OP/ED: The hijacking of West Hollywood

By Alan M. Strasburg — We live in a tiny 1.9 square mile once-unincorporated area of Los Angeles County that had the audacity 38 years ago to create a new community, a community which has, for many decades now, been a place of tolerance, inclusion, respect and forward-thinking. That community has been shattered recently by intruders who are attempting to write a narrative about policing manufactured on anecdotes and claims of dubious authenticity.

We have a public safety crisis antagonized by Public Safety Commissioner Nika Soon-Shiong, a carpetbagging commissioner with what appears to be multiple agenda. Those agenda are a manipulative conflation of her feelings that the LASD contract is rife with mismanagement and her naïve following of the ill-named “defund” movement (which even mainstream progressives such as Congresswoman and Los Angeles mayoral candidate Karen Bass have denounced). Ms. Soon-Shiong’s Twitter includes ludicrous and unsubstantiated claims that the Public Safety Commissions’s recommendation to cut the patrol budget by nearly 17% (10 out of 60 sworn employees) has “kicked off a flurry of misinformation.” While Ms. Soon-Shiong can clearly afford armies of spreadsheet jockies and Powerpoint creators, she is not capable of countering our lived experiences of an increasing sense of crime with her questionable data. (I also note that any alleged mismanagement occurred in part while the elected official who appointed her was in office.)

Fueling the Soon-Shiong myth are DC-based special interest groups including Alec Karakatsanis (the founder of the DC-based Civil Rights Corps) who is quite active on Ms. Soon-Shiong’s Twitter feed. Among other things, Mr. Karakatsansis accused Mayor Lauren Meister of West Hollywood of collusion with law enforcement. It should concern us all that a DC-based lawyer with an agendum has taken such a keen interest in what happens in West Hollywood. He claims that “A growing movement of residents is seeking to spend a small portion of City’s safety funds (17%) on social services instead of armed bureaucrats.”

As a lawyer, Mr. Karakatsansis is well aware of the power of language. He knows that 17% is not a small number, and that calling uniformed officers “bureaucrats” creates an emotional response. Mr. Karakatatsansis’ Twitter feed is riddled with more manipulative and almost sophomoric charges, including referring to Mayor Meister’s recent video as “a laughable video saying she wants to keep wasting taxpayer money on violent armed government agents.”

Twitter feeds are easy to find. They help to connect the dots. Mr. Karakatatnsis’ tweets even tag Councilmembers Shyne, Horvath and Erickson.

I, like many of my fellow West Hollywood residents, am tired of the fact that the term “liberal” has been coopted by an extreme faction with no interest in anything other than toxic ideological purity. Many of us call ourselves pragmatic progressives, with solid left-of-center values while living in the real world. We are ridiculed in anonymous postings on this site, and others, for daring to express ideas that are based on analysis of facts, i.e., actual thinking.

The unholy alliance of Shyne, Horvath and Erickson seem to come to West Hollywood with a perception of a version of “progressive” based upon what they read or learned at a university or elsewhere. They insist on implementing other people’s ideas of “progressive” without realizing that West Hollywood was created by generations of individuals and a culture that lived, thrived, and prospered “outside the box”. Their rigid ideologies are an anathema to those who were the culture creators of this special place.

West Hollywood is being used as a laboratory for out-of-the-mainstream social agenda that would paint an entire community as a racist, transphobic monolith. What are their agenda? Why and at whose behest did John Erickson object to a staff report by citing alleged inaccuracies in it when he tabled discussion of public safety at the eleventh hour? By whom was he tipped off at such alleged inaccuracies and why was he seemingly unable to point to specific inaccuracies before tabling this critical council conversation? It’s time we all start paying attention to what’s going on and who is pulling the strings of some members of council who are clearly in over their heads.

The realities are many. Yes, we want public safety, and we feel unsafe in our neighborhoods. No amount of statistical manipulation and messaging spin can erase our perceptions and our real-time fear based on very real occurrences happening in our midst.

Many of us are also social justice advocates who have long celebrated West Hollywood as a place of inclusion and diversity. We still do. We always will.

We also want economic justice, and not the kind that is achieved by outside forces who bully, lie and manipulate narratives and control a council majority which has an offensive disregard for those who built this city and made it a safe place to be who we are and feel safe to walk our streets.

There has long been talk of recalls, and that talk seems to have heated up recently. We should also talk about residency requirements for all commissions and boards, and not just a residency of recent convenience, but a reasonable tenure in this city before being appointed to any board or commission. We should question the motives of carpetbagging candidates for city council. The current crop includes two who moved here to run for office (Byers and Wright), and one who moved back to do so (Oliver). What has made West Hollywood so attractive as a performative political career starter?

These are people trying to remake our city into what they think West Hollywood should be rather than accepting the multi-decades truth of what it magically already is. They are a strange perversion of reactionary impulses and are radically willing to destroy cultural institutions and history to elevate their own ambition. It is repulsive.

We can and we should hold the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to account for performance on its contract with the City of West Hollywood. That legitimate exercise must not be done at the expense of our increasingly fragile sense of public safety.

We should all be gobsmacked at the hijacking of our long history of promoting and celebrating the rainbow of experience and cultures that make up our once charming urban village. We are gay, straight, bi, trans and more. We are black, white, brown and more. We are every generation known to sociologists who track those silly lines. We are also RESIDENTS of this city and must take the narrative back from the social engineers who want to use this tiny spot as a petri dish for their national agenda.

Alan M. Strasburg is a 30-year resident of West Hollywood.

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[…] my Op-Ed “The hijacking of West Hollywood” was published more than a week ago, much has happened in West Hollywood politics.  There […]

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[…] my Op-Ed “The hijacking of West Hollywood” was printed greater than per week in the past, a lot has occurred in West Hollywood politics.  […]

joel peel
joel peel
1 month ago

this “defund the police” line is inaccurate, polarizing, and can cost Democrats dearly in the next election. We’re so dumb for perpetuating that phrase.

Chloe Ross
1 month ago

I missed this when it went up. A gem of logic and truth.

Edie
Edie
1 month ago

Hear hear!

Cino
Cino
1 month ago

Mr. Strasburg, this is one of the most profound, definitive written points on current events I have ever read. I too helped lay the foundation of this great idea of becoming a city.

The events happening in West Hollywood presently, are the antithesis of what the foundation of this city was created upon.
You have pinpointed the root causes and sources for this twisted cacophony of extreme transformations that have cast a pall over this town.
Always follow the money, as it will always lead to the power source.

Bravo for this excellent analysis.

Keith Kaplan
Keith Kaplan
1 month ago

Thank you Alan! Like you,I consider myself a pragmatic progressive who has fought vigorously and openly for social and economic justice for decades. I was here walking the streets and knocking on doors to support the campaign for West Hollywood’s cityhood in the early 80’s. I’ve been an active and proud advocate, supporter and promoter of our city for over three decades. And now, like you I am deeply troubled by the direction our city is headed at the hands of a city council dominated by three members so completely lost in WOKE rhetoric and with little understanding or consideration… Read more »

Citizen
Citizen
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Kaplan

Shyne calling anyone a “privileged white man” is a presumptuous, racist, misandrist, and classist vile comment that makes her a fool worthy of recall and ouster from any public office. She is vile and should never have been elected to office. Her campaign against the gay white men who have lived, worked, loved, fought, and died (especially during the AIDS crisis) in West Hollywood is unforgivable. RECALL that vile racist homophobic misandrist NOW!

Brian
Brian
1 month ago

Soon Shiong’s twitter feed is nothing but re-tweets from intertwined astro-turf political groups designed to create an echo chamber presenting a false illusion that they represent popular opinion in the hope that people are too busy going about their daily lives to notice the propaganda blitz being perpetrated against them. She gleefully retweeted a post from her father’s employee, LA Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian, in which the Times refuses to endorse Villanueva in the upcoming Sheriff’s election as part of some ongoing vendetta by the former against the latter. The Times’ apparatchik’s twitter feed is itself little more than a… Read more »

WehoFan
WehoFan
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian

You can also see that most of her followers are fake accounts.

LFlyntJr
LFlyntJr
1 month ago

Ms. Soon-Schlong’s father bought the Brooklyn Bridge, aka Los “El Segundo” Times. So why does anyone take her seriously except for Horvath?  I had lunch today at the Farmer’s Market, and the newsstand no longer sells the LA or NY Times. The same is true for CVS. It’s so tiny you can’t wrap a fish in it, and they can’t give it away. Just filled with opinion pieces, no advertising, and in West Hollywood, about 400 subscribe to the hard copy edition of the newspaper.  Obviously, Ms. Soon-Schlong has editorial influences, which conflicts with being appointed to the so-called safety… Read more »

Rudi Logan
Rudi Logan
1 month ago
Reply to  LFlyntJr

Cheap shot with the name-distortion, Jr. Going for two ethnicities with one blow?

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  LFlyntJr

Name distortion aside, this was clearly Horvath’s transactional purchase of the once-great Los Angeles Times endorsement. Anyone who thinks Nika Soon-Shiong has no say in that endorsement is a naive idiot.

DesertBob
DesertBob
1 month ago

Soon-Shiong is correct on one point regarding LASD….it is horrendously mismanaged, and quite likely corrupt.

Last edited 1 month ago by DesertBob
Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  DesertBob

I don’t disagree, but that has nothing to do with our current state of public safety. I would completely support Ms. Soon Shiong’s attempt to hold the LASD accountable for performance on its contract if she didn’t attempt to do so at the cost of our public safety.

jim Herron
jim Herron
1 month ago

Congrats, Alan, the misdirected woke inspired cultural police
patrol headed by Horvath, Erickson and Shyne are leading us
over the cliff of no return. Thank you for shining a light, once
again, on this insanity.

Danny
Danny
1 month ago

Has this woke council or PSC actually changed anything thus far? Or are they just talking about change? Are you all in fear for your lives because of the changes that have already been implemented or is what’s worked in the past to keep us safe not working anymore and that’s why everyone is trying to figure out what we can change/add? Think abt it.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  Danny

Thought abt it. Talking about change is the point at which we must make our voices heard. I think commissioners should identify themselves fully. I’m not worried about “change/add” only “reduce” especially now.

Danny
Danny
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Well, Mr. keyboard warrior we hope you bring your innovative ideas to city council and the PSC. trash talking people is definitely not going to get you very far in life.

We ALL want the same thing here and are in the process of flushing out ideas. As a “liberal” you should respect other peoples POV and bring yours to the table as we would love to hear them.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  Danny

I think I have. Pay attention. You call me a keyboard warrior, but I attach my full name to what I say. Call me, I’m sure you can find me.

Mike
Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Danny

“Flushing out ideas” Is this euphemism?

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