Who owns West Hollywood? You might think we residents and local businesses do. But the election campaigns of our City Council members, who decide everything from parking fees to development permits to whether to preserve (or tear down) historic buildings, are overwhelmingly funded by city vendors and developers and billboard companies from outside West Hollywood who want to make a buck off of us.
We strongly believe that West Hollywood needs managed growth and sound parking and traffic management. But it also needs to know whether the Council members who decide on those issues are influenced by the needs and desires of residents and local businesses or by out-of-town campaign donors.
For the 2013 City Council election, WEHOville sent hundreds of pages of contribution reports to India to have the data transcribed into a digital database. Then we hired researchers to find out who the donors really were. We learned that many of them were employees or relatives of outside business owners who had reached their own campaign donation limit. We also turned up evidence of campaign donation fraud. Our research showed us that more than two-thirds of the campaign donations made to Council incumbents came from outsiders looking to make money in West Hollywood.
Our Council members say that campaign contributions never influence their decisions, which if true would make them unique in human history. Maybe they are right, but the only way to know the truth of that is to see where the money is coming from and who it’s going to.
For the March 2015 City Council election, the campaign and fundraising for which already is underway, at least three seats are up for grabs. For this important campaign, WEHOville wants to continue to report real donor information to the residents and local business owners who really own this city. We’re asking for your help with this Kickstarter campaign, which will allow us to again transcribe campaign donation documents and do the rigorous (and tedious) research that has helped us identify “homemakers” in Utah as billboard company executives and “students” in New York City as the children of major developers. We also intend to publish a database you can search that lists donors categorized by the business or industry they represent.
Please donate whatever you can afford. Whether it is $5 or $500, this is the most important campaign contribution you can make. Given the reluctance of our City Council to adopt campaign finance reform, we have to work together to find out where the money is coming from and where it is going to.
By the way, while WEHOville isn’t a non-profit entity, at this stage in our development we aren’t profitable either (i.e. I continue to fund this business myself). So the only way we can continue to provide this important public service is with the help of West Hollywood’s residents and local business owners — the people who really do, and should, own West Hollywood. Two of our major contributors at launch are Joseph G. Daniels and Kai Aiyub of J. Daniels Productions, who generously produced the Kickstarter video for this campaign.