OPINION: ‘Mean Girls’ politics rule at City Hall

Publishers Note: This Op-Ed is written by a Resident of West Hollywood who has applied to serve on various Commissions over the years. They chose their name to be withheld for fear of retribution by the ‘mean girls’ clique.

Definition of cronyism: Noun, derogatory cro ny ism | \ ˈkrō-nē-ˌi-zəm\ : partiality to cronies especially as evidenced in the appointment of political hangers-on to office without regard to their qualifications Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Why is cronyism an ethical issue?

Fairness is the basic element of the philosophical concept of justice. Aristotle stated it more than 2,000 years ago: “equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.” In other words, individuals should be treated the same unless they differ in ways that are relevant to the situation at hand.

Favoritism, cronyism and nepotism all interfere with fairness, because they give undue advantage at the sacrifice of merit for a position and duty. But at West Hollywood City Hall, political cliques have come to rule and have unfairly politicized appointments to Boards and Commissions.

Eyebrows were raised when Robert Oliver returned to the City of West Hollywood a few months ago.

After being absent from the City for almost 3 years, upon his return he was immediately appointed to the West Hollywood Public Safety Commission on a split 3-2 vote.

Oliver seemed to step ahead of other qualified West Hollywood residents who had properly applied for appointment, yet were overlooked in order to give new resident Oliver a quick elevation to the Public Safety Commission. Oliver received votes from Sepi Shyne, Lindsay Horvath and her protege John Erickson.

Council members Lauren Meister and John D’Amico did not support Oliver’s Commission appointment. Regular readers of Wehoville best recall Robert Oliver for his disruptive departure from the Public Safety Commission in 2019.

Oliver resigned in protest at the Public Safety Commission allegedly for their failure to take a position on sexual harassment allegations against former Councilman John Duran made by one member of the Gay Men’s Chorus. Oliver delivered an impassioned speech from his Commission chair and resigned from the Commission, although they had no purview over the allegations.

But for many, the heartfelt message shared by a sympathetic young man began to ring hollow as a staged event, when it was later revealed that Oliver had already initiated his plans to relocate to Arizona and leave his Commission post prematurely.

John Duran previously ran for LA County Board of Supervisors in 2014, garnering endorsement of the Los Angeles Times and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti. He would have demonstrated a clear threat to Lindsay Horvath’s run for LA County Supervisor had he chose to run again 2022. Oliver, a staunch ally of Mayor Lindsay Horvath, appeared part of a clique orchestrating political damage to a potential rival.

West Seegmiller, a Public Safety Commission hopeful and a member of #MeToo LA who helped organize the protests against John Duran at that time said, “When we chose to run that campaign [against Duran], we just did what we thought was right. Duran and I were already friends at that time so it wasn’t an easy choice for me to make. But I really believe in restorative justice and in fact Duran became our strongest ally for things like sex worker safety and overdose prevention. Lindsey [Horvath] really showed up for the victims of Ed Buck, but I felt like Estevan and Oliver weren’t really connecting to the bigger movement.”

Recently, Estevan Montemayor was appointed to the powerful Rent Stabilization Commission by Lindsay Horvath, a post often interpreted as a prelude to a potential City Council run in the future.

Prior Rent Commissioners were either attorneys who were familiar with appellate review of decisions made by the Rent Stabilization Department, or individuals with experience in landlord tenant law. Montemayor does not have experience or special qualifications to handle these disputes.

Montemayor was the Communications Director for Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu— who lost his recent election— and was the Campaign Manager for Lindsay Horvath’s reelection campaign in 2015. Montemayor is best known for his failure to keep Christopher Street West aligned with the City of West Hollywood’s annual Pride Parade.

Montemayor’s removal of Christopher Street West from West Hollywood has a significant financial impact on the City by reducing the level of hotel and sales taxes to West Hollywood. During the pandemic, Montemayor was again widely criticized for his insensitivity to the black LGBTQ community by co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement onto his Pride event without their participation or knowledge.

Yet not withstanding the damage to the City’s financial coffers and credibility, Montemayor also was rewarded with a powerful Commission post by Lindsey Horvath, in what appears to be political payback for his allegiance to Horvath and her political cadre. Horvath’s appointment of Martin Gantman, the husband of former Councilwoman Abbe Land, to the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission has terrible optics.

Horvath is often seen as a protege of Abbe Land, both who supported John Erickson’s election to West Hollywood City Council. Robert Oliver and Estevan Montemayor both claim to be close personal friends of both Horvath and Erickson. These rushed appointments to Commissions over otherwise qualified residents who properly applied suggest that favoritism, cronyism and nepotism is the real currency at West Hollywood City Hall.

The appointment of Jake Mason by Sepi Shyne to the Public Facilities Commission also has the appearance of impropriety, due to Mason’s clear conflict of interest as the owner of a for-profit Dodgeball business that utilizes public park space. Mason notoriously called for the replacement of both John Heilman and John Duran as Councilmembers and endorsed Sepi Shyne in the 2020 election, due to his disagreement with the Council’s unanimous decision to accelerate the construction of the new park during the Covid-19 Lockdown. Shyne’s appointment of Mason appears as another political payback for his endorsement.

Despite Mason profiting off the use of public facilities that he accesses for free, as a member of the Public Facilities Commission he is now responsible for deciding regulations where he has a clear financial conflict of interest.

Recent critics have raised the issue that the majority of Advisory Board Members in the City seem to be Los Angeles residents.

Qualified residents hopeful to engage with their local community are overlooked. This also raises the question, is it proper for primarily residents of Los Angeles and other communities to be advising the West Hollywood City Council on how to best serve the residents of West Hollywood?

A public records request of residency for all City boards and commissions to determine the number of outside influencers affecting policy in West Hollywood will be forthcoming. Instead of encouraging our own enthusiastic and capable residents to engage in local community service, the “Mean Girls” cliques of West Hollywood City Hall use Boards and Commission appointments to trade political favors, and use performative activism to attack their rivals— all under the watchful eye of a “Queen Bee” with her sights set far beyond the people of West Hollywood.

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Chloe Ross
7 months ago

Many years ago, I jokingly said, regarding the city – “oh the Little Rascals are taking a vote; or having a show or having a street event.” I was only half kidding. Now it appears that The Little Rascals have entered a Darla competition? Maybe? Is Petey. the judge? (And I know that Red China [who may not actually be a positive role model] had the “Gang of Four”. We don’t have enough councilmembers to have sub-committees. Or caucuses. Forming allies on a small city council is not a very politic move. The position of ‘mayor’ is a tad silly… Read more »

Chloe Ross
7 months ago

I would dearly. love to have a voting do over.

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
7 months ago

It makes sense for comments to be anonymous. No one person dominates them. But a piece like this to be anonymous is a bad decision. No way to analyze motives involved, past rivalries, personal agenda. It was a mistake to do this.

Ron
Ron
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris Sanger

The facts are actual events so I’d tend to understand the author needed to get out of the way of their retaliation.

Chloe Ross
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris Sanger

Fear. of Mean Girls? Sad isn’t it? Adults on a City Council ganging up? Why not just step back and see where this kind of politics has gotten the planet. Writ small, it’s just as insane.And when such behavior begins, it invariably becomes worse – not better. M stint savngPlummer Park taught me that I would be better as a benevolent despot; I have trouble suffering fools.

Resident
Resident
7 months ago

I’ve had a similar experience with Horvath when she was with Heilman and Duran in that clique and she sure turned on them.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
7 months ago
Reply to  Resident

Some people would turn on their own family in advancement of their own ego and agenda. The imperial attitudes emanating from City Hall and the Taj Mahal (city council chambers) are reminiscent of the tzars of Russia. I miss Heilman, Land and Duran. If we really want to go back to the history of decency, we’d elevate Steve Martin back to the council.

Michael
Michael
7 months ago

From personal experience, I would say it less of a “Mean Girls” thing as it is a “Fear of Competition” thing. Certain Councilmembers are afraid that those they appoint will be better able to run against them in the next election so they give the appointments to people who are less qualified.

Sinking Fast
Sinking Fast
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Many well qualified people would not want to tarnish their well established reputations to be appointed. They may live here but they look at the nonsense going on with sheer disdain. Few tourists feel the repercussions but eventually they will also get it. There’s nothing in West Hollywood that one can’t live without.

Michael
Michael
7 months ago

These three are self-promoting cultish personalities wrapped up in ludicrous political agendas satisfying themselves and not the citizens of West Hollywood. They want unisex public restrooms. Why? If you’re a woman and a residence here, take a look at this video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/CZgV61XRi0I

William Seegmiller
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Points taken but FYI this is the video being spread by Hank Scott to offend trans people.

Last edited 7 months ago by William Seegmiller
Michael
Michael
7 months ago

You are totally wrong there. It is my video. I created it. As far
as “trans” people go, that’s their business. But it does not mean that millions of people should be bowing to the ludicrous WOKE culture of WEHO political hacks like Horvath, Erickson and Shyne dictates toilet habits to satisfy their position as dreary busy “no”bodies interfering with toile convenience.

Last edited 7 months ago by Michael
William Seegmiller
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I appreciate your concern for the issue and a fair case can be made for practical bathroom facilities to accommodate all genders. But I take issue with the vid’s portrayal of gay men and trans people as sexual predators. That is for another discussion, though.

Sinking Fast
Sinking Fast
7 months ago

Wait until the backlash comes from tourists that will confront this situation which is sure to be unpalatable for many. And further when they encounter homeless folks in the hotel bathroom facilities mandated by the city. Yikes!

That will certainly land then on page one of every newspaper but the city will just interpret it as free publicity.

Michael
Michael
7 months ago

The video deals with an international advocate for women’s rights, who happens to be black, defending the right for women’s privacy. She also says women liberties have used to facilitate the unisex restrooms. They are no trans people in it. There are men but they are used to show the intimidation of women and the unisex restrooms. The Misandrist WEHO Woke anti-urinal three, Horvath, Shyne and Erickson, are all misogynists in advocating less privacy for women. There will be more videos, especially focused on Horvath’s LA County Supervisor Candidacy warning she will be advocating turning all the public restrooms into… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Michael
Sinking Fast
Sinking Fast
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael

This fringe trio apparently led by Horvath, a legend in her own mind in the same shocking way Trump ignited a waiting fringe group of ready made victims. What is different? Hopefully no credible well balanced individual will fall for this nonsense, but it happens.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
7 months ago

Oh god, the conspiracy theories about Mr. Scott are just plain silly.

No, No, No
No, No, No
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael

The three council members that believe the pecadillos and proclivities of transgender people should drive the centuries old toilet habits of the community and world beyond, clearly have their heads in the toilet. This is not social justice by any conceivable standard, rather it is self involved toilet justice gleaned by gazing too long in the mirror and a general lack of education and consciousness about respected social standards. The “gender studies” curriculum which they promote seems to have been hatched in some aberrant laboratory similar to the atmosphere some wrongly allege to have created the coronavirus. Even the Mafia… Read more »

Getagrip
Getagrip
7 months ago

This article is pathetic and obviously written by someone who is BITTER then never were considered for any commissions. Get a huge grip, Wehoville!

Observer
Observer
7 months ago

We finally, after too many years of arduous effort, passed term limits for Councilmembers. We should also have them for members of Commisions and Boards. So many have been members of these bodies for FAR too long. They haven’t been appointed to the Supreme Court. Perhaps a maximum eight year tenure would be reasonable. And once no longer a member, they must wait two years to be appointed to another Commission or Board. There needs to be new members with fresh perspectives. The current system is utterly absurd.

WehoJoe
WehoJoe
7 months ago

I don’t think Wehoville should publish anonymous opinions. I can’t make an anonymous comment?

Randy
Randy
7 months ago
Reply to  WehoJoe

You just did.

Ty Geltmaker/James Rosen
Ty Geltmaker/James Rosen
7 months ago

Without commenting on the substance of this controversy, WeHoVille should not be publishing doctored photos. Instead, hire a talented cartoonist. Otherwise, ignorant folks will assume the photo is real.Also, no anonymous articles or comments.

Tom
Tom
7 months ago

I applied for a commission and was passed over, for, as much as I don’t like admitting it, someone who was more qualified. Robert Oliver would, it seems, be qualified for serving on the Public Safety Commission by his previous service on the Public Safety Commission. If you wish to make it a rule that anyone who applies must have established residency of two years, as Beverly Hills does, then go for it.

Andrew Solomon
Andrew Solomon
7 months ago

I’m a brand new commissioner on the Public Facilities Commission, and I’ve had a different experience from the author. I’m new enough to all of this that I don’t even know most of the people mentioned in this editorial. But here’s my experience after being involved in Weho “politics” for about 4 months. I was appointed to the PFC by John Erickson. Before he appointed me, I had met him in person once, and he spoke on a zoom at our monthly HOA meeting. He put out an open call for anyone to apply for an appointment on all his… Read more »

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