrated their victory around the world this weekend, and they’ll be up against France in the Final Four on Wednesday. 


Tre’vell Anderson: NASA’s Artemis one mission is now complete. Its Orion space capsule safely splashed back down to earth yesterday after it completed its 1.4 million mile trip around the moon. And while flight engineers describe the splashdown as a textbook landing, the steps leading up to it were anything but. That’s because the ambitious test flight was originally scheduled to launch back in August. But after months of delays, the little space mission that could finally took off about three weeks ago. It’s meant to pave the way for NASA to send American astronauts to the moon and back for the first time in more than 50 years. The space agency hopes to use those future lunar missions as a template to someday send humans to Mars. 


Juanita Tolliver: Are you trying to go to Mars Tre’vell? 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I [laughter] am good right here. I you know I think I’m good Juanita. [laughing]


Juanita Tolliver: Any answer that starts with, you know, is a no. [laughter] America’s population of bronze racists continues to decline because the process to remove Richmond, Virginia’s last city owned Confederate monument, kicks off today. After multiple legal battles, a circuit court judge blocked a request to delay the statue’s removal last week. This ongoing process of bringing down or relocating Confederate monuments began over two years ago. But this specific monument of Confederate General A.P. Hill is a little trickier for two reasons. First it’s located in the middle of a busy city intersection. And second, the general’s remains were buried underneath the monument in 1891. It is yet to be decided where the general’s remains will go after the monument has been moved. But that really ain’t our problem. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. And I’m sure that mister A.P. Hill has a descendant somewhere. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Who would like to have their great, great, great grand pappy’s ashes on their mantle. 


Juanita Tolliver: That part. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Uh. You could find somewhere else for his stuff. I think it’d be fine. Also in monuments to America’s shameful past. You may remember last week, a House lawmaker was brought to tears by the thought of people she’ll never meet being able to file their taxes together. Here’s Missouri Republican Vicky Hartzler speaking last Thursday to oppose the Respect for Marriage Act, which later passed in the House and will mandate the federal recognition of same sex marriages. 


[clip of Vicky Hartzler] I hope and pray that my colleagues will find the courage to join me in opposing [starts crying] this misguided– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh girl. 


[clip of Vicky Hartzler] –and this dangerous bill [indistinct]. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s the Christian no for me, though. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Absolutely. [laughter] So after this moving display of homophobia, Hartzler’s 24 year old nephew who is gay went on TikTok to post a response. Here is the recommended way to react when your dad’s brother’s wife is using her faith in god to justify trying to take away your rights and the rights of countless other people. 


[clip of Andrew Hartzler] It’s more like you want the power to force your religious beliefs onto everyone else. And because you don’t have that power, you feel like you’re being silenced. But you’re not. You’re just going to have to learn to coexist with all of us. And I’m sure it’s not that hard. 


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s not. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s not hard. Mind your business. Right? Like that’s his message to Aunt Vicky. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 


Juanita Tolliver: And keep your tears Aunt Vicky. I don’t care about your tears at all. And what I think is so good about her nephew’s response is that he’s like, I came out to her just earlier this year and she’s still this homophobic person in Congress speaking at a mic. Honey, you ain’t silenced. But I don’t want to hear your tears.


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Well, you know, white women historically have weaponized their tears– 


Juanita Tolliver: C’mon. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –time and time again. This time it won’t work. Okay, Miss Vicky. 


Juanita Tolliver: Keep it Aunt Vicky. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. Keep it girl. And those are the headlines. 




Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Melt a Confederate statue and tell your friends to listen. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just the part of the Bible that says love thy neighbor to Vicky Hartzler like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. 


Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And welcome home Artemis One. 


Juanita Tolliver: Like I’m really not trying to go to Mars. Like, ever. [laughter]


Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t know. You were very celebratory right there, Juanita. I don’t know. 


Juanita Tolliver: Let’s be real. Black people been guinea pigs too often. I ain’t trying to go. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Put us at the back of the line, honey. 


Juanita Tolliver: For once. Where we want to be. [laughing] That’s dark. Okay. 


Tre’vell Anderson: For once. Yes. [laughter]


Juanita Tolliver: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.