WEHOville Asks John Duran to Stop Blocking It and WeHo Residents on Social Media

WEHOville has reached out to West Hollywood City Attorney Mike Jenkins to ask him to instruct City Councilmember John Duran to stop blocking some West Hollywood residents and WEHOville from access to his Facebook account.

In its request on Sunday WEHOville cites a federal court decision in 2017 in Knight v. Trump that Donald Trump, in denying his critics access to his Twitter account @realDonaldTrump, was violating the First Amendment of the Constitution. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today denied the Trump administration’s request for a review of the ruling by New York’s Second Circuit Southern District Court, meaning it remains in place. 

Duran, who is up for re-election on Nov. 3, uses his Facebook account like Trump uses his Twitter account. He posts regularly about city issues, with his posts usually opening with “Dear WEHOANS.” His Facebook page is followed by 2,587 people. But several residents have said Duran has blocked them from access to his account after they fell into a disagreement.  Larry Block, owner of the Block Party store and a candidate in the Nov. 3 City Council race, is one of a few willing to be identified publicly by WEHOville.

Duran has blocked WEHOville from access to his Facebook account following its coverage of allegations that he made sexually inappropriate remarks to young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Angeles, whose board he once chaired, and used his title of “mayor of West Hollywood” to solicit sex on Grindr. (Duran has denied the GMCLA allegations). However, Duran does link his posts to a reporter from the Los Angeles Times and to two friends of his, Karen Ocamb of the Los Angeles Blade, and Paulo Murillo of WeHo Times, whose limited coverage of the accusations against Duran by young GMCLA members has been mostly positive. Duran has sometimes mentioned WEHOville in his Facebook posts, but not by name. He most recently described WEHOville as “the reckless sensationalistic blog.” He also has pushed several WEHOville advertisers to stop, which to date has had on impact on WEHOville’s limited revenue. Local residents who Duran hasn’t blocked often copy some of his more controversial statements that they deem newsworthy and forward them to WEHOville for coverage.

In a post on the Knight First Amendment Institute’s website, Jameel Jaffer, the lawyer who argued the Knight Institute v. Trump lawsuit brought before the U.S. District Court for New York’s Southern District in 2017, described the reason behind it and why it applied to the personal social media accounts of public officials

“Public officials’ social media accounts are now among the most significant forums for discussion of government policy,” said Jaffer, who is executive director of the institute. “This decision will ensure that people aren’t excluded from these forums simply because of their viewpoints, and that public officials aren’t insulated from their constituents’ criticism. The decision will help ensure the integrity and vitality of digital spaces that are increasingly important to our democracy.”

Duran has faced other criticism of his Facebook account, where he identifies himself as “the inventor of homosexuality.” For many months after he gave up his position as mayor in March in response to controversy over his alleged sexual misconduct with young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Duran continued to claim that honorary title on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Several City Council members and local residents objected to that, one of whom wrote a letter to the City Attorney that resulted in Duran dropping that title from his profiles in July 2019.


17 Comments
  1. The headline says WEHOville is asking Duran to stop blocking residents on social media but the lead specifies his Facebook account. Does the request include Duran’s Twitter account too? Some West Hollywood residents have been blocked from Duran’s Twitter account but still have access to his Facebook page.

  2. Its unbelievable that Mr. Duran is still in office. He is a self promoting narcissistic moron.
    VOTE HIM OUT.
    All the payoffs for his sexcape’s are an outrage. Not to mention he has the worst judgment when it comes to the city and its planning

  3. I don’t want to get into the endless anti-Duran mudslinging that infests the discourse on this site, but want to focus on this issue. Specifically, I believe that he has a right to block certain individuals from showing up in his newsfeed & commenting on his posts. What’s more, he should (and can) block individuals from his ”personal” social media accounts, but this comes with an extreme caveat & in doing so he is treading a very fine line. Before you go nuts, let me elaborate.

    Any public official has a right to restrict access or keep private SOME information posted online. Yes, the sordid details of his personal life are often a matter of public discourse & have had very public consequences. Yes, he posts some of his private information in a generally public way. But, are we really so childish to argue that his Grindr profile is a matter of public record? Should photos with the children of his friends & relatives really be subject to the type of snarky comments we see here? If anything, he should be limiting his personal posts to a smaller audience and not the other way around.

    With this in mind, a lot of information should be public. The best solution would be to have a FaceBook page & dedicated accounts for public posts, but adjusting privacy options for said posts is also acceptable. If he wants to share these on his private accounts he should link to the source. sharing a copy would also be OK. On FaceBook, he just needs a page for “Councilman Duran” for things like his “WEHOANS” posts. Then he could block anyone he wants from his profile. If he doesn’t want someone posting snarky comments on his page, block them from doing so while making sure they can still see the info. Problem solved.

    1. Well said, as always. Also, with the overwhelming negative coverage of him on this site, I don’t fault him for blocking things on his own personal page from the naysayers. This is his personal page. Zam, you are correct, he should have a public page for his personal office. Another option for him is to just not make all of these posts public.

      I say this in no way as a fan of Duran.

      Also, don’t we have bigger things to worry about right now? Like a pandemic that is killing more Americans than any other Country, at this point? This seems petty.

  4. WH is a national joke…..thanks in large part to fools like this. How can a clown like this be on any city council.

  5. John Duran has always been an awesome representative. Why don’t you focus on the good he has done. He seriously has done great things. Here is the list of the general things he has done.

    CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY.
    LGBT EQUALITY.
    HEALTH & FITNESS, ADDICTION, AND RECOVERY.
    FINE ARTS AND CULTURAL EVENTS.
    AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND TENANTS’ RIGHTS.
    ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
    HISTORIC PRESERVATION.

    No one is perfect and no one should be expected to be. John has been a staple and positive force in our community.

    1. why do I suspect that you’re involved with real estate? Do you even live in West Hollywood? John Duran was an honorable leader — years (or make that decades) ago. now, he’s out of step with the times. The City has spent a fortune paying off a sexual harassment claim against him. And to give a porn star the key to the city (really — why didn’t he recommend the Parkland Kids? He takes lots of campaign money from real estate developers — conflict of interest. disgusted by his corrupt behavior.

  6. Could folks please disengage with Duran? He’s not worth the time and distraction. Even though he needs to be needed, he can become irrelevant. He sits on the dais next to a minder, like a 12 year old. Come election time, vote with your feet and perhaps we can add a stable adult to the council.

  7. John Duran is special! Like he doesn’t pay income tax on time. He has over $125,000 in tax liens. He’s unique. Because he has more tax liens than any other politician in the USA. And it’s not new, it’s a habit. His taxi liens over the years have totaled over $350,000.

    Duran obviously is not the inventor of homosexuality, but he’s created the perfect “pay for play” politician scheme – He’s invented: Don’t pay your taxes on time and still elected!

  8. While I do believe public officials are entitled to private lives John Duran uses this office for personal gain. This is not Duran bashing. He had his good day when AIDS was prevalent, problem is he didnt change w the times. His has very few new ideas and his rests on yesterday. He takes credit for the work of the city and has gotten so old and tired that he doesnt engage with resident he does not need or like.

  9. Around here, there seems to be no desire to differentiate between an elected official’s personal social media account and their voice as a public servant. In fact, the City of West Hollywood does not offer individual Facebook pages for council members to communicate in their official capacity. This is something that needs to change, considering we’ve heard only crickets from the West Hollywood City Council as this pandemic changes our lives day to day.

    1. Exactly. The real problem the lack of separation between personal and professional. We should really be focusing on this & the need for the city to give some guidance to our public officials.

  10. First, this should not take the city attorney very long to review, WEHOville did a great service by providing a path to the Federal district court ruling. But as hourly attorneys do, this will “require” additional time and billing to the city.

    Second, I’m also one of those people who have been blocked by Duran, not once, but twice for daring to express an opinion contrary to his (thin skin much?) These acts are not just exercises in political petulance, they are a violation of the obligations of transparency and communication by officeholders.

    I’m honored to note that, at least for now, Duran continues to follow me on Instagram. Hi John!

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