1) One City Council deputy is under investigation for possible criminal activity.
2) Another Council deputy is alleged to have solicited political campaign donations from her office.
3) A third deputy, a career political operative, has a reputation being nasty to her peers and, a Council member claims, egged on the Council deputy accused of spying on a third Council deputy.
4) One of those deputies was hired after meeting his boss on a gay hookup app and having sex with him.
5) Several of those deputies are notorious for not showing up for work on time.
6) Several of those deputies had the audacity to publicly oppose (through their five-member union) a proposal that would have barred them from lobbying the Council for commercial clients after leaving their city jobs (A proposal that failed because three of their bosses — City Council members — agreed with them).
7) None of those deputies are subject to proper supervision, given that their real bosses (the Council members who hired them) also are the collective boss of the City Manager to whom the deputies allegedly report.
8) All of them command ridiculously high salaries — most of them more than twice the $54,000 annual income of the average West Hollywood resident, with incredibly generous benefits on top of that.
Could there be a more dysfunctional system? (We’re waiting for Larry Block to campaign for our city flag to be labeled West Follywood).
Efforts to quickly fix this mess have met opposition from a couple of Council members who want to “study” the matter. That is a classic “kick the can down the road” approach the Council has taken when confronted with controversial issues such as campaign reform. We’re betting it will involve appointing a two-person Council ad hoc committee (three people would mean that under state law the ad hoc committee’s deliberations would be open to awkward public scrutiny).
That’s a way to bury this controversial issue until after the March 3 City Council election, when the heat will be off the Council members running for re-election and any change in the deputy system likely will be window-dressing. Kicking the can down the road also will benefit some of the challengers in the upcoming election, most of whom have been quite wishy-washy in their responses to questions about the deputy system (after all, what person holding a full time other job who wins a Council seat wouldn’t want a full time City Hall lackey to do his or her bidding?)
As we’ve noted previously, West Hollywood should do what many other small and well-run cities do — create a group of employees hired by and reporting directly to the assistant city manager to provide services to the Council members. Each employee would have a specific job — managing schedules and events for the Council members, developing policy initiatives, responding to calls from residents. That works well for Beverly Hills, like us a small town with about 35,000 residents and an at-large City Council.
John D’Amico pledged that this would be a year of “fresh air and daylight” when he was sworn in as mayor last April. So far it’s been a cloudy year. We’re hoping that the clouds finally will part and the air will sweeten at the March 2 City Council meeting with the introduction and passage of a measure to quickly fix the expensive, unethical and dysfunctional mess on the third floor of City Hall.