Two City Council Members Oppose Funding a Non-Profit That Endorsed John Heilman for Re-Election

Two members of the West Hollywood City Council have put on its Monday agenda a proposal that would ban city co-sponsorship of events with organizations that have formally or publicly endorsed or opposed a candidate running for City Council.

The measure, brought forward by Councilmembers John D’Amico and Lauren Meister, was prompted by another proposal on the agenda that would have the city allocate $60,000 to the Coalition for Economic Survival, a housing rights group, that on Sept. 21 endorsed Councilmember John Heilman and John Erickson for election on Nov. 3. That proposal initially was brought forward by Heilman and Mayor Lindsey Horvath, however Heilman dropped his name from the proposal once questions were raised about it.

Heilman is running for a tenth term on the City Council. Erickson is running for the first time and is closely associated with Heilman and with Horvath, who donated $500 to each of their campaigns. There are seven other candidates in the race for two seats, including John Duran, the other incumbent.

City Councilmember John D’Amico said he was concerned about the ethics of a Council member bringing forward a measure to fund an organization that had just endorsed him for re-election. WEHOville reached out to Heilman and Horvath. Heilman said he didn’t see an ethical issue but removed his name from the proposal so as not to create a conflict.

Horvath said the item was something she had been working on with Larry Gross, the executive director, and hadn’t been initiated by Heilman.

“If my colleagues don’t want to support the item because of the organization’s political endorsements, that’s their prerogative,” she said. “But it’s our residents who lose out on the resources and services at a time when they’re most needed.

“We have partnered with Hollywood NOW, EQCA, Victory Fund, CES, Sierra Club, and other organizations over the years that have provided services to our community and hosted events – despite the fact that they endorsed Council candidates including each of the sitting Council members. It’s a shame to think that, when renters are suffering in a global pandemic and economic recession, the city wouldn’t again partner with an organization, with which we have had a long standing relationship, to provide much-needed services because CES decided to endorse someone other than the incumbents.”

Given that CES’s 2018 federal tax return (the most recent one available online) shows it had revenue that year of only $207,921, a $60,000 grant from the City of West Hollywood would be substantial.

Larry Gross, executive director
of the Coalition for Economic Survival.

A memo accompanying the proposed grant document, which is on the Council’s consent agenda, says it is to provide ” proactive outreach to help tenants know their rights and to provide one-on-one advice and assistance during the COVID-19 emergency and in the recovery period.”

The city already has contracts with several non-profit organizations to provide services to those unable to pay their rent because of the financial impact of COVID-19. They include the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, which provides rental assistance of up to $3,000 over three months, and the Alliance for Housing & Healing, whose rental assistance program is focused on those ages 55 or older. Also, Bet Tzedek Legal Services has a contract with the city under which it provides legal representation to tenants facing eviction. It hosts virtual clinics three days a week where tenants can talk to attorneys.

The proposed contract with CES would have it make telephone calls or text tenants, make door-to-door visits, send out mailers, and hold meetings at apartment buildings to inform renters of their rights. The agenda memo says that CES would refer tenants with legal issues to Bet Tzedek.

CES’s Larry Gross was a leader in the campaign to put on the ballot a successful proposal for West Hollywood to be incorporated as its own city in 1984. Heilman and former City Councilmember Abbe Land, who Erickson served as a deputy, were former members of the CES steering committee. In a story mentioning its endorsements published in 1992, the Los Angeles Times noted that since the city was formed in 1984, only one person had been elected to the West Hollywood City Council without CES’s endorsement.

CES is an organization that advocates for tenants’ rights and has been especially active in trying overturn state laws that make it possible for landlords to evict tenants from rent-controlled or stabilized buildings. While it is a non-profit organization, it is organized as a 501 (c) 4, which allows it to endorse candidates.

A memo accompanying the proposal from Meister and D’Amico says the proposed policy would “prohibit the city from co-sponsoring events with organizations if the organization, or its political PAC, or any of its board members has formally or publicly endorsed or opposed a Council candidate. This prohibition applies to event co-sponsorships that include monetary funding and/or in-kind support, which may include, but is not limited to, donation of city goods or supplies, City staff support, permission to use the city’s logo on marketing materials, or waiver of city fees. This applies to PACs or their board members, nonprofit organizations or their board members, and nonprofit organizations (or their board members) that are affiliated with PACs.

“Once in effect, this ordinance will prohibit the city from partnering with organizations that play an active role in supporting or opposing a candidate for West Hollywood City Council. This means that organizations that choose to endorse or oppose a candidate in the local elections would not be eligible for co-sponsorships with the city on events and programs. The limitation on co-sponsorships would be in place from the time of the endorsement until nine months after the election date.

“The purpose of this code amendment is to protect against the making or receiving of an endorsement as a quid pro quo for the approval of an event co-sponsorship or financial contribution, or the appearance of such an arrangement. This step will help alleviate the appearance of impropriety.”

Viewing the City Council Meeting

The City Council will have its meeting online at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. Much of its agenda is a carryover from the Oct. 5 meeting, which was cancelled because of issues with the cities digital network, Those wishing to view the meeting can do so beginning at 5:30 p.m. on the city’s website , which is the only official viewing platform for the city’s public meetings. Broadcasts of public meetings can be found on Spectrum Cable Television’s Channel 10 within West Hollywood’s borders. Digital streaming platform viewers can easily find programming by searching for “WeHoTV” within the search functions of the following services. Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku and YouTube.


Those who want to comment on matters before the City Council can do so via email by using the form located at www.weho.org/councilagendas by no later than 4 p.m. on Monday. Comments received by then will be forwarded to the City Council and posted on the city’s website as part of the official meeting record.

People also can call in to make a comment over the phone. Those who want to do that are asked to email City Clerk Yvonne Quarker at yquarker@weho.org no later than 4 p.m. on Monday to be added to the public speaker list for the meeting. Include your name, the phone number from which you will be calling, and which item you would like to speak on. Then on Monday, dial in ten minutes before the meeting starts. You will be placed on hold until it is your turn to speak. The dial in number is (669) 900-6833. The meeting ID number is 920 1578 8486, then #

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that the measure being brought forward by City Council members John D’Amico and Lauren Meister would ban the city from funding organizations that have formally or publicly endorsed or opposed a candidate running for City Council. In fact, the measure would bar the city from co-sponsorship of events with organizations that have formally or publicly endorsed or opposed a candidate running for City Council. The story has been updated with that correction.

5 1 vote
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

13 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Truth be Told
Truth be Told
13 days ago

Horvath and Erickson walking down the street together with a black women holding their flyers. Like she’s a servant. This man talks progressive values but he is for himself, not women, or people of color. His planning commission stunt, his hollywood now stunt, there isn’t a John worth ur vote.

Bill G Skywatcher
Bill G Skywatcher
14 days ago

This is the kind of Republican-style issue that gets people all riled up because it sounds like “good government” when, in fact, it is exactly the opposite. CES does enormous good work for the tenants of West Hollywood. Enjoy your rent control? Thank CES, and they’re the organization that fights for that on both the local and state level. I’m not saying the organization is perfect, but anything that harms CES harms renters. A lot of the “anti-development” councilmembers are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Look at D’Amico who claims to be so anti-development but puts John Alschul on the Planning… Read more »

Mike Dolan
Mike Dolan
14 days ago

Hear, hear.

John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
14 days ago

These funded organizations will act in the interest of their funders, if the largest donation is from the City they represent City Hall and not the Residents

Art
Art
12 days ago

ExACTly!

Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris
14 days ago

Exposed! From mayor Horvath’s own words, you can see the corruption of how West Hollywood public funds are given to organizations that openly endorse candidates. This needs to stop! What other city does this pay for play?

“We have partnered with Hollywood NOW, EQCA, Victory Fund, CES, Sierra Club, and other organizations over the years that have provided services to our community and hosted events – despite the fact that they endorsed Council candidates including each of the sitting Council members.” – Horvath 

Weho Truth Talk
Weho Truth Talk
14 days ago

I’m actually against this because it goes the other way. If these groups endorse non-incumbents, then they can be forced out of those spaces by the incumbents. And groups like EQCA, the Victory Fund and the Sierra Club are progressive groups (I don’t know about the other ones) that should be given space to meet.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I do not think many of these groups endorsed Meister the last time she ran. Is she trying to get retribution?

Art
Art
14 days ago

More insider shenanigans from the Heilman/Horvath cabal. Pass this prohibition!

Larry Block
Larry Block
14 days ago

Stop the clique. Block against the clique. Keep our city council Independent. They will spend ur money on pet projects like like the Mueller report and other nonsense. But they would not support masks for residents.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
15 days ago

CES does have a tenant’s rights clinic in Plummer Park but given that they have a history of being totally in the pocket of John Heilman, this request for funding seems totally inappropriate. They are not a “grassroots”or democratic organization like Santa Monica for Renter’s Rights. In fact they have a long history of quashing dissent within their ranks. They ceased being a participatory organization long ago largely due to the fact that John Heilman and Abbe Land demanded complete control over their endorsement process. The organization that was so instrumental in leading the fight to incorporate West Hollywood ceased… Read more »

Wehovian
Wehovian
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

I once went to the clinic at Plummer Park that you mention Steve, and it was free and I found it very helpful during a scary time with my landlord. So that’s a legitimate service.

Still, I do try to maintain a healthy skepticism given the extremely “cozy” nature of weho politics, and that extends to former mayors too of course 😉

S milrod
S milrod
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Steve. Thank you for all of your insightful and helpful comments. I really. Appreciate your perspective on Weho politics and use it to form my own opinion

Mike Dolan
Mike Dolan
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

CES is a wonderful organization. They were there for me at a time of need. Their mission is to be there for renter’s and assist with renter’s rights as well as an array of tenant issues. It is misinformation to make such a nefarious claim that CES will use this funding for campaign mailers. The funds will allow CES to “proactively outreach to help tenants know their rights and to provide one-on-one advice and assistance during the COVID-19 emergency and in the recovery period.” A service to West Hollywood Renter’s during this pandemic. There is no mention of any campaign… Read more »

13
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x