OPINION | Can’t stand City Council? Blame John Heilman

The current mess the City Council is in lies directly at John Heilman’s feet. 

He is the main reason Horvath, Shyne & Erickson are on the council in the first place.  He “groomed” them each for a potential seat on the council for very self-serving reasons: To support his proposals & positions, to create a 3-member majority on the council & to vote with him as a block of three without exception.

When the seat held by Sal Guarriello became available after his passing, there was a “movement” among many voters, to hold a special election to replace Sal & let the voters decide & not let Heilman make an appointment, which he obviously already had planned. Heilman vigorously objected to a special election, saying “I don’t think that’s progress. I don’t know why it’s needed to call a special election & spend a lot of money!”

Heilman strongly objected to term limits, saying “elections are term limits”.  (for thee, but not fore me). Not excactly a man of his word. Enter Lindsey Horvath, who had been waiting in the wings for her cue to occupy the vacant seat, the voters & a special election be damned!.  

Heilman subsequently appointed John Erickson, a former assistant to Abbe Land, to the Planning Commission & Sepi Shyne to the Business License Commission, ostensibly to use as a launching pad to the City Council &, once again, to help secure Heilman’s voting block-of-three, especially since Horvath was planning a run for the Board of Supervisors.  So there’s an undeniable pattern here, all part of Heilman’s manipulative method of getting everything his way,

There seems to have been a consistency in Heilman’s method of operation – to try to steer the outcome of important, prominent issues even outside the city to favor himself.  In 2010, Heilman vehemently supported a California ballot proposition to take district drawing out of the hands of a Citizens’ Commission set to draw the boundaries for legislature districts & return the responsibility, i.e., the privilege, of drawing districts, back to the politicians, a shady practice called gerrymandering, a measure opposed by Jerry Brown, Gray Davis, Pete Wilson & then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger & loudly denounced by groups such as AARP & the ACLU.  According to several online sources, Heilman was pushing for this system that favored his political buddies & not the public. As it happened, ballot measure 20 lost & district drawing was left in the hands of citizen commissions. 

In a 2010 online article L.A. Weekly wrote that John Heilman is selling out the city & founding principles of renter protection to support policies in favor of sweetheart deals for real estate developers.  Also in 2010, then former Planning Commissioner & present Councilmember John D’Amico addressed Heilman & one of his colleagues from the speaker’s podium, saying “You are two entrenched elites, you no longer belong in a position of leadership in West Hollywood. Your radical suburbanizing of West Hollywood has undermined the promise of what a future West Hollywood can be.” 

from LA Weekly circa Feb. 2010

Again, in Feb. 2010,  the L.A. Weekly ran a cover story, with a cartoon drawing depicting Heilman as a puppeteer, & the other council members as marionettes being manipulated on strings. The article said that Heilman shows no leadership & having little or no vision for the future. In Oct 2010, then council member John Duran called out 2 fellow colleagues , saying the City Council was engaged in a “cultural battle” for the city’s “soul”  & that he was “beginning to sense a struggle at the core of West Hollywood”, citing “among other things, that a drug & alcohol center, that serves approximately 6000-7000 people every month, may be demolished so a “Tiny Tot playground” could be built in it’s place.

According to the article, “Duran is almost certainly talking about John Heilman & Abbe Land” Also according to what Duran wrote, “a proposed work by world famous artist Shepard Fairey in the new library, was shot down by a majority of the City Council, including Heilman, for being “too controversial, who they say was trying to accommodate a goal by one of his colleagues to make West Hollywood more “family friendly”. However both Heilman & his same colleague were against having a “family friendly” off-leash dog area in the new West Hollywood Park. Only through the hard work & perseverance of Councilmember John D’Amico did the dog park ever come to fruition. 

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About Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty is retired from the film and interior design trades and lives in WeHo with his Rat Terrier Zipper. McBreairty has lived in West Hollywood since 1970 and helped collect signatures for the campaign and ballot initiative that created the City of West Hollywood in 1984. He was a member of the city's first Affordable Housing Task Force and served as a Rent Stabilization Commissioner from 1986 to 1987. His hobbies are writing, photography and studying Hollywood history and old Los Angeles architecture.

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Mike
Mike
1 month ago

I am NOT a fan of either John Heilman or John Duran and will not vote for either of them ever again.

They’ve both done some good work on Council but have been “in power” in West Hollywood nearly since its inception in 1984. We need more NEW BLOOD on Council. (I’ve lived in WeHo since 1998)

Please DO NOT FORGET the embarrassment and huge payout our fair city had to pay due to Duran’s indiscretions. IMHO, Duran should never be allowed to run again. Neither should Heilman.

Josh Kurpies
Josh Kurpies
1 month ago

Note to the author:
In 2010, Proposition 20 removed the drawing of Congressional Districts from the Legislature & Governor and assigned that task to the newly created (2008) CA Redistricting Commission. It was Proposition 27 during that same year that would have returned the drawing of state legislative districts back to the Legislature & Governor. Prop 20 passed, Prop 27 failed. (https://lao.ca.gov/ballot/2010/20_11_2010.aspx)

Smallness
Smallness
1 month ago

John Heilman, who thinks of himself as the Father of West Hollywood had a few good ideas but never the scope to fully implement them. He is a law professor without any real experience beyond the borders of West Hollywood and his law school corridors. He knows little of a balanced functioning community. After once achieving power he sought to keep the power by selling out presumed ideals to the developers to keep himself in power. Nothing more sophisticated than than. He furthered his position by advocating the appointment/installation of a groomable, neophyte, chameleon Lindsey Horvath which assured him of… Read more »

Curious & Confused
Curious & Confused
1 month ago
Reply to  Smallness

I do recall his strange going to Africa to “raise awareness about aids.” Or something like that. What was that all about??

Smallness
Smallness
1 month ago

Have no idea however his behavior locally is disturbing enough

Lenny K
Lenny K
1 month ago

@David Reid. Truer words were never spoken When a small city spends $220 million on a park that’s essentially one building, a pool & some trees, $3 million on a stairway & $18 million on a robo garage that was nothing but a whim of an irresponsible city council & turned out to be as useless as they were, they should be held to account. They should be required to reveal all the bidders & bids to the public, publish a breakdown of the costs for each structure & for each of the landscaped areas, etc. The amounts of money… Read more »

Joe Bologna
Joe Bologna
1 month ago

Just vote for the most non-woke, and WeHo should be fine again. Or at least better than it is.

Last edited 1 month ago by Joe Bologna
Long Time Resident of WeHo
Long Time Resident of WeHo
1 month ago

Don’t kid yourself I didn’t know John Heilman and I admit I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to the goings-on in the city gov’t, but I happen to think the writer of this piece got it absolutely right. Heilman always wanted to be a VIP and tried to appear to be above everyone else. So see where it got him, nowhere. Sad

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

I supported the efforts of John D’Amico and Lauren Meister to create the off-leash area in West Hollywood Park, which as Woody states, was vigorously opposed. That opposition seemed largely motivated by the fact that this was not part of the parks envisioned “astethics”. As it turned out, the dog parks have been some of the most popular and used portion of the re-designed park.

No Aesthetics
No Aesthetics
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

There are unfortunately no aesthetics visible at West Hollywood Park only obvious financial statements. 🙄

Reading Rainbow
Reading Rainbow
1 month ago

So in other words, things got to be pretty bad that so many people want Heilman back. Makes sense.

E-ric
E-ric
1 month ago

Heilman has effectively exceeded term limits. We need “relatively” new voices on council. Let him weigh in on Wehoville instead or speak for three minutes at Council.

Indeed, Heilman lubricated the path for the Council Members Erickson, Horvath and Sheyne. This alone invites concerns about Heilman.

Duran, having violated his former deputy as well as members of Gay Mens Chorus, has not exhibited good judgement as a Councilmember, Attorney or human being or “spokesman” for the LGBT community. Let him weigh in on Wehoville instead.

Ian
Ian
1 month ago

Even before reading this JH should NEVER be allowed on the West Hollywood City Council again. He turned into the exact kind of politician that this young little city vowed never to allow.
Don’t think for a minute JH wouldn’t vote with the Defund the police grass grazer if it meant securing another 20 years on the council.

Two or three terms and that should be it for 10 years. Then they can try again. Entrenched politicians are a cancer on every town that experiences it.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago

I think your assessment that Heilman had some master plan, to get Shyne and Erickson on the Council is ludicrous. You ignore the most important part of this: they ran against him, and they unseated him! Was that part of his “master plan?” Did he have some crystal ball, knowing that his appointments would make their way to the City Council? If that is your argument, can you say that about everyone else who has made an appointment, where their appointee, eventually made it onto the City Council? John Heilman did not have some machinations to get these two on… Read more »

Lennie K
Lennie K
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Woody’s got it right. I think Heilman, win or lose, wanted/wants council people who he could/can influence, just as he & a certain “associate” of his do now. If you don’t think Heilman was/is power-happy, controlling & tries to influence/influences 3 of the existing council members whether he’s in office or not, then you’re not paying attention. It has nothing to do with a crystal ball or other council members’ appointees, but maybe something to do with his “master plan” as you put it. The people who paid/pay attention have always observed this, & agree with the premise of this… Read more »

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Lennie K

I have been paying attention. For 23+ years. I’m not denying that Heilman had an agenda, or, as I said, “wishful thinking.” It definitely was with Horvath, with her appointment in 2009(?). But let us remember, it wasn’t just Heilman and Land on the Council, when she was appointed. I don’t honestly remember how that went down, with the four Councilmembers deciding this. We all know there should have been a special election. My point remains the same. Just by virtue of his appointments, one cannot say that he is “to blame.” He’s not responsible for their eventual succession to… Read more »

David Reid
David Reid
1 month ago

Mr. Heilman says a special election is too costly then pushes the poorly planned $220,000,000.00 make over of West Hollywood (Pride) Park. Including a $3,000,000.00 stairway to nowhere. Four attempts in the last six weeks to walk up the stairs only to find the top gated off. And not to forget the money drain robogarage behind City Hall. $18,000,000.00 to build. Promised rooftop community area disappeared.
Heilman has been shown the door twice. A two time loser. Duran is worse. He is equally culpable on these wastes of tax dollars. Where is the state auditor???

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