WeHo City Council Meeting Gets Ugly in Discussion Over Deputy Suit Settlement

Council Member D'Amico on the $500,000 settlement with a forme…

Councilmember John D'Amico makes a courageous and bold public statement at last night's WeHo City Council Meeting on the $500,000 payout to a city employee Councilmember Duran had sex with and then hired as his six figure salaried deputy

Posted by WeHo Residents Alliance on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

City Councilmember John D’Amico sympathized with controversial former Council deputy Ian Owens and strongly criticized fellow Councilmember John Duran, City Manager Paul Arevalo and other city leaders tonight in comments on the city’s $500,000 settlement of a lawsuit that Owens brought against the city and Duran alleging discrimination and sexual harassment by his boss.

In comments that shocked many observers, D’Amico called out Duran for viewing Grindr, the gay hookup app, on his mobile phone during City Council meetings and at other civic events. “For years I have glanced over and seen John trolling on Grindr for men,” D’Amico said. “I can no longer agree to believe that we can give John Duran a pass.”

John D'Amico
John D’Amico

Duran has acknowledged meeting Owens on Grindr and having sex with him before hiring him for the deputy position. D’Amico also criticized Duran for failing to tell the city’s Human Resources Department about his personal relationship with Owens before he was hired. Both D’Amico and Duran are gay.

D’Amico criticized Arevalo and LuNita Bock, the city’s former human resources director, saying that their failure to properly manage the city staff and respond to complaints Owens said he made about his peers were factors in the controversy that has become known as “Deputygate.” And he criticized City Attorney Michael Jenkins for not having yet released a report by private investigator Steve Rodig, who the city engaged to investigate the deputy situation.

Owens sued the city after it launched an investigation last year into allegations of misbehavior by the city’s highly paid deputies, who effectively reported directly to the Council members to whom they are assigned rather than the city manager. The investigation was prompted by Owens’s distribution under a fake name of a document alleging that Fran Solomon, deputy to Councilmember John Heilman, was improperly campaigning for her boss’s re-election. The document contained what purportedly were direct quotes from Solomon on telephone calls asking people to appear for a photo shoot for Heilman. When she learned of that, Solomon said she was concerned that Owens was bugging her office.

John Duran
John Duran

The incident focused public and media attention on the 30-year-old deputy system, which is unprecedented in cities of the size and organization of West Hollywood. The system has been plagued, especially in recent years, by backbiting among the deputies that reflects the animosity that some of their Council bosses feel for one another. For example, Michelle Rex, the campaign manager for and deputy to D’Amico, and Fran Solomon would not speak to one another. For a time D’Amico and Heilman refused to speak with one another either, and the two still have a fraught relationship. Deputies also have been criticized for being unresponsive to local residents, for not working full days, for interfering with the work of other city employees and for trying to influence city government through their five-member union. Public outrage over the deputy system enabled Mayor Lindsey Horvath to push through a measure last summer that eliminated it.

D’Amico said he believed that Owens was “bullied and shamed” by City Hall officials and described him as simply “a young city employee who needed more supervision.” D’Amico said he spoke up about Duran and Owens because it “is my fear that this kind of thing may happen again.”

D’Amico also said the Council had agreed, apparently privately, to have a public discussion about Council member conduct. He urged the Council to schedule it at its next meeting.

Duran reacted heatedly to D’Amico’s comments, calling out Michelle Rex, D’Amico’s deputy, as part of the “Deputygate” problem. “Your deputy Michelle Rex … She and Mr. Owens were doing a political stunt,” Duran said. “This was always about politics, politics arranged by your deputy and my deputy.”

Duran, as a party in the lawsuit, said he already had read the investigator’s report. He said interviews with city employees showed Rex and Owens were “two of the most detested employees at City Hall.”

In earlier comments tonight, Duran said he wanted to apologize “for hiring a friend. I shouldn’t have done that. But I will never apologize for sexual harassment because I didn’t do that.”

Duran said he regretted, but understood, the city’s decision to settle the Owens lawsuit for $500,000 rather than contest it. The city’s insurance group will cover the cost of the settlement and pushed the city to settle. “If I had great wealth and could have afforded my own attorney I probably would have wanted to go all the way,” Duran said, but he acknowledged that the process would have been painful for the City Council and city employees.

Arevalo objected to D’Amico’s implication that he and other city officials were nonchalant about allegations of sexual harassment. He noted that Owens’ allegation that he had been sexually harassed by Duran came to his attention only when reporters called asking for the city’s reaction to that allegation in the Owens lawsuit. In a comment that he said was directed to city employees, Arevalo said: “It is my duty and my responsibility to give all of you a safe environment. I have done that, and I will do that.”

Arevalo also said the investigator’s report hadn’t been handed to Council members because City Attorney Jenkins had to carefully review the 500-page document and redact names of city employees whose disclosure would violate laws intended to protect employee privacy. The report also had to be provided to Owens attorney for his review before it could be given to the Council.

  1. We as the people of WEHO deserve to know the TRUE.
    What are we portending not to KNOW.
    We must start to talk only the facts and the TRUTH, even if it doesn’t look good.
    our leader should first lead by example.

  2. <—–(Posting as myself, never having seen the need for a "nom de blog") Is there a way to just prohibit Duran from running in the next election?? Let's face it, there's no way in hell he will step down (as I'm sure he does not think he's done anything wrong), and a recall so close to the next election is out of the question. Being completely in the developers' back pockets, he will surely win again if he runs for reelect seeing that the majority of voters don't know or even care about this backstory. The only way to prevent him from another 4 years is to simply keep him OFF the ballot altogether. Is that even possible??

  3. Chris – Methinks you have a case of paranoia. And I do NOT share your unsubstantiated view that most people reject my and Ty’s “advice.”

  4. To state the obvious, most people who post here and other blogs do so with nom de blogs for excellent reasons. Hank has spoken to this point and approves of it. There are too many crazies out there, including WeHo, to take the risk. It makes absolutely no difference in the quality of the thoughts presented by people here. Ty and Dan – I totally reject your advice as of course do most people here.

  5. In support of Dan Morin’s point:

    We can never become afraid to say who we are and what we honestly think. Once we cave into such fears and flights into anonymity there can be no honest conversation or civil society. That is the joyful risk of being a live citizen in an open society.

  6. Chris – Truly sorry to learn of your negative experiences but openness is a hallmark of a free society. Why don’t you have an unlisted phone number? But prroviding a home address is possibly asking for trouble. However, no one can miss me when I wear my pink overcoat.

  7. Dan – some of us use aliases because of concerns about being harassed by others. I used my real name at WeHoVille and found myself subjected to harassing phone calls and a possible vandalism incident after I defended the council over the Tara development. It’s crazy out there, and sometimes a tiny minority on the other side thinks having knowledge of one’s identity is licence to make trouble.

  8. To the anonymous Man of Reason who has no courage to name himself:

    Ivy Bottini was silenced not just by a ruling of the Mayor, but with an extraordinary intervention by the City Attorney. And yes, sometimes, protocol can be broken in order to accommodate a free exchange of ideas, especially when the person already speaking (whose name is invoked otherwise for honors by those who would claim the high ground) might not have all night to hang around until the bitter end. This is called “consensus,” and how grassroots groups operate, not to mention politeness allowed to the sages of our communities. West Hollywood City Council is not the Congress of the United States.

    Because you ask, I add Ph.D. to my signature because I am an internationally recognized Historian of Modern Europe and America, with major (well-reviewed) publications in modern Italian history and Los Angeles AIDS/LGBT history as well as a significant record of teaching socio-cultural history and literature at USC, Cal Arts, and community colleges in LA and NYC. Before that I was a journalist and editor at newspapers in Rome and United Press International in NYC.

    I recommend for your and others’ edification, Richard Hoftstader’s 1963 book “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.”

  9. The meeting was just a reflection of what our city look like, since when telling the truth about any one is ugly, let’s stop trying to make our city “look good” as a voice and our council member Jon Duran did wrong. simple as that. John D’amico only talked about the facts and the truth. this how we build a better tomorrow, we must own and take responsibility of our own mistakes.
    John Duran should no better, he is a lawyer after all.
    Love NO Hate

  10. @Ty Geltmaker. Ivy Bottini’s rant has no connection that I can see to feminism. And despite what some say, telling her to shut up and sit down because she’s off topic is not a denial of her first amendment rights. It’s actually an effort to preserve the first amendment rights of others of us, like me, who patiently were waiting for our turn to speak on agenda items. Why should I have to twiddle my thumbs and wait through crazy rants by the marijuana guy and the loud shouts by Jeanne Dobrin and the off-topic tirades by Ivy Bottini? Don’t I have a freedom of speech right too. (And by the way, why do you find it necessary to add Ph.D. to your signature? Smacks of intellectual insecurity big time.)

  11. Chris – So I’ll expect you’ll speak during public comment on the 21st, although I’ve been told that Chris Sanger is a nom de plume. BTW – Congrats on selling your house for a significant amount of money but it’s a shame that it’s not enough for you to afford to continue to reside in your beloved West Hollywood, if I understood a previous post of yours correctly. You will be missed. I still think that that your considerable talents are wasted here and as I’ve stated before you should have run for City Council. Bon voyage !!!

  12. @Chris Sanger Ok go back to the record of what Fran Said about fund-raising from city hall. Thats where the truth is. And if you follow what happened, then she went on medical leave and then she “Retired”

  13. Dan et al – you guys exist in a parallel universe. The results of city governance have made this a staggeringly successful city. The malcontents, unhappy at the happiness and success of others, will try to use this as a diversion to destroy all that is good here. I regret that Duran has given them this cudgel, but it is time for those who have benefited from his and others terrific leadership to stand up and be counted, Otherwise the idiots will take over the asylum as they have hoped to do, with John D’Amico as their lead. Spare the city from that.

  14. May I humbly suggest that everyone who has made one or more comment on this topic, come to the next City Council meeting (Monday, March 21 at 6:30 pm in Council Chambers) and share your view during Public Comment. You have two minutes to say whatever you want. Let the Council hear your voices. They’ll hear mine.

  15. The entire council is pathetic. A popularity contest in the self-obsessed world that is WeHo.

    And yes, Duran should resign for conduct unbecoming an officer of this city. Shame on you.

  16. In my immediately past posted comment, please note that it was the City Attorney, not the City Manager, who cut Ivy Bottini off, with the Mayor’s consent.

  17. @TyGeltmaker…brilliantly stated. Pathological narcissism run amok, a group of spoiled brats who think the rules don’t apply to them hiding behind “sobriety” when they’re drunk on power and entitlement. Duran’s refusal to apologize for his “side of the street” seriously undermines everything he claims to say on behalf of recovery. Work your program, son – when your behavior BECOMES a problem, it IS a problem. Your use of the apps appear to be reckless and have made this situation unmanageable.

  18. Steve, you ignored my questions. They were pointed and relevant ones. You make wild unsubstantiated charges, then when someone challenges them, you ignore them. And this last point of yours is the worst yet – Solomon took a MEDICAL leave before retiring which seemed related to her health. How much lower are you going to reach in your obsessional hatred of John Heilman?

  19. @chris tTere were no charges filed against owens. He did nothing illegal. But Fran quietly retired. That’s the facts

  20. Some of these comments attacking D’Amico and Martin while supporting Duran are bizarre. This is not what gay liberation was meant to be, a kind of free-for-all defense of the most predatory (Duran)/sycophantic (Owens) sexual behaviors literally embedded in power politics and big money. As I think Ivy Bottini was trying to say Monday evening before being rudely told by the imperious City Manager (and not defended by the weak Mayor) to shut up, (for the crime at that late hour of being “off topic”) our LGBT politics must be infused with a profound feminism. One gets the impression that a core gay male WeHo constituency is basically made up of aggrieved homosexuals in recovery who feel special and entitled to play out their most grotesque, puerile fantasies (even at City expense), having fled to Oz from their pathetic pasts.

    Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D.
    (Feminist who happens to be Gay)

  21. Apparently the “transcripts” Ian Owens prepared of the conversations he over heard when Fran Solomon was campaigning for John Heilman from City Hall were so accurate that she accused him of electronically “bugging” her office. The Sheriff was called and Owens was suspended. Claiming your office was “bugged” seems an odd response to the accusation of campaigning on City time. So was Solomon’s response that any campaigning was “accidental, incidental and done on my own time” as quoted in this fine publication. Just how is Michelle Rex responsible for that strange situation?

    Too bad Fran Solomon’s deposition wasn’t taken. It is really hard to figure out how D’Amico is responsible for any of this mess no matter so hard the Heilman/Duran dittoheads try to spin it. To quote Ivy Bottini, the sad incidents of sexual harassment at City Hall “suck”.

  22. Shawn – are you hiding under a bush and never read WeHoVille? Owens was put on leave after apparent unethical )at a minimum) spying on a colleague with another deputy (D’Amico’s, who has a jihad on Heilman). The 2 deputies’ behavior led to questions about the deputy system. After it was questioned and these events happened, all of a sudden Owens comes up with this stuff, never having complained, never any sign of a problem. That D’Amico’s deputy was part of the initial action of course raises questions of what his greater involvement was and why he has reason to wish this all remains secret.

  23. I disagree with both Rob Bergstein and Chris Sanger. Where are you getting the facts to back up this rex Ian D’Amico coup thing really? And the point in all of this again is Duran a lawyer by trade and long term council member hired a employee he had sex with. That’s what this is about. The rest is all spin that’s not backed up by facts. Unless you both have any?

  24. The reports here IIRC were at an earlier closed session the vote was 5-0 to accept the settlement. Hank or others can confirm that or correct me.

  25. Chris, I might have missed this in Monday’s meeting, but where did John D’Amico vote for the settlement? Was this a Council decision? I didn’t think that that is how this worked.

  26. And a point I don’t think has been made – this whole thing started with Rex and Owens being peeping Toms – which is what D’Amico did when he spied on Duran’s private cell phone. Not to excuse Duran for this (not sure why this is different from other random cell phone checking by members during meetings, but clearly D’Amico is out for blood) but seriously – that is invasion of privacy.

    More reason to fear a third and majority member of the council added to the his bloc.

  27. I’m not sure how D’Amico (who strangely enough managed to avoid being deposed for Ian’s case) expected HR and/or City Manager to protect Ian from sexual harassment, when Ian never made any claim of the alleged harassment until after he was escorted out of the building for improper work practice. This whole thing goes back to Michelle Rex, who used Ian as her political puppet and when that failed, she tossed him aside. I think but for Michelle Rex, we’d be seeing one of two different scenarios right now–either there might still be a Council Deputy system in place (doubtful) or after the Deputy system was eliminated, al of the existing deputies would have been offered employment elsewhere within City Hall.

  28. Here’s another reason why Steve’s fantasies about some Heilman desire for a coverup are nonsense – like you, John D’Amico has an obsessive hatred of John Heilman. Why would John D’Amico vote FOR the settlement if going forward would possibly destroy his enemy? And if members voted for the settlement to ensure a coverup, what did D’Amico have to fear?

    I eagerly await your answers to those questions.

  29. Oh please Steve – spare me your tired anti-Heilman hoobyhorse routine. What in the world would Solomon’s alleged phone calls about arranging a group photo have to do with Owens’ claims, except make Owens look guilty? I am not a lawyer, but I know enough that any 1st year law student could keep something so off topic from coming up in testimony. You are making yourself look ridiculous, as usual.

  30. The sad thing is that we have been here before. History is repeating itself. Years ago it was Steve Martin’s mega tantrums and meltdowns that gave us a bloody nose on top of a black eye.

    You may recall the Jeff Prang sexual harassment settlement. The community was eager to move on but Steve Martin became unhinged and would not stop his solo drumbeat to get rid of Prang. Now we have John D’Amico falling into that same pattern. Truth is, there is zero sympathy inside City Hall or the community for Ian Owens. He was universally reviled before there were “sexual harassment” claims. So, D’Amcio taking on the plight of poor Ian is a losing proposition.

    The whole narrative is sad and shameful, council deputies out of control, feuding Council members, lapses in up character and judgement all around. We have an amazing city and the biggest threat to it is our own City Council. Right now D’Amico is the worst among them. He’s willing to burn down the village to vanquish his enimies, a list that grows longer each day. Duran needs to atone for his behavior, no doubt. However, Duran does not mean any harm.

    It is Council members like D’Amico and Steve Martin who wreak havoc upon the city to pursue their singular crusades against their political enimies. There should be no room on the Council for the D’Amcios and Martins in this city. D’Amico should reread the history on Martin. Martin is a pirarah in this town because of his Jeff Prang derangement syndrome. D’Amico is halfway to pirarah status already because of his blind hatred of Heilman. Looks like in the cause of harming Duran, D’Amico may finish himself off and harm everyone in his path, the entire community. The meeting on Council member conduct should include mandatory mental health counseling too.

    We already have another black eye thanks to the fall out of the council deputy system, we don’t need D’Amico blackening the other eye, giving us a bloody nose, a concussion and ultimately brain damage. It has to end somewhere. D’Amico needs to pull himself together so we can all move on.

  31. Chris Sanger: just read the law suit and figure it out for yourself. You always are defending the status quo and your favorites on the City Council can do no wrong. You are entitled to your opinion but as a litigator, I have never heard that half a million dollars is “nuisance value” for what a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim. While I get that many people view Ian Owen without a lot of sympathy, but obviously John Duran and the City did not want a jury to hear the evidence and $500,000 is a good settlement for Owen given the allegations set forth in the Complaint. If this was simply a “he said;he said” case, then the case would not have a half million dollar settlement value; there was simply too many other issues the City wanted to keep out of the public eye and if you read the Complaint that will be abundantly obvious. Professor Heilman did not want to be on the witness stand testifying about using his deputy, Fran Solomon, as a campaign worker.

    In the meantime John Duran will continue to be the best Council member developers can buy.

  32. John Duran should resign to truly put this to an end of a ugly situation. Nixon had to and it was in the best interest of the people. RESIGN!!!!

      1. Wow, it will be interesting to see how is our next election going to look like,
        based on the # of people who vote, sadly, John Duran can win again.
        it’s scary!
        we all know in our city money talk.

  33. Steve – you claim to be a lawyer, right? You know that complaints like this almost always are exaggerated if not made up whole and are not remotely proven. Beyond that you throw around “deputy with benefits” as implying Owens claimed Duran expected sexual service from him. I had not heard that before. He claimed that in the suit? First I’ve heard of it. Feel free to correct me, but based on your past unreliably, I bet you just made that up. (We’ve heard he was made to feel uncomfortable from seeing pictures of shirtless men on Duran’s phone as the most egregious violation.

  34. Ian Owen’s civil complaint is a public record with the Superior Court of Los Angeles, Case No. BC 582 519 so anyone can take a look at it.
    Even dismissing some of the most outrageous allegations, the Complaint chronicles Owen’s sad adventure as an idealistic new comer to the third floor at City Hall, whose visions about the “Progressive City” are quickly dis-spelled as he witnesses unauthorized demands for fundraising and campaigning by veteran deputy Fran Solomon. The infantile antics of Solomon and Heilman, who petulantly refused to speak to John D’Amico, did not seem in keeping with the values that Ian believed were supposedly part of the culture of City Hall. On top of that Ian was subjected to ongoing forms of sexual pressure by John Duran who clearly felt that be employing Ian at $150,000 a year that Ian should be a “deputy with benefits”.
    I’m not saying there is not plenty of blame to go around when talking about the dysfunction at City Hall, I’m just saying that John Duran is clearly not a victim. Duran has shown, (once again), a complete lack of adult judgment and an incredible sense of entitlement.

  35. I live in a condo and when we have any extraordinary expenses our premiums shoot up sky high. I have car insurance and when I am at fault in an accident, my premiums shoot up sky high. I think that is how insurance works.

  36. On a recall – jeez Louise folks, we have a Presidential (2 including primary) and senate election this year. Maybe devote your energies to something important? Duran’s term expires in February, less than a year. A special election wouldn’t happen for months, and then only for a few months’ time. No reason not to wait and decide this at the regular time. And in the unlikely event he resigns, the council should appoint someone (maybe bring back Abbe Land) who agrees not to run next year.

  37. I am fully aware that the City did not pay the $500K. But it bothers and annoys me that ANY of OUR money was used to defend Duran. His statement that if he was financially well off, he would gave gone the distance is laughable. He and others wanted to settle so this matter would NOT go to trial. The City wants to keep the residents uninformed about what really happened. No dirty laundry. And I am absolutely certain that this will be the situation with Solomon and Rex. Jenkins was belligerent in trying to silence Ivy Bottini when she went off topic because he did not want this matter discussed any more. BTW – Why does he always look like he’s just sucked on a lemon? I digress. Further, Mayor Horvath had the authority, as far as I know, to have Ivy complete her remarks. Instead, she joined Jenkins in silencing Ivy and not permitting any continuing comments regarding the lawsuit. So many are probably terrified if the truth be known. I wonder if WE will ever know the WHOLE story.

  38. Dan, the city did, of course. I’m just saying that the city is not paying out $500K, as he stated. If people are going to discuss this, I think its important that they have factual information.

  39. I can’t believe people still have the nerve to defend Duran. Can I ask a serious question to these “defenders”?? WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE for you to finally wake up and realize he is doing more harm than good for (and to) the city?? Honestly, how much are you people willing to let slide because he’s “articulate” and a “good public speaker”?? OBTW…he’s also an ATTORNEY. He’s abundantly practiced on speaking out of his …..!

  40. Shawn, the city did not pay $750K. The $500K settlement was covered through insurance. I think people need to be clear on that. I’m not saying that the city should or should not have settled, but let’s be clear about what this is costing the city.

  41. so i’m confused, are the duran supporters ok with a grindr hunt during meetings?
    so arevelo is to blame? how was he supposed to juggle that dysfunctional deputy system, that each council member enjoyed, until they didn’t? and that tired ‘he doesn’t even live here in west hollywood argument’, who hired him, the council, and they all live here, right?
    and as for this website, it sure has faves, and loves to edit and ban uncomfortable commentary.
    all of the above are losers and users.

    1. We only ban comments that are off-topic, contain obscene words, libelous and contain ad hominem attacks. If you wonder why a particular comment is not approved, feel free to email Henry@WEHOville.com and he will explain it to you.

  42. As some have stated and as John Duran admitted last night, he made a mistake that unfortunately impacted many city employees. With that said, John D’Amico’s vicious diatribe against not only Duran but the entire city staff (Manager, Attorney, and HR Director) was distasteful and outright offensive. While it’s understandable that there is a lot of emotions among the council members and city employees over this issue, and that D’Amico had a right to express himself, I find that he consistently lacks a certain level of decorum and self control that I would expect as a public figure that represents myself and the other WeHo citizens. Paul Arevalo is among the most responsible, well-respected, and even keeled professionals in our city…and to hear him respond to D’Amico in the manner that he did shows how vitriolic D’Amico can be. It seems this was also the case with his deputy, Rex.

    Despite his transgression, if judged over the duration of his term on council, Duran is one of the most articulate council members who thinks and processes information critically and objectively before coming to conclusions or making decisions.

  43. I have to say also Hank your Headline on this is a bit of a pro-status quo. Ugly? Is this about telling the truth about the elephant in the room that has been avoided by the city? Ugly isn’t this about transparency? Full disclosure of information? And also to throw in the Rex stuff really? This isn’t about Rex ? Its about Mr Duran costing the city 750,000 and not having the grace to step down in my opinion

  44. Steve likes to distort, so let’s clear the record. The $500,000 came from insurance. The premiums are county wide, not city centered. So likely little or no increase.

    And it needs to be repeated – juries when dealing with gay issues can go haywire. The manslaughter conviction for the horrible murder among partners case a couple months ago when the jury couldn’t convict of murder, almost certainly because both men were gay, shows the risk of going forward.

    We can ask all members why they didn’t want to go forward. John D’Amico clearly had strong reasons to bury this. And now he gets to go all self righteous and self serving in his attacks.

  45. I am confused. If John Duran has already seen the Investigator’s report does this mean he was allowed to see the un-redacted version and thus knows exactly which employees said what? Why was he given access to the un-redacted version while the other Council Members were not? Who paid for the investigation? The “client” is the party that should receive the report.

  46. All the convoluted information and unanswered questions warrant proper investigation by an outside party…perhaps the county?

  47. John Duran acts as if the “City” made the decision to settle when in fact the decision to settle was his. The City had a legal obligation to defend Duran and John had every right to take the case to trial if the lawsuit had no merit. But instead the case settled for half a million dollars after the City spent nearly $250,000 in fees to defend the case. I firmly believe that if Owen’s claim had no merit (as Mike Jenkins our City Attorney has claimed), then it would be imperative to spend whatever it takes to defend the credibility and honor of the City and the City Council members. Giving away a half a million dollars just to get rid of a pesky lawsuit only invites future litigation. But I doubt if many people are actually buying the City Attorney’s assertion that half a million is “nuisance value”.

    No one really cares about Duran’s personal issues except to the extent that they interfere with his duties as a Council member. But Duran should really consider if dealing with his obvious personal demons is helped or hindered by being in public office. The credit card abuse, the “we’re not all lesbians” tantrum, the outrageous attempt to thwart Sheila Kuehl’s bid for County Supervisor and his constant catering to big developers are all factors that should lead people to conclude that this is not a person who is putting the needs of the public first. Indeed we are all just props in the “John Duran Show”. If we want to end this soap opera we need to stop enabling a person who clearly is in need of help. Thank you John D’Amico for having the courage to point out the obvious need for some self reflection at City Hall.

  48. This is not the first incident concerning Duran that cost the City money. I think Duran has to go. For all of you bringing D’Amico hate into this, it isn’t about him. He just brought it out into the public for discussion. Duran is the one who did the deeds. Duran is the one who needs to pay for those misdeeds. A few years ago it was misuse of City credit cards, now it is this despicable incident that is costing $500,000 to fix. If he doesn’t have the moral turpitude to resign, in my opinion, he should be recalled. HE NEEDS TO GO.

  49. This would make a FABULOUS reality show or God help us if someone could do a documentary about the council and the politics of a city that is dying a slow death from over development and a changing demographic. #gaywehoisdead Just imagine what that half a million could have done to improve the lives of it citizens. Instead you got fleeced. #wehotakentothecleaners

  50. Rebecca, I’m not pleased that he received a payout, as his claims seem bogus. It sounds like the city potentially would have paid more, had this went to trial, and they had lost. Even if they had won, the litigation costs would have been very expensive.

    I think what really motivated them to settle was to keep anymore of the details from getting out to the public. Details that would have embarrassed people, and damaged reputations. And I’m not saying that is what they should have done. But I believe that is why they did it.

    The city has cleaned up much of the mess by doing away with the deputy system. But it would be nice if those who are still there would admit their mistakes, at the very, very least. Show some integrity. That would include council members, management, and other city employees. Any of which contributed to a combination of things that would allow this to happen.

    I think it was inappropriate for Duran to hire someone he met on a dating app, and had a prior relationship with. He should have reported it to HR, at the very least. I’d like to see him admit that, instead of just saying “I made a mistake by hiring a friend.” He also opened the city up to a risk of being sued by making such a decision.

    That being said, I don’t know that he should resign. I don’t think he harassed Owens. His mistake was in how he hired him. I believe Duran was a target of revenge from a vindictive employee who was justifiably suspended. And it was Owens own conduct that got him suspended. Then he saw a window of opportunity to bank on it.

    And now I believe we have other pending lawsuits from former deputies, including Rex and Solomon. I don’t think the drama is over.

  51. John Duran deserves criticism, but he on his worst day on the council has contributed more positive to the city than John D’Amico will do his entire career. D’Amico openly cozied up to Duran on the council (likely trying to pry him from Heilman), but now that his career is likely over grandstands in the kind of way observers of the council have become used to. Voters in this city must do everything in their power to see than someone under his control (last election it was the laughable Heidi Shink) is not elected and he becomes the controlling force. My guess is that would lead to mass exoduses of our city appointed officials, who with the sane majority of the council have made us the envy of the region.

  52. The bottom line, time to change few of our leaders, and now.
    those leaders are our voice?
    Everyone wants to be a leader. However, few are prepared to accept the accountability that goes with it. But you can’t have one without the other. They are two sides of the same coin.
    But what does accountability look like?
    First and foremost, it means that you accept responsibility for the outcomes expected of you—both good and bad. You don’t blame others. And you don’t blame the external environment. There are always things you could have done—or still can do—to change the outcome.
    Until you take responsibility, you are a victim. And being a victim is the exact opposite of being a leader.
    Victims are passive. They are acted upon. Leaders are active. They take initiative to influence the outcome.
    love. nir

  53. I think the whole mess is disgusting. The city of west hollywood and the people running it should be totally ashamed of the fighting and the mess going on , if they can’t clean up themselves and the mess they have created let them resign and find a job outside of politics.
    it about time we had a government that stands with dignity. I am ashamed of what is going on in west hollywood and am embarrassed as a gay man to live in a city where this kind of cat fight goes on. Jeff howard

  54. What a dog and pony show! Such a disgrace to PAY half a million dollars!!! Was he physically injured? Can he never work again? Such a bs lawsuit in frivolity and what all see Hollywood is all about!! Shame on you for paying him and shame for keeping idiots in office that cost you so much… Not only monetarily but in reputation!

  55. Duran showed very, very poor judgment in his actions related to hiring of Ian Owens. Very poor and the City has paid dearly. While I do find the whole situation distasteful, Duran does still made sound decisions when he casts his votes on City matters. D’Amico is petty and is probably the weakest member of the Council. If I had to chose between the two, I wish D’Amico would finish out his term and ride off into the sunset…with Michelle Rex…and just keep riding..

  56. Oliver, you state that “… if D’Amico had not directed and allowed Rex to behave the way she did, none of this would have occurred.”

    Even if D’Amico had been behind Rex’s actions (I’m not saying he was), you are blaming him for Owens suing the city? You are blaming him for Duran not revealing to HR the former nature of his relationship with Owens? You are blaming him for possible misconduct by Fran Solomon (campaigning for Heilman on city time). You are blaming him for not managing all of these employees, or noticing this mess?

    And even if he did, say, orchestrate this, Owens is NOT to blame, for illegally spying on a fellow employee? He wasn’t even D’Amico’s deputy.

    Please, come on.

    I don’t think anybody here knows the full story of what happened with everyone involved, but to say it is all D’Amico’s fault is just absurd.

  57. We all make poor choices at some point in our lives. We take responsibility if we have decency and integrity. John Duran should do the right thing and resign. However, not everyone has the moral fortitude to do the right thing. Therefore, I support and will sign any recall petition for John Duran. The people need to see the right thing is done.

  58. More…The City hired its own investigator who prepared a 500 page report which Duran, Arevelo and Jenkins have seen and read. Despite D’Amico’s repeated requests to view this voluminous document, they have been denied by Jenkins. What the reason/s for the lengthy delay and cover-up? AND it would have been more appropriate as well as prudent to have a totally and truly independent investigator to look into this matter. Even more later…

  59. I can add another name to Duran’s list of the most detestable people at City Hall; John D’Amico. Did Michelle Rex and Ian Owens take it upon themselves to pull a “political stunt” from inside City Hall or did they do it at the behest of John D’Amico? Most WeHo political observers think it is the latter. D’Amico has been on a crusade to destroy John Heilman since 2010. D’Amico will trash and burn anything in the cause of harming Heilman. His latest meltdown at the Council meeting last night either shows how low he will stoop to continue his scorched earth power play or how disassociated from reality he truly is.

    The reason our city is being dragged through the muck and excrement right now is simple; John D’Amico. He brought Michelle Rex, his campaign manager, inside City Hall to do what she does best, run campaign ploy after campaign ploy. She was the most feared person in the history of the organization. She targeted employees and community members alike. She was vicious to people and notorious for getting other people to do her bidding. All of this was done under John D’Amico’s supervision and direction.

    If D’Amico had not directed and allowed Rex to behave the way she did, none of this would have occurred. Duran had a lapse in judgment and he is authentically lapsed in his manners. But none of Duran’s behaviors or actions is done with malice or intent. D’Amico, Rex and Owens set out to destroy and humiliate Heilman and his deputy Fran Solomon. It was a premeditated campaign of ruthless intimidation and harassment towards anyone aligned with Heilman.

    I hope that the Council will discuss Council member conduct at a public meeting and it should laser focus of D’Amico as the root cause of the current state of affairs. Because, as D’Amico said, “we don’t want this to happen again”.

  60. So, what’s going to happen to Duran?? None of this is going to matter if he’s allowed to keep his seat on the council. HE NEEDS TO GO!! The only message being sent here is that council members can do whatever they want and the City will “clean up” after their messes with a tiny slap on the wrist. It’s disgusting!

  61. @mimi I would have to disagree with the first point you made “Everyone knows that the cancer in West Hollywood City Hall started with Damico and his campaign manager Michelle Rex” Who’s everyone? And what Facts do you have to claim such thing? Can you back that up with some kind of information versus spin? My experience with D’Amico and his deputy are that they followed thru on multiple things I asked for help with. The next time you go to West Hollywood and a Meter cant over charge anyone anymore you can thank Rex and Damico for that. If you ever want to have a basically free if your a resident event in Great/Hall long hall you can thank them both for that. Or that Great/Hall long hall was even re-opened to the public you can thank them both for that. I could go on and on. Whats your facts about this cancer in city hall? And the bottom line of this in my view is keeping on point. The point in this is the city paid out $500,000 to a deputy Mr Duran had sex with. Its not about REX and D”amico

  62. They all could do a better job for the citizens!
    Greed and over development has ruined the city and caused a traffic nightmare. I don’t see much creativity in a city calling itself “the creative city”, and it’s future looks bleak. This is becoming Hotel Haven/Vegas West. Sidewalks are a disgrace–filthy with human excrement. Christmas street lights are pathetic and dirty and an embarrassment. No lit parking meters at night. No foot patrols at night. Lousy city landscaping. Culver City should be visited by council to see how it is done. Gay Pride weekend a mockery and parade of drunks for the entire silly weekend, littering the neighborhoods with trash and vomit screaming little queens. Pride should be made of “sterner stuff.”

  63. The only right thing to do at this point is to fire the City Manager, who doesn’t even live in West Hollywood. Fire the Lawyer and make a motion for Duran to resign. If he does not resign the, he should be recalled by the voters. This is a serious matter that makes West Hollywood leaders look like fools. Mr. D’Amico did the right thing by giving this matter transparency, now let’s see if the rest of the Council will step up, have the character and courage to do the right thing. Imagine all the people who are in need could have been helped with that $500,000. If I were Owens, I would leave town in shame. His conduct and ultimate result was the biggest hustle job in Weho’s history. I do not believe he was a victim.

  64. Everyone knows that the cancer in West Hollywood City Hall started with Damico and his campaign manager Michelle Rex. This set the ball rolling which substantially blurred what in other municipalities is supposed to be a firewall between the political work and the city’s work. Damico is the one who crossed that line and Aravelo and Lunita Block turned a blind eye to everything else. This entire black eye on the city took place over the course of months…not weeks, not days…. how could it have happened in such close proximity to both Aravelo and Block?? Why did the city manager and the HR Manager allow such an atmosphere to fester? I think the District Attorney and/or the Secretary of State need to do a top to bottom investigation. Just because the city rushed to a settlement (to be able to put it behind them) does not mean it has been adequately addressed.

  65. Bravo to Council Member D’Amico for taking a stand on whats a no-brainer in the real world. You dont hire an individual and give them a 6 figure salary with out letting the HR department know what you’re doing #Truth

  66. tonight, was a sad night at our city council meeting. one more time we “try” to keep our fake image. the bottom line. our city leaders just showed us one more time they own true face.
    those leaders are our voice and they must protect all of us as the residents of our city.
    yes, people made mistakes but this kind of a mistake?
    over $500.000 and a huge lawyer fee, it’s crazy.
    for few moments i was a shame of my own city that i love so much.
    I’m thinking about the money we spend on those mistakes and what we could do for those amazing people in needs they have no place tasty, eat and get the right support.
    it’s was very sad to see even how we spend hours of our park but no one min on our west hollywood homeless. we must stand united for better tomorrow.
    we must talk the facts and the truth.
    this why we all moved here, we can never let the fake “fame” the sex the drugs and our “image” control our lives.
    one more thing it’s very clear, we are divided city. it’s always going to be
    3 against 2. this what money pay a huge part of our election, the rich seems to always win, but NO MORE, we must stand for what’s right to all people. even if it doesn’t match our “looking good: image.
    i forgive and not forget.
    time to walk our talk and stop hiding the facts.
    we deserve better than this.
    love no hate
    nir zilberman

  67. Among other duties that council deputies have to perform; the two most important duties are to first show genuine interest in the concerns of the constituents, and second to form bridges between council members that have differences. City business cannot move forward if nobody is talking to each other. All this would not be happening had the city organized and approved an ethics department. Left as is you basically have the Fox taking care of the hen house. These problems will continue to occur.

  68. Mayor Horvath, Mayor pro-tempore Meister, Councillors D’Amico, Duran, Heilman & City Manager Arevalo and City Attorney Jenkins:

    As noted in my public remarks, this evening’s City Council meeting was a disgrace, with the notable and noble exception of John D’Amico’s ethical and evidentiary remarks concerning the Duran Scandal, we now knowing that even amidst this fiasco Duran has even on the dais of Council meetings been continuing his online cruising . Duran should have long ago resigned, as he would have been fired at anywhere I’ve ever worked for having hired someone with whom he had had a sexual encounter. The rest of this sordid story is still screaming for full disclosure, though likely also sealed in an eventual “settlement” protecting “the City” while shafting the citizens.

    Further, on a night celebrating Women’s History Month (of all things!) Mayor Horvath showed a lack of civility and authority (not to mention feminist verve) in allowing the bossy male City Attorney to pipe in (out of any orderly manner) and rule lesbian-feminist Ivy Bottini out of order, unwilling to make an exception to rigid protocol of agenda item public comment at such a late hour when Ms. Bottini perhaps needed to go home and not wait for the usual late last comments period when fewer than two dozen citizens were still in attendance.

    As noted in my remarks and symbolic “sit-in,” I’ve spent many hours in jail with Connie Norman and others, around this country back in the 1980s (as well as in conversation regarding ACT UP actions here in LA). WeHo City Council’s behavior this evening was reprehensible by any standard, more to the point showing the hollowness of your earlier tribute to Connie at the beginning of the Council meeting’s celebration of Women’s History Month. What a bunch of fakes!

    As a citizen, friend of Connie (though not always in agreement with her), and historian whose teaching at USC, CalArts, Bronx Community College, Cerritos COmmunity College in Norwalk and published work in European/Italian/USA socio-cultural history (including “mainstreamed” LGBT/Feminist issues) as well as author of a brief, massively footnoted history of AIDS/Queer Activism in LA (sent to each of you a year ago and in the anthology “Queers in Space” in the WeHo Public Library) I am appalled (though not surprised, after decades of looking at WeHo politics from my perch out in Echo Park/Silver Lake) at what is being revealed and concealed here in WeHo City Hall, with tonight’s treatment of Ivy Bottino just the shameful last straw.

    You want a real sit-in/civil disobedience?

    Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D.
    8742 Rangely Ave.
    West Hollywood, CA 90048

  69. Thank you, Mr. D’Amico, for calling a spade a spade. Your colleague was thinking with the wrong head – and what’s clear is that we have no idea which head he’s using when he’s making decisions affecting the City.
    So glad you’re doing your part to shake up the status quo in the swamp.

  70. Councilmember D’Amico was right on tonight in revealing the facts and hypocrisy. The city manager was negligent to say the least in explaining what took place and the lack of oversight and supervision of city employees along with not revealing the overall cost to the city. The silence of other council members was dishonorable.

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