Council finds compromise in library re-naming debate

West Hollywood City Council’s push to re-name the West Hollywood Library after Ruth Bader Ginsburg ended Monday night after several months of often heated debate in the community.

The effort began back in December 2020, when Council approved Mayor Lauren Meister’s proposal to re-christen the library after the late Supreme Court Justice.

In the months since, the idea was presented to various city commissions and advisory boards, many of which refused to weigh in. Meanwhile, word of the name change drew vocal detractors in the community. Some felt Ginsburg had no tangible connection to West Hollywood; others felt a local figure would be a more appropriate namesake. 

“She never lived in the city of West Hollywood, she never lived in the state of California,” said public commenter Jamie Francis. “So it makes no sense for us to honor her as a jurist on a city library when there are so many people who contributed in the local society and the community of West Hollywood all the last century.”

The Council did not expect the idea of re-naming the library to generate the controversy that it did, and they were eager to put the proposal to rest. 

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“I think people understood that Justice Ginsburg was someone who valued the things that we value and protected people that we want to protect,” Meister said. “I think we followed the process as best we could and I’m ready to move on.”

Councilmember Sepi Shyne came up with a compromise that satisfied most of her colleagues.

“There were two sides — for and against — and anytime anything is going to be renamed, this happens,” she said. “I think if we had picked an LGBTQ person — if we had picked Ivy Bottini — there would still be anger and divisiveness. That was not the intent of this. I think the intent of bringing this forward was good.”

“My suggestion, and what I’d like to propose a motion, is that we keep the West Hollywood library named as it is and we direct staff to work with the library to have a room inside of the West Hollywood library named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Shyne said.

She noted the fallibility of a survey used to poll residents about the proposal and suggested only professional surveys be conducted in the future, which her fellow councilmembers also felt was prudent.

Councilmember John Erickson hoped the public would treat Council with a “little bit more kindness and grace” in their conversations online and in future proceedings. 

“I don’t hold any malintent with my colleagues on this,” he said.

“We love West Hollywood,” said Councilmember Lindsey Horvath. “Everybody’s passionate about it and so I’m grateful that we were able to keep the library name in a way that brings people together and creates a really important space in the library.”

Councilmember John D’Amico, however, could not support the motion.

“I guess I have a slightly different point of view,” he said, attributing it to “the sort of misogyny that went through the community and the suggestion that her amazing work is not alive in each one of us.”

“I think naming local landmarks after local politicians is not worth the stone it’s carved in,” he said. “We (City Councilmembers) make big moves. Sometimes we get them wrong but mostly we get them right. In my mind this was a big move that we were going to get right. So I’m sorry we’re not doing it.”

The motion passed 4-1. The measure to re-name a room within the library will return to Council at a future date.

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About Brandon Garcia
Brandon Garcia is editor of WEHOville. He oversees the website's editorial direction and creates original content such as news reports, photo and video features, digital art work and advertisements. In 2019, he left his home on the South Texas/Mexico border to build a new life on the West Hollywood/Hollywood border. He loves California and is a proud member of the LGBTQ community. @brandonontheborder on Instagram

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HatersBGone
HatersBGone
3 months ago

Wow – Erickson is claiming people should show him grace? The City’s “Mean Girl”. That is rich. He must be getting nervous that people are sick of his pandering and posturing to the Long Beach Mayor. This was an idiotic idea from the start.

Michael Carter
Michael Carter
3 months ago

It will be joyful to sit down to read in a room in our West Hollywood Public Library named after the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

George Leddy
George Leddy
3 months ago

I don’t know why so many well intended liberals want to gloss over the terrible thing RBG did by not retiring when she should have. The issue gets much discussion in the NYT and WaPo, both liberal bastions in journalism. Ginsberg’s vanity and distorted version of feminism got us the 6-3 reactionary court we have now. All her work is going to be erased by the new extreme right justices. Indeed, Amy Coney Barrett, placed by Trump to replace her “with a woman” is the most cynical of these and already poised to reverse decades of liberal jurisprudence including the… Read more »

Todd
Todd
3 months ago

All I hear is controversy and a lot of wasted energy on something that need not have come up in the first place. Just leave it the West Hollywood Library.” The current name seems to be a good descriptor of exactly what it is, even if a library doesn’t get the use it did in pre-internet, pre-Amazon days.

Gene Dryer-Bivins
Gene Dryer-Bivins
3 months ago
Reply to  Todd

In fact, the main problem our public libraries have now days is diminished funding. Taking into account the anomaly of the pandemic, libraries across the country are as popular as they’ve ever been. The internet has not made them irrelevant, as some may think.

:dpb
:dpb
3 months ago

Erickson makes me sick. Who does he think he is? His behavior is unprofessional and in many instances against council protocols as is Shyne’s and Horvath’s. Mr. Erickson, I am hopeful you are never again elected to any office in West Hollywood. Take your ignorant behind and royal behavior out of West Hollywood.

Ryan R Gierach
3 months ago
Reply to  :dpb

Exactly the type of kindness and grace the city so dearly needs. Bravo!
It sure is a good thing you say this anonymously so people cannot return your kindness and grace directly.
🤔

No More SHE
No More SHE
3 months ago

Unfortunately, West Hollywood used to be a creative city, focusing on theater and the arts. But since this bunch took over, gender studies majors, half of them are streetwalkers for developers like Townscape. When it comes to a library, you think of books and literature, not some lawyer nominated by a group of sourpuss misandrists. If we gay male citizens nominated F. Scott Fitzgerald or Dorothy Parker as names for rooms, these political hacks would think they are racist white leaders and not famous writers who lived in WEHO. 

disagree
disagree
3 months ago

Naming a room after the Ginsburg is not a compromise–it’s a complete defeat of a bad idea!

I disagree with D’amico that they get most things right. I think they get most things WRONG. That’s why the public does not support this council.

Keith
Keith
3 months ago
Reply to  disagree

This council will be gone soon. But not soon enough.

Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris
3 months ago

Thank you for the lecture, Mr. Erickson, on how WE should behave but not yourself. Did you just now figure out that, as an elected official, you must endure some criticism? Not just glowing reviews by your fan club?

Our impressions of you have been formed by your behavior both before and after you were elected but have been a stooge in our community for quite some time. Remember illegally painting crosswalks? Misogyny on a city commission? We can’t forget.

OMG WeHo
OMG WeHo
3 months ago

Ericsson, you must have something on Planned Parenthood? Holding it over the two women that run it. Because why would they keep you around after you advertised your one bedroom apartment on Fountain As a place where women could come and stay when they had an abortions in California. You are a man, gay I guess, but even if you were a furry, the woman can claim you made advances. Then of course you have Planned Parenthood getting sued and probably the City of West Hollywood. But the people that are paid to run it adore you like a Little… Read more »

Wehoan
Wehoan
3 months ago

It’s still a mystery to me how Erickson got elected in the first place, but setting that aside, his immature behavior is what we have to judge him by. His behavior, actions, and demeanor thus far all signal an immature and inauthentic person that lacks leadership and emotional intelligence. Quite frankly, he’s an embarrassment to his constituents (myself among them) and if he can’t respect the people that he represents by listening and representing them, then he truly is not a public servant and is merely a politician.

MisterP
MisterP
3 months ago

Certainly, Ruth was a fine judge, but yet, because she did not retire and died in office, she put herself before the judicial health of the Supreme Court. West Hollywood is an outstanding community. Let the unnamed library speak for itself to the public.

George Leddy
George Leddy
3 months ago
Reply to  MisterP

Thanks MisterP. The only comment here that I agree with. RGB did put herself above the judicial health of the SCOTUS. Well put. Did the proponents not see what happened after she died in office?

Gene Dryer-Bivins
Gene Dryer-Bivins
3 months ago
Reply to  MisterP

And if one of the younger justices dies in office, are they being equally irresponsible to the “judicial health” of the Court? Rubbish.

WehoJoe
WehoJoe
3 months ago

I voted to leave the name. I believe West Hollywood should use their own brand as often as they can. West Hollywood is also a brand of it’s own.

disagree
disagree
3 months ago

Erickson’s comments are laughable. Residents and voters are making comments to express their dissatisfaction with the way council members are voting on issues, and Erickson acts like he’s being persecuted. I don’t care about the color of his fingernails, but I do care about the way he is voting to spend taxpayer money.

JF1
JF1
3 months ago
Reply to  disagree

Right. On. 👏🏻👍🏻

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
3 months ago

John Erickson understands neither what it means to serve the public, nor the full breadth of the First Amendment.

JF1
JF1
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Absolutely right.

Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Yes, indeed.

Jamie Francis
Jamie Francis
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

So true Alan. Elected officials must accept public opinion and criticism for their comments, decisions, actions or in some instances inactions or not being accessible to their constituents or understand the sentiments of locals, don’t show disdain and try to pass rules to quell detractors. Donald Trump did that. You cannot move an item on the agenda to prohibit as disagreeable or in your opinion John Ericsson these are insensitive remarks that you don’t want to hear the public tell you. George Gascon uses this tactic as do members of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board members like Nick… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Jamie Francis
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