Sex in the City: John Duran’s Hyper Sexual Behavior Is Back As an Issue in the WeHo Council Election

His campaign signs saying “It’s Not Time for Amateurs” have been defaced to read “It’s Not Time for a Sexual Predator,” “It’s Not Time for a Developer’s BITCH,” and “It’s Not Time For a Liar.”

And now the word is circulating that another candidate in the West Hollywood City Council election is considering filing a complaint against incumbent John Duran alleging sexual harassment and inappropriate comments by him during city-related meetings.

With ballots being put in the mail on Monday for voters to choose candidates whose City Council campaigns during the COVID-10 pandemic have been unusually subdued, it looks as if the candidate who has bragged that West Hollywood is a sex-based city and that he has a more active sex life than any of his fellow Council members is once again having to face questions about his sexual conduct.

WEHOville has confirmed that Marco Colantonio has reached out to Mayor Lindsey Horvath and City Attorney Mike Jenkins to learn what steps are required to file a complaint about Duran. Colantonio is one of the seven challengers in the race for two Council seats occupied by Duran and John Heilman.

In an email message to Horvath that WEHOville obtained access to, Colantonio wrote: “After a good deal of soul-searching, I decided to avail myself of your offer to connect me with the necessary protocols for filing complaints against Councilmember Duran for sexual harassment, inappropriate comments, and conduct during meetings at City events. I assert predatory and demeaning comments were directed to me during meetings with Councilmember Duran when I had applications on file and I believe Mr. Duran used and abused his power and influence to degrade, intimidate, and sexually harass me.”

Marco Colantonio, left, with John Duran

Colantonio is said to have wanted to file his complaint so that his accusations are investigated before the Nov. 3 election. Apparently Jenkins has not yet responded. WEHOville reached out to Jenkins who replied that he could not reveal information regarding a personnel matter. WEHOville also reached out to Horvath, who did not respond.

Colantonio, who has been reluctant to share details of his complaint with WEHOville, said the lack of response from Jenkins “is the appearance of a cover-up and the potential delay of an investigation until the election is over, which concerns me. This, perhaps to ensure that incumbents, John Heilman and John Duran (the largest recipients of developer donations) are returned to office.”

Jenkins has been reluctant to take steps against Duran in the past. At the Council’s March 4, 2019, meeting, Jenkins said he was troubled with the idea of drafting the resolution censuring Duran that the other Council members demanded given that recent allegations of sexual misconduct by Duran had not been proved. Then-Councilmember (now Mayor) Lindsey Horvath reminded Jenkins that some past allegations actually had been documented by an independent investigator looking into complaints of sexual harassment by Ian Owens, Duran’s former City Council deputy. While the investigator could not corroborate Owens’ accusations of sexual harassment, he did report that Duran made inappropriate comments to city staffers. Jenkins said that case, which the city settled with a payment to Owens of $500,000, was not something he wanted to revisit.

“I have been a supporter and friend of John Duran through his ups and downs, speaking on his behalf and also against his actions, so there is no personal animus, only a desire for decency and fairness,” Colantonio told WEHOville. “On September 10, 2020, in a telephone conversation with Mayor Lindsey Horvath, I discussed my personal feelings and concerns regarding interactions with John Duran at City events and in meetings discussing City issues. Mayor Horvath offered to connect me in confidentiality should I choose to go forward.“

This is Colantonio’s first run for a seat on the City Council. He is a real estate property manager and real estate agent. He has served on the city’s Disabilities Advisory Board and expressed interest in serving on other boards and commissions to which those sitting on the City Council appoint the members.

John Duran has been the most controversial member of the West Hollywood City Council since Valerie Terrigno, the city’s openly lesbian mayor, who resigned in 1986 after being convicted of embezzling and misappropriating money in her role as CEO of Crossroads Counseling Center, an agency for the poor and homeless in West Hollywood.

Yet, as WEHOville has previously reported, despite allegations by City Hall employees and members of the Gay Mens Chorus of Duran’s sexually inappropriate contact with them, despite stories by WEHOville of Duran’s efforts to use his position as mayor in soliciting sex from gay men on Grindr, of his being censured by the City Council for his conduct (which led the Los Angeles Times to liken his behavior to that of Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump) — despite all of that Duran has amassed more than $218,819 in campaign contributions (mostly from real estate development interests.)

And he has been endorsed by leading state politicians like Assembly member Richard Bloom, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and Secretary of State Alex Padilla.  Also on his endorsement list are local residents active in civic life like Ed Levin, Jimmy Palmieri, Josh Kurpies, John Altschul, and James Duke Mason, to name a few of his many city commission and board appointees. And then there are well known local business owners and residents like Allegra Allison.

The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Political Action Committee is said to be struggling to decide whether to endorse Duran, who has portrayed himself as the most business-friendly member of the City Council and who has been the major recipient of donations from the real estate interests who are members of the Chamber. One of the PAC members is Ted Green, a lobbyist whose clients have included the controversial AKA Communities development at 8500 Sunset Blvd. Green is said to have made clear at a recent PAC meeting with candidates that he was unhappy that Larry Block, another challenger, has brought up another issue of Duran’s, which is his failure to have paid taxes over many years, resulting in major debt in the form of tax liens.

The Chamber will host a candidates forum on Oct. 6 and its PAC will announce shortly thereafter who it is endorsing. That forum is being paid for by the City of West Hollywood, which subsidizes the Chamber in various ways despite the fact that its PAC endorses candidates for the City Council and spends money to promote the election of those it endorses.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story noted that Yogurt Stop owners Marta Knittel and Shoshana Joseph.endorse John Duran for re-election. However they say they no longer do, and the story had been updated to reflect that.

5 2 votes
Article Rating

47 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lester F Aponte
Lester F Aponte
30 days ago

Every time a young male activist tells me he is going to meet John Duran, I warn him that he is likely to make inappropriate comments. Every single time he has proven me right. It is sad that these men cannot meet someone who should be a mentor to the next generation of LGBTQ leaders without being subjected to crude come ons. This is not behavior Mr. Duran is embarrassed about. He has essentially argued that, because he was part of the Gay liberation movement and is sexually liberated he is entitled to act this way. If he were anyone… Read more »

WeHo Poster
WeHo Poster
1 month ago

If I were running for office, I simply would not be horny!

Vincent Campisi
Vincent Campisi
1 month ago

John Durand’s time on the city Council should’ve ended many years ago. I believe it’s our fault for not standing up and demanding he be removed from office years ago when all of this started. Now is our chance. 🇺🇸🗳

Jay
Jay
1 month ago

Amen Vincent!

Rick Watts
Rick Watts
1 month ago

A correction to note here: While Lee Walkup is indeed a “local resident active in civic life”, his years-long service to West Hollywood is NOT as an “appointee of John Duran.” Walkup was is one of the 40 percent of Board and Commission members whose appointment and years-long service to West Hollywood is as an “at-large”/“consensus” appointee; whose service has been approved by a majority of Council members during each appointment cycle since 2009. Walkup has volunteered with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (and other civic /political organizations, & AIDS & other charities for most of his life—not… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
1 month ago

So dreary to be hostage to the exponentially debauched personal and public lives of our leaders today both locally and nationally who are in reality, simply bottom-feeders. It seems far easier to live a life of humble ideals rather than to become tangled in one’s own web. In the grand scheme of things they have missed a chance at nobility.

John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
1 month ago

Ted Green a lobbyist does not want the truth to be discussed, I think Duran is aware of the tax liens, and it is public record…Ted Green is upset over Larry Block, too much drama in WEHO

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
1 month ago

Duran is the end of a sad chapter in WH. The city has changed….and normal professional people live here now.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

“Normal” people?

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

I just mean regular working professionals…..who find this behavior appalling.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Regular working, normal, people have always lived in West Hollywood.

You have said you moved to WeHo because of its convenient location, but I sometimes wonder if you regard with some contempt the commonalities of much of our historic population, and would rather we not be here.

Observer
Observer
1 month ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Using “…normal professional people live here now” is an absolute insult to the countless professionals who have resided in West Hollywood for many decades. It seems you moved to West Hollywood not that long ago, certainly not for decades and shows in your posts. You are constantly complaining about this city while professing your love of Beverly Hills. I suggest you become engaged in the process to improve West Hollywood or, perhaps, re-locate to a community in which you’ll be happy. Beverly Hills is our next door neighbor and I can’t imagine that living there would create a serious commuting… Read more »

Jay
Jay
1 month ago
Reply to  Observer

Amen Observer and also denigrating to nonprofessional long-term residents. Classism nor welcome here.

Ham- bravo for engaging civically.
I hope the more constructive tone I recently complimented you on continues- it serves you better.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

Back in the 1990s Paul Koretz and I tried to have the City Council hire an Ombudsperson to deal with these sorts of complaints in order to avoid having to go through the City Attorney, who has an obvious conflict of interest. Needless to say the “progressives” on the City Council vetoed that idea. It just seems to me that asking a Council member to facilitate your sexual harassment complaint opens up a Pandora’s Box of ethical and political considerations.

Jay
Jay
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Hi Steve-

Thank you for your previous effort and agreed!

Art
Art
1 month ago

He’s indeed a sexual predator. Anyone voting for him is immoral or awaiting favorable paybacks should he win. Simple as that.

greeneyedboy
greeneyedboy
1 month ago
Reply to  Art

Bullseye!

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
1 month ago

A number of years ago, I think Duran was running for his second term, someone was plastering posters of him with devil’s horns. I thought it was incredibly inappropriate. And now, I don’t know if he fits the legal definition of sexual predator predator, but that is the reputation he has in a number of public “rooms” and “entertainment organizations”. I do find it highly odd that Marco has waited until now, less than 1 month before the election, to make his allegations. If they’re true, why did he wait? I’m just a say’n….

Marco Colantonio
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob Bergstein

Rob, As I told Mayor Horvath 3 weeks ago on the phone, I discussed these incidents 21 months ago via text message exchanges with another Councilmember, who sent the following message almost two years ago:
“I will check w the city manager about whether and how to report this to HR.” John D’Amico. I never heard back from anyone connected to the City of West Hollywood about this. ( I have screenshots of this exchange.) Mayor Horvath offered to facilitate connecting me with the piper protocols 2 weeks ago.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

Asking Horvath to get involved in your claim when she has endorsed another challenger in the City Council race creates a situation where she could be accused of manipulating staff for political purposes. The City supposedly does sexual harassment training for all Commission and Board members and they should be providing clear instructions on how to file a complaint.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Steve, good point. There is a protocol for this, involving non-elected politicians.

John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Where is our Ethics committee?

Randy
Randy
1 month ago

Not blaming you for their potential dysfunction, but why did you wait 18 (or 21?) months, and just about six weeks before the election to bring this up with her? Furthermore, why did you just go public with this, barely four weeks out from the election? And as Alan stated below, Councilmembers were not your only Avenue to make complaints about this, or push this along. I say this in no way of defending Duran. I’m just curious. Why did you wait so long? You announced your candidacy many months ago. You could’ve brought it up around then, or even… Read more »

Marco Colantonio
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Hi Randy, Duran’s behavior just seemed to become business as usual in West Hollywood. It has come up over and over again, even with D’Amico asking him not to troll Grindr at Council meetings.That is how predators like Roger Ailes at Fox normalized their behavior and marginalized victims for decades. When Mayor Horvath called me three weeks ago to discuss another subject, I mentioned many reasons why I believe West Hollywood needs a change in leadership and the Duran stories came out. I’ve kept them bottled up inside because I used to admire John Duran. Mayor Horvath offered to follow… Read more »

Jay
Jay
1 month ago

Hi Marco and Randy-

i appreciate the dialogue between the two of you and my sense is that you are both coming from pure places. Hope our next City Council body is more action and less distraction.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay

Jay, thank you for the nice comment, to both of us. I am most definitely coming from a pure place. I’m just trying to understand Marco’s experience, here. I have no axe to grind here. Marco, I’m sorry to keep following up on this, and I really appreciate your response. I know all about Duran’s history, watch every Council meeting, and follow the news. I’m still curious, as you stated: “When Mayor Horvath called me three weeks ago to discuss another subject, I mentioned many reasons why I believe West Hollywood needs a change in leadership and the Duran stories… Read more »

Jay
Jay
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Hi again Randy- I don’t personally know Marco, but I do feel compelled to respond generally. When I am evaluating the likely legitimacy of someone’s harassment claim, I give added weight when they have made or pursued that claim when the timing was of no discernible benefit to them. Marco says he has screenshots to back up his having done so in March 2019, prior to his candidacy, and I take him at his word. When Marco uses words like ‘bottled up’ and ‘soul searching’ to describe his feelings and thoughts, his claims also ring true from having read the… Read more »

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay

Jay, yeah, most of that works for me. Except his response directly said “When Mayor Horvath called me three weeks ago to discuss another subject, I mentioned many reasons why I believe West Hollywood needs a change in leadership and the Duran stories came out. I’ve kept them bottled up inside because I used to admire John Duran.” Taken in that context, I’m just curious. He doesn’t owe me, or anyone else a response, but it might help voters to understand the gap, and maybe what actually happened. Truth be told, most voters probably aren’t curious, and will vote Duran… Read more »

Jay
Jay
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Hi Randy-

Thank you for another thoughtful response and hope you get the answers you seek directly from Marco as he has now offered below.

I personally find it disgusting (but not surprising) that Duran is doubling down on his ‘sexual edginess’ as his ‘brand’.

Pardon me while I go take a shower to wash the ‘ick’ off and try to forget that our city is $500,000 poorer due to his sexual misconduct. The parallels with Rump, as others have pointed out, grow by the day.

Marco Colantonio
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Randy, Call me anytime and I’ll answer your questions about this and anything else regarding West Hollywood.
Marco 3234747032

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob Bergstein

Marco and Sepi have my votes!

Randy
Randy
1 month ago

No matter what people think of Duran, or what you believe or not believe, or of any other candidate, I do not think anyone should be defacing political signs, or removing them. Well, maybe it would be OK to remove one, if it was put on your property against your will. But other than that, I don’t like seeing this type of behavior in an election. What is to stop people from defacing other candidates signs, who don’t have allegations against them? This sets the wrong precedent, and it is inappropriate. Ever seen the classic indie movie “Election?” If you… Read more »

Jay
Jay
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Hi Randy-

As much as I endorse the sentiments of the defacer(s) of Duran’s signs, I must concur with your argument against the form they took.

Michael Grace
Michael Grace
1 month ago

The big backers of John Duran – developers, Chamber of Commerce leaders, businesses, politicians, or anyone – can be labeled as #taxliensupporter! They are already backing a candidate who is #antimetoo. Social media can negatively show Duran’s upfront supporters. Videos, images, etc. They can be shared quickly by the large number of WEHO citizens who loathe John Duran. Plus, anyone who backs John Duran – could have their businesses boycotted.  Besides, the sex scandals Duran’s candidacy involves tax liens; it is always a red flag issue with state and government authorities when it comes to politicians. Because immediately, for investigators,… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Grace

What is keeping you from initiating an FBI investigation. They are not far away Veterans & Wilshire…… and would take your call once the allegations are in order and digestible. At the very least consider it a public service effort.

Michael Grace
Michael Grace
1 month ago
Reply to  Vigilant

How do you know a complaint has been made? And there is something in the works.