The Insider: Does Demo Club Endorsement Give Heilman a Leg Up?

The Insider is an occasional feature that takes a look at politics in West Hollywood from the perspective of various of the city’s political cognoscenti.

The money (and we don’t mean campaign contributions) was on John Heilman at a meeting last night of the Beverly Hills / West Hollywood Democratic Club. Twenty-nine of the club’s 47 members voted to endorse him in the June 2 special election for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council.

West Hollywood City Council candidate, Heidi Shink
Heidi Shink

Those attending included Councilmember John D’Amico, who spoke in favor of challenger Heidi Shink, and Council newcomers Lauren Meister and Lindsey Horvath, who won in the March 3 election. Also there were Abbe Land, the longtime Council member who decided not to run for re-election on March 3, and James “Duke” Mason, an unsuccessful candidate in the March 3 election who has endorsed Heilman. William Brien, a member of the Beverly Hills City Council, also attended. John Duran was the only current WeHo Council member who wasn’t there.

Larry Block and Cole Ettman, the other two candidates in the June 2 race, attended the meeting, as did Steve Martin, a former Council member, who endorsed Ettman.

Most political insiders expect a very low turnout in the June 2 election (only 20 percent of voters cast ballots in the March 3 election, and it’s likely that some degree of campaign fatigue already is setting in). So the thinking is that the Club’s endorsement of Heilman is significant. A key question is whether the base of supporters that Heilman has built in his 30 years on the Council will turn out to vote. In a reference to the age of some of those supporters, D’Amico has said that 250 of Heilman’s voters die every year.

Another question is where Shink’s base of support lies, other than with John D’Amico. A lesbian feminist and a member of the city’s Planning Commission, Shink stumbled last month when a photograph of her at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel with three friends was posted on the Facebook page of one of those friends, Catherine Gray, who is owner of a video production company. “Night out with the amazing power ladies at BHH!” the photo caption read. LGBT and women’s rights supporters are boycotting that hotel because it is part of a group controlled by the Sultan of Brunei, who is implementing severe forms of the Sharia law that call for amputation and death by stoning of gay and lesbian people and those who have sex outside of marriage. After West Hollywood activists protested about her appearance at the hotel, Shink apologized.

Now insiders are wondering if there will be any similar fallout from an April 19 fundraiser for Shink at the Beverly Hills estate of Ron Burkle, a billionaire owner of Yucaipa Companies. Another owner of Yucaipa is an entity connected to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, an Islamic nation also known for its homophobia. (By law someone involved in consensual gay sex in Dubai can be sentenced to up to ten years in prison. However the law isn’t rigidly enforced). Former President Bill Clinton, a third owner of Yucaipa, severed his ties with Burkle, reportedly out of concern that Yucaipa’s connection with foreign investment entities such as the sheik’s Dubai Investment Group would cause problems for Hillary Clinton in her race for president. Clinton, with a reputation as a womanizer, also had drawn unwanted attention for his frequent travels with Burkle on the billionaire’s private Boeing 757. A story about Clinton in Vanity Fair noted Burkle’s reputation for traveling with very young women and said his aides privately referred to the plane as “Air F–k One.”

The fundraiser will be co-hosted by Cher along with John D’Amico and WeHo animal rights activist Ed Buck. Cher is the mother of Chaz Bono, who dated Shink before Bono transitioned from a woman named Chastity into a man. An invite to the private event lists suggested donations of $10,000 for a “host,” $5,000 for a “co-host,” and $1,000 for a “couple.” The invitation notes that there is a maximum contribution of $500 per person, which means the “host” would have to aggregate donations from 20 people to avoid violating West Hollywood campaign finance laws.

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Guillermo
Guillermo
5 years ago

I think the West Hollywood Democratic Club endorsed Heilman, Guardarrama and Meister in the last election, and only one out of the three of them was elected. So, I’m not sure how much of a leg up that really gives him.

Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty
5 years ago

Calling WeHo Code Compliance (323) 848-6375) has been effective in getting gardeners to switch from gas powered to electric or battery powered units. Call & report violations with the date, time & address & Code Compliance will follow up. Reporting violations is the only way to help address the problem

Lynn
Lynn
5 years ago

Woody, nice informative article in June of 2014. Question is what will it take for you to sit down with a council member or two and get the ordinance amended? Or get w the code compliance folks to draft it. Folks often think that by pontificating or publicly shaming policy
makers will a solution make. Not realistic. Anyone can get these things done. This seems to be your pet project.

Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty
5 years ago

You can google my WeHoPatch blog: “The Pollution Solution That Isn’t: Blowing Away The Fumes of Politcial Correctness”

FK
FK
5 years ago

@guy… too bad Heilman hasn’t dealt with this issue in the 30 years he’s been on council. A real quality of life issue completely ignored by an entrenched and corporately funded elitist

Lynn
Lynn
5 years ago
Reply to  FK

FK: prefer not to continue commenting on this issue but did you ever call and ask John Heilman to take a specific interest? Jeff Prang was also accessible particularly in the housekeeping department ie: helicopter noise, etc which he regularly dealt with in his newsletter.

Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty
5 years ago

Unfortunately the current anti gas leaf blower ordinance addresses the noise factor only & does not include the accompanying pollution of the air with poison gas fumes & other pollution. How much sense does the anti smoking ordinance make when this kind of health hazard air pollution is unaddressed? The ordinance needs to be revised to include the ban of gas leaf blowers because of their air pollution as well as noise pollution.

Lynn
Lynn
5 years ago

OK Woody, please inform us as to exactly who you will be contacting in the city to amend this ordinance. Nice to see you will get the ball rolling.

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
5 years ago

Guy Privaton, I agree 100% on leaf blowers, the biggest easily avoidable air quality spoiler in WeHo. I would extend the ordinance to electric ones on public property. Yes, they are better than diesel but they still force anyone within a hundred yards to inhale inordinate amounts of dust and pollen, which also enters the homes through open windows and settles on cars and back on the ground. Any candidate who promises real action on leaf blowers and therefore cleaner air will have my vote.

Guy Privaton (@guyprivaton)

9-25-1986 WHMC 9.08.050 J City Website addressing it http://www.weho.org/city-hall/city-departments/public-works/noise Their instructions on enforcing it: “Leave your name, contact number, the location, and a brief description of the concern. The Code Compliance Officer will receive the message and will respond as soon as they are able to.” NOT FAST ENOUGH TO CATCH THE CULPRITS USING THEM! Their secondary advice to enforce it: “Outside of the above stated hours, please contact the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Dept. at 310-855-8850. As law enforcement officers, they are empowered to respond to, and enforce the City’s noise ordinance.” SHERIFFS don’t give a flying F about leaf… Read more »

Guy Privaton (@guyprivaton)

If Heilman is re-elected, I hope he tackles a huge problem in the city: An ordinance was made banning gas blowers which are loud as “F”, AND completely pointless – pushing dirt back & forth, all over cars & people- Its a GREAT Ordinance but completely unenforced …the practitioners of said blowers ignore the ordinance either through naivety or disregard …enforcement doesn’t happen fast enough to take action against those that ignore it Action needs to be taken right away! Not Step1 leave a message for code enforcement Step 2 they’ll get to it when they can BECAUSE Step 3… Read more »

joetheplummber
joetheplummber
5 years ago

@Steve Martin. Glad to be civil. Democracy means not everyone will not always agree on every issue. For example, some of my Wife’s family are Pro-Life. But we feel Women should make their choices, not government. When all voices are felt we gain knowledge. @ Stephanie what solutions do you propose? Oh, I guess we will hear that from the candidates some who will have hired consultants to write their hallow responses.

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

Stephanie – I understand that the Hall has been given those designations. I also understand that it is reasonably easy for buildings of a certain age and representative style to get designated. Neither confers a high level of importance in terms of inviolability, and unlike private property (the state will not override a private owner’s objections) is rarely challenged. It is a nice cudgel to use when others dispute a building’s importance. I understand that reasonable people can disagree (as I hope you do). And you condescending statement that my opinion lacks merit doesn’t speak well for you. Heilman is… Read more »

Stephanie
Stephanie
5 years ago

@Chris Sanger. Great Hall/Long Hall has been designated by the State of Calif. state Office of Historic Preservation and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an example of the WPA and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. It is a treasure of which we are the stewards, whether it appeals to you or to John Heilman is irrelevant. It has been allowed to deteriorate by the city under Heilman’s watch. It needs to be restored and preserved. The original reason to demolish it was to put in underground parking. If we want open space, remove the two lower… Read more »