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Duran Sworn in as Weho's New Mayor

John Duran is sworn in as mayor for a one year term, Jeff Prang becomes mayor pro tempore.

West Hollywood got a new mayor Monday night. In a largely ceremonial City Council meeting, outgoing Mayor John Heilman symbolically passed the reins of power to John Duran, who was sworn in for a one year term.

Holding his right hand up, Duran repeated the oath of office as read to him by City Clerk Tom West. And in a move that brought great laughter to the audience at West Hollywood Park Auditorium, when West read, “to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of California,” Duran repeated that phrase, then added, “except Proposition 8.”

While previous inaugurations have had a party atmosphere, this year’s swearing in was low key. Duran said he specifically asked the city manager to keep it simple.

“To me, this is just the annual changing of the gavel from one council member to the next,” Duran told attendees. “I don’t have any special powers, perks, privileges or staff. My entire administration is still just [deputy] Hernan Molina.”

Duran, who joined the City Council in 2001 after years as a local activist, went on to discuss how much the city has changed in the 26 years since it was founded.

“This city is not what it was in 1984,” he said. “For those of us who walked these streets in 1984, it was a pit. It is no longer a pit. It is a fashionable, fun, upstanding, sterling place that everyone wants to live, work and play in. That is possible because of the councils that came before us.”

Duran noted that the city has reached a tipping point. He said there are now more residents who were not living in West Hollywood when it officially became a city than people who were here in 1984.

“We have ideas that sometimes compete with the ideas of the original founders of the city,” Duran said. “That’s good healthy democracy, competition of ideas. People using logic and reason, passion to persuade one another about what is best for the community. Having those sorts of vigorous debates I think is healthy for the city of West Hollywood. I look forward to engaging those debates and trying to manage them with this slim gavel.”

As a thank you for Heilman’s year of service as mayor, the city is paying for a $150 bookshelf in his name in the new library, set to open in the fall. 

Heilman thanked City Hall staffers for their tireless dedication to the city, especially mentioning City Manager Paul Arevalo, City Attorney Mike Jenkins and his deputy, Fran Solomon. He also thanked the sheriff and fire departments for their work. He further thanked West and Assistant City Clerk Cory Schaffer for keeping council meetings on track and making sure “the agendas were understandable.”

Heilman listed the many things the city had accomplished in the past year, including completing the Sunset Strip renovations, opening the , opening the behind the new library, opening the affordable housing unit on Sierra Bonita and breaking ground on the new affordable housing project on Hayworth.

He also noted that at the annual , the city set a new world record for having the most people doing the “Time Warp” dance from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The entire meeting lasted a mere 30 minutes. Council members Abbe Land and Jeff Prang were both absent—Land had a meeting she could not get out of and Prang had a work obligation that took him out of town. Consequently, the council voted at its April 4 meeting not to deal with any city business other than the consent calendar.

Prang’s absence prevented him from taking the oath of office as mayor pro tempore at Monday’s meeting, but was said to be sworn in during an invitation-only ceremony Saturday morning at Marco’s restaurant.

Before the meeting adjourned for cake and coffee to celebrate Duran’s swearing in, Councilman John D’Amico officially appointed Lauren Meister to the Planning Commission. Meister is a longtime city activist and former Public Safety commissioner who ran for City Council in 2003 and 2009.

Planning Commissioner John Altshul told Weho Patch that Meister was a good appointment, saying she was probably more knowledgeable on land use than any other citizen.

 “I’m so honored to have been appointed by council member John D’Amico to the Planning Commission and am looking forward to being an active participant in the process as the city moves forward,” Meister told Weho Patch.

Paul April 26, 2011 at 06:30 PM
he parI beg to differ with Duran's opinion of West Hollywood prior to becoming a city. It was never a pit as he says. I moved here in 1981 and can personally tell anyone interested in was a lot more original and the movement was home grown. Now days the city markets the Halloween carnival to outside cities where as it began as our own thing and let me tell you a lot more fun! Even the gay pride parade is dulled down by comparison. City Hall likes to pat themself on the back for restoring West Hollywood but for gay man or woman who has seen the before and after, it's still a nice place to live but they didn't rescue the area. It was going strong just being part of LA county. The Pacific design center was there and gay pride went on like it does every year. I preferred it just being part of LA county but that's just my own opinion. Who know what would have happened had it never became a city?
John Morgan Wilson April 27, 2011 at 02:20 AM
Paul: I also miss the old grass roots days, the smaller, funkier, much more fun Halloween celebration (wasn't it amazing?) and Gay Pride parade, etc. But consider: Had West Hollywood not become a city, Barney's Beanery would (or could) still have its "No Fagots (sic)" sign posted above its front door...landlords gouging tenants, evicting them on a whim, and driving the middle class and working class residents out of town...a certain massive disco (long sold and renamed) three-carding women, people of color and older men to keep them out and keep the club safe and exclusive for young, attractive, gay while males...no affordable housing for seniors on fixed incomes, allowing them to remain in the city they have lived in and loved for so long...no subsidized housing for people with AIDS who might otherwise be on the street...endless potholes going unfiled for months or years...no median, wide sidewalks and canopy of trees along Santa Monica Boulevard...sheriff's deputies who would still feel entitled to harrass, ridicule and offend LGBT residents, which was the norm before 1984, and even for a time after until our City Council put its foot down...no city hall to help facilitate peaceful political protest, sometimes organized quickly...[continued below]
John Morgan Wilson April 27, 2011 at 02:23 AM
[Continued}...no West Hollywood Book Fair...no new library with special LGBT and HIV/AIDS collections, so important to LGBT youth and others who want to read such material without fear of exposure or reprisal...no commitment to the preservation of our architecture and structures of cultural and historic value...no Russian Cultural Festival...no support of an endless list of causes and nonprofit organizations serving LGBT youth, seniors, women, the addicted, et al...no exhuberant Neighborhood Watch block parties bringing neighbors together...none of the many arts and cultural programs the city now supports...no way to get up and speak your mind at a City C ouncil meeting, with the TV camera recording...none of the countless special services the city offers to such a wide range of inviduals and groups...no strong sense of community and community identity...and on and on. Is West Hollywood perfect? Not by a long shot. But to be part of Los Angeles County again, with all that portends? Not for me, thanks.
Wendy April 27, 2011 at 04:56 PM
West Hollywood has basically been changed into a rip off city. It's sort of like a tourist trap where everyone tries to get the most they can out of you with doing the least service. West Hollywood got rid of all the mom and pop landlords and now we just deal with corporations. You have to speak to a professional who is trained to give you the least in return. the only time landlords were evicting tenants 40 years ago was when they were causing headaches and making the landlords lose money. Tenants actually pay more today under rent control than they ever did in 1970. You could get a beautiful 2 bedroom apartment in 1970 for $100 per month. Everyone was paying Half of what they were paying now adusted for inflation. So thank a Liberal everytime you write out a check to your corporate landlord. The only ones who made out are the lawyers who rent an apartment on the Sunset Strip who are locked into 1979 rent rates with modest increases. The poor got screwed but who cares. They still blame the mom and pop landlord.
Wendy April 27, 2011 at 05:06 PM
I like to remember the good old days of west hollywood in the 60s when you could do what you wanted and everything was cheap. Then came the Gays about 1970 and then the liberals followed. Now we have a ton of new rules and everything is expensive. If you want to do your own thing as we did in the 60s these new people will lock you up and put you incomunicado. It's a lesson on how to lose your rights, cheap rent and freedom. They also flag you if you have a different idea on life.
Marne Carmean April 28, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Please! Step into the good new days and leave your sourpuss homophobic, political statements, back there in the "good old days".
Paul April 30, 2011 at 01:55 AM
Yeah, the city widen the streets 3 or 4 times now and it's made very little difference. As far as the rents go, rent control exsists still in LA proper. The rents were way lower back in the day. By improving the city by tearing down afford apartment rentals and building condo's the average middle class gay man can not afford it's raise the desirablity of straight people to move in. Crime has always been fairly low as I can recall. I was naturally younger then but clubs like "The Probe", "Gregg's Blue Dot" or "The Blue Parrot" were great fun. There are no clubs like that anymore. The Abbey appeals to straight women who bring there boyfriends. You also have to take into account the AIDS crisis wiped away a huge precentage of what would be today the over 40+ residents who called West Hollywood home. Oh and as far as Barney's Beanert goes, when was the last time you went there? Gay people don't patrobnize that place anyway so who care f they had a studid sign about fags? No one could ever treat a gay man as bad as gay men treat each other. There typical gay gym bunny acts more like a catty woman then a man. They look good but there only friendly if they want to have sex with you or if your a cookie cut imagine of themself. I generalizing but there is a lot of truth to that comment. Gay men bully each other.
joninla May 12, 2011 at 02:51 PM
I think the root of the Discontent is pretty obvious. The City Counsel Members have become so entrenched and committed to making sure they are reelected (over and over and over again .... A little FRESH BLOOD is needed in any Government) that the "WEALTH" generated by the nightlife of West Hollywood is being diverted to PROJECTS THAT WILL GET THEM REELECTED. At some point, The OATH that each Mayor in turn has made, IS MORE THAN JUST WORDS. The misappropriation of City Funds, City Assets, City Resources as well as the Dereliction of duty that has causes the LOSS of City Value (open space has a value to a city. Low Crime has a value to a city. Overbuilding of unsold condos DEVALUES THE PROPERTY VALUES OF ALL THE CITY'S RESIDENTS). I THINK IN LIGHT OF THE CHANGE IN ALL CITY GOVERNMENTS, AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION SHOULD BE MADE AS TO THE ACTUAL LEGALITY OF THE YEARS OF EXCESSIVE PROJECTS THAT DO NOT APPEAR TO BENEFIT ANYONE. West Hollywood is RICH and has EVEN RICHER people and developers with deep pockets anxious to INFLUENCE THE CITY COUNSEL that the city of BELL. We certain can AFFORD AN INDEPENDENT AUDIT/INVESTIGATION .... And should be welcomed by every board member to make it official that we are not another (bigger) BELL SCANDAL going on. When the mayor says HIGH CRIME is not a bad thing, and a $13 robotic electric garage is A GREEN PROJECT ... there are problems.
Paul May 12, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Next time all of us go to the polls, please, please DO NOT vote for Prang or Duran! Both need to go next time. They have been there way, way to long.
joninla May 13, 2011 at 06:53 AM
The problem is not just the voter Apathy & Ignorant Stupidity. The RUSSIAN VOTING BLOCK is a very well organized and committed to ensuring they have control over the City Counsel by possessing a very large and strong BLOCK OF VOTES that they are not shy about making it clear if the Current City Counsel/Acting Mayor doesn't give the West Hollywood Russian Community what they want - they will be voted out immediately. I heard a funny story from a local who said John Duran has been learning to speak Russian and it was very appalling to watch and listen as he enthusiastically saying to his Russian Continuances SPACIBA (thank you!) If you haven't noticed, the Russian Community gets far more from the City (in terms of millions spent on projects that are coincidentially located in the 'Russian Neighborhood' area and is used/rented out at low subsidized rates ALL TO WEST HOLLYWOOD RESIDENTS ...... WHO ALL HAPPEN TO BE PART OF THE UNFRIENDLY(at best) Russian Members of our City of not only don't want to share the city, they want everyone else out. Years ago, the Low Income Housing built behind the French Market was so nice relative to any other low income project at the time, and all the Residents were Russians - Living in subsidized housing but all Drive High end large Mercedes Sedans. IT HAS BEEN REFERRED TO AS "THE WELFARE CHATEAU" - and nobody will even lift an eyebrow at the RUSSIAN VOTING BLOCK.
Paul May 13, 2011 at 07:03 AM
Those old Russian residents are all mean and nasty. They don't ever smile and they hate gay people you can just tell. When was the last time you saw one of those old dried up Russian's at the gay pride festival or patronizing a gay owned restaurant? They stay around the Fairfax area. I think that population of West Hollywood is dyeing off now so I have been told. I think it is shameful the way our council members kiss ass to the Russian residents. They should be a shamed of them self.
joninla May 13, 2011 at 07:10 AM
I DEFINITELY think we HAVE TO find a way (and fast) to impose TERM LIMITS on the entrenched City Counsel who is .... As John says straight out .... ONLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE REVENUE THE CLUBS AND NIGHTLIFE BRINGS THE CITY AND DOESN'T SEE ANY PROBLEM WITH THE CITY HAVING SUCH A HIGH CRIME RATE. I will translate "I, AS THE CURRENT MAYOR, DON'T CARE ABOUT THE SAFETY OF THE RESIDENTS OF WEST HOLLYWOOD. I JUST WANT TO BE ON THE BOARD, TAKE MY TURN AS MAYOR, AND GET A GREAT SALARY, TONS OF PERKS, AND GET TO SPEND $13 MILLION DOLLARS ON A ROBOTIC GARAGE OR A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS ON A FOUNTAIN TO HONOR THE NAME OF A NOW DECEASED CITY COUNSEL MEMBER WHO HAD A VERY LONG AND CORRUPT TENURE (per se: any monument like the fountain with massive font honoring the name of a person NOBODY KNOWS - nobody but the in crowd who gets to spend thee millions of dollars and not care about using any of that money to protect the citizens from the crime the money brings into our city). AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY AND INVESTIGATION THAT FAIRLY DETERMINES THE LEGALITY OF THE HISTORY AND ONGOING ACTIONS OF THE CITY COUNSEL, AND THE MEMBERS ACTING IN THEIR ELECTED CAPACITY IS BASICALLY NECESSARY GIVEN THE STATEMENT OF THE MAYOR "WE DON'T CARE ABOUT CRIME IN OUR CITY, ONLY MONEY THE CLUBS BRING TO THE COUNSEL"
joninla May 13, 2011 at 07:18 AM
Step back for a second and look at what you are telling us (like we don't know). They are not just nasty and hateful, but to the extent they are making anti-gay statements - they are not 'nasty' they are quite probably guilty of a HATE CRIME. Over my 15+ years, I've had more than a few derogatory statements using words we no longer even can speak or write - IN THE CITY OF WEST HOLLYWOOD. They are Criminals when they make threatening/harassing anti-gay hate speech. ALSO - I AM NOT SAYING ALL THE RUSSIANS LIVING IN WEST HOLLYWOOD ARE EITHER ENGAGING IN HATE CRIMES, OR ARE EVEN A PART OF THE 'RUSSIAN VOTING BLOCK' - OR ARE EVEN NECESSARILY JUST NOT-SO-NICE OR NASTY. I am sure there are some very wonderful and decent people with a proud Russian heritage ..... I've never met one, but I am sure they are out there and I don't think anyone is saying that ALL West Hollywood Russian's are in the same category.
John Morgan Wilson May 13, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Wow! I certainly have my issues with West Hollywood, and have expressed them in fiction, nonfiction, and blogs like this, as well as directly to elected city leaders and at the polls. But reading some of the angry and bilious comments above causes me to wonder: Why, if our city is so unpleasant and corrupt, does someone so angry and disaffected choose to live here? Why would that person stay in a community he or she so reviles and loathes? Is it possible that person would be discontented regardless of where he or she lived? Are they overstating the case to make a point, or is their rage genuine? I'm not trying to stir anyone up or spark more ugly conflict. I'm truly baffled and hoping for a calm, respectful, reasoned and constructive response. (If that's possible.)
joninla May 13, 2011 at 08:30 PM
I totally get where you are coming from, and for the last 15 years I never bothered to care about what the city was doing. For me, personally, what just got me to actually pay attention was walking my dog by the new Fountain by IHOP. I saw here on patch is was around a quarter of a million dollars, which surprised me (as to the cost of fountains and the WeHo being so financially over-funded while every other city is laying off police and fire it would spend so much on a fountain). When I saw the fountain, it was just turning to dusk on a beautiful evening, and I thought the Fountain was gorgeous. When I then saw the MEMORIAL TO OUR VETS was a fountain emblazoned with giant SAL GUARELLO and the Veterans Memorial that was already there was totally lost behind SAL's name. It was, to me, just offensive to see the Elected City Counsel who is chosen to listen to and make decisions for the befit of the voters who voted them into office, make such a shire to themselves. But what really GOT ME was looking up and seeing 3 homeless men in the background on the bench (I always respond to hateful statements about homeless people - YES, BUT THEY ARE "PEOPLE" and they are in trouble and need help) I was disgusted at the City's ignoring the BOTH the plight of the homeless as well as the problems and safety concerns of the residents from the homeless, which a quarter million dollar fountain only MAKES IT WORSE
joninla May 13, 2011 at 08:40 PM
..... Just to finish. Yes the quarter million dollar fountain MAKES THE HOMELESS PROBLEM (for the people living in West Hollywood, and the ongoing plight of the homeless) since the fountain (I thought - but has already come to pass) would draw more homeless to the tiny park and the fountain would be misused for bathing or vandalism or playing in and around. Then the next article which ended up becoming a story that went from the evening news to even Nightline that West Hollywood was building the first totally automated robotic garage - the cost $13 in total (not the $2.6 million for the acceptance of the construction bid) - and was touted as a "GREEN PROJECT". There is no need for more parking behind City Hall. There is a need to reduce cars parking at City Hall to reduce the serious traffic congestion at that corner. The current city hall lot is one of the last flat open space that could be used for better purposes. There is already a brand new King's Road Garage that is very underused, and the new robotic garage will cost 3x the price per parking spot than average cost. Plus it will be expensive to operate and maintain and is hardly "GREEN" by using so much electricity and ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO WANT TO DRIVE TO CITY HALL JUST TO SEE THE GARAGE FOR THEMSELVES. Encouraging more needless driving the is OPPOSITE OF GREEN. It then turned ugly, I agree. But the ISSUES are very real.
MarkD May 18, 2011 at 04:59 PM
John Duran does not need to go. He is John D'Amico's best advocate and best chance for getting something done right now. He is not bad simply because he is an incumbent.

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