West Hollywood avoids break-up with Chamber of Commerce, for now

The ongoing conflict between the City of West Hollywood and the Chamber of Commerce finally came to a boil Monday night as their long-standing relationship and contractual agreements were placed squarely on the chopping block.

Agenda Item 5C, sponsored by Councilmembers John Erickson and Sepi Shyne, called for the discontinuation of the business outreach and commuter center services that the Chamber has provided WeHo for many years, as well as a one-time contract for mediation services related to COVID rent relief efforts. Instead of paying the Chamber nearly $150,000 to perform these services, city staff members would assume the duties themselves. 

Severing contracts with the Chamber was included as part of a larger agenda item meant to “promote transparency, ethics, and public trust,” which also called for changes to the city’s lobbyist ordinance and enforcement policy. 

Yet it was no secret that personal and political qualms with the Chamber had fueled the divorce proceedings.

The Chamber has vocally opposed a number of moves by City Council this year, including new restrictions on hotel workers and wage standards which the Chamber says are hurting small businesses still struggling from the COVID pandemic. A PR campaign opposing the measures and a divisive public poll, both indirectly linked to the Chamber, put some councilmembers on the defensive, and the move to cut Chamber funding was seen by some as a direct response to that.

As the vote came before Council, Mayor Lauren Meister and Councilmember John D’Amico urged caution to their colleagues. 

“I’ve had deep, fundamental disagreements with our Chamber,” D’Amico said. “But one thing I do know is they have a deep understanding of our businesses. I want to make sure we’re not cutting off our nose to spite our face.”

While they agreed that the way city funds were spent by the Chamber, as well as other nonprofits and contracted agencies, needed to become more transparent, the timing and circumstance of the move made it seem retaliatory.

“By just focusing on the Chamber, that’s what it looks like,” Meister said. “I think what they provide in those couple of contracts, we get our money’s worth.”

D’Amico advised Erickson to steer clear from even the appearance of a vendetta.

“I think you need a thicker skin, man,” D’Amico said. “People who are not elected get to say whatever they want about elected officials. Elected officials when they say whatever they want about people in the community, they just sound mean. The public has to trust that we can take blows time and time again and make good decisions on behalf of the city.”

Erickson defended the motives behind his agenda item.

“This isn’t about anyone,” he said. “This isn’t about bad things being said. This is about accountability and public trust.”

Councilmember Lindsey Horvath tried to bridge the divide.

“Let’s just be honest,” she said. “We are in a difficult moment. The question comes — I’m just trying to keep it real here — what is business outreach and how are those dollars being used? That’s where the potential conflict of interest comes in.”

She called out both sides for playing a “tit for tat” game and urged a sensible approach.

“If we think that there’s a better partner out there, let’s have a real conversation about it,” she said. “If we’re serious about ending this contract, that’s a conversation to have during budget discussions,” which would occur in Summer 2022. “But I don’t think anyone at this moment is better positioned to do this work other than the Chamber.”

The council ultimately agreed to table the item until next year, while ordering a report on the feasibility of city staff taking up the duties performed by the Chamber.

Horvath emphasized the importance of not choosing sides, earning praise from both D’Amico and Erickson.

“I’m choosing community,” she said. “I’m choosing what is best for the city.”

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greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago

It would be very interesting to see how many people are submitting comments under different pseudonyms to push certain agendas.

I have a feeling a few of the “Recall SHE” and “Free Weho” names are just one person with way too much time on their hands.

HatersBGone
HatersBGone
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Maybe or maybe there is a growing sense from posters that the city’s crime rate is skyrocketing, homeless encampments are everywhere, businesses closed everywhere and John Erickson is more interested in coordinating housekeeper lunchtimes, posing for staged photo ops in Plummer Park, and mindlessly attacking people. Something is very rotten and so glad D’Amico helped shed light on it.

HatersBGone
HatersBGone
1 month ago

Embarrassing to see Erickson & Syne play their revenge tactics for all to see. Erickson’s whimpering when he was smacked down by D’Amico was delicious! Time for a recall!

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago

Seems like the GQP never learns. Please don’t make our city waste money on a ridiculous doomed to fail recall election. Vote whomever you’d like to see replace the council members during the next REAL election year.

BrownEyedBoy
BrownEyedBoy
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Save your QANON talking points. Stonewall Dem here. If S.H.E. keeps proposing policy in their self interest, that benefit unions and mega-developers with disregard to the citizens and businesses of the City—then it is possible that S.H.E. should be recalled.

blueeyedguy
blueeyedguy
1 month ago
Reply to  BrownEyedBoy

Alan Strasburg here, joining the eye-color brigade. Hey greenie, not everyone who disagrees with you is a right-winger. Hey brownie, you shouldn’t have to defend your liberal bona fides to these cancel culture intolerants. Intolerant of debate and differences and the right to think independently, i.e., at odds with their party boss thought controllers and Unite Here puppet masters. Love from blue. (Awaiting the attacks on my eye color….) (Bitchy grammar lesson, doomed to fail in this use is a compound adjective and as such is hyphenated as, “doomed-to-fail recall election.)

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago
Reply to  blueeyedguy

Not everyone, but most. Sorry for including you with the GQP brigade, Mr. Pragmatic Progressive.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago
Reply to  BrownEyedBoy

Qanon talking points? 😂

WehoFan
WehoFan
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

GQP? Ok blue anon.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago
Reply to  WehoFan

My eyes are green…can’t you read?

Last edited 1 month ago by greeneyedguy
WeHo Rocks!
WeHo Rocks!
1 month ago

Shyne & Erickson need to go. Completely unqualified and undignified and it shows. They are not worthy of overseeing such an important city like WeHo. #BoughtAndSold Horvath is just pandering and playing both sides – as always. Don’t trust her either.

Joan Henehan
Joan Henehan
1 month ago

The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has thrived and survived all manner of economic conditions (even prior to there being a City of West Hollywood) for 100 years. Its creative leaders have contributed to the well-being of the City continuously, through all kinds of city leadership over the years of Cityhood. The Chamber’s membership businesses have paid the revenues that have allowed West Hollywood to be socially progressive and a beacon for tourism and for residents alike. Why, in the name of all we hold sacred and in defiance of common sense, would City Council eradicate its relationship with this… Read more »

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago

The relationship is important, even thought I generally disagree with the Chamber and I almost always disagree with business over employees.

But I must say, anytime a conservative leaning organization claims that X is hurting small businesses and wants to help the *small* part of an equation (vs BIG), they are outright lying. It is about the money and preserving power.

Like Prop 13, where property taxes were kept down to help older people stay in their homes.
Laughable, isn’t it?

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
1 month ago

John Erickson needs to resign

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Would be nice. But his ego would never let that happen.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago

Is this site considered CityCouncilville now?

Evil Eye
Evil Eye
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Please do your best to add substance to the conversations here and prove to readers that you have the capacity to move beyond juvenile behavior. Ideas are far more important than people and events.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago
Reply to  Evil Eye

Please just ignore my comment if you don’t like it.

blueeyedguy
blueeyedguy
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

I’d suggest that you not subject yourself to the rigor of honest civil discourse if you can’t take the back and forth of intelligent debate, but by masking yourself you have clearly displayed your inability to actually engage in intelligent debate. #unmask

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago
Reply to  blueeyedguy

Is it your mission to reply to every single one of my comments now?

There is no requirement to use my real name on this website. And most commenters choose not to. But of course you don’t have a problem with those people because you agree with their (mostly conservative) comments.

BrownEyedBoy
BrownEyedBoy
1 month ago

S.H.E. (Shyne/Horvath/Erikson) has no shame.

The depths these people go to to serve themselves and play out their little vendadettas at the expense of our City and citizens is astonish and nefarious.

Recall Erickson
Recall Erickson
1 month ago
Reply to  BrownEyedBoy

SHE! They’re like boring actors without an agent. Always pitching themselves. Putting forth their credits, opinions and agendas. When West Hollywood was incorporated it was still a very artsy, theater, creative area. There was an edge. Sure it was Boys Town because it was the place you came to get laid by picking up guys at a bar or club . Now its WokeVille

FREE WEHO
1 month ago

Recall Erickson. Sign the petition NOW!
TinyURL.com/FreeWeho
[click username for link]

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago

Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that tabling this issue for a year removes the stain and stench of its political genesis and ongoing motivations. I applaud Mr. D’Amico’s attempts to mentor the petulant neophyte.

Oftentimes it’s wise to dance with who brung you to the ball. The WEHO Chamber has been doing this for 100 years. Don’t fix what’s not broken in this relationship. Focus on fixing someone’s bruised outsized ego and get back to the business of sound municipal governance.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

I too applaud John D’Amico and agree with your comment 100%.

Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

John D’Amico had several rare moments last night. Too bad he is giving up the game just when he has somewhat of a handle on it.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

A serious self inflicted wound. Tying a progressive and positive proposal to put reasonable limits on lobbying by former Council members and City employees to cancelling the Chamber of Commerce contracts under the guise of “reform” was too clever by half. Even for those of us who opposed the Chamber and supported the Hotel Workers Ordinance, the timing of the proposed cancellation of the Chamber contracts just seemed too cynical and punitive. Maybe this sparks some self reflection because we need a Council that is more cohesive and collegial.

disappointed
disappointed
1 month ago

This whole thing stinks. Horvath and Erickson clearly strategized over this issue and then she swoops in as the mediator who wants what’s best for the city? She wants to win her Supervisor race. The residents of West Hollywood are being used to further to that single-minded goal.

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