Another 5 1/2 Years of Herb Wesson Jr.?

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Category: Community News
Published on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 15:04
Written by Dianne Lawrence

FEBtedRall2Councilman Wesson is your classic, old-school politician, like the small town politicians in those old black and white movies from the '50s. 

He likes being on top, clearly knows how to use power to get more power, then some more, and if media accusations are correct, uses it to help friends, punish enemies (Councilmembers dare not vote against him) and work the system to get to the next step in his career. He’s really good at it.  When elected Council President, he said “This isn’t about me it’s about we.” leaving one to wonder why he had to make the point. 

A council office term is four years and a councilmember can be elected three times, for a total of 12 years.  Councilman Wesson filled the last two years of Councilman Ludlow’s term in 2005 so he has only served a total of 10 years. This allows him to run for a 4th term on March 3. If re-elected it should give him the time he needs to position himself for his next step up, County Supervisor. But what will it do for our district? UPDATE: voters passed a change to the voting dates combining all voting times for federal and local on the same day. This gives Councilman Wesson an extra 18 months

One cannot fault a politician for wanting power, after all power can be used for the forces of good.  But one can ask …to what end is Councilman Wesson’s power being used?  When you look back at his career, and more specifically his time in our community, can you walk away with any idea of what his passion for community has been?  Openings of events and toy give-aways?

When Mayor Garcetti was a Councilmember,  he was well known for digging into his community and getting involved. In fact he recently showed up to have a meeting at the Blu Elefant on Washington west of Western, one of our local coffee houses a few blocks from Councilman Wesson's, Western Boulevard office.  Despite repeated invitations Councilman Wesson has yet to visit. On Garcetti's Wikipedia page you find out he met with residents in his district once a month to discuss anything they were concerned about, made sure all constituents calls were returned promptly and they were involved in all land use issues with the subsequent actions by developers, tracked. His page is an impressive read of what he has accomplished.

Take a look at the efforts of Congresswoman Karen Bass, (House Representative for our 37th District), an outstanding community communicator, to understand what an involved politician looks like. 

But when you look at Herb Wesson’s Wikipedia entry there are no details about his community accomplishments other than politicians he’s worked for and positions he’s held.  When was the last time you saw him at a local restaurant or visiting a block club or how many times as he visited your Neighborhood Council in 10 years?  TNN has heard over and over that CD10 has suffered at the hands of disengaged politicians working it for their own ends for too long.  


His website was woefully under-designed and uninformative for most of his time in our district and well into his time as Council President. Only in the last year or so has he upgraded the site. It’s worth a look.  Check out his “Projects” category. The information is thin, some of it inaccurate (he touts his influence in bringing a Fresh and Green to Crenshaw but that effort was scuttled and a 99 Cents Only store stands in its place) and all of it posted two years ago. Nothing since.  Click on "Eye on the 10th" a monthly chronicle of his activities.  The entries consist of photo ops at different city events and ground breakings but precious little information about any of the problems he has identified in our district or projects he has initiated (as opposed to simply support) to address them.  Prior to 2013, the archives contain nothing at all.  

Complaints about his unresponsiveness other than his efforts for a chosen few, were rampant during most of his term and a common accusation from previous candidates with a little improvement in this, an election year.

Our local small businesses have been ignored by the Council office and yet are critical to the life blood and growth of our community. Has he listened to the  concerns of the struggling businesses along Pico, Venice, Washington,  Adams, Jefferson? Worked with them to come up with ways to help?  

With the gentrification of many communities we have a volatile mix of poverty adjacent to middle and upper income families with an inevitable increase in crime. Has he met with neighborhood organizations to listen to their concerns and come up with a plan to help? 


There has been relentless and growing homelessness in CD10 and the Council office literally sweeps it under the rug, cleaning out homeless communities only to see them emerge a few miles away.  His son brags on his Facebook page about the freeway underpass on Venice where a homeless camp, set up for winter shelter, had been cleaned out. All that was left were large photographs of them, pasted on the wall by an artist.  Most of the Facebook responses to this “good news” expressed concern over what had happened to these people.  Today they have slowly started moving back. One might say….homelessness is a citywide issue but it is a serious issue in our community, our councilman has become Council President and has not made homelessness a priority as our representative nor as Council President. On his website he points to two low income housing projects he supported but with their limited capacity and long waiting lists it does little to help the homeless. 

In this election should we allow him to simply assume ownership of our community because of the power he has accumulated, or should we expect him to convince us that he deserves the job by letting us know he understands the issues in our district and has well prepared plans to address them? He’s been here long enough.  As of the end of January there is nothing on his website about the elections nor reasons why you should re-elect him. He has refused to submit answers to questions posed by us and the League of Women Voters "SmartVoter" site. 

We have the potential to become a powerful ‘go to’ rather than a ‘drive through’ district, and we need a Councilperson who understands this and has a real vision, a plan, makes sure all our phone calls and emails are cared about and responded to and will work with Neighborhood Councils, block clubs, businesses and interested individuals to help make it so.  Councilman Wesson has one term left, lots of Big City politics to attend to and his jockeying to position himself to take over as County Supervisor. If you vote for him will you be voting for his vision and effort to help “we" or his vision and efforts to help “me”?

TNN has been keeping an Eye On Wesson for going on 9 years. When Councilman Wesson took over as Council President of City Council many of our concerns regarding his behavior were justified when that same behavior drew criticism in the media with charges of vindictiveness and inappropriate manipulation of the system. 

LA TIMES 2012 Wesson denies newly drawn council districts are payback

 "Commissioner Helen Kim, who opposed the changes, said they were "absolutely" designed to punish Perry and Parks. "Parks has just gotten written out of the district where he lives. You don't think that's a slap in the face?" she said.

Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at Cal State L.A., said Wesson is playing hardball in a way that his predecessor, Councilman Eric Garcetti, did not. And he argued that this year's redistricting process is far more politicized than it was a decade ago.

"The council appears to be at war with each other. There seem to be factions. The incoming president is coming with his team, and rewarding his team and punishing others — specifically Parks, and to a lesser extent, Perry," he said."

LA Downtown News:  Disrespectful Wesson Owes Riordan and the City an Apology

Those basic lessons seem lost on City Council President Herb Wesson. The 10th District rep has displayed a lack of compassion for others on multiple instances since taking over the post from Eric Garcetti in January. Still, nothing compares to the disrespect that Wesson displayed to former Mayor Richard Riordan during a council session last month.

DISHONEST?
Publicly claimed he had nothing to do with the redistricting process while a secretly taped video at a Los Angeles Baptist Ministers conference shows him admitting he was involved. “I did the best I could to retain ‘assets’ for all of the districts. One person. Alone. Every member came to me to discuss what they wanted....” As a result of this statement and other evidence lawsuits were filed against Councilman Wesson for illegal tampering. 

"One of his deputies consistently told residents and city agencies they had a critical sign off from the Fire Department allowing them to move forward with a controversial community project, while records request and a subsequent admission from the deputy showed they, in fact, did not have the sign off. If they had been honest the project would have been halted.
“But in a correspondence between Sylvia Lacy (CD10 Senior Deputy, community liaison and point person for this project) and Fire Captain Luke Milick dated 5/15/2009, Captain Milick responds to Sylvia’s assertion that the temporary barriers currently in place had been approved by the LAFD. He corrects her and says;
“The temporary barrier currently in place was not approved by the Fire Department. The Fire Dept. would not approve a barrier that we can’t drive a fire engine through.”
Sylvia responds and corrects him insisting that;
“The Fire Department did “sign off”/ approve the barriers in the Western Heights Neighborhood.”
Yet, this sign off does not in fact exist. A specific request for a copy of it was submitted to CD10 and they responded with  “We do not have this document.” Sylvia confirmed in person that they did not possess any written sign offs. So why did CD10 keep insisting they had one?”

Ignoring Local Residents 
His office took a survey to see if the Western Heights community supported traffic barriers. 80% of those responding said yes. BUT in a subsequent survey 90% did not want a full barrier or gate next to the community Fire Department as part of the project. The Council Office and the Block club refused to consider that survey.

- Despite evidence that illegal signage was facing directly into their windows, despite his long ago written promise of helping them, despite sending him over 60 emails requesting a response, they (16th Place Residents) were met with a wall of silence from the Council Office for over 3 years with the Councilman finally agreeing to meet with them prior to election time. The signage was finally taken down. 

- From LA Times “In hearings attended by hundreds of Korean Americans, activists have accused Wesson of ignoring neighborhood needs while treating their area like an ATM, raising tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Korean American businesses. They also contend Wesson and his aides have been callous, even vindictive.”







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