In our little burg, WeHo dodgeball offers the only truly local sports teams to follow. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that politics is really West Hollywood’s favorite sport — at least among the 5,303 of us who bothered to vote in last March’s municipal election (20 percent of registered voters).
That may explain why, with the next West Hollywood City Council election 18 months away, the political cognoscenti already are buzzing about the lineup for WeHo’s own Super Bowl.
For those of you who view the City Council members as West Hollywood’s version of the Kardashians, listed below are a few of the questions being gossiped about. Remember, gossip by definition isn’t based on verifiable fact. But also remember, where there is smoke, there usually is some kind of fire.
1) Will John Heilman, a member of the council since the city’s incorporation in 1984, step down next year on West Hollywood’s 30th anniversary?
3) Is Sam Borelli, who pretty much tied for fourth place with Christopher Landavazo in the last election for two council seats, being groomed to replace Land?
4) Is Heidi Shink, a member of the local Democratic Party establishment recently named to an at-large seat on the city’s influential Planning Commission, being groomed for a council seat? And if so, whose? And will Shink’s connection with Chaz Bono, with whom she once performed in a band, boost her chances in our celebrity-obsessed town?
5) Is Shink already in talks with Steve Afriat, the big business lobbyist who has been involved in managing the campaigns of four of the five council incumbents, about managing a campaign for her?
6) Is Donna Saur, appointed by Councilmember John D’Amico to the Public Facilities Commission and once deputy to the late Councilmember Sal Guarriello, planning a run? And if so, whose seat is she eyeing?
7) If Heilman and Land step down, and Shink and Saur win their seats and D’Amico is re-elected, will council meetings become boring sessions of 5-0 votes now that D’Amico appears to have moved away from his campaign stance as a political reformer?
8) Will the irrepressible Larry Block, whose $9.99 underwear at The Block Party is a hit among young gay partiers in Boystown, be able to garner support for his announced candidacy from the very small segment of them who are politically aware and who vote?
9) What will the WeHo Chamber of Commerce, which gets financial and other support from the City of West Hollywood while also endorsing council candidates and raising campaign funds for them, do about John D’Amico? The Chamber, which has historically taken the safe route and endorsed incumbents, has viewed D’Amico as unfriendly to business because of his successful push for a ban on the sale of fur products.
10) Are Heilman and Prang actually in conversation about campaign reform? The council asked them on March 18 to come back with some reform proposals after D’Amico objected to Heilman’s proposal to bar lobbyists from managing the campaigns of council candidates. That proposal would have given a back seat to Steve Afriat, seen by many as WeHo’s Wizard of Oz for his behind-the-curtain role in raising money for incumbents and managing their campaigns while also lobbying them to vote for development proposals and contracts for his business clients.
The deadline for their report is Sept. 18. But the apparent failure of D’Amico and Councilmember John Duran to ever meet with Christopher Street West for a discussion of concerns about LA Gay Pride after their appointment in January by the council to address those concerns, leaves some wondering if the same thing is happening with campaign reform.
And remember folks, we still have 18 months to go! As we find answers to these questions, we’ll be sure to share them.