Opinion: In WeHo’s 2017 City Council Election, Experience Counts

I’m not a candidate in this upcoming city council race, but I want to thank so many of your for your pledges of support. It means a lot to me. I’m sorry to let you down. To be honest I did not realize the breadth of the support, but this was not the year for me to give all of myself to all you.

It’s also nice that many of the challengers have called or written to me hoping “we” would win. I’m sorry to disappoint so many other candidates, but experience counts. If I have not seen you at a city council meeting speaking on issues then I can’t support your candidacy.

There are only three people in this race who offer experience. The two incumbents, John Heilman and John Duran, and ex-council member Steve Martin. If you don’t know the ropes you won’t get things done.

Larry Block, The Block Party, West Hollywood City Council candidate
Larry Block

There is one issue that has made me challenge my support for the incumbents. That issue is the 8899 Beverly Blvd. project, where the developer wants to double the size of a building that’s already three times the size currently allowed. The council voted to accept the premise from the developer’s lobbyist that the project wouldn’t be profitable if it couldn’t be that large. Then, after the city council allowed the expansion, the developer started offering shares in it for sale before construction has even begun. I’d like to see both incumbents support the idea that these type of concessions by the city cannot be sold without the city council’s approval. Or maybe there should be a transfer tax on projects with special entitlements granted by the city that are sold before the building is completed. Both John Heilman and John Duran supported the expansion.

Today I am prepared to support, endorse and fight for the re-election of John Heilman. John has served West Hollywood for over 30 years. He has never run for higher office. If you love West Hollywood then John Heilman deserves some of the credit.

When you have a Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle on your team hitting home runs, you don’t replace him because he is a veteran. Who in his right mind is going to root against the man who is hitting home runs day after day because he has been on the team too long? Only negative people who cannot appreciate his contribution.

John Heilman deserves the honor of serving two more terms, at which point he reaches the term limits set by law. We need John Heilman to help groom new council members. Despite much criticism, John Heilman has been an honorable steward of the public trust. If Heilman were not re-elected, and he came before the City Council chamber to receive an honor for his years of service, the council chamber would erupt in a half-hour standing ovation. Heilman’s service to our community is second to none.

It’s clear to those on the inside that Heilman and new council member Lauren Meister have developed a solid working relationship. The big question is does Lauren have the guts to endorse him, or will she play into her supporters, who are the most vigilant Heilman haters? Will she put community interests first, or be a partisan council member and continue along this split?

There are only two other experienced candidates in the race — John Duran and Steve Martin. I’m friendly with both of them. But to earn my support in this city council election, I need something from both of them.

John Duran should again offer his apology for what has transpired because he hired Ian Owens as a deputy, which resulted in an expensive and embarrassing lawsuit against the city. I want to see him own it again. Hindsight is a tool for learning, so tell us Mr. Duran what you are sorry about. Be humble and take responsibility.

The next thing I want to hear from Duran is that he is running for us, the residents of West Hollywood. The last time he was elected, he decided a few months later that he would run for county supervisor. I want to make sure he is in it for us, and will dedicate the next four years only to West Hollywood and not other political ambitions.

And finally John Duran needs to run a positive campaign, focused on what he has accomplished. Negative ads like those during the last election and the election before by him or his “Friends of Duran” committee should be rejected by voters. If John won’t toot his own horn about what he’s accomplished after all these years, then he does not deserve re-election.

Steve Martin has plenty of passion and experience. He still attends planning commission and city council meetings regularly, weighing in on both development and social issues. Steve understands the way things work and that experience counts. I want to hear Steve’s vision for the future. I do not want to hear from him snarky comments about Duran’s past. Steve offers us a solid alternative if he is positive, works hard and gets organized. Steve needs to act like the council member he wants to be.

There is another candidate that I would rather not name but who I’m glad to work hard to defeat. This woman represents the most negative approach in our city. She walks around the city council chamber ignoring half the people in the room. She has filed bogus appeals against development, wasting city time and resources. She has said that we have enough affordable housing and argued against building more. And then she turned around and argued that the city should seize someone’s property at 1026-8 North Kings Rd., using affordable housing as an argument. As John Duran pointed out at a city council meeting, that’s against the law. The city does not have the authority to randomly take someone’s property for any use.

This woman does not have the temperament to serve on the city council, and her followers do not understand that she is not telling the truth about state mandates for development and affordable housing. She has never won any of her appeals and has not contributed anything positive to this city.

If I were a candidate in this year’s city council election and made such statements people would think I was promoting my self –interest instead of the community interest. This election is so critical, and the community interest is more important than my own personal gain. I can make a difference from the public comment podium and so can you. The checks and balances come from people who share their thoughts before the city council and promote new ideas before experienced council members who know how to implement policy.

While its sounds great to be a city council member I’m also proud to have offered many ideas that council members have adopted. A new city flag promotes our identity. New crosswalk initiatives make us safer. New proposals to allow a senior to move from a second floor to first floor unit have promoted our aging in place initiative. The disability health fair, which offers residents free flu shots and other things, was initially proposed by me. Protecting our affordable housing and integrating affordable units into regular developments has been one of my mantras. I don’t have to win an election to make a difference. And neither do any of the challengers. If you want to serve the city, get involved during the year and not just at election time.


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fred walters
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fred walters

¶ I confess to being out to lunch these last few years. I wish I had not been because I can’t intelligently comment about politics at the city hall of West Hollywood so, that said, here is my unintelligent comment. ¶ It seems as if every election candidates say that they will stand up (or similar phraseology) to developers, yet a massive huge towering hotel is going up at Doheny and Sunset. ¶ I first visited West Hollywood in March 1972, then again in July 1972 and I moved here in August 1976, all times when West Hollywood was an… Read more »

Ron
Guest
Ron

You had my vote. Hope you consider running again.

Nir Zilberman
Guest
Nir Zilberman

Shawn Thompson, i agree with you 100%.
You are our city real voice, but the sad part, today the only voice you hear, is $$$ and 2 face people and leaders.

Election Woes
Guest
Election Woes

HO, HO, HO! Some folks can’t fight their way out of paper bags. $$$$ or No $$$$

Nir Zilberman
Guest
Nir Zilberman

The only winners will be those people who keep changing our city, our Developers. We are NOT a “village” any longer. the development is killing us slowly. i wish all the ten best of luck, base on what’s going on in the city, MONEY always WIN. remember $300.000 buy you a “sit”. So, with saying that. the only 2 Leaders I’m voting for are Steve Martin and Cynthia Blatt. i trust them to fight for us, the people of WEHO and not only for those with the money. Our city manager, is who make most of the decisions anyway. HAVE… Read more »

Election Woes
Guest
Election Woes

@Shawn: Judgement, experience and a vast personal commitment is not fear mongering. The comment “it is not hard” is subjective, as it depends on what tools one has to implement a specific vision or at least one that is in alignment with all the elements.

Aside from term limits having been your “raison d’être” can you tell us how have you personally participated in effecting positive change?

Shawn Thompson
Guest

The truth has no agenda. Past the spin. 32 years is not democracy. Nor do we need Mr Duran, who has cost the city $500,000 in his HR mess, re-elected in my opinion. It’s time for both to move on. Yes we can all say they did good. But let others now serve the community. It’s in my view the right thing. I could be wrong, but for now I’m going with it. And Larry, so sorry but I see no other agenda in this political commercial for Heilman than the leverage it is to get you on a board… Read more »

Victor
Guest
Victor

Larry, i grew up in West Hollywood going to first grade through high school and love this city. And I was excited to vote for you. All the people I’ve spoken with were excited to vote for you. To be frank, there is nobody else I’m excited to support and not happy that Heilman or Duran will be sitting on the council again. I hope they do give you a commission post because you deserve it, but your gonna have to talk me into voting for any of those guys.

Shawn Thompson
Guest

Lets cut to the chase Larry once and for all in this faux democracy keep Mr Heilman in power your spinning. If Mr Heilman is rel-elected and since you have taken this time to write this long op.ed singing his praises, would you decline the offer to be appointed to a board or commission by him.? Cause from the outside looking in that’s your motivation to write this sell him piece. 32 years is enough. Its a public service job to the community. Not an appointed supreme leader that no one can replace. And yes after 32 years those are… Read more »

Election Woes
Guest
Election Woes

……meanspiritedness…..

Election Woes
Guest
Election Woes

@Jeffrey Ward: I’ll second that! One thing about Larry is that he does not have an ounce of meanspiritness which is the bane of other candidates candidates given to ripping folks and issues apart at the seams. We could all learn a thing or two from Larry. With Larry, the message and the messenger are in alignment.

Jeffery Ward
Guest

Bullet voting and the effects of it, namely helping the entrenched, aside, Term limits are horrible, they make those with government experience leave, and leave only the lobbyist with the experience on how things work in place, would you rather have an experienced surgeon install your new pacemaker or do you want the manufacturers’ rep doing the surgery. Term limits have just giving us Donald Trump! Larry, regardless of how you feel about him and his bullet candidacies of the past, has done the city great good, using his advocacy to exact a price for the less fortunate and to… Read more »