Opinion: John Duran, Don’t Destroy the Village to Save Yourself

Last week I read a statement at the West Hollywood City Council meeting from Mayor John Duran as he was in the hospital and unable to appear. Members from a variety of human rights organizations, including the #MeToo Movement and #Justice4GemmelMoore as well as public official were expected to speak in protest to alleged sexual harassment and discrimination issues facing a beleaguered Mayor Duran.

Mayor John Duran, left, with Marco Colantonio

Duran sent the statement to me via text from his hospital bed to which I suggested some edits and more mea culpa, but he returned the statement in its original form, without any edits and “with the advice of 4 political consultants.”

I’d usually assert with affection that John’s verbosity is legendary, but in this case the statement, in my opinion, was borderline bombastic.

In a text message, he asked “are you sure you want to do this? There will be an angry mob, and I’m afraid you might be manhandled.”

I believe everyone has the right to be heard and is innocent until proven otherwise, so I offered to read his statement intact and without my suggested edits.

I was not making an endorsement or offering a personal opinion as to the validity of the allegations made against John or his guilt or innocence.

As I said prior to reading Mayor Duran ’s statement, “his 30 years of activism for LGBT, human rights and the fight for equality inspired me to serve our community”.

I’ve thought long and hard about those words “serve my community,” the city I love, and what we represent to the world at large. We are a beacon of hope, tolerance and acceptance. I’ve often said West Hollywood is a city with a small foot print and global impact.

Despite my affection for Duran, and perhaps because of it, I am writing this. The principles of our city and what we stand for are more important that the needs of one individual. I know John Duran has a deep love for West Hollywood, and with that in mind I hope he will understand the need for contrition.

Duran is a friend, but his personal, continued defense of his inflammatory comments is even more offensive and insulting to his purported victims and the public at large, who clearly do not approve of his behavior.

As a public figure, he has an obligation to represent those that elected him in a manner reflective of our city’s values, which exemplify unabashed respect for all.

West Hollywood’s appointed and elected officials need to lead with dignity, honesty and respect with more awareness in this era where words matter more than ever. To turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the damage John Duran is doing to West Hollywood’s reputation, and the hurt he is inflicting on those who love and believed in him, is the epitome of narcissism.

John, if you are listening and reading, please display a modicum of respect for your constituents. peers on City Council and those of us who have loved and admired you. You are dragging West Hollywood through the mud and into the mire of your words, which are perceived as misogynistic and pointedly dismissive of compassion and decency. Accusers have rights too. Everyone who is exposed to your words is the beneficiary of your questionable behavior and assault.

We forgave the Ian Owens “Deputygate” debacle, which cost the city more than money. The shame of public scrutiny and embarrassment not only caused us to question the limits of our liberal beliefs but also to stretch them into a vote that elected you back into office. And that’s not to mention the loss of a system that gave residents more access to government and caused hard-working, dedicated public servants to lose their jobs.

We have reached the abyss with the recent and unending piling up with your comments, starting with a WeHo Times interview about a GMCLA chorus member who you referred to as “a skinny Korean kid with pimples on his cheek” and said “come on. Look at this guy. It’s just not happening.”

Then with hospital bed snickers and snide remarks, according to The Los Angeles Times, “in a status update posted to his Facebook account he (Duran) wrote, “In my hospital room with 4 gay men exhibiting bawdy gay humor to the delight of all in hearing range.” When a friend replied, “Careful, some poor fragile thing from the GMCLA Chorus might get her little panties in a wad,” Duran gave the comment a digital thumbs up.

Most recently there was your diatribe on KNX radio, where you once again confounded reality by saying: “Let’s face it. I’m the only, I think, sexually active member of the City Council.”

You have quite simply pushed the envelope on any sense of decency beyond the limits of acceptable behavior, and pushed my belief in your value as an elected public official and Council member over the edge. When you reach the point of using the tactic of “victim shaming” to defend yourself, you become that which you profess to despise, a Tragic Trumpian Clown, putting yourself before God and country, the people and the village.

We are the casualties of your cavalier and hurtful words! In her op-ed in WEHOville last week, Ruth Williams, the longtime Public Safety Commissioner and a founder of West Hollywood, called for your resignation, affirming: “It’s a tragedy that his long legacy of fighting for LGBT civil liberties and his contributions are dampened by this alleged behavior.”

Whether in the resignation of an appointed commissioner, Robert Oliver, the rebuke of a longtime crusader, Ruth Foster Williams, or the solemn admonishment from your four fellow council members and now from your friend who once called you a mentor, there is a call that is beyond clarion, it is deafening.

It is for an unequivocal apology and an end to your dismissing your indefensibly sexist and racist comments as bawdy or raucous, or for you to resign from the office that we will ultimately regret having electing you to.

Don’t destroy the village to save yourself!


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chloe ross
Guest
chloe ross

So, this is ‘sort of’ okay in certain groups of gay men? That’s fine. They should play together. If others want to participate – good enough. However, it is really more civilized to wait until you know you are being invited to coppafeel and avoid the type of shame and humiliation Mr. Duran has brought upon himself. When you are looking horses, at least wait for the hoofbeats to come in your direction.

Human Dignity
Guest
Human Dignity

John Duran claims to be an advocate for causes involving human dignity but unfortunately demonstrates no dignity. His career as a defense attorney seems at complete odds with the very nature of advocacy for the groups he claims to support. The right choice would have been a law career as a plaintiff or consumer attorney. Instead, according to his online presence he toils at defending drunk drivers, drug abusers, sex crimes and white collar crime. In each of these instances it requires slick legal talk, promises and excuses to get the mildest sentence possible. Slick legal talk has also allowed… Read more »

Alan Strasburg
Guest
Alan Strasburg

I have been very critical of Mr. Duran’s actions and ego and I proudly ascribe my name to my commentary on those issues. To attack his commitment to the defense of people charged with crimes, and the protection of their Constitutional rights, however, is crossing the line and not something to which I would ever ascribe my name.

hifi5000
Guest
hifi5000

John Duran needs to listen to his friend,Marco Conlantanio,who is obviously concerned about him.When a close friend who known you for more than a few years speaks frankly about and to you,you really need to listen!!!! Listen to him!!!!

A Concerned Citizen
Guest
A Concerned Citizen

‘Then with hospital bed snickers and snide remarks, according to The Los Angeles Times, “in a status update posted to his Facebook account he (Duran) wrote, “In my hospital room with 4 gay men exhibiting bawdy gay humor to the delight of all in hearing range.” When a friend replied, “Careful, some poor fragile thing from the GMCLA Chorus might get her little panties in a wad,” Duran gave the comment a digital thumbs up.’ Indeed. I read that last week, and just couldn’t believe the arrogance with that post. He’s basically taunting every one of us who knows what… Read more »

Polo
Guest
Polo

It is commendable that Marco defended John (a friend) from the the wave of anger with which he was confronted, but Marco showed true integrity by taking the much more difficult stance of holding Mayor Duran accountable for his actions, as an elected official and representative of the city.

Tom Wright
Guest
Tom Wright

It’s not about the councilmembers a lot of them re-elected him knowing AND CONDONING his Behavior. It’s all about US, WEHO, the people that live here the people that actually live, pay and stay here. It’s about we the people of WEHO. #WEHOGO
#VOTETHEMOUT
#STANDFORWEHO

Alison
Guest
Alison

He does not need to apologize only to the gay community, he needs to apologize to the entire City of West Hollywood. We are all offended by his actions and words.

Chloe Ross
Guest
Chloe Ross

Playing grab-ass may still happen in locker rooms or at frat houses, but it appears John Duran has emulated his president and brought it into the civil service sphere. (Because after all – no matter how glorified – politics is still civil service). And in his role as a criminal defense attorney – he is certainly adept at obfuscating facts in evidence. But Duran is not an obfuscator. He flaunts his testosterone overload with a smug smile and simple comment “boys will be boys”. He is no longer a boy. And he is vulgar and self-righteous and clearly overestimates his… Read more »

Ruth Williams
Guest
Ruth Williams

Dear Marco, I know this must have been difficult for you to write, as I know it was difficult for me, but we have to stand for what we believe is right and I commend you. When I heard John’s comments that aired last week on the Channel 9 news I was truly appalled at his demeanor and statements targeted at the Council in regard to their “sexual activity.” You hit the nail on the head with your statement and I quote: “You have quite simply pushed the envelope on any sense of decency beyond the limits of acceptable behavior,… Read more »

Bob Lowry
Guest
Bob Lowry

TRUMP: “It’s just locker room talk.” DURAN: “It’s just bawdy humor.” Duran has become the gay “Trump”. Attacking anyone that gets in his way or attempts to tell him the truth. He actually believes he has done nothing wrong- Guess what Mr. Duran, you have. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, sexual harassment is: “Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is persistent or offensive and interferes with an employee’s job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment is defined by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as unwelcome sexual… Read more »

Peter
Guest
Peter

Do chorus members really receive a stipend? I’ve been in several gay men’s choruses (including GMCLA) and in each one, members have been required to pay dues.

Bob Lowry
Guest
Bob Lowry

Yes, they pay dues but I think they also receive a small (very small stipend).

Bob Lowry
Guest
Bob Lowry

I may be misinformed but that is what I was told-

Alan Strasburg
Guest
Alan Strasburg

An apology does not dismiss the need for a resignation, and a resignation does not make an apology unwarranted. Both are in order.

He should know that there are more than 20 of us. Far more.

Arthur Scotti
Guest
Arthur Scotti

Yes! Above all a resignation. Any apologies would be insincere anyway and thus unbelievable.