Opinion: West Hollywood Needs to Apologize for Ed Buck and Begin to Heal

John D’Amico, left, campaigning with Ed Buck by his side

Mayor D’Amico you have been too quiet for too long.

We are not an apathetic city, and it’s time for compassion, action and a path towards healing. That path begins with an apology to the victims, families, friends, and loved ones of Ed Buck, West Hollywood’s “Donor of Death.”

The story of Ed Buck’s victims, drug use, cash and outsized political influence casts the worst possible shadow in our city’s history. And it is shameful that it has taken our Mayor John D’Amico this long, more than two years and waiting until a near third death in this predator’s apartment, to issue a statement.

And sadly, that statement (in his Facebook post a few days ago) was at best vague and ambiguous, “If proven, these charges appear to confirm what many of us have suspected that Mr. Buck was recklessly harming members of the community.

C’mon, Mayor D’Amico! “If proven”? and “Mr. Buck”? The stories of Ed Buck’s predilections have been a well-kept dirty little secret among local activists and politicos. Rumors about Buck have been in the ether of West Hollywood political circles for decades. Most who accepted Buck’s donations and availed themselves of the benefit of his influence conveniently ignored the obvious and are guilty of aiding and abetting Ed Buck.

I personally met Buck in WeHo about a dozen years ago at the old Marco’s Coffee House on Havenhurst and Santa Monica Boulevard. I recognized him from numerous online and white paper publications and recalled that he had run for City Council a few years earlier.

We exchanged pleasantries, introduced ourselves, got our coffee, and he accompanied me on my short walk through the parking lot of the Out of the Closet thrift store (aka Vaseline Alley), a pretty cruisy spot back in the day.

As we approached the back entrance to Out of the Closet, Buck stopped, grabbed his crotch and invited me back to his apartment. I told him I wasn’t looking (for sex) and he said: “We can do other things.”

We both walked in Out of the Closet and the store manager, Steven Davis, said “Hello Mr. Buck,” and Buck waived, walked throught and out the front door. Davis, also a West Hollywood Human Services Commissioner of more than 25 years said: “You’re new in town and seem like a nice guy, that’s Ed Buck and he’s influential in politics. You’re not really his type but be careful, he’s notorious for getting young guys hooked on meth.”

Over the years Steven and I have become close friends and have recalled this encounter on numerous occasions.

There are been allegations of a violent temper and restraining orders for years. When former West Hollywood City Councilmember and Mayor Steve Martin ran alongside him in slate of candidates that includedEd Buckin 2007, the two were friends and allies.

Yet, as Martin stated in another local publication in 2017, by 2011 Ed Buck had become aggressively hostile and unstable in personal and public interactions.

“It was clearly obvious after 2007 that this guy had a serious personality disorder,” Martin said, noting that after an effort that Buck helped lead to save a local historic resource didn’t go exactly as he planned, the activist became “erratic and unpredictable.”

When asked if he and other colleagues suspected drug abuse as a possible cause for Buck’s hostile behavior, Martin’s answer was definitive:

“Everyone knew it,” Martin said. “It’s bullshit if they say they didn’t. It was like a family; you know, everyone in the family knew it. There were people who embraced it and they were, frankly, members of City Council. They knew Ed had a lot of problems; they knew Ed was a controversial member of the community.”

No one was more devoted to John D’Amico or campaigned more vocally for him in his first election than WeHo’s “Donor of Death, “ Ed Buck. In 2011, Buck teamed up with John D’Amico in his initial bid for office and organized a “Fur Free WeHo” campaign to aid in D’Amico’s pursuit of a city council seat.

They marched thru West Hollywood side by side, conducting rallies together, with Buck holding up his megaphone high in the air, attached to the microphone D’Amico held in his hand.

The issue inspired volunteers, who walked precincts with Buck and made phone calls to support D’Amico’s legislative agenda, sending him into office with a landslide and a mandate.

After D’Amico won, he rewarded Buck, his staunchest supporter, by bringing forward West Hollywood’s controversial “fur ban” which Buck lobbied vigorously for. It created the ban on retail fur sales, which everyone familiar with local politics knew the ban was Buck’s brainchild.

In addition to the ban enhancing Buck’s reputation locally, it also catapulted him to prominence on the national stage with USA Todayquoting Buck as saying,

“This is monumental…a sea change in the [animal rights] movement.”

Donor of Death Ed Buck had scores of victims, and it’s truly disturbing to read how many politicos curried his favor. Until the death of his first “reported” victim, Gemmel Moore, Buck was on the steering committee of the Stonewall Democrats.

It would be the right thing to do, and a step towards healing these brutal wounds and offering solace and closure to the families of Buck’s victims, if Mayor John D’Amico, once a close ally of Buck, turned his apathy towards empathy and offered a formal apology in the form of a proclamation to the family and friends of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean.

The Creative City needs to be an Honest, Transparent and Compassionate City.

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