John Heilman Will Make Second Try to Enact Lobbying Restrictions for WeHo

Fri, Mar 14, 2014   By Staff    7 Comments

City Councilmember John Heilman is proposing that West Hollywood prohibit former employees or members of city boards or commissions from lobbying the city for a defined period of time after ending their employment or official relationship with the city.

councilmember john heilman

John Heilman

The proposal, which will be presented to the City Council on Monday, asks that the City Attorney look into possible post-employment restrictions, which then presumably would be brought to the Council for a decision.

In a memo presented to the Council, Heilman notes that state law bars city managers and council members from lobbying the city with which they were associated for one year after ending that association.

“While this limits the ability of certain parties to influence political action, this section does not include board or commission members or many city employees,” Heilman’s memo says. “In practice, this may enable City staff and officials with inside connections or information about a pertinent issue to influence the outcome of City decisions… Known as the ‘revolving door’ in politics, this insular arrangement is detrimental to the public interest and participation in government.”

This will be Heilman’s second attempt to enact a lobbying ethics measure. A year ago he proposed banning campaign managers for City Council members from lobbying the Council. That proposal drew strong opposition from Councilmember John D’Amico. When Mayor Abbe Land proposed last month that the city attorney be asked to investigate whether such a ban could be imposed, D’Amico was joined by Councilmembers John Duran and Jeffrey Prang in voting her proposal down.

Four of the city’s current council members, Heilman, Land, Prang and Duran, have had their campaigns managed or in some way assisted in the past by Steve Afriat, whose Afriat Consulting also represents major companies seeking contracts from the city or approval by the Council of various business proposals. The Council has come under criticism for permitting its members to accept campaign contributions from businesses with interests before the city and from city vendors who are represented by their campaign managers.

“I don’t think that my colleagues vote a certain way because their campaign consultant is also a lobbyist…,” Land said in explaining her proposal last month. “(but) I am more concerned about how it appears to the public.”

The Council will consider Heilman’s proposal at its meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the Council chambers at 625 N. Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica.

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7 Comments

  1. BobcatFri, Mar 14, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I don’t always like john Hellman and his views but for once I agree to keep lobbyist out of city business we all know what that means ,,,,,,, money….. Listen to the people from the city not the money bags that seem to get whatever they want … And even to the planning commission They ales seem to most of the time let money rule … I wonder why

  2. chloe rossFri, Mar 14, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I have to add my okay to this – assuming it is what it appears to be. We are a small city and we are 36K citizens- not Mr. Afriat’s personal fiefdom. Why do we need lobbyists in such a small town? If this proposal is kosher then I am for it. If it’s kosher.

  3. Larry BlockFri, Mar 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    While this is a noble effort to limit the influence of ‘people’ , it is just a couple of meetings ago our city council including John Heilman approved the limit of campaign contributions by individuals to $500 but did not ban city contractors from donating to campaigns of council members. So..while noble in its appearance .. in practice,.. Mr Heilman can raise unlimited amounts from city contractors and special interests..

    This is not an effort to level the playing field.. but more an effort to skew things in his own self interest. As you remember this conflict brought a swift retribution from John D’Amico as it was rumored his deputy might run his campaign.. so there may be more to this proposal then meets the eye. Perhaps and I am projecting… this is aimed straight at D’amico to limit Michelle Rex from working on his campaign.. and digging deeper.. it is rumored that Renee, D’amico’s campaign manager from the last election is taking up the Shink campaign. Heilman’s effort might be a slap to avoid the behind the scenes jockeying for the next election. Vote for me, Im honest, will limit campaign contributions to $500 and ban city contactors from donating to the campaigns of the people who approve their contracts.

  4. Professor ShiversFri, Mar 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Don’t you worry, Larry–I’ve planned to vote for you for a while now. This entire council stinks now!

  5. Rudolf MartinFri, Mar 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    I am curious when or how often these folks (current or former city employees and board or commission members) actually lobby the city? Is it common practice? What constitutes a lobbying effort?

    I don’t understand the lobbying business. Chloe, how would this affect Mr. Afriat, since he was never employed by the city? Larry, how would this affect other council members’ deputies, who (I assume) don’t lobby the city?

    On the surface this looks like a common sense proposal but why do we need it if this practice never happens? We might as well ban circus clowns from parachuting into the council chambers?

  6. CHASE!Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Well said Rudolf, however, if you have kept up with WeHo even lately, a few clowns have landed in the council chambers, and as Larry may be approaching this as the ‘devils advocate’, there could seemingly be ‘alterior motives’ in present and past employees, which they from Lobbying, to campaign contributions, could bring upon little WeHo multiple issues similarly involved with BIG cities.

  7. MikeSun, Mar 16, 2014 at 8:00 am

    If lobbying reforms are put through then it’s quite possible the whole thing will go underground. Instead of “Lobbyist” they would be a “consultant”. They are many ways to get around this…just look at Washington and the mess they have.

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