While City Councilmember John D’Amico and Mayor John Heilman seem to have papered over a public and highly personal dispute ranging back to D’Amico’s first campaign for a Council seat in 2011, signs that it hasn’t completely gone away emerged at tonight’s City Council meeting.
Karen Eyres, chair of the city’s Women’s Advisory Board, complained that two council members had objected to City Hall about WAB’s decision to include a particular person on a panel originally scheduled for tomorrow that was to discuss “the WAB’s early years and its relevance from the 1990s to today.”
That prospective panel member is Fran Solomon, former deputy to Heilman, who had been the focus of some of D’Amico’s attacks on Heilman during his campaign for election and for re-election in 2015. While Eyres didn’t reveal Solomon’s name or those of the council members, others have told WEHOville that the complaints about including Solomon on the panel came from D’Amico and City Councilmember Lauren Meister. Solomon retired from City Hall after the controversial deputy system was abolished in 2015 following a scandal that involved another deputy allegedly spying on Solomon and claiming she was improperly campaigning for Heilman from her City Hall office.
“The concerns seemed to focus on one of our invited panelists — someone who was key to the founding of the WAB 25 years ago — and there was a suggestion to replace her with one of the council members,” Eyres said. “This gave us pause, because it would have altered the purpose of the event and the conversation we wanted to bring to the city.
“… It was difficult to get clarity from the two council members about why they wanted to make these changes to our special event, but it seemed to be motivated by a past grievance between the two council members and that particular panelist. This panelist was invited by the WAB for her experience and dedication in the early years of the board.”
In response, the WAB cancelled tomorrow’s panel discussion. Eyres said the WAB will decide what to do next at its March 29 meeting. “We will seek clarity as to our role as programmers for women’s events in the city and how we can best navigate attempts to derail our events based on personal or political motivations. ”
The council member recommended to replace Solomon was Lauren Meister according to a city staffer who asked not to be named. Meister and D’Amico are viewed as allies on many issues that come before the council, particularly those involving development. Meister is an opponent of increased housing and commercial building density in West Hollywood. She and D’Amico recently wrote an op-ed for WEHOville criticizing a proposed state Assembly bill that would restrict the ability of cities to limit construction of five-story buildings.
D’Amico surprised and upset many of his supporters when in January 2017 he endorsed Heilman and City Councilmember John Duran in the March 2017 election.