West Hollywood elder statesman John Altschul officially rejoined the Planning Commission on Thursday night, being sworn back into office after a ten-month absence.
“It’s like coming home,” Altschul told Patch. “The process is still wonderful. The staff is still wonderful. The community is still wonderful. I’m pleased and happy to be among them again.”
Altschul first joined the Commission in 1996, an appointee of Councilmember John Heilman. He served on Planning Commission until July 2011 when Heilman opted not to reappoint the 75-year-old Altschul, instead appointing attorney David Aghaei.
Many, including Altschul, believe Heilman’s failure to reappoint Altschul was punishment for publicly supporting John D’Amico in his successful bid for a seat on the City Council in the March 2011 election.
Longtime friends, .
D’Amico was on hand to witness the swearing in.
While many wondered if there would be tension between Altschul and Aghaei, that proved not to be the case. Aghaei lauded Altschul during the meeting, calling him a new “mentor.”
“When I first started on the Commission, I told everybody I had big shoes to fill. It looks like I’m not going to get to fill them just yet and I’m excited about it,” the 27-year-old Aghaei said during commissioner comments. “Thank you very much for joining us again and I’m looking forward to working with you.”
The other commissioners also welcomed Altschul back in their comments.
Noting how natural it felt to have Altschul sitting behind the dais, Commission Chair Alan Bernstein said, “I’ve already forgotten you were away.”
Lauren Meister, who served as D’Amico’s appointee to the Planning Commission for nine months until D’Amico appointed Altschul, was also on hand to witness the swearing in. She made a point of welcoming Altschul back during public comment.