STEVE MARTIN: The vote UNITE HERE wants you to forget

Most of us have received the large glossy postcard from UNITE HERE, attacking Mayor Lauren Meister and former Council member John Duran, for a vote taken in 2016 opposing an increase of our local minimum wage.

This mailer — meant to promote the UNITE HERE slate of Chelsea Byers, Robert Oliver and Zekiah Wright — is dishonest on a number of levels.

First, despite the faux outrage over this 2016 vote, UNITE HERE endorsed Lauren Meister for re-election in 2019. How are voters supposed to find UNITE HERE credible when their manipulation of their own endorsement history is so cynical?

The other fact that is conveniently ignored is that Lauren Meister supported an increase in minimum wage, indeed in 2021 Meister voted to increase West Hollywood’s minimum wage to $17.64 an hour.

But there is at least one very important vote UNITE HERE wants you to forget.

On February 14, 2022, Public Safety Commissioner Robert Oliver seconded the Motion of Nika Soon-Shoing to cut 10 of our 60 deputies. Indeed, Oliver made some rather interesting comments after seconding that motion that seem quite contrary to the “record” he is trying to present in his campaign literature.

Like Council member Lindsay Horvath, Oliver thought that “de-funding” was a politically astute move. As was clear from the debate at the Public Safety Commission when the vote was made, the decision to cut deputies was made on politically contrived “facts” rather than as sense of what was good policy for protecting the community.

Prior to COVID we had 64 deputies patrolling West Hollywood. The Council made cuts, including two deputies during COVID, which reduced the number of deputies to sixty. Cutting four additional deputies will reduce the number of deputies to 56. That represents a significant cut in law enforcement when crime rates are on the rise. These cuts in deputies will translate to even slower response times.

Like a lot of people, in 2020 I had hoped that perhaps “re-allocating” public safety resources could help us “re-image” law enforcement. I was disabused of that notion in 2021. As a block captain in the Eastside Neighborhood Watch, I witnessed significant increases in crime, both in number and in the level of violence. Given the crime stats, it seemed inconceivable to me that the Public Safety Commission would cut rather than add deputies to our station.

After the Public Safety vote in February, I immediately began to organize community opposition to these irresponsible cuts. While the City Council majority ultimately voted to “only” decrease the number of Sheriff’s deputies by four, I believe community outrage made it politically impossible for the Council to adopt the Oliver supported proposal to cut 10 deputies.

In June, when the City Council adopted the cuts, only two City Council candidates spoke out against the cuts and demanded a restoration of deputies to pre-COVID levels: Marquita Thomas and me. Many self-proclaimed “community leaders” never bothered to show up to this crucial meeting.

At the following City Council meeting, a representative of UNITE HERE praised the cuts during Citizen’s Comments and announcing that “de-funding” law enforcement is part of the union’s agenda.

At their last meeting, the City Council voted to delay implementing the cuts of two deputies that was scheduled for this month.

It was obvious from the comments of at least two council members, this delay was politically motivated clearly and was tied with their concerns about how cutting deputies on the eve of an election might hurt their favored candidates. This delay represents political cynicism at the lowest level and reflects upon the lack of integrity of the current City Council majority. If the City Council was really concerned about the safety of our residents, the Council could have voted to rescind the vote to cut any deputies.

But restoring the cuts are not part of the Council majority’s agenda. If the candidates endorsed by the Council majority get elected, the currently proposed cuts will go forward. Indeed, there may be even greater cuts. When political ambitions trump the good of the community, we can expect further efforts to play politics with public safety.

So if you are concerned about public safety, look at the votes rather than looking at the rhetoric.

UNITE HERE is not the only group trying to become local power brokers. Residents often forget that West Hollywood is sitting on some on the most desirable real estate in California. Earlier this year, three of West Hollywood’s most prominent land-use lobbyists tried to anoint Chelsea Byers as the front-runner, by sponsoring a high-end fund raiser on the Sunset Strip. That effort floundered when Byers’ rabid anti-Zionist views became public. But developers are still trying to influence this race. The Viper Room project has been endorsed by UNITE HERE and is undoubtedly helping to underwrite the union’s mailers in this election.

The greatest challenge facing the West Hollywood voters is how we prevent outside special interests from subverting our local democracy.

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About Steve Martin
Steve Martin is a former West Hollywood City Council member and mayor, former president of the Stonewall Democratic Club and author of West Hollywood's successful term limits initiative, Prop. C.

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WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
1 month ago

While we’re at it, it would be nice if this was addressed as well:

https://twitter.com/Jasmyne/status/1578479009070866432?s=20&t=cjGp-5Wpyr2CuTpM1IBH0Q

Havenhurst
Havenhurst
1 month ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

Who runs the fund that Jasmyne is declaring these elected officials must donate their tainted funds to? I hope not Jasmyne herself… because that is not a good look.

Unsophisticated
Unsophisticated
1 month ago

Too many voices in this conversation and in West Hollywood seem mighty unsophisticated and keep recycling their own air and problematic personalities. The atmosphere is suffocating because they are nit interested in and information or facts from the wider universe. In other words they may be skilled in the mechanics of what they do but it is strangely disconnected.

Hypocrisy
Hypocrisy
1 month ago

It is interesting that this article’s entire point is to highlight Oliver’s vote in February and question his later decision to seemingly distance himself from it afterwards… while at the same time applauding Meister’s similar actions on minimum wage. Hmmm…

“Restore Public Safety” lol
“Restore Public Safety” lol
1 month ago

Steve Martin, you are a HERO in the defund the police movement. Your 2020 pro-defund the police manifesto has inspired countless defund the police activists.

https://wehoville.com/2020/07/03/opinion-its-times-for-west-hollywood-to-reimagine-its-public-safety-services/

Hypocrisy
Hypocrisy
1 month ago

Well, well, well… haha.

Joe Bologna
Joe Bologna
1 month ago

How I wish we could instead vote for Duran Duran and the other Steve Martin to be our leaders. That would be #$* awesome!!!

Last edited 1 month ago by Joe Bologna
typical politician “what about ism”
typical politician “what about ism”
1 month ago

Steve Martin should have taken the $25,000 check he wrote his campaign and just gone on a nice cruise.

Michael Dolan
Michael Dolan
1 month ago

Bingo!

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago

City council has no business having any say in a minimum wage. Where do they get the idea that they do?

Reducing the number of our sheriff’s deputies is even more absurd than reducing Fountain Avenue to two lanes. Those who support such ideas are not looking out for the well-being of the city but must surely have some personal agenda for their own advancement ….. or they’re delusional!

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago

Oliver and his campaign think we have short memories and that we will forget his vote FOR the motion to cut sworn deputies by 17%. His vote set off a period of angst and division in this city that continues to this day. That vote is sealed in the record and informs public discussion on this candidate’s qualifications and interest in representing the entirety of residents rather than his special masters at Unite Here and the thousands of dollars in his campaign coffers from all other outside interests. Byers and Wright join Oliver in attempting to craft language about public… Read more »

Selflessness Needed
Selflessness Needed
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Well said. The cuty could benefit from the attention of two additional “selfless” individuals.

Michael on Havenhurst Drive
Michael on Havenhurst Drive
1 month ago

No on voting for the BOW; Chelsea Byers, Robert Oliver and Zekiah Wright. Besides being backed by this union, they’re backed by the most dreadful three ever to be involved with West Hollywood. The hideous SHE! Sepi Shyne, Lindsay Horvath and John Erickson. The BOW on the city council would just be more woke, equity, gender tranny nonsense, pronouns BS that we have had to endure out of the mouths of people like Shyne and Erickson!

Long Time Resident aka Alison
Long Time Resident aka Alison
1 month ago

I rarely agree with you, but on this issue, I heartily agree! No on the BOW!

Havenhurst
Havenhurst
1 month ago

Amen. I’m a lifelong Democrat who has never voted for a Republican in his life. But I am sick and tired of these carpetbagging Social Justice Warriors like The Heiress who swoop in and turn our city into Wokeistan. Council and Commission meetings should be for discussing critical infrastructure not critical theory. We are not some mediocre Sociology 101 class at a third-rate university. We are a community of residents fed up with rising crime, growing homeless encampments, and maddening levels of congestion. I wish these Council members and commissioners were more concerned about the violence suffered by victims of… Read more »

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