Term Limiters Accuse WeHo-Beverly Hills Democratic Club of ‘Voter Suppression’ at Holiday Party

Term Limits West HollywoodTerm limits supporters are crying foul over the West Hollywood-Beverly Hills Democratic Club’s rejection of term limits during its holiday party on Sunday afternoon.

At that party, club members voted 36-4 against endorsing Measure C, the official name for the term-limits initiative on the March ballot that proposes limiting West Hollywood City Council members to three four-year terms.

Term limit supporters say proper notice wasn’t given of the proposed endorsement vote. Invitations for the party went out in November with mention that the party would include a “brief meeting for some business items and endorsements, details to follow.” But, they say, those details never came.

However, club president Lillian Raffel said the details of the endorsement vote weren’t needed.

“Our parliamentarian said it was a legal notice in terms of our bylaws,” said Raffel, who’s been a member of the club for 20 years, and president for the last two years. “If they wanted to know what the endorsement items were, they could have called to find out.”

Sheila Lightfoot, another term limits supporter who joined the club six months ago, questioned whether having the Measure C endorsement vote during a party was ethical. “Who has a business meeting during a Christmas party?” Lightfoot asked.

According to Raffel, it’s not unusual to conduct official business during a holiday party, something that longtime member John Altschul verified, but with a caveat.

“It’s quite common to have a business meeting as part of the holiday party,” Altschul said. “However, in the past, all the business meetings have had a clear agenda. I’ve never seen it where they tried to process an endorsement without letting people know what they were endorsing in advance. At the very least, it’s not transparent.”

Councilmember John D’Amico was also disturbed by of the lack of transparency.

“I abstained from the vote because I didn’t like the process,” D’Amico said.

Term-limits supporters wondered why the endorsement vote was held separately from the group’s regular endorsement meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 16.

Lauren Meister, a term limits supporter and 10-year member of the club, called it an act of “voter suppression.”

“After seeing who was in attendance, i.e., all five West Hollywood council members, I got it,” Meister said. “They did not want to risk waiting for a January meeting because people who had joined the club recently would be able to vote.”

Club bylaws state a person must be a member for 25 days to be eligible to vote on endorsements.

Raffel dismissed the notion of voter suppression. She said that the club would be voting on races for two city council seats in West Hollywood and three in Beverly Hills in January, which meant that agenda would be full.

“That’s a lot of candidates to get through in one night,” Raffel said. “The only reason I can think of that they’re upset about this vote (not to endorse Measure C) is that they wanted to stack the endorsement vote meeting in January.”

Raffel stated there was no intent to deceive on the club’s part, but people have to participate in the club to understand how meetings are run.

“If they’re not coming to meetings to understand how things are conducted, I can’t help that,” Raffel said.

  1. All we need are the same kick-ass volunteers we had during the signature gathering event to get term limits on the ballot, and we will get this measure turned into law. Plus of course any other volunteers who want to help get this done.

  2. I seem to recall some kind of a confusing mess here during the 2011 election, seems that John D’Amico was endorsed for City Council, and then he wasn’t! Their endorsement didn’t matter because D’Amico won handily without it. It will be the same in this case. Term limits will pass despite the desperation of the incumbants to thwart the will of the people, which is very Republican of them. It is a travesty that a democratic grass roots action by honest & well intentioned citizens to get involved in the political process, would be fought tooth and nail by those who purport to perpetuate an organized “democratic” process. They by all rights should do nothing but support community efforts to participate in the democratic process. I think they have a very small membership for obvious reasons; I think most self respecting people want no part of this. That is why so many people are so turned off by even the most local politics and refuse to get involved. The incumbants don’t want term limits because they all know it will be curtains on their political “careers”. This is our chance to enact term limits, although we can actually begin to enact them with our votes in March, 2013.

  3. This shows that we, clearly, need term limits.

    I just re-joined the club. Now, I’m embarrassed to be a member.
    I mistakenly thought it was a “democratic” club or hoped it was becoming one.
    When a notice says that details will follow, one expects details to follow.
    It may have been legal, to not notice the membership, but, it certainly was deceitful.

    The club might as well have endorsed the incumbents for the next election, (or two) at the Christmas party.
    After going through the charade of interviewing all candidates, they will endorse the incumbents. They always do.
    I heard that Abbe Land was busy on the phone to get people to show up to vote against term limits.
    How desperate!

  4. “’If they’re not coming to meetings to understand how things are conducted, I can’t help that,’ Raffel said.” REALLY?!!

    Interestingly, for the Sept. 2012 meeting, the notice of the meeting specifically stated what items were being voted on:

    West Hollywood Democratic Club / Beverly Hills Democratic Club
    Membership Meeting

    ***Wednesday, September 19, 2012***

    West Hollywood Auditorium
    647 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood
    Parking available next door (near Library)

    Assembly District 50
    Ballot Initiatives

    Questions: email – WHBHDEMS@gmail.com
    Or leave a message at: 310.278.7596

    Mike Aguilera
    Administrative Vice President
    West Hollywood Democratic Club/ Beverly Hills Democratic Club

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