City Councilmember John Heilman’s effort to bar employees from lobbying the Council after leaving their city jobs met another logjam tonight.
Councilmembers John Duran and Jeffrey Prang and Mayor John D’Amico, who have consistently opposed efforts by Heilman to enact legislation to curb the influence of lobbyists on the Council, raised a variety of objections to Heilman’s proposal. Ian Owens, Michael Haibach and Michelle Rex, deputies respectively to Duran, Prang and D’Amico, also opposed Heilman’s proposal in a letter filed by their union.
State law now bars City Council members and city managers from lobbying local governments in which they have served for one year after leaving office. Heilman has proposed extending that ban to two years and covering heads of city departments and division, council deputies and members of city boards and commissions.
When Heilman first proposed the ban on so-called “revolving door” behavior in March, D’Amico insisted on adding another provision that would bar the city from hiring any retired employee as a contractor or consultant for one year after retirement. That sent Heilman’s proposal back to City Attorney Mike Jenkins for a rewrite, which was presented to the Council tonight. Tonight D’Amico clarified that he wanted the ban on hiring former city employees as contractors to be retroactive, covering any city employees currently engaged in that manner.
Duran, who with D’Amico and Prang also has opposed Heilman’s efforts to block council members’ campaign managers from lobbying the Council, repeated his argument that Council members aren’t swayed by lobbyists or other outside interests.
Heilman said tonight that the issue is perception. “There’s always the concern that while you’re working (for the city) you’re really negotiating your next job with someone you’re regulating.”
Councilmember Abbe Land said she was concerned that banning a retired city employee from doing contract work with the city for a brief period would deny the city access to experienced talent. Prang and Heilman agreed with her. Land said she also was concerned about barring city commission and board members from lobbying the city.
The opposition by the three council deputies mirrors a longstanding rift between Heilman and Land on the one side and Duran, D’Amico, and occasionally Prang, on the other. In memos filed with the City Clerk, Fran Solomon, deputy to Heilman, and Kiran Hashmi, deputy to Land, objected that they hadn’t been consulted by the union or their fellow deputies on the matter. The deputies, who earn monthly salaries of $6,760 to $8,638 plus health insurance and retirement and other benefits, are members of the West Hollywood Council Deputies Association, a five-member union.
They report directly to the Council members who employ them although they are loosely under the supervision of City Manager Paul Arevalo.
The Council decided to send Heilman’s proposal back to City Attorney Jenkins, asking him to take into consideration the various objections raised by council members and come back with a news proposed ordinance. Only Councilmember Duran voted “no” on that request.