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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.

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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