Election season is in the air. The candidates are pulling papers, and soon we are off again to the races. The issues are plentiful. The issue front and center in my mind is public safety. I feel like a sitting duck waiting for the next shooter to blow us away. The shootings at Borderline Grill in Thousand Oaks ripped through me, and killings at the Pulse gay bar hit so close to home. It was less than 18 months ago when the sheriff intercepted a man with bombs and guns headed from Santa Monica to West Hollywood for L.A. Pride.
And now it’s public knowledge that Mayor John Duran was on MAGA bomber Cesar Sayac’s hit list of 100 targets. If that gunman was planning to point a gun or mail a bomb to Duran, then he was likely targeting all of us in West Hollywood. If Duran is on the FBI or Secret Service protection list, then we need to double down on our city public safety efforts. All of West Hollywood needs need more protection.
That means our elected officials have to get back to thinking local. Partisan national politics has become a dominant issue for some of them. But our City Council members serve us. They are not state senators or federal congresswomen or congressmen. When I ran for City Council four years ago, there was not a D or an R next to my name. The only letters adjacent to my name were WeHo. So I’m hoping some of our West Hollywood elected officials can tune down their state and national political rhetoric and put their energy into a rapid-response initiative for us instead of whatever is happening in Washington or Sacramento. If you’re not thinking local, you should consider opening up your City Council seat to someone who really puts his or her heart into West Hollywood first.
Michelle Obama writes in her book about the fear she felt for her daughters when people made those birtherism claims against her husband. She worried the kooks would go after her children. Well, maybe we have reason to worry in West Hollywood given that we have City Council members attracting so much attention to themselves with attacks on the President of the United States. One or another of our council members has banned Trump from WeHo, given Stormy Daniels a key to the city and celebrated in West Hollywood Park with a balloon that mocks the president. I get it, the guy is a bombastic buffoon. But we should not be buffoons too. We need to promote civil discourse. And they need to be thinking about the rest of us who are sitting ducks.
If you’re running for City Council , then tell me what have you done in the past years to promote public safety. And if you are a City Council member attracting so much attention to yourself that it requires FBI follow up, then I want to see some follow up by you on public safety for the rest of us. Where is our 30-second response plan?
And where is our Public Safety Commission, which has not been effective in making any recommendations to the City Council. At the city’s annual commission and board member training session, one Public Safety commissioner asked Michael Jenkins, the city attorney: “What if we want to talk about something, and we are told it’s not in our purview, or it doesn’t come back to us for discussion for months and months?” That question alone is indicative of a broken process that means the Public Safety Commission is not an effective liaison between the City Council and the residents of West Hollywood. Also consider the fact that three of the 11 Public Safety Commission meetings scheduled thus far for 2018 (one is scheduled for each month) have been cancelled due to a holiday or lack of quorum and not rescheduled for later in the month.
If I had to come up with a 30-second rapid fire response plan, or a plan to deter terrorism in the most crowded parts of West Hollywood, it would involve two on-foot patrol officers seven days a week from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. One officer would be at the corner on the north side Santa Monica and San Vicente, and the other on the south corner at Robertson and Santa Monica. The cost would be less than the additional $661,000 appropriated to bring the Metro to West Hollywood. If you had to choose safety or subways, which do you think is in the best interest of public?.
Thinking Local also means sharing your plan for the Metro subway in West Hollywood. Do you want the subway up and down Santa Monica Boulevard with the rumblings underground and double escalators pouring people onto the streets where the Sheriff’s Station lies? The homeless will sleep in the subway and there would be urine and crime. The Metro route that would best protect our community should be like that at Disneyland. It would drop you off on La Brea or Doheny, perhaps Sunset or Beverly. You then would take the local shuttle through WeHoLand, protecting the integrity of our communities. Lure Metro to WeHo? Yes. Tear up the streets with a underground city? Not for me. So another question I’d like to ask the candidates is their position on the Metro extension and its implementation.
When we campaigned successfully for term limits, the idea was that there would be a pool of community residents to serve as the next generation of council members. We bickered on the language to include in Measure C and compromised on a 12 year limit, but the limit wasn’t retroactive. Members of the current City Council will term out in 2024 and 2026. The years between now and then are our building block years.
I want to see that new pool of candidates come forward and get involved in our local government. If residents with a passion for local issues are the ones who strive to serve, then we will have fulfilled the promise of term limits. If not, our politics will be towing the national political party line. Remember, getting involved is not an election-time thing. It’s an all-time thing. I’m not on the ballot but our future is. My advice to all the candidates is Think Local.