Opinion: Exactly Why is WeHo City Councilmember John D’Amico Endorsing Incumbents Duran and Heilman?

I empathize with those who are a bit dazed and confused by West Hollywood City Councilmember John D’Amico’s endorsements of incumbents John Heilman and John Duran, which seems to have blindsided many voters and observers.

I’m not implying that the council member doesn’t have a right to support and endorse whomever he chooses, but I think his own early and long time supporters have a right to feel at least a little bit betrayed by these endorsements, which suddenly dropped like a water balloon out of nowhere.

I also don’t mean to imply that all council members should not work together as a team. Of course they should. But I think it’s healthier for the process to have five council members with minds of their own, who constructively disagree but are willing to compromise and find common ground to accomplish a common purpose. If we have five council members who are all on the same page all the time, then why have five when only one would do?

Woody McBreairty

As General George Patton said “If everyone says they’re thinking the same thing, then someone isn’t thinking.”

Maybe there should even be at least one who stirs the pot all the time and gets things fired up. I think D’Amico was originally perceived to be the mover and shaker on the city council. Maybe he feels he has accomplished his goals or maybe he has simply given up.

D’Amico says “they” have the ability to handle things that require much more specific attention and “I think John and John can do that!” Hey D’Amico! Are you saying that you don’t have the same ability to handle things that require much more specific attention? If so, why not? You said you could. So why are you now selling yourself short?

I believe most local observers have been aware from the time of John D’Amico’s first run that he and Heilman had many strong differences and their relationship was less than amiable. In fact Mr. D’Amico spoke before the city council in 2010 and delivered a strong rebuke of the performance of Heilman and another of his former colleagues on the council, saying, in part: “….You are two entrenched elites who no longer belong in positions of leadership in West Hollywood. I think both of you should lose your seats in 2011.” There’s much more, but you get my drift. .

I have no doubt that D’Amico was very sincere at the time based on the passion of his delivery and the fact that he felt compelled to make such a harsh reprimand at all. It was always my understanding that D’Amico made a run for the city council based largely on his disapproval of the then-present council’s strong cozy relationship with developers and for other changes he felt he could work to effect.

Remember D’Amico’s first campaign logo with the arrow pointing forward and upward toward a future of change and progress? Oops. That change and progress seems not to have happened, just more of the same. And now it’s more than surprising that D’Amico appears to have taken an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” defeatist attitude without fair warning to his supporters.

Remember that D’Amico soared to the front of the vote tally in both his elections and came in first in his last one, beating out Heilman and removing him from office. That convinces me that the voters prefer D’Amico and his ideas and promises over Heilman’s and that the voters will make change based on new ideas from new people over incumbency and that the voters took D’Amico’s perceived leadership skills seriously.

So what happened? If Mr. D’Amico chooses to promote other council members’ abilities over his own, then he should expect his own base of “followers” to lose faith in his loyalty to them, but not necessarily to switch loyalties based on his endorsements. I find D’Amico’s endorsements vague and open ended. I realize that things evolve, times and situations change, but I find D’Amico’s 180-degree turnaround from his previously long held positions to be a bit baffling. Perhaps he could make the reasons for his endorsements clearer and more convincing.

From what I can glean from his statements, he is talking about Heilman’s and Duran’s fundraising efforts for worthwhile causes such as AIDS charities and the Gay Men’s Chorus and other support of and for the gay community. This is all well and good, but I don’t feel good enough reason alone to endorse them for the city council.

It seems to me that they both could continue to support such worthy causes in their private lives as well. It also seems to me that D’Amico is inadvertently negating his own ability to accomplish these same fundraising results, although I don’t know that he has ever tried.

D’Amico says that Heilman “has the ability to reach out to other elected officials and politicians that is unparalleled.” That may be so because Heiman has chosen and made the effort to do so. Is D’Amico implying that he doesn’t have the equal ability to reach out for input, advice and support from other elected officials and politicians by cultivating his own communication skills like Heilman has?

D’Amico says that Duran is “eloquent in speaking up for people.” Well yeah. That is why politicians run for office and what they are elected and expected to do. Once again, is D’Amico implying that he himself lacks the ability to speak eloquently for his constituents, for the people and causes that he believes in? Is he implying that Heilman and Duran are stronger, more effective council members and are therefore indispensable?

In fact, Heilman and Duran are both on the fast track to being term-limited out, so no politician at any level is indispensable. We have already proven that having new blood on the city council is the way to get things done better and faster. There’s no time like the present for more new fresh leadership.

As far as I know, all city council members are elected by the same means, have equal powers and equal opportunities to engage their leadership skills. Has Councilmember D’Amico already achieved his purposes on the council or has he given them up? Maybe he does not plan to run again in two years ( since he had originally said he would only serve two terms) and feels he wants to leave the city council to the charge of Heilman and Duran, who he feels are more capable than others?

Or maybe he has made a trade off for support from them on a future project. Who knows? I certainly have no inside information on the council members interactions, but the picture as I see it is very blurry, and I’m open to a clearer view.

I know this election isn’t about Councilmember D’Amico, but in his own way, he has made it somewhat so, especially to those who trusted his leadership on their behalf. I think the honorable council member owes more clarity to his endorsements so they can sink in instead of drifting past the heads of his supporters, and reassure us that he is still the same John D’Amico that we worked so hard to elect in 2011.


newest oldest
Notify of
J Simmons
Guest
J Simmons

It is hard enough to vote for the right candidate for each person and whatever they need. WeHo floods stories that really don’t “mislead” as to confuse with issues that are not really what a little cal City Council Member should and is responsible for, to wit: Local health, safety, traffic, parked ng, crime. Everything remains in flux with no commitment and follow through on these local issues over the years some long time residents have heard many times, but no results. EVERYONE can see The City of West Hollywood with the senior Council Member, John Heilman, has been in… Read more »

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

That is simply not true, there are many streets where the parking has been changed from flat to the curb, to angled to the curb, thereby making many more spaces. I don’t understand people who complain about an issue, but give no solutions. Problem is, there isn’t always a solution.

Russell H
Guest
Russell H

Woody does make his point well but I think too tactfully. D’Amico made such a strong showing because he had a focused agenda that obviously most voters believed in. No one voted for him because he supported Duran & Heilman or their agenda. I think this is a serious blunder on his behalf because he has made his supporters a little weary of his dependability. Free speech be damned, he should have passed on endorsing anyone for the sake of personal integrity. Also @ Block – I don’t see where Woody mentioned your endorsements in this article. Somehow you find… Read more »

Aaron J
Guest
Aaron J

Woody McBreairty you make your point strongly but artfully. BTW, I couldn’t agree more

J Simmons
Guest
J Simmons

I think it is just “Quid Pro Quo” as usual.

National Republican Party has it set in stone “never say a bad word about other Republicans” … which is being tested, and seems even with the panic inducing actions since the new President took office.

Woody McBreairty
Guest
Woody McBreairty

@AM: The opinion piece is not about John Heilman. You likely meant John D’Amico. That happens when you have too many Johns

Brian Slater
Guest
Brian Slater

To NYCNative — Implications and inferences are filling in the blanks and assuming details to things not clearly stated. “The speaker does the implying, and the listener does the inferring.”

Woody’s (the “listener” to D’Amico’s article) article INFERS (incorrectly, in my opinion) D’Amico’s comparison of Heilman/Duran to himself, when D’Amico is actually comparing Heilman/Duran to the other candidates on the ballot.

AM
Guest
AM

Att Larry Block Re-read the piece man. It’s about John Heilman not Laruen Meister. It’s about the city council not about you. Compartmentalize dude

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

Election Woes, all you say is spot on.

Haletiki
Guest
Haletiki

D’Amico’s volteface is perplexing, but occaisionally his convoluted observations are as well.

New Blood on the city council is the way to get things done…..Old Blood on the council has been subsumed by Big Money, the 30 years of connections or empty rhetoric notwithstanding.

There’s no time like the present for fresh leadership.

Ida Claire
Guest
Ida Claire

Seems more of an ode to Heilman & Duran without the violins

Rod D.
Guest
Rod D.

Very well written & makes good points. When I 1st read the endorsement I saw no there there. I reread it from this writer’s perspective & his twist gave me another POV. Nowhere is there a “we can do” only a “they can do”. To me it implies that WeHo cannot survive w/o Duran & Heilman. Not so. Can & will. Thank you

Wehogigio
Guest
Wehogigio

Chita Rivera will be in North Carolina on February 22nd.