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 included Ed Buck in 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 Today quoting 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.


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Gimmeabreak
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Gimmeabreak

Can we reverse the fur ban now?

hifi5000
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hifi5000

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.

Marco Colantonio
Guest
Marco Colantonio

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.

Randy
Guest
Randy

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,… Read more »

Marco Colantonio
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Marco Colantonio

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… Read more »

Randy
Guest
Randy

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… Read more »

Mark Hefferan
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Mark Hefferan

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… Read more »

Marco Colantonio
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Marco Colantonio

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.

Michael Grace
Guest
Michael Grace

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.

Marco Colantonio
Guest
Marco Colantonio

Wait until the trial begins. You ain’t heard nothing yet!

Concerned for West Hollywood
Guest
Concerned for West Hollywood

Totally agree. Both Duran and D’Amico need to go.

George
Guest
George

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!!!!

Jason
Guest
Jason

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.

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

Those donations were years ago. How did they know he was a horrible man?

Mark Hefferan
Guest
Mark Hefferan

They knew Ed Buck from Gay AA meetings in 1998.

Marco Colantonio
Guest
Marco Colantonio

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,… Read more »

Michael Grace
Guest
Michael Grace

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… Read more »

Marco Colantonio
Guest
Marco Colantonio

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… Read more »

Sandra Juanita Ellis
Guest
Sandra Juanita Ellis

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

kab1200
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kab1200

Baloney, absurd.

Michael Grace
Guest
Michael Grace

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… Read more »

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

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… Read more »

Larry H
Guest
Larry H

Let’s talk about your friend Duran’s relationship with Buck.

George
Guest
George

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!!!!!… Read more »

Constituent
Guest
Constituent

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… Read more »

George
Guest
George

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.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest

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

Randy
Guest
Randy

Excellent idea, and it should be right there on Laurel, at Laurel Park.

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

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… Read more »

George
Guest
George

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!!!!!!!

Robert Zabb
Guest
Robert Zabb

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.

Brian Hamilton
Guest
Brian Hamilton

Hear, hear!