Budget meeting becomes battleground for defund-the-sheriff crusaders

The city’s bi-annual budget meeting Monday night devolved into a debate about defunding the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

City Manager David Wilson wearily fielded question after question about how much WeHo will be allocating LASD over the next two years, eclipsing any discussion of how the city plans to spend the millions not budgeted for public safety. 

“What is the justification for not diverting funds from the sheriff department?” asked Sylvester Ani. “Especially when I’m looking at data that shows that the West Hollywood station only solves 20 percent of the crime within the city?”

“What body of research are you using as part of your professional and ethical and fiduciary obligations to the city to rely on for recommending the $3.2 million not be reallocated to social services but instead go to the sheriff?” asked Alex with Civil Rights Corp.

Soon-Shiong, Villanueva, Wilson

The Zoom meeting was open to the public, but fewer than 50 people attended, including city staff members who were hosting it.

Many of those in attendance were faces often seen at City Council, commission and advisory board meetings, but the commenters focusing on the sheriff were not familiar, as noted by former Councilmember Steve Martin. 

“We’ve been battered since February by a lot of ideologues and out of town activists that have just kicked around the sheriff’s issue and have been playing politics with public safety,” he said, “and we’re really tired of it. The Public Safety Commission — and I am friends with most of those people or consider myself friends of those people and respect them as individuals — but it has become a circus.”

The de facto ringleader of the defund-the-sheriff movement — Public Safety Commissioner Nika Soon-Shiong — was first to speak Monday night. She accused the city of increasing the sheriff’s budget by $1 million, and wanted answers as to why City Hall was “rejecting and/or ignoring” her commission’s desire to hand $3.2 million of the sheriff’s budget over to social services.

Wilson pointed out that her assumption of an additional $1 million was incorrect, noting that City Council would be the final decision maker. 

Soon-Shiong’s opposition to Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his department is well known and widely documented. This spring, she commissioned a private, unvetted analysis of the department’s finances and presented it to her colleagues on the Public Safety Commission, who used it as the basis for recommending a reduction in the amount of funding West Hollywood allocates to the sheriff. 

Public Safety Commissioner Kerri Balbone, among the last to speak, brought a dose of reality to the proceedings. She shared what went on behind the scenes at the commission over the past few months.

“I’ve had a front row seat to some of this,” she said. “The first proposal that was put on the table was put on the table because of the amount of time that our police department spends on behavioral health issues during their day,” she said. “That’s how we got to 10 officers. That was the first request. Then that changed to ‘no, no, no, we just want a social service upgrade,’ and it wasn’t about the time the officers were spending, it was just swapping it out. Then that turned into ‘well, let’s question the officer statistics around grand theft.’ And then when we figured out that grand theft was because of the cell phones costing $1,000, it then became ‘are they effective at solving cell phone crime?’ So when we talk about what the goals are it’s very clear that some people would like to defund or move dollars no matter what the data says — and I want to make that clear. And I’m not going to say that they’re wrong because I don’t think that that’s for me to say because everybody has an opinion but if we’re going to keep score let’s keep score around the shifting story on both sides.”

Balbone noted that budget money allocated to social services last year was actually left unspent because too few people sought the services. She longed for a peaceful resolution.

 “I just hope that it can be respectful so that we can all hear each other’s needs and continue to pursue balance,” Balbone said.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
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. A native of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, he now lives in WeHo and is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. @brandoninthebubble on Instagram

View All Articles

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

26 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Harambe’s Vengeful Ghost
Harambe’s Vengeful Ghost
17 hours ago

God these “activists” are just awful. Just admit you’re godless communists hellbent on death and mayhem and be done with it.

Jake Lee
Jake Lee
2 days ago

I know a lot of people think that West Hollywood is a safer place now that Ed Buck is in prison but it’s only safer for Gay Black men amd not everyone else. West Hollywood needs more Deputies, not less.

Old Fashioned Police Work
Old Fashioned Police Work
1 day ago
Reply to  Jake Lee

Perhaps it’s not how many deputies we have but how they are allocated in town and what their priorities are. The public should be aware of exactly what has changed in their methodology. Classic police work was generally effective so in order to me more effective we should know what changed in order to correct it.

Harambe’s Vengeful Ghost
Harambe’s Vengeful Ghost
17 hours ago

Leftists got a political voice. That’s what happened.

Exiled on La Brea
Exiled on La Brea
6 days ago

Defund the police because crime is too low. Makes sense.

West
West
7 days ago

This weird, convoluted network of think tanks pushing the defund narrative again?! Why are they so focused on ideological astroturfed “solutions”, but ignore basic actionable reforms for police accountability that would benefit all of WeHo? This town has had its share of organized crime related officers, no shocker there. For all their foaming at the mouth, the well funded social engineers don’t even name people like convicted sexual exploiter former Ltn. Dave Smith. You won’t hear them recall the special relationship between the WeHo Sheriff and Ed Buck, when WeHo officers were “escorting” Bucks victims out of his property when… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by West
WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
7 days ago

Where was Ambrose Brooks? Are they ok? Should the police do a welfare check?

BrownEyedBoy
BrownEyedBoy
7 days ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

Maybe they were traumatized that there would be another “Villanueva sighting” in WeHo!

Video of Budget Meeting
Video of Budget Meeting
7 days ago

For anyone wishing to view a video of the Budget Meeting of 6.20.22 it can be found under YouTube WeHo City Manager’s Community Budget Meeting not avail on city site.

JF1
JF1
6 days ago

I’d like to keep my dinner down.

Left Field
Left Field
7 days ago

The theft of cell phones at bars and nightclubs is happening on private property. Property owners need to provide better security for their customers. Residents who do not frequent nightclubs should not have to pay for Sheriff to patrol private property. . The Public Safety Committee could have contacted Apple directly and asked for assistance.

Bastian
Bastian
7 days ago
Reply to  Left Field

When someone breaks into your home, be sure not to call the sheriff, after all that’s private property, you should probably hire your own security.

Left Field
Left Field
6 days ago
Reply to  Bastian

If the public safety commission is wanting to defund the Sheriff’s for not doing undercover cell phones investigations in nightclubs. They should also request a business improvement district be set up to pay for the undercover operations.

resident
resident
7 days ago

Let’s just hope the born-into-privilege, intellectually lazy, and morally questionable Soon-Shiong does not try to buy her way onto the West Hollywood city council.

She could ask Daddy for a Los Angeles Times endorsement, just like he did for her friend Lindsey.

Michael
Michael
2 days ago
Reply to  resident

I can’t decide who the bigger fool is, her of that C U Next Tuesday Lindsey.

Tom
Tom
7 days ago

This is a city budget meeting. For the City. Commenters should be required to state whether they are residents.

Michael G Labarbera
Michael G Labarbera
7 days ago

This decision MUST be made by the CITIZENS of West Hollywood, NOT the City Council. We should demand a VOTE!

Bastian
Bastian
7 days ago

Sylvester Ani lives in Cerritos. Alec with Civil Rights Corps lives in Washington DC, the other side of the country. These people don’t live here, don’t experience what local residents are facing, and have zero businesses trying to enforce their radical woke ideology on our city. It’s naive to believe reallocating money to local social programs is going to make much of a difference, when those committing serious crimes (armed robbery, follow home robberies, wallet/cell phone theft in clubs, catalytic converter theft) are not the homeless we see on the streets, but organized criminals who I would surmise don’t even… Read more »

Peter Buckley
Peter Buckley
7 days ago

Maybe it’s time for a referendum to move us back to Los Angeles. We seem to be run by a bunch of kids as the City of West Hollywood.

Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content

0
0
votes
Article Rating
26
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x