West Hollywood is not for sale!
It is already owned by the residents.
For years, West Hollywood, for the most part, has been owned and operated by developers and businesses. Most of the City Council is nothing more than a facade. There has been no resident oversight. Residents are becoming frustrated for not being heard.
Master plans are changed like underwear in this town. Whenever a developer or business needs a new set of rules, they can count on some City Council members to bend the rules to accommodate their projects even if the changes impact the quality of life of the residents .
The Chamber of Commerce is heavily intertwined in the city’s operation, but only for the benefit of the businesses. The Chamber of Commerce also has a Political Action Committee that serves to finance the campaigns of council members whom they know will bend, twist and swing for them like they do for developers. They find out which candidates are easily influenced by inviting them to an interview at their office before every election. I received an invitation, but I turned it down. I do not believe in taking campaign donations, especially from PAC’s. That does not mean that I am unwilling to work with the business community.
Neither the developers nor the Chamber of Commerce does enough for the residents of West Hollywood, yet they have their hands up the back sides of some of the puppets known as “our” City Council.
The City Council is so concerned about the needs of developers and businesses who finance their campaigns, they have lost touch with us, the residents, and our concerns.
It’s time to end the pay for play, time to open the people’s books for public viewing and time to initiate real transparent campaign finance reform.
Every campaign donor, bundler, political action committee and/or other sources who donate to campaigns should be made public before every election. The exact and individual amount these sources donated should also be made public before every election.
Any council member who accepts campaign donations from any source other than an individual resident of West Hollywood should recuse himself or herself from voting if that source of donations has a matter for consideration before the City Council.
That especially includes developers and members of the Chamber of Commerce.
No one should ever seek or receive special treatment or consideration because of campaign donations. Political action committees and bonation bundlers need to be scrutinized for transparency for every source of their donations.
The businesses have the Chamber of Commerce looking out for them. They know they can count on most members of the City Council to accommodate their requests..
We the residents have no one looking out for us. We need a “Chamber of Residents” to look out for our concerns. The “Chamber of Residents” should be called the “Council of Resident Engagement” or C.O.R.E. The word “Chamber” has been made to sound unapproachable for residents.
The C.O.R.E. (Council of Resident Engagement) would serve as an additional communication conduit between residents and City Council and city management on a wide variety of resident and community concerns and issues. The C.O.R.E. would also serve, with a sub-committee, as an oversight committee for campaign transparency and city departments’ accountability.
The C.O.R.E. should be established and initiated immediately upon the installment of the new 2019 City Council. The city should provide meeting space to C.O.R.E. once a month and additionally as needed as a place for residents to voice their concerns and exchange ideas.
Representatives of C.O.R.E. would be in contact with the City Council and city management on a regular basis and make a monthly public report at City Council meetings.
The C.O.R.E meeting format will be informal, but progressive, productive and proactive with open, civil and respectful communication between residents, moderators and representatives. There will be a moderator and representatives at every meeting. The city should provide funding for a scribe, record keeping person, meeting set-up staff and Sheriff deputy for every meeting. If it is determined that the meetings are be held in the City Council Chambers, They should be televised and recorded on WEHOTV, otherwise audio recorded and become permanent record and property of the city.
They will be similar to a monthly “Town Hall” meeting. The “Committee Members” will be the residents who choose to participate at each meeting. Every resident who wants to be heard will have an opportunity. Those who cannot make it to a meeting will have the opportunity to e mail the C.O.R.E. representatives on an official city e-mail address which would become permanent record and property of the city. E-mails from residents will be introduced for discussion at the meetings.
C.O.R.E. will encourage more resident involvement and give opportunity to speak their minds to other residents instead of a formal setting at a City Council meeting. They will know that their concerns will be conveyed to the City Council and management without the time pressure and formal setting of a council meeting. Residents will be encouraged to attend council meetings, but they will also know that C.O.R.E will speak for them.
Guidelines will be established at the first meeting. The first meeting should be conducted by the city manager to oversee the informal election of the first representatives and to officiate the guidelines as they are established at the first meeting. The guidelines will be decided by the residents who attend the first meeting and can be adjusted as needed by a simple majority vote of attendees.
The first committee representatives will be selected through an informal election at the first meeting officiated by the city clerk and voted on by the residents in attendance and subsequently every six months or as often as decided at the first meeting.
The C.O.R.E should be included as an official department of the city and be included on the city’s website. The monthly meetings will be open to the public and press.
For too long, decisions have been made with little or no consideration of the residents input and concerns.
Historically, many decisions by West Hollywood City Council are not implemented in a timely manner and in many cases not completed or consistent with the needs of the Community.
This is what the desperately needed purpose of C.O.R.E. is – for residents to finally have a say in how their city is operated and managed in a less rushed and intimidating manner as is the current practice at City Council meetings and to freely exchange ideas with other residents.
It’s time to shift the power from developers, business owners and outside campaign donors to the residents. We, the residents, have had a very small voice in West Hollywood. Our opinions have been virtually ignored by the city. This must end. You are important and your voice should be heard.
The only way to cause change for the better is if we, the residents, make it happen by engaging and working with the City Council and management. Don’t forget, they work for us. They are there because we voted for them. They are our representatives, they should be held accountable to us. If not now, when?
As a professional certified fitness trainer for 20 years, the same basic foundation to make improvements apply here as well. Without a strong C.O.R.E, we have no stability, strength or sustainability to protect and preserve our Village of West Hollywood.
Editor’s Note: WEHOville has invited all candidates in the March 5, 2019, election for City Council to submit up to three op-eds each for publication before the election. This is the third from Eric Jon Schmidt.