Andrew Christian

Inside the Drama @ WeHo City Hall

At June’s Gay Pride weekend the signs of City Council dysfunction were literally on parade.

Although there was a float for West Hollywood Commissioners which could have accommodated the City Council, they avoided the opportunity to present a show of municipal unity. Apparently the idea of spending an hour together with forced smiles was too much of an imposition for our elected officials.

City Hall observers chuckled as John Heilman and Abbe Land rode in one car while newly elected John D’Amico rode alone. Council member John Duran was able to skip his parade duties as he is the master of ceremonies for the event and does a wonderful job.

Confronted with the prospect of snubbing D’Amico by riding with Heilman and Land and terrified of invoking the wrath of Heilman by riding with D’Amico, Jeff Prang demonstrated his usual aptitude for avoiding leadership by riding with Congressman Adam Schiff.

While the public image of our City leaders is that of a wise and progressive team working for the public good, the reality is quite different. The Council is divided by jealousies and rivalries that seem more appropriate to the late Roman Republic or the last days of the Soviet Union. When Abbe Land refers to the City “family,” visions of the Borgias come to mind.

While the City Council tries to maintain a façade of unity, the snarky comments at Council meetings and recent references to disagreements between “friends” reveals some of the deep seated dysfunctions that are driving the City Manager crazy.

Since John D’Amico’s election last year, veteran Council member John Heilman has refused to speak to him. Apparently Heilman resents D’Amico’s first place finish and resents the defeat of his puppet Lindsey Horvath. The fact that Heilman finished a distant third in the election certainly didn’t help.

While Heilman will communicate with D’Amico at meetings, he refuses to even acknowledge his presence at City Hall, balking at even those polite greetings that most adults exchange at the work place.

This has created a domino effect whereby Abbe Land limits her contacts with D’Amico in order to show solidarity with Heilman. Furthermore Heilman and Land’s City Council deputies refuse to speak to the deputies of D’Amico or John Duran.

If you watch the Council deputies’ table during a City Council meeting, all you see are five glum looking people who self segregate. Jeff Prang’s deputy, Michael Haibach generally sits between the feuding factions and when he retires he could have an entirely new career as a United Nations peace monitor.

Incredibly, the City Manager’s efforts to instill a sense of professionalism among the deputies, including bringing in a facilitator, have come to naught. But you can’t really expect different standards of behavior for deputies when you have Council members acting like petulant children.

Click here to read more from Steve Martin!

xo xo

PS - And you thought the WeHo drama was limited to the bars!? bwahaha!

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