OpEd: Follow the Money

The past two years have been a roller-coaster ride of issues.

And in most all those cases, city councilmembers voted for policies that favored their supporters.

UNITE HERE Local 11 was central to the campaigns of Sepi Shyne and John Erickson and those councilmembers brought forward items as payback. You might recall the short discussions of the hotel worker ordinance — Danielle Wilson, the union representative literally had a seat on the zoom dais.

In the past months we witnessed a discussion about the movement of dollars from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s budget to Block by Block. Nika Soon-Shiong, a Horvath appointee brought forward her own data, which was not vetted by City Staff. Ms. Shiong is the daughter of the owner of the LA Times. Horvath happens to be running for County Supervisor.

Karen Bartak stepped forward to speak at the City Council meetings as an “insurance person,” but not West Hollywood’s insurance agent. She stated West Hollywood could be “uninsurable.” The motion to move $3 million into the coffers of Block by Block was put on the table. The choice was to not maintain the Sheriff and expand other measures.

At another meeting, Mayor Meister asked Ambrose Brooks of Justice LA Coalition directly, ‘if we could fund 3 million dollars without cutting the sheriff would that be acceptable?” Brooks replied, “It would not.”

People have been accusing me of bias against Block by Block. Please think back and recall all the statements I’ve made over the years in support of Block by Block. My shop has placed hundreds of calls to the ambassadors, and many of them come to the store for a water or chips, and I’ve spoken up for the “mission” of the ambassadors multiple times. I know many ambassadors personally. Some have been at my house.

In fact, WEHOville had been in possession of both Shea Gibson’s and Rodriguez’s record and history for more than a year. We never ran a story. I had personal conversations with multiple city councilmembers about the Gibson’s criminal record. WEHOville never published any story on this matter until the City Council voted to remove Sheriff’s deputies and then create a giant expanded Block by Block initiative under Gibson’s command.

City Council then widened the purview of Block by Block, adding increased responsibilities and increased risks. Shea Gibson, the person in charge of the measures, was convicted of armed robbery and voluntary manslaughter, and was imprisoned for 8 years. As the responsibility of Block by Block was to expand it should be fair to ask questions.

Councilmembers who had knowledge of this could have been open and transparent. There is a potential increased liability to the city. Councilmembers had a responsibility to acknowledge, disclose it and bring the hiring practices of Block by Block into consideration when making decisions. Instead, they asked few questions … and the hijacking continues.

Then we find out that Block by Block is owned by SMS Holdings, a Tennessee-based company, and their partner, Mydatt Services, a Kentucky based company. And although the company does not make campaign contibutions, their employees do — and 99.9% of their donations went to Republicans.

How can Lindsey Horvath or Sepi Shyne not be outraged? They scream “my body, my choice,” and then vote to hire this company whose employees donate to Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and a host of anti-abortion advocates. They vote against travel to Texas to take a stand against harsh anti-abortion crusaders but but vote to send West Hollywood’s Public Safety dollars to Republican causes. Why is John Erickson silent? Where is Hollywood NOW (mum’s the word, they are speechless) where is the Women’s Advisory Board asking questions?

We are not talking skilled workers here. The skill set to become a Block by Block employee on the street is minimal. Here is a copy of the job requirements.

There are many security companies located in California or closer to West Hollywood than Tennessee. Where is the outrage?

There is something bigger going on here. The funding of Block by Block is the start. To me it looks like more of the same payback. The goal is to make the contract large enough to make it worthwhile to unionize them under UNITE HERE Local 11. West Hollywood will serve as the petri dish to those ambitions. What looks like defunding the Sheriff today will turn into funding the ambitions of the UNITE HERE Local 11 in the future. Mark my words.

Today, it is a requirement of all the cannabis businesses in West Hollywood to be union workforces. Two out of the city’s 22 hotels are unionized and the rules that apply to the non-union hotels do not apply to the union hotels. So let’s just be honest about what is going on here. West Hollywood will be more like the Las Vegas Strip in years to come than the quiet community we used to recognize. The powerful interests groups are taking over.

We can also follow the money when it comes to ‘affordable housing’ too. Today is cost $800,000 to build an affordable housing unit. Where’s that money flow? To developers. And who gets those units? Thats a story of another expose.

If you want to know what’s going on in this town. Just follow the money.

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About Larry Block
Larry Block is a contributor and shareholder in Boystown Media. He is a local business owner, community advocate and has lived or worked in West Hollywood since 1985. Larry has served as Chairman of the Public Facilities Commission and Chairman of the Disability Advisory Board.

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JRBirdsong
JRBirdsong
22 days ago

Sepi Shyne and John Erickson need to be chased out of town forever

Bullseye
Bullseye
24 days ago

Every crime looks for the motive. You may have hit the nail on the head.

Joshua88
Joshua88
25 days ago

I believe the collective amount of donations was around $17,000 in 2021.
SMS Holdings Profile: Totals • OpenSecrets

Small compared to many other donors seeking favors.

Bah.
Republicans are evil, I know, but their money is legal.

Westmount Dr Resident
Westmount Dr Resident
25 days ago

I understand that you are a small business owner and likely to be anti-labor as a general position Larry, but given that the strongest operating union in West Hollywood is the LASD, don’t you find it a little contradictory to be arguing for more deputies who make a good union wage when you find it apparently so repugnant that workers have the ability to collectively negotiate?

DesertBob
DesertBob
22 days ago

LASD’s deputies’ bargaining agent is ALADS, the Association of Los Angeles (County) Deputy Sheriffs. As is typical of cop unions, they are unaffiliated with AFL-CIO.

Jeffrey
Jeffrey
26 days ago

I thought the city only does business with companies that pass the smell test. This does not pass the smell test.

EquityWokeIsBS
EquityWokeIsBS
26 days ago

The political appointee who set up Block by Block. for Santa Monica at $21 Million a year was paid thousands of dollars in commissions by the Kentucky-based corp owners. So, I’m asking who set up the B by B for West Hollywood plus the new enlarged number of “security monitors” for the program voted on in June. Who is getting a commission in WeHo???

Block by Block has terrible reviews on Yelp for SM. The drawbacks are exposed in this video: https://vimeo.com/731583867

Breaking Public Trust
Breaking Public Trust
26 days ago
Reply to  EquityWokeIsBS

Is this political appointee still w City of Santa Monica? Could make an educated guess as to who may have done this in Weho. The timing is interesting.

BlueEyedGayWasp
BlueEyedGayWasp
25 days ago

Cathleen Rawson recently retired. She took a big hidden commission from Block by Block to keep them in the downtown area. Who is getting the “secret” commission in corrupt West Hollywood?

Breaking Public Trust
Breaking Public Trust
25 days ago

One possibility might be to connect the dots of the recently departed.

Breaking Public Trust
Breaking Public Trust
25 days ago

Hmmm. Kathleen Rawson who now has a new gig in Hollywood. Wonder if she will align somehow with Sepi.

https://www.surfsantamonica.com/ssm_site/the_lookout/news/News-2021/December-2021/12_22_2021_After_25_Years_Rawson_Steps_Down_as_Downtown_Head.html

Duplicitous
Duplicitous
26 days ago

If the UK could give Boris Johnson such a swift boot, residents of West Hollywood should be able to do the same to these common miscreants and also eject the unqualified and duplicitous commissioners and advisory board members.

Ian
Ian
26 days ago

Lindsey Horvath or Sepi Shyne could give a rat’s assets about the killing of innner city black youth from black on black crime. Two Soros lackeys climbing out of their sewers.
Domestic terrorists for the Far Left.

DesertBob
DesertBob
22 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Kook-a-doodle-dooooo!

LateralThinker
LateralThinker
26 days ago

For those on both sides of the isle and with different opinions…NOTE you would NOTHING if not for our little town paper !! Keep up the work Larry, I am so glad you have become a steward that at the end of the day gives us ALL a voice

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
26 days ago

Great piece, Larry! The Washington Post famously displays on its masthead, “Democracy dies in darkness.” Keep shining the lights on the machinations of the city bureaucracy–council, commissions, boards, task forces, and staff. The anonymous comments from insiders will continue, as will the pathetic attempts to discount the validity of community engagement here, as will the use of the dismissive word “blog” to reduce the importance of what is published here. The people in these positions need a civics lesson on the meaning of holding an office of public trust. A holder of an office of public trust “has been entrusted… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Alan Strasburg
IAN
IAN
25 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

The Washington Post died with Mrs. Graham. It is no different than CNN and MSNBC or FOX
We do not have an objective media source anymore. They have all become political mouthpieces controlled by a handful of owners.

DesertBob
DesertBob
22 days ago
Reply to  IAN

See above.

John
John
26 days ago

Right on the money!

West
26 days ago

Great op ed Larry

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