City Council Will Consider Whether to Censure John Duran at Monday’s Meeting

John Duran

In what may be one of its most difficult decisions in years, the West Hollywood City Council on Monday will consider whether to censure fellow Councilmember John Duran for statements he has made in response to allegations of sexual misconduct by him.

The censure resolution was drafted by City Attorney Mike Jenkins after a request by the Council at its March 4 meeting that initially was opposed by Jenkins and Councilmember John Heilman. Heilman cited the contentious atmosphere that would be created by the Council’s discussion of the resolution, which Duran has the right to contest.

The censure resolution states that “Councilmember John Duran has made statements in response to allegations of inappropriate behavior that are contrary to the City’s policies and values. Specifically, Councilmember Duran has made statements:

“1. that suggest that there is a different standard of appropriate workplace behavior for gay men;

“2. that attempt to publicly shame his accusers;

“3. that include derogatory remarks about the ethnicity and physical appearance of his

accusers; and

“4. that trivialize alleged misconduct with a former employee that resulted in a

settlement between the City and former employee.

The statements referred to in the resolution stem from Duran’s response that he engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct with members of the Gay Mens Chorus of Los Angeles, a non-profit group whose board he chaired for years. In the midst of outcries from GMCLA members and #MeToo activists, Duran resigned from his position as board chair and said he will leave the board in June.

Duran has denied the allegations, which were made by three young members of the Chorus.  One accused Duran of sticking his fingers down his underwear.  The others accused Duran of inappropriately touching them or making sexually inappropriate comments, given his leadership of the organization.

Duran has defended himself by saying the allegations could not be proved. Confronted with other allegations such as using his position as Mayor of West Hollywood to solicit sex on Grindr, the gay hookup app, Duran has argued that the sexual behavior standards that heterosexual men are supposed to adhere to in the workplace and elsewhere do not apply to gay men.  West Hollywood, he has claimed in a radio interview about the allegations, is a “sex-based” city.

While private investigators hired by GMCLA could not verify accusations of misconduct by Duran, an investigator hired by the City of West Hollywood to look into allegations of misbehavior by City Council deputies did conclude that Duran made inappropriate comments.

In a lawsuit filed against Duran and the City of West Hollywood, Ian Owens, Duran’s Council deputy, said Duran told him “I would bottom for you any day.”  Duran confirmed that he had hired Owens after meeting him on Grindr and having sex with him.  The city settled that lawsuit, without admission of guilt by either the city or Duran, with a payment of $500,000 to Owens.

Duran has confirmed, and apologized, for a statement he said he made not long ago to Steve Holzer, the current GMCLA board chair, about Jason Tong, the young Asian man who had accused Duran of sticking his fingers down his pants.

“I was like, ‘who the hell is Jason Tong?’ I’d never heard of this guy,” Duran said in an interview with a local writer for a blog called WeHo Times who is a friend of his. “He said he’d only been in the chorus for four months. He’s brand new. I told Steve, ‘I would confess if it was true. I’d never met this guy. I’d never spoken to him. I looked him up on Facebook and of course, he’s a skinny Korean kid with pimples on his cheek and I was like, ‘Steve, come on. Look at this guy. It’s just not happening. It’s not credible. I’d never even talked to him. I have no idea who this is’.”

That statement drew criticism from a number of LGBT organizations, including API Equality-LA, an Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQ community organization,  which called on Duran to resign from the City Council immediately “amid his racist remarks towards the API LGBTQ community and accusations of sexual harassment.”

The City Council resolution notes that the city’s policies “ specify that individuals who report or witness sexual harassment are to be treated with respect and dignity and should be free from any form of retaliation … (and) specify that all individuals have a right to be free from sexual harassment regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity and these policies apply to all city employees and city officials without exception.

It also references the damage that some Council members believe Duran has done to the city’s reputation. “John Duran, as a Councilmember and an activist, is a well-known leader within the community and should understand the importance of living up to the high standards and heightened responsibilities expected of elected leaders in the City of West Hollywood,” it says.

The resolution acknowledges Duran’s right to express himself however he wants.  But, it says, “Councilmember Duran has engaged in conduct and made statements contrary to city policy and conducted himself in a manner that demeans the office of Councilmember in the City of West Hollywood and for that we have concluded it is necessary to voice our rebuke.”

At its March 4 meeting, which Duran did not attend, the City Council voted unanimously to deny Duran the right to travel on city business at city expense for one year, to deny him reimbursement for city-related expenses for one year and to remove him from a subcommittee appointed to oversee the city’s involvement with Christopher Street West, the non-profit that hosts the annual L.A. Pride event. It also asked the City Manager or someone under his purview to review Duran’s official emails and to sit in on any meetings Duran has with an employee at City Hall, an apparent response to allegations that Duran has made sexually inappropriate comments to city employees.

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


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Ham
Guest
Ham

The only thing West Hollywood does well………is issue parking tickets. Other than that it’s the laughing stock of the country.

And this tool of a Mayor sure doesn’t help.

Catherine Citizen
Guest
Catherine Citizen

Everyone calling for censure or removal in these comments should attend the Monday council meeting and make their opinions known.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

Honestly, that photo of him creeps me out.

TheRealZam
Guest

That’s why they used it.

Puh-lease.
Guest
Puh-lease.

Please! Spare the “insurance” argument. BS. If I drunkenly ram my car into a parked car, and my insurance pays for it, does that absolve me of guilt? Does it mean I didn’t do x$ in damage? That logic is so flawed.

Duran’s 2011 WEHO scandal.
Guest
Duran’s 2011 WEHO scandal.

Please remember the City of West Hollywood was also going to defend John Duran against charges made by the Los Angeles District Attorney. This was the 2011 WEHO City Hall credit card scandal involving Duran and the City Manager.

https://www.laweekly.com/news/west-hollywood-city-manager-paul-arevalo-appears-to-be-second-big-spender-in-city-credit-card-scandal-2385845

TheRealZam
Guest

Phuh-lease you do not understand how the applicable type of insurance works. In most cases when insurance companies settle these cases they use the estimated cost of defense. Lawyers are expensive and the party responsible for the event rarely so the cost of defending this case would have been in the six figures. They also rely on overall statistics relating to overall outcomes in these types of cases. Further, the potential maximum settlement settlement is another major factor. Think of it this way: A: Costs of non-legal insurance company resources: $40k B: Cost of city resources: $40k plus the fact… Read more »

DURAN MUST RESIGN
Guest
DURAN MUST RESIGN

Ex-Mayor John Duran’s arrogance and behavior have left a trail of negative media attention and publicity for West Hollywood. Any other politician, straight or gay, Republican or Democrat, would have resigned when the “new” sexual harassment issues surfaced recently but not Duran. The community must force Duran to resign. By demonstrating and showing up at the meeting. Hold up the “Duran Must Resign” signs so the WEHO enablers – Heilman, the City Manager, and Mayor D’Amico along with Duran are squirming in their seats. Remembering its April Fool’s Day, expect to see Stormy Daniels, and her recently Federally indited attorney,… Read more »

William Seegmiller
Guest

Duran should be censured. This is a pretty even handed rebuke, all things considered in their appropriate weight.

On another tip- “Not hiring someone you slept with”? I can only say “I wish you luck”. Lol. Don’t knock on some people’s bread and butter. We are WeHo for a reason!

Bread & Butter
Guest
Bread & Butter

Would you mind explaining your last statement:”We are WeHo for a reason”? And the bread and butter comment?

William Seegmiller
Guest

There’s room for sexuality in working relationships, it’s even inevitable. Aka Bread and butter.

The concern is about transparency, acknowledging power differentials, and ultimately CONSENT. That’s the conversation I’m interested in having.

As much as Hank stokes outrage with that “sex-based City” quote (used grossly out of context), Duran isn’t wrong to acknowledge our history and to celebrate sex positivity as a core value of our town. Aka we are Weho for a reason.

John Fitzgerald Keitel
Guest
John Fitzgerald Keitel

Oh, William, please! You had me until, “Duran isn’t wrong to acknowledge our history.” Since you’ve called Hank out for placing a quote “grossly out of context,” I am going to request that you specify exactly what history you’re referring to AND how John Duran’s boorish behavior aligns with either it or “sex positivity.” In all seriousness, pray tell, how does one actually celebrate sex positivity?

TheRealZam
Guest

It’s a play on the city’s nickname. WeHo is pronounced the same as “We ho.” The implication being that “we” as in those who patronize bars & events are more likely act like “ho’s” which is an anachronistic colloquialism. The the use of “ho” as a slang word initially referred to prostitutes and escorts, but later changed to anyone or any activity which involves being sexually active outside of a committed relationship as activities motivated by a desire for sexual or romantic partners. This phrase is in common use by locals, potential tourists, as anyone discussing LGBT nightlife in the… Read more »

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

The fact of the matter is that our insurance carrier believed Duran was guilty of sexual harassment and did not want the Ian Owens lawsuit to be heard by a jury. The City played a role in the spin on that settlement that allowed Duran to persist in his professing his innocence, which was detrimental to the residents and betrayed City Hall’s responsibility to protect our employees from sexual harassment. That spin combined with the City Council’s behavior as if nothing was amiss simply reinforced Duran’s belief he is special and that there are no consequences for his immature and… Read more »

Ham
Guest
Ham

get this idiot out of office. so ridiculous.

JF
Guest
JF

Duran should be censured. Absolutely.

Randy
Guest
Randy

Councilmember Duran has done all of (1)-(4) above, and he should be censured. This is irrespective of whether or not he committed sexual harassment, which I know has not been proven. That involves due process, as it should. But all of these items are public things he has done, and they are undisputed. He’s even admitted and apologized to (3). I would add a number (5): “Councilmember Duran conducted himself in an unprofessional manner, by not disclosing a prior sexual relationship with a new hire for a subordinate position to HR, putting the city at risk.” But then again, (5)… Read more »

Greg
Guest
Greg

If your behavior costs the city $500,000 it’s time to go. No other information needed.

Randy
Guest
Randy

An insurance plan paid the $500K, and he was never found guilty of sexual harassment charges. Not to say that the premium didn’t go up as a result, and that there weren’t costs to the city’s reputation. However, it was unprofessional for him to put the city at risk, and not own up to that fact. Please refer to my comment above.