Opinion: West Hollywood Needs to Apologize for Ed Buck and Begin to Heal

John D’Amico, left, campaigning with Ed Buck by his side

Mayor D’Amico you have been too quiet for too long.

We are not an apathetic city, and it’s time for compassion, action and a path towards healing. That path begins with an apology to the victims, families, friends, and loved ones of Ed Buck, West Hollywood’s “Donor of Death.”

The story of Ed Buck’s victims, drug use, cash and outsized political influence casts the worst possible shadow in our city’s history. And it is shameful that it has taken our Mayor John D’Amico this long, more than two years and waiting until a near third death in this predator’s apartment, to issue a statement.

And sadly, that statement (in his Facebook post a few days ago) was at best vague and ambiguous, “If proven, these charges appear to confirm

what many of us have suspected that Mr. Buck was recklessly harming members of the community.

C’mon, Mayor D’Amico! “If proven”? and “Mr. Buck”? The stories of Ed Buck’s predilections have been a well-kept dirty little secret among local activists and politicos. Rumors about Buck have been in the ether of West Hollywood political circles for decades. Most who accepted Buck’s donations and availed themselves of the benefit of his influence conveniently ignored the obvious and are guilty of aiding and abetting Ed Buck.

I personally met Buck in WeHo about a dozen years ago at the old Marco’s Coffee House on Havenhurst and Santa Monica Boulevard. I recognized him from numerous online and white paper publications and recalled that he had run for City Council a few years earlier.

We exchanged pleasantries, introduced ourselves, got our coffee, and he accompanied me on my short walk through the parking lot of the Out of the Closet thrift store (aka Vaseline Alley), a pretty cruisy spot back in the day.

As we approached the back entrance to Out of the Closet, Buck stopped, grabbed his crotch and invited me back to his apartment. I told him I wasn’t looking (for sex) and he said: “We can do other things.”

We both walked in Out of the Closet and the store manager, Steven Davis, said “Hello Mr. Buck,” and Buck waived, walked throught and out the front door. Davis, also a West Hollywood Human Services Commissioner of more than 25 years said: “You’re new in town and seem like a nice guy, that’s Ed Buck and he’s influential in politics. You’re not really his type but be careful, he’s notorious for getting young guys hooked on meth.”

Over the years Steven and I have become close friends and have recalled this encounter on numerous occasions.

There are been allegations of a violent temper and restraining orders for years. When former West Hollywood City Councilmember and Mayor Steve Martin ran alongside him in slate of candidates that includedEd Buckin 2007, the two were friends and allies.

Yet, as Martin stated in another local publication in 2017, by 2011 Ed Buck had become aggressively hostile and unstable in personal and public interactions.

“It was clearly obvious after 2007 that this guy had a serious personality disorder,” Martin said, noting that after an effort that Buck helped lead to save a local historic resource didn’t go exactly as he planned, the activist became “erratic and unpredictable.”

When asked if he and other colleagues suspected drug abuse as a possible cause for Buck’s hostile behavior, Martin’s answer was definitive:

“Everyone knew it,” Martin said. “It’s bullshit if they say they didn’t. It was like a family; you know, everyone in the family knew it. There were people who embraced it and they were, frankly, members of City Council. They knew Ed had a lot of problems; they knew Ed was a controversial member of the community.”

No one was more devoted to John D’Amico or campaigned more vocally for him in his first election than WeHo’s “Donor of Death, “ Ed Buck. In 2011, Buck teamed up with John D’Amico in his initial bid for office and organized a “Fur Free WeHo” campaign to aid in D’Amico’s pursuit of a city council seat.

They marched thru West Hollywood side by side, conducting rallies together, with Buck holding up his megaphone high in the air, attached to the microphone D’Amico held in his hand.

The issue inspired volunteers, who walked precincts with Buck and made phone calls to support D’Amico’s legislative agenda, sending him into office with a landslide and a mandate.

After D’Amico won, he rewarded Buck, his staunchest supporter, by bringing forward West Hollywood’s controversial “fur ban” which Buck lobbied vigorously for. It created the ban on retail fur sales, which everyone familiar with local politics knew the ban was Buck’s brainchild.

In addition to the ban enhancing Buck’s reputation locally, it also catapulted him to prominence on the national stage with USA Todayquoting Buck as saying,

“This is monumental…a sea change in the [animal rights] movement.”

Donor of Death Ed Buck had scores of victims, and it’s truly disturbing to read how many politicos curried his favor. Until the death of his first “reported” victim, Gemmel Moore, Buck was on the steering committee of the Stonewall Democrats.

It would be the right thing to do, and a step towards healing these brutal wounds and offering solace and closure to the families of Buck’s victims, if Mayor John D’Amico, once a close ally of Buck, turned his apathy towards empathy and offered a formal apology in the form of a proclamation to the family and friends of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean.

The Creative City needs to be an Honest, Transparent and Compassionate City.

  1. I am surprised the friends of Ed Buck,especially the West Hollywood city council ones, did not think to check the background of this Buck fellow.They could have asked around, since West Hollywood is such a small city. They would have discovered the many eccentricities of this fellow and simply backed away from him.

    Steve Martin stated that Ed Buck was becoming unstable as far back as 2011,so anyone who took the time to check him out then could have known what they were in for.

    1. Thank you for listening to and reading the facts and written statements. It is Trumpian for these politicians to say they were clueless. They are either lying or oblivious to what was going on around them. Either way, it’s disgraceful.
      It was in their interest to take his money and avail themselves of his political clout. No one more so than our Mayor, John D’Amico. He just wanted to win an election at any and all costs. Hence, convenient to ignore the Donor of Death’s obvious deviant and diabolical nature.

      1. Marco, just because you knew about it, or had heard rumors from the guy at “Out of the Closet” does not mean, or prove, that D’Amico knew it. You are making a supposition based on your personal experience, even if you might be correct. You had heard that he “gets young guys hooked on meth.” Maybe D’Amico had not heard that, or maybe he knew Buck was a drug addict, and thought that was the extent of it. If it was the latter, was he supposed to not associate with him in any way? I have friends who have addictions, and I try to be there for them, but I don’t disassociate myself from them, based on that alone. I would, if I thought they were doing things that were negatively affecting other people’s lives, like “getting young guys hooked on meth,” or distributing or shooting people up with it. Before you pass judgment, perhaps you should find out what D’Amico knew.

        Regardless, where do we draw the line? Should HRC and Obama issue a public apology, also? Should all progressive political causes who took money from Buck do the same?

        Maybe you should find out what people knew before you make a proclamation on who they should handle a situation like this.

        1. If I were the Mayor who took contributions, support, campaigned alongside of and was that closely allied to someone, I hope I would look into who I was “getting to bed with.” During the time of the “fur-ban” campaign, it was well known that the “Donor of Death” was threatening community members, some of whom had to obtain Restraining Orders against him. Subsequently two men died of Meth, overdosing in his apartment.

          Later, D’Amico for political cover decided to distance himself. It all seems very self serving.
          Taking at least $500. in cash and countless thousands of dollars in political capital from this alleged purveyor of drugs and death was prudent for D’Amico to win his first City Council bid.

          Mayor D’Amico’s donation of a paltry $25. to a fund for the late Gemmel Moore was an insult to his memory and his family. It also speaks volumes about D’Amico’s compassion and his measure as a human being.

          1. Marco, however it “seems” to you, have you actually talked to the Mayor about this subject? If you read below, you will see that his contributions have gone far beyond a $25 donation. More-so than probably most people who live in this city. And, once again, how do you know what D’Amico knew when he was working with Buck to get elected? I’m not an expert on how “well known” it was that there were restraining orders against Buck, while D’Amico was working with him on the fur ban campaign. I’ll take you word on that, but, once again, have you talked to Mayor D’Amico about this, to see what he has to say, or what he knew? Before you made your call to action?

            Mayor D’Amico commented about this subject back in January: (https://www.wehoville.com/2019/01/09/opinion-blood-money-call-action/)

            “Mito. Thank you for this. It is an interesting question … What is the responsibility and response when a donor has shown him or her self to represent qualities that are not consistent with the candidate’s values? This is one possible response. Mr. Buck donated to my campaigns 9 and 5 years ago and those dollars were spent on those campaigns. I have not asked nor would I accept donations for this 2019 campaign from him.

            Keith and I have donated many times the amount you have listed each year for decades to extraordinary organizations that help people right here in our community. Organizations like APLA, the Alliance for Housing and Healing, the LALGBT center, APLA, the Group Psychotherapy Association, the Rape treatment center, The CALARTS fund, Poor Dog Group, the ASPCA, The Sierra club, and on and on. It is part of who we are and I would guess part of who all the councilmembers are.

            We are all disturbed by these actions and want justice to be served. I have and the entire city council has called for an open, transparent and thorough investigation by the new Sheriff Villanueva – into this case and the Gemmel Moore case. We expect that to happen.”

  2. In 2009 I emailed John D’Amico about the trouble Ed Buck was causing. I asked John D’Amico to return Ed Buck’s donation money. I also asked John Duran to return Buck’s money. They both blocked me on Facebook. I used John Duran’s office to get a Restraining Order against Ed Buck in 2009. Duran then took several large donations from Buck. I heard a lot from John D’Amico’s partner Keith Rand a bout how D’Amico needs Buck’s money to get on the city council. Duran has not been fit to serve West Hollywood nor is John D’Amico. They play amateur games with Donors’ money. Personally I think they are horrible people not suited or objective enough to hold any office. We need D’Amico to resign.

    1. Interesting because John D’Amico told me as recently as two days ago that he had no idea of any behavioral issues with the Donor of Death until recently.
      From Mayor D’Amico’s text to me a few days ago
      “The Ed I knew 10 years ago is not this one. We lost touch a long time ago. I never knew this Ed a drug using Ed. If you and Steve and everyone else did I’m not sure what to say.” – John D’Amico
      It’s confounding and politically convenient, I guess.
      Thanks for speaking up, Mark.

    2. Thanks for your comment. We should also thank the Sky Gods for Ed Buck being arrested. Great to have him off the street. But also super to now open that the West Hollywood’s Pandora’s box of corruption.

      John Duran and John D’Amico. Do West Hollywood a favor. And resign tomorrow night.

      It’s only gonna get worse if you stay. Starting with exposing that John Duran has over $100,000 in Federal Tax Liens. And he’s the chairman of an organization receiving donations.

      You can’t make this stuff up.

    3. I agree. Corruption at WH city hall is nothing new. The very first mayor went to prison for embezzlement. They need to clean house there and impeach Duran and the other who supported Ed Buck. Shameful!!!!

  3. No one needs to apologize for Ed Buck but himself. While it’s not great that politicians took donations from him he did what he did. I hope he rots in jail forever.

  4. Hi Steve and Other Readers/Commenters,
    My op-ed called for John D’Amico, as our Mayor and in consideration of his previously close relationship to the Donor of Death (I refuse to mention his name in respect to his victims) to step forward with more action in an effort to heal brutal wounds and offer solace to the city, victims, their friends and families. It was not an attack on D’Amico but simply a statement of facts.

    Much to his credit, Mayor D’Amico reached out to me last night, basically saying he’s done as much as he could and I simply said, “I think you can do more and should do more.” I left the option of how or what up to him.

    In giving this much consideration, I have a suggestion as to a next and impactful step Mayor D’Amico and City Council can take at their next scheduled meeting. I propose that the City of West Hollywood present a Certificate of Recognition to Jasmyne Cannick, the activist and prominent communications/PR strategist in recognition of her relentless efforts and compassion on behalf of the victims and their families in the pursuit of justice.

    1. Marco: It appears you just want to wrap up the Ed Buck affair Into a tight little package not to hurt the Old White Boys Club reputation that runs Boys-town. Suggesting the WEHO Student Council give Jasmyne Cannick some certificate. Isn’t she good enough to have the key to the city like Stormy Daniels?

      Your pitch sounds like John Duran covering his tracks, preaching his standard multicultural platform in a city that’s right out of pre-apartheid South Africa and whiter than the movie La La Land. The LA DA may be dumb enough to think we’re buying that tripe she was pitching about WEHO and the sheriff doing a great job after 24 months. But now it’s in the hands of President Trump’s DOJ.

      You address WEOville like it’s some hometown blog. Unfortunately, Ed Buck is not a local issue. Search “Ed Buck” on Google. There are over 240 million results. Do you think this is going to go away. It’s gonna be a book, a documentary, true crime show and possibly a movie. There’s already three satirical YouTube videos talking about Buck being knocked off like Epstein.

      Ed Bucks apartment house is already on the Hollywood Tours and I’m sure the spiel will turn into: “You touring racist West Hollywood.” If Ed Buck, a Democrat Donor, had overdosed two white men, he would be on death row at San Quinten.

      Marco, please correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t Duran introduce D’Amico to his then client and friend Ed Buck?

      1. I don’t know who introduced who but my call is for WeHo to do more to comfort the victims, friends and their families. In case you didn’t know it, I broke the story of Gemmel Moore before anyone was covering this. I’m also the only WeHo resident who went to Gemmel’s funeral service and I am friends and in touch with LaTisha Nixon, Gemmel’s mother.

        Jasmine Cannick’s activism and compassion should be celebrated, for without it, the Donor of Death might not have been brought to justice.

        As for WEHOville, they provide world class journalism for our small City with experience, integrity and consummate professionalism.

      2. I lived in weho over 20 years and say the same..|I still own property there and will be back..but always so amazed how city council members and others participated in all this meth and sex stuff..this was around 2008 and 2015. I remember the mayor at the time John something with another council member..I think Duran…did the whole party seen..I even met ed in several council meetings and was encourage to be on his good side for business…Just never thought it was this gross…Sending my prayers to the victims

  5. This op ed, a hit piece on John D’Amico, has left out the West Hollywood elephant in the room when it comes to Ed Buck: John Duran.

    Duran was Buck’s attorney. He also donated to Duran for his LA County Board of Supervisors and WEHO City Council campaigns. Of course he knew what Buck was up to sexually, and has been in touch with Buck from day one.

    Duran appeared like he was still representing Buck at a WEHO City Council meeting after the murder. Duran was irritated when Gemel’s mother and supporters implored the Sheriff’s to let the other hustlers involved with Buck report their own experiences without fear of being arrested themselves. Duran delivered a very foreboding pitch, warning potential witnesses if they we’re involved in anything illegal, they could face criminal charges.

    With the recent Chris Winters revelation, we learned Duran appointed a convicted felon to serve on a WEHO Commission. Duran also appointed another convicted felon to the East Side Committee. A lawyer who was chairman of the WEHO Library Foundation is representing Eric Bauman, former Democrat California Party Chair for allegations of sexual harassment. Buck is also a friend of Bauman’s. I’m sure there’s more to come according to the DOJ attorney who spoke at the recent Buck press conference.

    Of course there are Duran’s never ending sub-scandals: Duran’s $100 thousand in Fed tax liens; the half a million dollar sexual-harassment lawsuit; the Los Angeles Gay Men’s sex and racist ordeal; the D.A. charges for misusing City meal expenses, etc. Plus, I’m sure the Latino Political Committee he chairs wouldn’t be happy learn about his tax liens, especially since it’s a charity organization taking in donations. More great PR for West Hollywood just like Stormy Daniels Day.

    Don’t make D’Amico the scapegoat for the Ed Buck affair.

    It’s time for Duran to resign from the West Hollywood City Council. He’s more than an embarrassment, he is a reincarnation of Mickey Cohen.

  6. Hey Marco, isn’t this a bit heavy handed and unfair to John D’Amico? In retrospect Buck was someone looking for validation so he embraced a number of causes, “Save Tara”, the Fur Ban and Democratic politics, which became vehicles to feed his need for importance. Buck used D’Amico more than D’Amico used Buck on the fur ban issue. When you work grassroots campaigns you work with whoever is on your side. If D’Amico owes an apology to the community it would be for his endorsement of John Duran for re-election after the City had paid out the $500,000 sexual harassment settlement to Ian Owens. For a guy that ran on a platform of bringing integrity to City Hall, that endorsement sure smacked of hypocrisy. But Marco you are correct that this little town is a bit too incestuous and personal/political relationships tend to trump ethical considerations and limit our ability to speak truth to power. Thanks for your insights.

  7. I knew Ed Buck in the 90’s but I knew him only as Buck. I did not know his last name and really didn’t care. I would see him around different areas cruising or at a bar occasionally. In 1995 he was a desirable man. He looks nothing like he does today. We all get old but I would never in a million year’s recognize him as the person I knew in the 90’s. I ONLY realized who he was recently by the apartment he resides in. He has lived there since forever. I was like OMG that is Buck!!!!! I never knew him well but he knew who I was and came to my apartment on Olive Drive once and brought a gorgeous Italian young man with him. Buck brought him over because he thought we would hit if off. Buck left and he was right about his friend and I. That was the last time I saw him probably in 1996.

    I moved to San Diego in 1998 and forgot all about Buck AKA Ed Buck. I am embarrassed for West Hollywood city council for not distancing themselves from this demented individual who is alleged to have killed 2 people that we know of and to have nearly killed another recently. John Duran is friends with Ed Buck, and it sounds like so was Steve Martin, who I have known since the 80’s. He is usually such a good judge of someone character being a criminal lawyer and all. I am shocked!!!!! I hope these council members still in office get the boot for looking the other way at this dangerous killer they called a friend. VERY troubling!!!!!!!

  8. The fact that Ed Buck this supposed “millionaire” and “affluent donor”, essentially a single white male of above-average income who lived in and benefited from a $500 a month rent controlled apartment while many (all?) of his economically disadvantaged African American victims were homeless, should tell you not only the perversion of Ed Buck as a human being, but the perversion of
    West Hollywood rent control policy.

    Simply put, the money Ed Buck should have been paying in fair market rent each month went instead for (1) political bribes to his left wing co-conspirators who perpetuate this perverse rent control sham; (2) for hard drugs and cash payments to his homeless victims to lure them into his rat’s nest. Even if his landlord knew of Buck’s sick routines before the first senseless death, based on “just cause” eviction laws his landlord was powerless to rid his building of this scourge of Ed Buck.

    A rent control program with no economic means test is 100% corruption at its core. Study after study have documented that single white males of above average income are the winners in rent control programs with no economic means test.

    Congratulations on many levels, West Hollywood!!!

    1. It is strange to hear Buck had millions while living in a rent controlled apartment. I mean if I had millions I certainly would NOT reside in a rather average at best apartment building. Something is not right about his wealth. The Buck I knew in the 90’s didn’t have 2 cents to rub together. Just getting by like the majority of people renting apartments in that area.

  9. Excellent article. I think that West Hollywood should build a public memorial for the victims of Laurel Ave. We have a memorial for Matthew Shepard, which we should have, but the Laurel Ave. victims memorial is a very local issue and hopefully it will bring more awareness about drug use. It would also show that West Hollywood is not the racist place for which it has become known. I will be happy to be the first contributor by donating $500.00 for a memorial

  10. Wehoville deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Buck story front and center, Gemmel Moore’s family deserves lots of credit for fighting for justice and to see that what happened to Gemmel never happens again to anybody else… But it did. The one thing I know in this equation is Heilman was silent, Horvath was outspoken and did not curry any favors, Meister showed up at rallies and Duran protected and coddled Buck for years and years and years. As for D’Amico I do buy his argument about returning Buck’s donations to other charities and the fur ban proved to be a winning issue. Buck cared more about animals than people. But D’Amico or Duran or Heilman never took the strong lead against Buck. That title belongs to Lindsey Horvath. She took nothing except harassment and threats from Buck and came out the winner.

    1. Not a fan of Miss. Horvath but sincerely appreciate her outspokenness RE this alleged dangerous killer praised & loved so much by Duran, Heilman, D’Amico & Meister for his love for dogs. Meanwhile he was alleged to have been murdering innocent young men in an apartment of horrors on Laurel Ave. This just shows the hypocrisy in city hall. Hopefully these council members will be taken to task upon election day and/or impeached for the pure negligent behavior. Shameful!!!!!!!

    2. Yes Lindsey Horvath was outspoken and judicious in calling for the authorities to investigate rather than following the crowds lynching mentality. As outrageous as Bucks behavior is, the idea of lynching him independent of the d.a.’s decisión was inappropriate. The truth is that these young men who were victimized made very poor life choices and willingly went to Bucks apartment to be paid for sex and drug use. While Bucks moral culpability was always clear there was always a question of his legal responsibility and we need to leave it to the authorities to figure it all out.

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