City Attorney Mike Jenkins Presents Five Options for the City Council to Rebuke Mayor John Duran

Mayor John Duran, second from left, surrounded by his fellow Council members at the May 21, 2018, mayoral installation ceremony (Photo by Jon Viscott / Courtesy of the City of West Hollywood)

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story erred in saying that City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath said Mayor John Duran should resign from the City Council. In fact, Horvath said Duran should step down from his position as mayor. The story has been corrected to reflect that.

City Attorney Mike Jenkins on Monday will present to the West Hollywood City Council five actions it can take to respond to demands from residents and activists that John Duran step down as the city’s mayor and resign from the City Council.

The options will be presented at what is expected to be a contentious meeting, given that Duran is expected to attend the meeting.  Duran missed the Council’s Feb. 19 meeting because he checked into the hospital to have a blood clot examined.  The meeting also is likely to attract some of those who attended the earlier meeting to demand that Duran resign.

The complaints about Duran are based on allegations that he has engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, whose board he chairs, and that he exhibited discrimination in his description of one chorus member as a “skinny Korean kid with pimples on his cheek,” in explaining why he didn’t find him sexually attractive. Duran also riled some local residents when, in a recent radio interview, he described himself as the “only sexually active member of the City Council.” Duran has denied the allegations of sexual harassment and apologized for his comments about the young Asian chorus member.  He also has resigned his position as chair of the GMCLA board.

In a memo to the Council, Jenkins makes clear that it cannot remove Duran from office. “Under California law, councilmembers answer to their constituents, not to their colleagues,” Jenkins said. “Hence, the law does not expressly address the means by which a City Council may discipline or express disapproval of one of its own and it limits the power of involuntary removal from office to the electorate.”

As previous stories have noted, a petition signed by 20% of West Hollywood’s voters would be required to put a proposal to remove Duran from office on the ballot.  That likely would require a special election, and Duran would be removed only if a majority voted to do that.

In his memo, Jenkins lists five actions the City Council can take  if it wants to publicly discipline Duran:

1) The Council can remove Duran as mayor.  At its last meeting, the Council voted unaniimously to rescind a previous decision to extend Duran’s 12-month term, which expires in May, until September.  It had voted to extend the term as part of an effort to realign the city’s elections with the state general election dates.

2) The Council can deny Duran the privilege of traveling on city business with his expenses paid by the city. Jenkins said that Duran already has cancelled all pending city travel.  Duran’s city-funded travel has included trips to attend the South by Southwest music and art festival in Austin, Tex., and meetings in various cities of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund, whose board he has chaired since 2016.

3) The Council can vote to remove Duran from City Council subcommittees.  He currently is on the Finance & Budget, Visit West Hollywood, 1343 Laurel Avenue and Christopher Street West/L.A. Pride subcommittees.  He also is the Council’s delegate to the League of California Cities, the L.A. County City Selection Committee and the Public Agency Risk-Sharing Authority of California.    

4 ) The Council can direct City Hall to deny Duran reimbursements for expenses he incurs in performing his official duties.  In 2012 the Public Integrity Division of the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office said it was considering prosecuting Duran for misuse of a city credit card.  Its examination found that Duran had used the card to spend more than $7,000 over three years on dozens of meals, sometimes multiple times a week and sometimes at expensive restaurants. The D.A.’s office eventually decided not to move forward with the prosecution.

5) The Council can prepare a resolution censuring Duran for his activities.  That resolution must be presented to Duran and he must be given an opportunity to rebut it before the Council can vote on it.

Councilmembers John D’Amico, Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister, all running for re-election on March, have declined to take a position on whether Duran should leave the council, however all have asked that he step down as mayor.  Only two of the eight challengers – Brendan Hood and Sepi Shyne – have said Duran should resign from the City Council.

The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday in the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. Parking is free with a validated ticket from the five story structure behind the Chambers.


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Ham
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Ham

West Hollywood is a very embarrassing city to live in. It’s time to shed the image of the past……and represent the people who live here today.

Ian
Guest
Ian

What kind of person votes for this man? He has been an insult to this city from BEFORE he was even elected.
He should be prevented from legally using any city funds possible.
We can offer, if he leaves, to rename a sex alley after him.

Bob Lowry
Guest
Bob Lowry

Duran has insulted his fellow council members by speculating on their sex lives. He has mocked the people who has accused him, he has bluntly used Grindr at public council meetings, he has solicited for sex (online) at council meetings, he has used his title when it was not his title, he has used his title on sex websites, he has been accused of harassing people for sex (text evidence and screenshots have been provided as evidence)- what more does the council need? His behavior has impugned the reputation of WEHO. This story has run all over the world and… Read more »

TJ
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TJ

At a minimum, all of the above. And by the way, this city government needs a major tune up.

It’s time to end this joke of a system of a rotating mayor and make both the mayoral position and the city manager position ELECTABLE and ACCOUNTABLE offices.

What a disgrace that Duran goes to party at South by Southwest and sticks the city with the bill, but at this point no surprise. I suppose if one bothered to check the records, they’d find all sorts of other dubious travel expenses.

Randy
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Randy

I disagree. The mayor position is mostly ceremonial. He or she runs the Council meetings and represents the city at public events, and conferences, and what-not. Now, some have abused the title to their advantage, a bit, including Duran. Horvath also got on CNN a couple years ago with the title of “Mayor,” when she was not, I believe. This rotating system works for many other cities, and works for our city as well, for the most part. Having an annual citywide election would be costly, and not worth the effort. Changing the term to more than 12 months wouldn’t… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
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Eric Jon Schmidt

Any of the five seem fair. He should not resign. Let the voters who put him there remove him on Election Day 2020. The other city council members should get number five for making him Mayor. The City Attorney is doing what is required by law with no personal or political agenda. I still ask John not to resign. Keep your voting authority on important City issues.

4-1 Consent Calendar Vote
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4-1 Consent Calendar Vote

Let’s have a 4-1 Consent Calendar vote and be done with it so that John Duran has no opportunity to launch an endless diatribe. The residents of this city will never get back the time and energy that John Duran has robbed from us in his fabricated service.

4-1 Consent Calendar Vote
Guest
4-1 Consent Calendar Vote

Neglected to say that was a 4-1 Consent Calendar Vote on all five items recommended by Attorney Mike Jenkins with no discussion. Then direct Duran to sit in the corner like an incorrigible adolescent and to speak only when spoken to until the next election or his resignation.

Weho123
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Weho123

His use of the mayors title on road trips to elicit sex makes it clear that the council should remove from all city business. What can censure do except give a criminal attorney a chance to twist the story.

Fed Up
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Fed Up

He just needs to show some class and resign. Stop this circus. It isn’t the John Duran Show. Or it shouldn’t be any longer!

Michael G
Guest
Michael G

Amazing that Lauren Meister and John D’Amico aren’t demanding that John Duran resign from the WEHO City Council?

Of course John Heilman won’t ask his “pay for play” development buddy John Duran to step down.

I give Lindsay Horvath credit for asking Duran to go. Vote for her.

But a no vote for the Duran two – D’Amico and Meister.

Alan Strasburg
Guest
Alan Strasburg

It appears that some are forcing a litmus test on candidates, i.e., whether or not they have called for Duran to resign. As the adult in the room, Ms. Meister has addressed this issue quite substantially. At a candidate forum she very clearly said what she would do if she were in a similar situation (which I have absolute confidence she would not be). Later, in a statement, she made clear what she believes would be in the best interests of the city. Has she pounded her fists on the table and made demands? No, but that doesn’t make her… Read more »

Randy
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Randy

I agree that Lauren has had the most mature, sensible response to all of this.

WeHo69
Guest
WeHo69

Lauren is re-establishing what we NEED in WeHo, honest leadership! She isn’t using her platform to bully or boast, she is following the laws of both what the board is subjected to and what our city is required to do. Let me remind you that she is the one that asked the city attorney to return with, “what options are available” pertaining to Duran.
Let’s make sure that Lauren remains on City Council, we need her. I have lost my respect for Lindsey, because I think she is grandstanding.

chad
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chad

wow. weho is lucky to have an ethical city attorney who acts to stomp out corruption and sleazy behavior. i’ve heard of other city attorneys who only care about protecting and thereby covering up unethical behaviors within other city halls. good on ya, man!

Bob Lowry
Guest
Bob Lowry

All five (5) should occur.