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Term Limits Volunteers Will Be Busy Circulating Petitions This Weekend

Volunteers are collecting signatures to get a term limits initiative for West Hollywood City Council members on the March 2013 ballot. Volunteers will be stationed throughout the city.

Volunteers from the Weho Term Limits group will be out in force this weekend collecting signatures.

The group, which is circulating a , will be in the pocket park on the northwest corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica boulevards Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

On Sunday, volunteers will have tables set up beside the Sal Guarriello Veterans' Memorial Fountain on Santa Monica Boulevard at Holloway Street (near the IHOP), from 1-3 p.m.

“Come by and sign the petition. Help us get term limits on the ballot for March," Scott Schmidt, one of the group’s organizers, told Weho Patch.

Alternately, people can go to the term limits website and pledge to sign the petition. A volunteer will then bring a copy of the petition to the person for a signature.

The group seeks to limit City Council members to three four-year terms of office, which could be served either consecutively or scattered, for a total of 12 years.

Of the current City Council members, John Heilman has served for 28 years, Abbe Land has served for 21, Jeff Prang has served for 15 and John Duran has served for 11. The new kid on the Council, John D’Amico, has served for one year.

By state law, the term limits can not be retroactive, so all of the current Council members would be allowed another 12 years.

Registering Voters at Same Time

Schmidt said the petition drive was going well.

“I’ve been walking down the sidewalk with my clip board in hand and people have come out of stores asking to sign the petition,” Schmidt said. “I was crossing the street at La Cienega and someone who was crossing with me [saw the clipboard and] asked to sign.”

The group is also registering people to vote at the same time they sign the petition.

“We’ve got voter registration forms as well,” Schmidt said. “By law, people have to be registered to vote within 72 hours of signing the petition.”

People who sign the petition must also live within West Hollywood city limits.

“When we ask if they live in West Hollywood,” Schmidt said, “if they say ‘yes,’ then about 80 percent of them sign it.”

Some Reticent to Sign

When asked about demographics, Schmidt said the younger voters seem most eager to sign.

“Whether they’re women or young men, they see term limits and ask for the pen,” Schmidt said. “Some of the older voters who have been around for a while and know certain Council members have been more reticent to sign.”

Schmidt explained that some of the older voters who have connections to the city have expressed concerns about retaliation for signing.

Such fears are groundless. At this week’s City Council meeting, City Attorney Mike Jenkins announced that the City Clerk is the only person allowed to see the names on the petition as he verifies that the person who signed is a registered voter living within West Hollywood city limits.

“By law, the only person in City Hall who will see the petitions is [City Clerk] Corey Shaffer,” Schmidt said. “He’s not allowed to show them to anyone else and can’t discuss the names either. [The petitions] are not a part of the public record.”

For more information about the term limits initiative, CLICK HERE to visit the website.

Christopher Nikhil Bowen September 10, 2012 at 06:27 AM
http://westhollywoodguardian.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/term_limit_skeptic/ That is what I thought about it August 10th, after looking through some West Hollywood elections of the past.
Riley September 10, 2012 at 06:48 AM
Nicely written article, Christopher, however, I would argue with your use of the term "disqualify" people. A person could hold office for three terms, a total of 12 years either consecutive or not.
Rudolf Martin September 10, 2012 at 07:18 AM
It might be best to look at this issue while assuming (quite plausibly) that the city council will look entirely different in 12+ years time. those supporting term limits should test their motives by considering the possibility that the council will then be made up of 5 people they strongly support and vice versa. i still expect most people would stick to their preference. so i really don't think this is about the current council members nor anyone's personal frustrations about not being elected but about taking a small step toward revitalizing our city's civic life. i get the argument against term limits but in my opinion our small city flush with developer money, hotel/alcohol tax and parking fee income would be much better served with them. i would actually prefer 2 terms only and i would make it retroactive but i realize that this would be too radical for most people. it will certainly be good to have them on the ballot just to get a discussion going.
Sheila Lightfoot September 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Christopher, I’m happy you’ve taken an interest in WeHo politics and hope you’ll spend as many hours as many of us… attending Council meetings, reading the staff reports, etc. I would just like to correct a couple of things. In the 2011 election, 54% of the vote went to non-incumbents and only 46% to the incumbents. However, as often happens, the non-incumbent vote was split among 7 contenders. Also, there are 3 of us who are the proponents of this initiative. We filed the paperwork and did all the initial work to qualify the petition for signature collection. Sorry to disappoint, but not one of us is Steve Martin. Yes, one of us is Scott Schmidt, who WAS a candidate in 2011 but won’t be in 2013, but the other two of us are Elyse Eisenberg and Sheila Lightfoot (that’s me). I can promise you, I absolutely will not ever be a candidate and I’m sure Elyse feels the same. We are also one Republican and two Democrats. Broken down another way, one gay man and two straight women. Let’s go one more step… while some of our particular individual interests have overlapped, we’re hardly closely enough aligned to be called a conspiracy or accused of coordinated political tricks.
Sheila Lightfoot September 10, 2012 at 10:52 AM
One other thing, Christopher. You ignored one of the most common reasons term limits are favored by many. Incumbents have advantages that are very difficult for challengers to overcome. Here are some: fundraising (like big money from developers) to pay for a huge volume of mailers; name recognition; virtually automatic endorsements from the Party and Party affiliates; and allies who depend on the Council members to maintain their own long-term positions in the establishment (commissioners, advisors, etc.). Add to that, most voters don’t pay all that much attention and depend on all the above to decide who to vote for. Any challenger has a very tough time breaking through all that to get an equal hearing from the voters. That’s all. I hope you all will continue the debate. As for me, I’d like to get a little sleep before I get up and start all over again tomorrow morning… working my butt off another day on the Term Limits Initiative. And why am I doing it? There’s a simple answer… so the next generation (like you, Christopher) of West Hollywood residents won’t have to fight so hard to have your voices heard and respected from an entrenched, arrogant City Council who could care less about what you think or want.
Sheila Lightfoot September 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Oh, by the way, Scott, as usual I'll step up and answer one of your nagging questions. If there is ever an initiative that you’re willing to put as much personal work into as many of us are putting into this… I promise, when I run into you out there collecting signatures, I will sign it… no matter the issue. But somehow I doubt that will ever happen. I think you’re more a theorist and armchair agitator. However, if we qualify for the ballot, I will be on the look out for the grassroots effort you will be leading to fight the passage of Term Limits in March. I always appreciate and respect direct participation even when it’s by those I disagree with.
Manny September 10, 2012 at 01:01 PM
you're not wrong.
Manny September 10, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Christopher, I'll be brief (comments)....In 2011 a NEW council member won over an incumbent. Also in 2011, incumbent John Heilman AMOST LOST! He won by a slight 4% over Steve Martin. In the last 10 years alone, West Hollywood voters have voted in 2 NEW council members. We don't need term limits.....We have ELECTIONS.
Paul September 10, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I haven't seen the volunteers anywhere and I bike ride all around the city.
Riley September 10, 2012 at 05:52 PM
D'Amico and who is the other?
Riley September 10, 2012 at 05:56 PM
On Saturday, I saw a ton of them on Crescent Heights and SM Blvd. It is great to see people out there. Then on Sunday, on my way to work, I saw a group at The Veterans' Memorial across from Barney's Beanery. I think they had Barbie with them, too! I guess you stay off SM Blvd. on your bike cause the traffic is too dangerous!
Riley September 10, 2012 at 06:02 PM
...and when we have elections, Manny, we get to decide on other things that are on the ballot. It is our right. You can vote no on term limits and others will vote yes. Seems simple. You can vote for the incumbents and others will vote for the newcomers. I am not sure why people get so contentious about this. It's not a question of you are right and others are wrong. It is a matter of opinion.
scott ferguson September 10, 2012 at 06:13 PM
On some recent comments: -Sheila: thx for the response on other referenda and signing. You & I just have radically different views of democracy. I support the idea, created by our founding fathers, of representative democracy. Taking what you wrote at face value, you'd prefer as much as possible for legislative bodies to be minimized or eliminated and replaced by direct voting by citizens of all issues. Fine, you are entitled to that opinion. I just think that road leads to dysfunction & madness. Christopher - thx for your cogent summary of term limits movements. Shorter version - they come from people who lose elections & want to reverse the people's will. That's what is happening here. On incumbents advantage - that's nonsense. In WeHo elections, challengers have plenty of money. This is another excuse for losing, not based on reality. & also challengers often get money from single-interest sources, as opposed to incumbents who usually get them from multiple, often conflicting ones. This meme just hasn't been proven. The bitter truth the opponents don't get is that incumbents win here usually because voters are happy with them. Stop making excuses for losing and make a more coherent case for change. I'm all ears. At this point, my inclination is to support Prang next year, but to look for an alternative for Duran. Instead you guys want a gotcha moment that won't have any in the next 7 council elections. It suggests you don't think we need immediate change.
Thomas A. Brueggemann aka Scott Ferguson September 11, 2012 at 12:16 AM
What many of you are not realizing is that it's always a good idea to have things like this to go on a ballot. This way we all get to see what the real debate is for the end result of this issue.
scott ferguson September 11, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Since the person who just posted this was likely one of the small group of people who obsessed over who I was, and thought no one should hide behind a false name, he or she should reveal who he or she is. If not, you are being a complete hypocrite, as well as a bully. I know from my time posting here that this person does not represent the bulk of you. But it would be nice if someone among you would condemn this sort of stuff. It's amazing that people who attack the behavior of some of the incumbents would then resort to the basest sort of intimidation against someone who respectfully has posted different opinions. This sort of behavior is beneath contempt.
scott ferguson September 11, 2012 at 01:23 AM
As someone who has been hounded by a small group of obsessed people about who I am who said that people should use real names, I think it's reasonable to ask who ever posted this to reveal his/her name. Otherwise, you are a hypocrite, as well as a wannabe bully. Most of the people here, including those who have different opinions than mine, clearly are decent, reasonable, smart folks. But among them are those who don't like their opinions challenged, and a handful who think intimidation and harassment like just above is appropriate. It would be nice is those of you I believe are not like that would condemn such behavior. It's despicable and has no place here.
me September 11, 2012 at 02:29 AM
paul, whats your address?....i'll stop by so you can sign! :-) seriously, if anyone would like to sign the petition but can't find any of us with a clipboard or are seniors, shut-in's, disabled etc, i'm happy to come to you!....you must live in west hollywood and if you are not registered to vote, we can take care of that too!.......email me at: wehocentercity@aol.com
me September 11, 2012 at 02:31 AM
you tire me {{{{{{{ sigh }}}}}}
me September 11, 2012 at 02:36 AM
personally, and i'm being childish for a moment, i find it downright LAUGH OUT LOUD FUNNY that they did this.....good for them!!!.....each and every one of your posts are filled with anger.....simmer down fella....enjoy life.....it's too short you know....
scott ferguson September 11, 2012 at 02:51 AM
I assumed you'd be among the bullying crowd. What is your real name, by the way?
Rudolf Martin September 11, 2012 at 03:14 AM
i have to side with 'scott' on this one. that post was probably meant in good fun but comes across somehow mean spirited. all the personal stuff is just silly.
scott ferguson September 11, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Thx Rudolf. Though we frequently disagree, I respect your posts, as I do most of those I engage with. (BTW - knowing your name, I realized early on I was familiar with some of your early work).
me September 11, 2012 at 03:59 AM
ohhh, so now that you've been "exposed" we're all supposed to come out???....plenty of people know my name, so work for it if you care.....sorry, not intimidated
Manny September 11, 2012 at 05:07 AM
it's very disappointing and disheartening that one our fellow residents would do such a thing.....very sad. I'm out.
scott ferguson September 11, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Please stay. Just don't give out personal info.
Chloe Ross September 11, 2012 at 06:51 AM
I would - the county wouldprobably bebetter for us than the City who considers anything east of the Maginot Line to blighted.
Rudolf Martin September 11, 2012 at 08:02 AM
thanks 'scott', yeah those were the days... and to bring the discussion back to term limits: having no term limits always leads to corruption. (not that that could happen in our city). here is an excerpt from an interview with jack abramoff (convicted felon lobbyist) who suggests that term limits (including staff!) are essential for curbing corruption and favoritism: " as a lobbyist the worst thing in the world you could ever have is term limits. I was against it for ... Vehemently when I was a lobbyist, why, because once you buy a congressional office frankly, you don’t want to buy it again. You want to put it in the bank."
scott ferguson September 11, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Rudolf - I checked and Abramoff indeed does now favor term limits. The problem is that for him it is theoretical - his lobbying efforts were nearly entirely with Congress, which of course does not (and because of the difficulties of Constitutional Amendments never will have) term limits. He has no practical experience with them. The epistimological evidence in state legislatures has been that term limits have been a major reason for the increase of power of term limits. Why? 1) If a legislator enters a job with term limits, from his first day he often is looking for his next job, either an upgrade in government (meaning running as a non-incumbent, in a more expensive campaign) so he becomes even more dependent on outside funding, mostly from lobbying interests, or he is looking for a job in the private sector, which lobbyists can dangle in front of him. Professional politicians have far less temptation. 2) The more inexperienced the legislator, the more he depends on outside influences to influence his vote. This is being shown nationwide with multiple Repub-dominated legislatures whose laws are literally being written, and passed, by the right-wing lobby ALEC (just google them), lock, stock and barrel. 3) New legislators have gotten money to be elected, and lobbyists know how to take advantage of that. Non-incumbents often are more obligated to narrow interests than incumbents who get their money from a range of often conflicting interests.
Rudolf Martin September 11, 2012 at 05:38 PM
"The epistimological evidence in state legislatures has been that term limits have been a major reason for the increase of power of term limits." ??? I surmise that is a typo and you mean lobbyists/special interests? as to your points 1 and 3 i would agree with. this just shows that term limits are not going to magically erase the fact that humans are always prone to being swayed by money, power and special interest. on your point 2 i would disagree with: not if we elect a capable person of integrity and a solid knowledge of how our city functions which we all strive to do. i don't think ALEC bothers to lobby in west hollywood. our issues are way too local. but wouldn't it be great to have this issue on the ballot so that more people would think about these things? having this debate on a larger scale could increase voter participation. and that is precisely what incumbents traditionally do not want to encourage. watch their actions, not their words.
scott ferguson September 11, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Thx for catching my word mixup and understanding the point. The history of local politics nationally is that where it does take some money to compete (as it does in WeHo) more often than not, barring a major issue that mobilizes opponents (which seems never to have happened here), it is the challenger who wins who is more beholden to special interests for his money. Unless someone is self-financed (not sure what the local laws are), it is far easier to raise money from a group with a specific agenda to back a challenger than from lots of small donors. That's just the reality of things. As far as the argument that having this debate is healthy - that argument can apply to any referendum. The referenda process has been a disaster for California in general, for progressives in particular. There is way too low a thresshold to get on the ballot (most states require more). I believe, based on 200+ years of US government, in representative democracy, not direct democracy. So unless a referendum is needed to corrrect a previous one (as may be needed with Prop 8), I usually oppose referenda on principle. The first rule in any political action - scope out the unintended consequences. That applies in volumes to term limits, as their usage has proven.

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