Conflict between West Hollywood City Council members reared its head again Monday night as one councilmember called out two others for “personal attacks” made at the previous Council meeting.
Councilmember Lauren Meister said she was offended by remarks which Councilmember John Erickson and Mayor Lindsey Horvath made about her at the March 1 Council meeting.
In her councilmember remarks on Monday, Meister said she found their earlier remarks, “Disrespectful, ageist, dramatic and uncalled for.”
She was referring to remarks Erickson and Horvath made during the Council’s March 1 discussion about extending the $5 extra per hour “hero pay” ordinance to include frontline drug store workers for 120 days. The Council had already approved “hero pay” for frontline grocery store workers for 120 days at its Feb. 16 meeting.
During that March 1 discussion, Meister suggested covering drug store employees with 60 days of “hero pay” with the possibility of extending it another 60 days. She suggested during that first 60 days drug stores could work to make sure its employees were inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine. If drug store employee vaccinations did not meet a certain level by that time, then the “hero pay” could be extended another 60 days.
Although Councilmember John D’Amico liked the 60-and-60 plan, the other three councilmembers did not. Consequently, the Council voted 3-2 to extend hero pay to pharmacy workers for the full 120 days.
However, in their remarks dismissing the 60-and-60 plan, Horvath and Erickson made comments Meister considered to be personal attacks.
Horvath said to Meister, “Perhaps it’s been a long time since you’ve been a frontline worker.” Erickson accused her of “playing with people’s lives.”
On Monday, Meister called them out for the remarks.
“Just like all of my colleagues, I was elected to work on behalf of our residents. I was also elected to make sure our businesses could thrive by establishing an environment of fairness,” Meister said on Monday. “When a legitimate difference of opinions about how to accomplish both of these leads to personal attacks rather than serious discussion and deliberation, that is when you know that Trumpism is alive and well in WeHo.”
She then called upon Horvath as mayor to “steer a new course for this Council.”
Meister closed out her remarks on the matter by saying, “As a neighbor of mine so eloquently commented, ‘In our city, we should expect that respectful discussion and debate are encouraged; that our voices — all of our voices — be heard and not stifled; and our opinions be considered, not dismissed’.”
Horvath immediately apologized.
“I apologize for my comments coming across as ageist. That certainly wasn’t my intention,” said Horvath. “I take to heart your comments tonight and thank you for expressing your opinion here.”
Erickson also apologized.
“I’m so sorry that you were offended. My comments were never meant to be personal,” said Erickson. “Like I have said many meetings ago when our issues were being heated over the naming of the library, it’s not meant to be like that. We should have free discussion and free ability to talk about those things. Like I asked every one of my colleagues at that moment to do better, I will also commit to always doing better and we can continue on with the spirit of gratitude and the work that we have to do for the workers, the renters and all the businesses of our city that make up the beautiful city of West Hollywood.”
Meister replied, “Appreciate it.”
Nothing further was said on the matter by anyone.
This is not the first conflict Meister has had with Erickson and Horvath. In December, Erickson and Horvath prevented Meister from being elected to the Regional Council of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). If Meister had been elected to that board, West Hollywood would have a stronger voice in regional planning issues.