Opinion: WeHo 2.0 — Election Moves City Council into the 21st Century

First, thank you to the residents for your support, I am humbled and grateful. And thank you to everyone that ran in this election broadening our dialogue with the residents. Opening new pathways for communicating ideas about the city. Thank you to Abbe Land and John Heilman for their service for so many years. You are handing off the city to four people and a fifth to come in June that appreciate your hard work and dedication and will continue to move our city forward.

John D'Amico
John D’Amico

Thank you to everyone who helped me with my campaign. Renee and Tai and so many others, residents and volunteers who went the extra mile. And to my husband Keith Rand, who deserves better than me and yet everyday is willing to be there for me. I love you and thank you for that.

And a big thank you to everyone who voted. Your vote to keep our city vital and moving forward matters and has succeeded in creating a new West Hollywood city council. It seems West Hollywood 2.0 was released on March 3rd. And there is a further update coming on June 2nd. Stay tuned.

The March 2015 election will be remembered as the election that brought West Hollywood into the 21st Century. For the first time every one of us was elected in this century. This election is about the direction of our city, there can be no other conclusion; West Hollywood is moving on. Our ties to our founding are important, but they are no longer what is most important. The founding story that we were 30 percent gay, 30 percents seniors and 30 percent Russian no longer obtains. Now our city is 45 percent LGBT, 15 percent seniors and of that 10 percent Russian. The rest as I have been schooled by Councilmember Horvath is mostly young people and mostly working women making West Hollywood their home. This is the new face of West Hollywood. This is our 21st Century city. And there is new work to be done. New ideas, new faces, new voices to help clarify what will be next, what needs to be done better and who we are as a city and community. There is a new vision on the horizon.

Four years ago when I was sworn in, I began my tenure with a reference to the coming spring and a poem from Walt Whitman, the poet of the American Spring, He wrote the “Song of the Broad Axe,” a gorgeous poem about the strength and mystery of American life, about the audacity of protest. About the change that comes from living in an America that confronts itself. About the democracies that inhabit each of us and our responsibility to ourselves.

And what of the democracy inside of us? Our internal debate that is externalized by our vote. We choose our leaders, they are not chosen for us. It is right to say that this new council reflects the democracy inside each of us.

And as the mayor I welcome this change and have been as welcoming as possible. It has been my privilege to not only talk with and shake the hand of my new colleagues but to find immediately the pathway to working together to do what is best for WeHo. It is this simple act, to accept and promote the choice of the voters, that is what is best about our democracy.

Walt Whitman reflected outward the same pivot point in our National Democracy in his poetry. In the 1860’s’ Whitman showed us the path from the rigid notions of our founding fathers to the opportunity of a post civil war contemporary pluralism. It is wrong to underestimate the power of voices in our community. The notion that some in our city put forward for far too long is that voices of privilege should be heard over the voices of dissent. That the voices of critique were somehow less-than, or were to be ignored. That notion has finally been shown the door by the voters. Our city is at its best when we hear and act upon the desires of the voices in our midst.

This is important. As pressures rise for us to continue to give the one percent more and more of what they already have, we must listen even more closely to the residents who are too frequently the collateral damage of our decision making. We must make decisions that bend the rainbow arc of justice toward the real pot of gold, toward the pricelessness of our values and our residents and our neighborhoods and our city. This is not a call for the end of development, this is not a call for the end of progress, in fact this is a call for us to be progressive together. To work as a city full of people to make a city for the people.

The Supreme Court tells us that money is speech. And we saw how the money flowed into this last election and the hubris that accompanied it. Like the Leviathon of the Old Testament, which is served up to the righteous in the end, the money in this election exposed itself, created its own story about its power of abuse, its misogyny, its misinformation and its corruption. West Hollywood could see through the blatant attempts to buy a result, and for that we can all be proud. More than ever this has shown that meeting voters at their doors, digital and actual, wins hearts, minds and elections.

We cannot stop money from trying to influence our elections, but we can stop it from trying to influence our decisions. That is why I am now calling for an independent West Hollywood ethics committee. The city must assemble an outside independent body that can assist us in developing rules and guidelines about the ethical behavior of our council offices, mandatory disclosure of donations, periods of recusal after receiving donations, restrictions on who candidates may accept donations from, restrictions on donations to council member charities, and more. Smart rules that are in place in many cities across the country. Mike Jenkins will tell you that these changes are not required now by California law, but their absence from our city for the past 30 years is the shadow side of the work that happens here.

We have all heard that our city hall is corrupt and for sale. The very idea that there is corruption at city hall is deplorable to all of us, yet for 30 years we have blocked ourselves from real transparency and real reform and have only taken baby steps toward changing the perception. West Hollywood’s new City Council 2.0 can make this happen, West Hollywood can be a leader in transparency and good government. We must make sure that we move only forward in this regard.

Cities are never finished. The world spins only forward. Two phrases that I believe in very much and that guide how I think about the city we are creating together. I love this city, and I know that when we are at our best this city is a place of invention and opportunity. That is where this city stands best.

I will close with a bit more of Walt Whitman’s Song of the Broad Axe

The place where a great city stands is not the place of
the tallest and costliest buildings or shops
selling goods from the rest of the earth,
Nor the place of the best libraries and schools, nor the place where
money is plentiest,
Nor the place of the most numerous population.

Where the city stands with the brawniest breed of orators and bards,
Where the city stands that is belov’d by these, and loves them in
return and understands them,
Where no monuments exist to heroes but in the common words and deeds,
Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its place,
Where the men and women think lightly of the laws,
Where the populace rise at once against the never-ending audacity of
elected persons,
Where outside authority enters always after the precedence of inside
authority,
Where the citizen is always the head and ideal,
Where equanimity is illustrated in affairs,
Where speculations on the soul are encouraged,
Where the city of the faithfulest friends stands,
There the great city stands.

Our next great city adventures are ahead. The final piece of West Hollywood 2.0 will be seated in June and we can begin again to invent a West Hollywood that reflects who we are in 2015, who we can be in 2016 and beyond.

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Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
7 years ago

When I thought I couldn’t think less of D’Amico, he does this.
He is doing great damage to this city.
And Tom Smart – the voters get to speak again in June. If Heilman wins, I hope you are back and repeat your last post. Somehow I doubt you will.

JJ
JJ
7 years ago

I have to agree with luca d…Mr. D’amico is not the best at public speaking/running a meeting. Bright spot…at least it’s Ms. Horvath’s turn at mayor.

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
7 years ago

Thankfully the voters have spoken.

luca d
luca d
7 years ago

grandiose, sanctimonious, need anything else be said?
and yet when d’amico speaks during counsel meetings, we all suffer the torturous droning of a man searching for prose and eloquence. it’s a snooze, as was this overwrought drivel.

frankly mr. d’amico, we all deserve better than you and what the west hollywood city council has offered in the last years.

Brad
Brad
7 years ago

Touche Paul Evans.. have to agree.

Paul Evans
Paul Evans
7 years ago

The Mayor completely missed the mark with his remarks. He was so petty out and small by not recognizing the enormous accomplishments of Abbe Land and John Heilman. Regardless of whether or not D’Amico agrees 100% with Heilman and Land, he should have shown more gratitude towards them. Were it not for them, D’Amico may not have been handed to keys to an extremely prosperous kingdom. This past campaign in particular and D’Amico’s first four years have been eye opening. Mr. D’Amico has revealed himself to be hollow, callow are hypocritical. “Can’t stop money from filling our coffers, but trust… Read more »

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
7 years ago

Eloquent and beautifully written sentiments Mr. D’Amico!!!

Bernadette Parinello
Bernadette Parinello
7 years ago

Id much rather READ damico’s words (well, other peoples that he borrows) then hear him speak thats for sure. But this is where he fails big time: “We cannot stop money from trying to influence our elections, but we can stop it from trying to influence our decisions.” Actually if damico decided NOT to take all that money from people outside the city & NOT to focus almost exclusively on getting all those developer dollars & NOT having a campaign operative serving as his deputy & highly involved in the campaigns of both John Duran for County Supervisor & Joe… Read more »

H.L.M.
H.L.M.
7 years ago

I voted for D’Amico, Horvath and Meister. I have been a resident of West Hollywood for 25 years. The crazy over-development and traffic congestion of the last 5 years informed my votes. The misogynist smear campaign against Ms. Meister incensed me and colored my opinion against those responsible. Women vote, you see… I am looking forward to a new era in which cooperation and harmony replace pettiness, grudges and drama.

Shawn Thompson
Shawn Thompson
7 years ago

What a bold and historic speech made at our very own West Hollywood City Council On an occasion where many would just use the time with the normal thank you and political feel good filler about how great West Hollywood is. Council Member D’Amico called for ethics reform, touched on how out of town money has polluted our democracy, set an agenda in public for reform in campaign donations, recusal at votes, disclosure at votes and bringing a community trust but to our city hall. This was a historic moment for the West Hollywood democracy not only that two long… Read more »

Oliver Francis
Oliver Francis
7 years ago

Such a farce! Does D’Amico even hear himself? 2.0? His speech sounds like he’s overcompensating for his 2.0 grade average in English Literature. Can’t get more derivative than quoting Whitman in the context of our city being somehow analogous to a writer’s musings from the late 1800s. D’Amico needs to get his head of of the clouds and start cleaning up the mess he’s made at City Hall. By hiring his political campaign manager as his sole aide, he’s directly responsible for Owens’ and Rex’s illegal, unethical and immoral spying scheme. Where is the outrage? Are people that clueless?

Miie
Miie
7 years ago

Last night – MICHELLE REX and “Deputy Gate” were the elephant in the room. \ And then there was John Durand lurking in the background like Grigori Rasputin (his bosses being Siegel and Irwin – of 8150 Sunset Blvd Fame and the ICM Building). WEHO hasn’t entered the 21st Century,,, it’s just a rehash of Tammany Hall. D’Amico seems to be just a small-town version of Thomas Joseph Pendergast. But more dangerous. As for the voters – where were they? As for the speech – who wrote it? Peggy Noonan? God help us with no one under 30 on the… Read more »

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