A torturous debate left the Los Angeles City Council sharply divided by race Tuesday as members weighed whether to restore a settlement offered to a black firefighter whose dinner had been laced with dog food. For the first time, the council heard directly from Tennie Pierce, the target of the incident, who had filed a discrimination case against the city, reports the city’s Times. Council members initially voted to pay $2.7 million to keep it from going to trial. But last week – amid a storm of public reaction – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vetoed the action, setting the stage for Tuesday’s council session.
“Whatever anyone says about me, I’ve always tried to do what’s right,” said Pierce. “This is wrong. If four black firemen did it to a white fireman, I would stand up [with] the white fireman and say it was wrong.” With a decision expected today, all three black members said they would vote to override the veto because the white firefighters who doctored Pierce’s spaghetti committed an act that could be viewed as racist and because the city could lose more money in court. But other members said they had come to view it as a firehouse prank.