John Duran Says He Will Give Up His Title as Mayor of West Hollywood, But Not Leave the City Council

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John Duran being sworn in as mayor pro tem in 2017 (Photo by Jon Viscott, courtesy of the City of West Hollywood)

John Duran took to Facebook this morning to announce that he is stepping down as mayor of West Hollywood but is not resigning from the City Council.

Duran’s announcement comes 12 hours ahead of tonight’s City Council meeting, which had been expected to be as contentious as the last one where local residents and activists showed up to demand that Duran resign as mayor or leave the City Council.  Duran several days ago had told friends he would not attend that meeting. In his Facebook post he implied that his health was the excuse for that. 

Duran cited the need to have himself checked for possible blood clots as the reason for not attending the Feb. 19 City Council meeting.That meeting attracted a number of local television reporters to chronicle demonstrations outside the City Council Chambers by groups such as the #MeToo women’s rights movement and Justice4Gemmel and statements before the Council by local residents demanding that Duran be ousted.

A revived John Duran out at the movies last week

The complaints about Duran are based on allegations that he engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, whose board he has chaired, 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.

“I continue to work with my doctors to try and get my blood and body in the right balance,” Duran wrote on Facebook this morning. “I am supposed to slow down to half speed and rest for the next 30 days. I was in the hospital for one week and that did help me slow down since I couldn’t get very far with an IV in my arm.

“I am handing the Mayor’s gavel to my friend John D’Amico as the Mayor Pro Tem to fill the remaining two months of my Mayor’s term. I am not resigning from council and will complete this term which expires in November of 2020.

“My sobriety and God come first. My health comes next. And then my love of family and dear friends. I have my priorities in the right order.

“Being sick is always a great teaching moment about who loves me and how many dear friends I have. So grateful to be so blessed. SO – I am on the mend. And will be back as feisty as ever very soon.”

Duran’s announcement that he is giving up his role as mayor, a largely ceremonial title that rotates among Council members every 12 months, leaves the City Council tonight with the task of deciding whether it should take other steps to rebuke him for his alleged sexual misconduct and controversial statements.

City Attorney Mike Jenkins has made clear that the City Council cannot remove Duran from office. “Under California law, councilmembers answer to their constituents, not to their colleagues,” Jenkins said in a memo to the Council. “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.

But in his memo, Jenkins lists five actions the City Council can take if it wants to publicly rebuke Duran:

1)The Council can remove Duran as mayor, something that will no longer be on the agenda given his decision this morning to give up that position.

2) The Council can deny Duran the privilege of traveling on city business with his expenses paid by the city. 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 pass a resolution censuring Duran for his behavior. That resolution must be presented to Duran and he must be given an opportunity to rebut it before the Council can vote on it.

The evening will be especially challenging for Councilmembers D’Amico, Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister, all of whom up for re-election on Tuesday. Do they run the risk of offending supporters of Duran by not officially reprimanding him for his alleged misconduct? Or by not acting will they upset others who have declared the allegations an embarrassment to the City of West Hollywood?

To date, both D’Amico and Meister have said they think Duran should give up his honorific title as mayor, but neither has said whether they agree with residents demanding that Duran resign his City Council seat.  Councilmember Horvath also has said Duran should step down as mayor.  However, she appears to be waffling over whether he should leave the Council altogether, supporting that move in a post on Facebook and a comment at the Feb. 19 City Council meeting and then later saying that’s not her position, prompting a request from City Hall for a correction to a WEHOville story that said it was her position. (Horvath has yet to respond to WEHOville requests for some clarity).


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jamie gonzalez
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jamie gonzalez

If Trump can get away w/ multiple affairs (and paying them off w. hush money) and people just shrug their shoulders, why are people making such a big deal of what Duran does in his free time? Did he sexually assault or demean city employees while working?

People need to get off their high horses. I guarantee you that 98% of his detractors have done similar or worse things.

Drake M.
Guest
Drake M.

While I’ve never worked with or met Duran (I’ve only seen him at my gym) I can attest to a West Hollywood culture that is at times blissfully unaware of how oversexed and unnerving it can be to some of us more serious-minded types. I’m young and decent-looking (at least enough to be invited to a few of Bryan Singer’s parties) and I get as horny as the next guy, but there’s nothing worse than coming to work and dealing with bawdy sex humor from rich & powerful men, gay or straight. In West Hollywood, particularly the older crowd, “sexual… Read more »

Yala Buy
Guest
Yala Buy

John Duran, just resign. Enough is enough. You continue to be an embarrassment to all of us in West Hollywood to the entire country.

Tom Smart
Guest
Tom Smart

Exhaustingly smug donkeys rear end comes to mind.

Robin
Guest
Robin

Duran: just walk away with whatever shred of dignity you may still possess. God is giving you (another) chance. However, as a WeHo constituent, I’m not as willing to.

To current and future council members:
please do your work to see that the city mechanisms are in place to remove any future (God forbid) parasite such as we have had with Duran.
As for behavior of all WeHo politicos—step up, stop being such babies and voice your opinions and positions with PRIDE and ownership. You can’t be half in and half out. This is West Hollywood!!

A Concerned Citizen
Guest
A Concerned Citizen

If people really want him off the Council, a recall petition is a possibility. It is a tough proposition, and requires 20% of all registered city voters to sign a petition. That’s about close to what we see in voter turnout. So if an effort is made to recall him, tomorrow is the day. Tables/clipboards/signs outside of election places (not sure if this is legally allowed). Otherwise, it is a knocking on door to door operation, or random tables on SMB. And would probably take a great deal of time. If people are truly serious about getting him off the… Read more »

enemyofthestate
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enemyofthestate

This is a start.

Sa-yo-na-ra, Duran.

Jonathan H. Dowling
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Jonathan H. Dowling

Well now it’s time for a recall campaign. Like Donald Trump, John Duran is unfit for public office.

hifi5000
Guest
hifi5000

Well, it’s about time!! John Duran did the right thing by resigning the mayor’s post.Continuing on meant more distraction and controversy, something the city doesn’t need right now.

Now up in the air is the political future of the council members who did not take a stand on Mr. Duran.This will have to be left up to the West Hollywood voters to decide their fate as it should be.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

Good luck to John. Take care of your health first. Then please come back, We need your progressiveness as our City Council Member. Please ignore the haters. As you know, they ganged up on me for the past year after learning I was running for City Council and that I am a former porn performer. Don’t give them ay power by allowing them to affect you. This City needs strong people like you to help navigate us into the future. I will be running again in 2020, if I don’t win tomorrow and I hope you do too.

Ethical Behavior
Guest
Ethical Behavior

An ethical disposition and behavior is central to any individual’s core that hopes to enjoy good health, sobriety, good friends and family. One cannot separate from this virtue without risk. That also includes “the appearance of unethical disposition and behavior”. One needs a personal governor for wise decisions and to be a responsible member of society at any level. Wise decision for Duran to step aside as acting mayor. It would be wise for the remaining council members to agree with the following four options and be done with it. That can be part of Duran’s plan for ethical sobriety.… Read more »

Daniel Kinske
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Daniel Kinske

West Hollywood is run by a bunch of sanctimonious prudes. These pitch-fork commenters must be straight people–you sure sound like the straights. Not voting for any of these Brown Act council members. Don’t expect a parade held for you jerks.