WeHo City Council Again Stalls John Heilman’s Effort to Reduce Conflicts of Interest

City Councilmember John Heilman’s effort to bar employees from lobbying the Council after leaving their city jobs met another logjam tonight.

John Heilman
John Heilman

Councilmembers John Duran and Jeffrey Prang and Mayor John D’Amico, who have consistently opposed efforts by Heilman to enact legislation to curb the influence of lobbyists on the Council, raised a variety of objections to Heilman’s proposal. Ian Owens, Michael Haibach and Michelle Rex, deputies respectively to Duran, Prang and D’Amico, also opposed Heilman’s proposal in a letter filed by their union.

State law now bars City Council members and city managers from lobbying local governments in which they have served for one year after leaving office. Heilman has proposed extending that ban to two years and covering heads of city departments and division, council deputies and members of city boards and commissions.

When Heilman first proposed the ban on so-called “revolving door” behavior in March, D’Amico insisted on adding another provision that would bar the city from hiring any retired employee as a contractor or consultant for one year after retirement. That sent Heilman’s proposal back to City Attorney Mike Jenkins for a rewrite, which was presented to the Council tonight. Tonight D’Amico clarified that he wanted the ban on hiring former city employees as contractors to be retroactive, covering any city employees currently engaged in that manner.

Duran, who with D’Amico and Prang also has opposed Heilman’s efforts to block council members’ campaign managers from lobbying the Council, repeated his argument that Council members aren’t swayed by lobbyists or other outside interests.

Heilman said tonight that the issue is perception. “There’s always the concern that while you’re working (for the city) you’re really negotiating your next job with someone you’re regulating.”

Councilmember Abbe Land said she was concerned that banning a retired city employee from doing contract work with the city for a brief period would deny the city access to experienced talent. Prang and Heilman agreed with her. Land said she also was concerned about barring city commission and board members from lobbying the city.

The opposition by the three council deputies mirrors a longstanding rift between Heilman and Land on the one side and Duran, D’Amico, and occasionally Prang, on the other. In memos filed with the City Clerk, Fran Solomon, deputy to Heilman, and Kiran Hashmi, deputy to Land, objected that they hadn’t been consulted by the union or their fellow deputies on the matter. The deputies, who earn monthly salaries of $6,760 to $8,638 plus health insurance and retirement and other benefits, are members of the West Hollywood Council Deputies Association, a five-member union.

They report directly to the Council members who employ them although they are loosely under the supervision of City Manager Paul Arevalo.

The Council decided to send Heilman’s proposal back to City Attorney Jenkins, asking him to take into consideration the various objections raised by council members and come back with a news proposed ordinance. Only Councilmember Duran voted “no” on that request.


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Michael
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Michael

I think Duran – along Prang and the “mayor”- have never faced aggressive social media muckraking. It is time this cabal of political hacks realized that online media can make them look like the political cronies they are. They represent no one but their self interests. As for the third rate lobbyists in WEHO – wait until their photos (probably all white men) are plastered on the internet! As for progressive DEMOCRATS – give me a break. These guys are worse than the money hungry GOP.

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

Sadly, an rational effort to end very real conflicts of interest has been torpedoed by “progressive Democrats” who benefit from the cozy relationship of having a campaign manager who has access to ten of thousands of dollars in potential campaign contributions from his clients who either have or will have business before the City Council. I made a similar proposal over a dozen years ago and John Heilman opposed it. Glad to see he has finally seen the light. I guess we will have to wait another dozen years before term limits catch up with our other ethically challenged Council… Read more »

Shawn Thompson
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I haven’t been the biggest fan of Council Member Hellman as we all know. But I got to say I think he is bringing a good clean up our #weho democracy effort to the table, why the others oppose Im not sure? Any ideas

Chris Sanger
Guest
Chris Sanger

There are unions for many high-paid people. You live in or around West Hollywood right? Ever heard of the DGA, WGA, SAG (with many wealthy members). The high-priced talent you see on local news is unionized. Many professionals belong to unions.
Coal miners and fire fighters have unions of course.
Retail workers indeed would benefit from unions. But that’s no reason others shouldn’t have them.

Riley
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Riley

@Flores St – EXCELLENT question.

Flores St.
Guest
Flores St.

There is not too much difference between the current policy and the potential policy.

The real question I have is, why is there a union for people who can make $80,000 to $100,000 a year, with what I imagine are generous benefits? These are not coal miners or firemen who put their lives on the line. We don’t have unions were we need them, like in fast food, but we do have them for influential, white collar, privileged professionals.