John Duran: What Next?

John Duran

Several weeks of allegations on social media and in the press of sexual misconduct by West Hollywood Mayor John Duran has resulted in a torrent of criticism of him by major local political organizations, three members of the West Hollywood City Council, various city board and commission members, and city residents. (Duran continues to deny the allegations and has garnered the support of a small group of friends and associates.)

The question now is: What next? Will John Duran step down as mayor?  Will Duran step off the City Council? If not, can he be forced to?

Some of those questions are likely to be answered on Tuesday, when the West Hollywood City Council has the second of its twice-monthly meetings. The Council has on its agenda an item that would reverse its earlier decision to extend Duran’s mayoral term by four months, ending it in September rather than May. That decision, made earlier this month, was part of a reorganization to prepare for the movement of city elections to the state’s general election date in November. Given that Council members John D’Amico, Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister (all of whom are running for re-election on March 5) have said Duran should step down as mayor, that item is likely to pass. Councilmember John Heilman has remained silent on the issue.

Also on Tuesday, members of the local #MeToo movement will stage a press conference outside the City Council Chambers at 5:30 p.m. to criticize Duran’s alleged sexual misconduct with young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, whose board he chairs. LGBT groups and prominent young gay activists have begun to equate Duran’s alleged misbehavior and his response to criticism to similar incidents that sparked creation of the #MeToo movement, which initially addressed sexual abuse of women by men in positions of power.

The group also will speak out about the status of investigation of the deaths of black men in the apartment of white Democratic political donor Ed Buck, who has a reputation for paying young black sex workers to come to his apartment and use drugs. Duran has been Buck’s lawyer for many years, although he isn’t currently representing him, and is the largest recipient on the City Council of campaign donations from Buck, with a total of $14,000.

The item to rescind the extension of Duran’s mayoral term is on the Council’s consent agenda, which means it is among a number of items that will be approved simultaneously without discussion unless an individual Council member objects. However, it’s unlikely the City Council will be able to stay quiet about allegations at the Tuesday meeting, given that members of the public are likely to speak out before the Council about it.  Duran is not likely to appear because on Wednesday he checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to undergo tests and an angiogram to examine a possible blood clot. In a post on Facebook, Duran noted that he has struggled with blood clots, which can cause a heart attack, for 25 years. He said he will undergo a procedure on  Monday to address the issue.

The Council’s decision to end Duran’s term as mayor in May, as is standard, isn’t likely to satisfy critics who have asked that he step down from that position now or leave the City Council entirely. However, the Council cannot legally remove Duran from office.  The voters can do that if he runs for re-election in November 2020. They also can do that by launching a recall campaign, which was quietly discussed in 2015.  To put on the ballot a measure to remove Duran from office requires the signatures of 20% of the city’s registered voters, which would be difficult given that the city’s overall voter turnout isn’t much larger than that.

The City Council can, however, censure or reprimand Duran  and restrict his use of city resources and of reimbursement of expenses he incurs for travel to events such as the annual South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Tex., and the meetings of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, whose board he chairs.  Those steps are not on Tuesday’s agenda and would have to be considered at a future meeting.

When confronted with the requests that he step down as mayor, Duran’s response has been “Hell No!”

  1. If you don’t want John Duran to be mayor any more there is a recall process. It requires 4,000 signatures from registered voters in the city.

    I really object to outsiders (non residents) coming to this city and trying to effect change through mob rule. There is such a thing as “rule of law” which has been getting a lot of play in the media lately. Let’s practice Rule of Law, not Rule of Mob.

    1. Very good point Leslie! The reality is that most of the postings come from Trump supporters NOT form people in West Hollywood who are not only out to destroy minorities and liberals but, divert attention away from Donald Trump’s numerous sexual assault allegations that may very likely be true. They could never get the 4,000 signatures from West Hollywood for much of anything and, are completely dependent on circumventing democracy to push their agenda that in-spite of their insistent narrative has no real popular support. 😁

  2. Duran is no different than a southern politician who still defends confederate flags because it’s part of the “culture” and he’s been getting away with it for years. They both truly believe they’ve done nothing wrong (even when it costs the city they work for half a million dollars).

    Party’s over.

  3. Sorry to hear about John Duran’s heath scare; his life is totally spinning out of control and it is hard not to think that we need to keep some perspective on a realistic outcome. I have known John for maybe thirty years and I know he is concerned about his legacy and, like many similarly besieged elected officials, believes that by staying on he can salvage his dignity. At this moment I don’t think he is able to even focus on what is best for him, not to mention what is best for the City, because so many of the pillars of his existence seem to be crumbling. At this point he has been brought to account. When he has had a chance to realistically evaluation his situation and perhaps become more cognizant of the harm he has caused others, perhaps then he can figure out the best way to move forward. There is life after Council and perhaps new avenues to explore.

    1. Thank you Mr. Martin for being the voice of compassion and reason in light of the tragic events that have involved Mr. Duran! Even if John Duran steps down as Mayor, the opportunity to “salvage his dignity and legacy” is overwhelming! A friend of mine with a serious felony conviction stemming from her addiction to methamphetamine and opioids who passed the Bar Exam, now has to deal with the Moral Character Determination Application for the California State Bar. From the California State Bar: “Involvement in activity that constitutes an act of misconduct or an act of moral turpitude does not necessarily preclude an applicant from admission to practice law in California; however, an applicant who has committed such acts must demonstrate rehabilitation prior to receiving a positive moral character determination.” So John Duran “thinks” he’s got problems?

      In the current political climate where the single greatest qualifications to be placed in a position of power are overt animus toward vulnerable minority groups and science denial based on complete ignorance of the subject matter, some exceptionally tough civil rights attorneys are needed to combat policies that threaten the very survival of humanity. The opportunity for John Duran or many other attorneys to be the next William Kunstler where the disapproval of the establishment is no longer a liability and a shame but, an asset and an honorable distinction, is well within their grasp!

  4. This guy has to go. Even his photos freak me out. One eye is looking at the camera and the other is looking in another direction. He always has one eye on the prize and the other is scouting for his next Grindr hook-up.

    No one has time for this. Time to grow up and learn to be an adult.

  5. A slim margin of difference between John Duran and Anthony Weiner who went to prison over this type of behavior. The community should be emulating the likes of Ruth Bader Ginsberg instead of wallowing in the debased sludge prolonged by JD.

    Go RBG!!!!

    1. Anthony Weiner was convicted of sexting with a 15 year old minor – big difference. But I do agree: Go RBG!!!

  6. Duran has continued to sexually harass employees and volunteers with no repercussions. Use of his title on the GRINDR app is a violation of the city rules against bringing disrepute to the city – let alone his message “Want to have sex with the Mayor of WEHO?” In addition, letters and text messages and coming out that show his harassment of employees and volunteers of the choir. Even after his victims said “NO” he continued to send messages. Duran has got to go.

    1. Duran’s apologists insist that he’s entitled to such behavior because he grew up repressed, or because he’s a long-time survivor, or because he’s done so much for non-profits.

      I’m Duran’s age (as far as I can tell – I can’t find his actual age anywhere, but it seems he’s in his late 50s/early 60s), I’m a 30-year survivor, and I’ve done AIDS LifeCycle 3 times and have devoted countless hours to various non-profits, including GMCLA.

      And despite all this, I am able to comprehend that it’s important to keep my hands to myself, unless clearly invited not to.

      Why can’t he?

  7. Ok let me try this comment again to see if it gets sensored like the last one.

    Seems to me like wehoville is obsessed. Starting to appear like it’s Personal against Duran.

    1. Maybe it is relevant news when the mayor of the city in the name of the publication is a sexual predator? Maybe.

  8. [Duran, 59, has refused to step down, describing himself as a proudly
    a sensual gay man who lived through a sexual revolution colliding against a
    prudish #MeToo movement that’s too quick to judge. Bawdiness is just
    part of who he’s always been, Duran said, and he’s not going to change

    Okay, so translating this to a heterosexual example. A man is accused of being too grabby with female staff. Would proclaim that he’s just sensual and touching female subordinates is who he has always been pass muster?

    NOPE. Duran can’t play the gay card here.

  9. West Hollywood today is a very diverse city. Open minded and liberal we are, but most are professionals and find the mayor and the city council embarrassing.
    I can think of no other American city…….where this would be tolerated.

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