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Coffee … and Odd Excuses … with Council President Wesson

POLITICS--I had the good fortune in recent weeks to discuss my commentaries from CityWatch and elsewhere on KFI AM-640’s Sunday Morning with Elizabeth Espinosa. It is surely coincidental that the all-powerful LA City Council president Herb Wesson invited me for coffee and a chat prior to a Council meeting last week.

Under his leadership, Council’s inauthentic meetings lack genuine public debate that result in preordained, orchestrated unanimous votes. Imagine flipping a coin 15 times and it always coming up heads….for every agenda item. That is the essence of Los Angeles City Council and the unquestioning local media enslaved to it.

Historically, those who do not go along with the Wesson Way get politically disemboweled like former Councilmembers Jan Perry and Bernie Parks, who were ostracized and had their assignments and Districts’ best assets carved into the hands of Wesson allies, i.e. all the other Councilmembers. While Perry finagled her way back into a peachy political gig after terming out of office, Bernie went on to his pension-rich retirement.  

These points are not as much a criticism of Wesson as an illustration to show that he is a man who is fully in control of Los Angeles, and far more influential in your lives than Mayor Garcetti is, or that Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be starting in January.

So it is odd…really odd, to listen to the responses he gave to my espresso-laced questions.

  1. Your aide Ed Johnson recently called to say it “was a privilege for me to meet you, and that you are the only city official who would talk with me.” Was that a directive from you or did he take a survey of the other 17 elected officials? 

Wesson: Well, sometimes people say things that they shouldn’t. 

  1. Was what Johnson said true?

Wesson: Anytime you feel that someone is treating you improperly at City Hall you should always bring it to my attention.

I showed Wesson my unanswered Facebook messages, where he said I could always reach him.

Wesson: I don’t know anything about those.

  1. Mitch Englander, your second in command (and LA County Supervisor candidate), has a propensity to lose critics’ speaker cards and eject people from meetings under threat of arrest. Why do you tolerate that?

Wesson: Well, he isn’t me. You have to understand (pointing to his head), Mitch is a cop!

Au contraire, I reminded Wesson. A judge recently ruled that since Englander, a career political aide, never earned a nickel as a police officer, he could not refer to himself that way on the upcoming primary ballot.

Wesson: Well, he thinks like a cop.

  1. So violating critics’ 1st Amendment rights is okay, because Englander believes he is something that he isn’t, and acts in a way that even police officers shouldn’t?

Wesson checks both his phone and his watch.

  1. In response to my recent Public Records Act request, your office (like that of Mayor Garcetti, City Controller Ron Galperin, Councilmember Paul Koretz and various city departments) refuse to send me any of the public documents to which I am entitled…other than a regurgitation of my own emails. They say the public is better off with less disclosure than more. In fact, the report and related work product that you asked me to author about problems at LA Animal Services, was not provided to me by of them. What gives?

Wesson: Maybe they threw it out.

  1. All of them?   Besides, it was an electronic document!

Wesson: Let’s move on.

Wesson pivots to get a drag (i.e. a cigarette) from his car, where his son and aide Justin dutifully waits. 

  1. Is Mayor Garcetti angling to be Hillary Clinton’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development? Is that why he has been sending out untruthful Tweets about helping the homeless and LA getting the 2021 Super Bowl? 

I will leave his response to your imagination. The interview is over.   He paid for the java and said I could get the next one, assuming that there is a next one. 

Wesson came seeking a better line of communication with me, and I look forward to having one with him.   To know him personally, is to know a likable man who would be a good neighbor, if for nothing other than he has better sidewalks in his neighborhood than I do in mine. But to get a City Hall truth from him, and to honor his assurances, is like nailing Jell-O to a wall. Talk, like Jell-O, is cheap. But action and the truth are not.

 

(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a writer who lives in Los Angeles and blogs on humane issues at EricGarcetti.blogspot.com

-cw