While the City Council will inevitably abide by the traditional rotation and install John Duran as mayor, someone had suggested to me that West Hollywood might adopt a more exacting process for selection of the nominal leader of the city. It was proposed that we should consider having applicants and an interview process for this august position.
Needless to say, I would love to be part of a citizen’s panel interviewing the mayoral candidates. John Duran would be great fun. I could imagine the interview along the following lines.
“Good afternoon Mr. Duran and thank you for coming to this interview. We have reviewed your resume along with an investigative report by the city’s Human Resources Department in preparation for today’s interview. While the resume you provided is quite impressive, we are required to follow up on some of the concerns raised by the HR report.
“We have been provided with a copy of your former deputy’s lawsuit for sexual harassment and Mr. Owens certainly makes some inflammatory accusations. According to his complaint, you made inappropriate remarks to him of a sexually suggestive nature two or three times a week. As set forth in paragraph 18 of the complaint Mr. Owens asserts that you regularly stated: “I’ll bottom for you.” I guess my question: Was this promise meant to be in the nature of an additional benefit to his health care plan or was this envisioned to be a request for additional duties? As you are aware, if you are making a request to expand Mr. Owens’ job description then the city manager would have to take that request to the bargaining unit of the city employees’ union.
“Human resources wanted us to clarify some emails that were sent by you regarding female members of the public where you made less than flattering references to their private parts. Do any of your City Hall emails have similar derogatory remarks concerning the genitalia of male members of the community? I also reviewed a YouTube incident where you were screaming and disrupting a Democratic Club meeting, shouting “we are not all lesbians.” Do you have lesbophobic tendencies?
“We were also reading your resume regarding your legal work as a civil rights attorney. Here you claim you represented Bruce Boland, the gay Sheriffs’ deputy who was fired because of sexual orientation. Our HR report seems to indicate that while this is basically true, you seem to have omitted that Boland fired you prior to trial. So how accurate is your resume?
Of course, it probably would not be fair for me to be on an interview panel as I just know too much about the subject. But if our own City Council submitted John Duran to even a minimal review of his long list of past misdeeds it would be clear that he is hardly the sort of person you would want as mayor of a progressive city.
But I fully expect the City Council to respect the traditional rotation. It is probably a bit late to start asking the Council members to start holding John Duran accountable. While I understand the dynamics of needless alienating one of your colleagues, it would be nice if just one Council member raised her or his voice to express reservations about this promotion.
What the people of West Hollywood need is a mayor who represents our community values in both word and deed. Anyone can proclaim support for our community values of respect for diversity, intolerance of bias on the basis of gender, race or orientation. We expect our leader to live by the values they supposedly embrace.
What we need are leaders who are truly dedicated to public service; leaders who put the needs of the public first. Public office often attracts people who are focused on what they believe is the prestige of holding office and who seek office for purposes of validation or ambition. We have had a number of unsung Council members who have labored long hours for the public weal, without the need to seek constant praise for it. These are people who understand the true meaning of service and love of community. We need a mayor who is promoting West Hollywood, not himself.
“Pride” is a word that is often bandied around West Hollywood. This focus on pride arose from the foundation of the city when gay and lesbian people became part of the effort to create a new city where diversity was valued and everyone included. I remember working to create a new city, a place where gays and lesbians could prove that they were worthy of being entrusted with the reins of government; we would create a unique community where we were respected part of the fabric of the city. Pride is important to West Hollywood, and we are justifiably, indeed fiercely, proud of our city.
While pride is a good municipal trait, it is not a good trait in a leader, as pride is often exhibited by self-aggrandizement and narcissistic behaviors. What is needed in a mayor is a certain sense of humility; a recognition that it is an honor to serve, a responsibility as well as an opportunity.
Unfortunately, our once and future mayor lacks these important traits. He is proud, arrogant and full of a sense of entitlement. Indeed his pride is stung by criticisms of his well-documented errors, lack of self-control and moral blind spots. It is hard to imagine how one claims to be a good public servant while entertaining yourself on Grindr, a sex app, during public hearings. If you wanted to serve the people you should at least attempt to listen to them respectfully. After all, you ran for this job and you took an oath of office to “faithfully serve” the public.
Given the recent history, it might be best for John Duran to spend some time in self-examination rather than distracting himself by the supposed glamour of being West Hollywood’s mayor. While I expect that Duran wants to use the mayoral platform to distract the public from his misdeeds and lack of commitment to true public service, that is not in the best interest of the people of West Hollywood. Whatever prestige there still may be in the title of Mayor of West Hollywood, it will be forever tarnished by John Duran’s tenure.