@THE GUSS REPORT-The most important vote some Angelenos will cast next week is not in the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
It will be the race for the next LA County Supervisor between Holly Mitchell (photo above, right) and Herb Wesson (photo above, left), to represent the County’s Second District and serve as the Supervisors’ Chair and the 10 million people they represent.
Even Wesson’s enablers at the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News and Daily Breeze endorsed his qualified and accomplished opponent, Holly Mitchell. Let’s be thankful that they eventually saw the light about Wesson’s corruption, destructiveness and failure, and hope that some people still take into consideration newspaper endorsements in an age when social media and pop stars reach vastly more people.
So let’s pause for a question: is LA worse now than when Wesson first arrived in City Hall? How about in the last 10 years, during his abusive tenure as LA City Council president?
Here’s my story.
On January 3, 2014, I had a lengthy meeting with Wesson and his right-hand man Michael Bai, who is / was / may still be his side partner in a liquor business; how’s that for a politician’s side-gig? The subject was how to fix the extensive problems and corruption at LA Animal Services, the City’s deadly animal pounds. Wesson didn’t do anything he promised, so I got back in touch with him on July 3 when his deviousness reared its ugly head.
Wesson told me to write him a report (that I could easily have written by that point) identifying all the problems at LAAS, whether from failure or corruption. He said he would make a motion for an audit of and that Councilmember Paul Koretz, the generic City Hall representative of humane issues, would second his motion “to give him cover.”
Now, why would a politician give “cover” when honest and transparent representation is the thing about which they always jabber?
Wesson knew that the LAAS problems were deadly, corrupt, and embarrassing to Mayor Eric Garcetti, who he acknowledged didn’t give a darn about humane issues. Wesson’s cowardice kicked in despite being shown an email from Roger Wolfson, then-LAAS Commissioner, which described LAAS as “a leaking rowboat.” (Wolfson was later booted after this column reported on domestic violence allegations that his now-ex-wife leveled against him).
Wesson instructed me to leave his name off of the report. How’s that for leadership?
Wesson’s cowardly, hypocritical move foreshadowed that City Controller Ron Galperin would not get to the bottom of the solvable problems in LA’s deadly, ineffective animal pounds. Instead, these corrupt men facilitated an audit only of things not included in the report that Wesson specifically asked me to provide. They used it like a film negative; to identify areas that Galperin was to avoid auditing.
When I later confronted Wesson over this, he danced, dodged, and denied what transpired, instead daring me to “write about something other than animal issues.”
He probably regretted those words ever since, as this column has exposed more of Wesson’s corruption than most LA media outlets combined, including Wesson falsifying his residency when he first ran for City Council. His son Justin Wesson did the same, using his parents’ address on his voter registration while living outside of the City, which is criminal, as is his voting where he did not reside.
Wesson’s wife Fabian Wesson falsified her educational qualifications to land a quarter-million-dollar job at the South Coast Air Quality Management District. One of their other sons got a rent break on his apartment from his landlord/real estate developer while the rest of his tenants got rent increases. Wesson used LAPD resources for security at a private family function and refused to prove he reimbursed the taxpayers. He repeatedly defaulted on everything from his Discover Card to his mortgages while oddly obtaining larger mortgages.
Wesson was cited for unhealthy conditions at his rental property, which is used as a nursing facility. The chain-smoking lawmaker, according to long-term City Hall critic Zuma Dogg, allegedly claimed he is a non-smoker on insurance forms, which would be mail- or wire-fraud, if correct. Wesson discouraged this column from exposing stories like its series on the bigamy, perjury and possible identity theft committed by LA City Councilmember Curren Price. Wesson and his prison-bound felon pal Mitch Englander pressured the LAPD to threaten and intimidate me from pursuing these and other stories. It didn’t work. I sued them for those abuses and won.
But perhaps Wesson’s brashest declaration is the one which speaks loudest of his poor judgment.
In 2013, Herb Wesson urged LA voters to re-elect bribe-seeking City Hall pervert Jose Huizar, the since-banished lawmaker, declaring, “Mr. Huizar is like my brother, my best friend on the Council. I trust him with my life, he does the same for me,” said Wesson.
Now Huizar faces life in federal prison for corruption, though he has pleaded not guilty to a laundry list of charges and most likely spends these days assessing who he needs to flip on so he may regain his freedom later in life.
Wesson harmed LA even more consequentially with vindictive silencing of critics and poor- and middle-class people who needed help from the government he ran as City Council president, a role he inherited from Garcetti.
Under Garcetti, people got five minutes to speak plus two minutes for general subjects and were heard when the items were discussed. While he was a notorious free speech censor with passive-aggressive antagonism that cost the taxpayers a bundle in losing free speech legal battles, it was better than what Wesson inflicted upon succeeding him.
Wesson halved speaking time and randomly bunched comments at the start or end of meetings. If he didn’t like you, he would call your name when he saw you walk out of the Ferraro Chambers to use the restroom, declare that you lost your chance to be heard even upon your return. These corrupt traditions continue to this day under his successor Nury Martinez, who has brought her own form of free speech torture to the COVID and Zoom era.
Wesson did these things because he could.
He did it out of ego.
He did it because he is inherently corrupt and retaliatory.
The race between Trump and Biden is important but not nearly as consequential for Los Angeles as the race between Holly Mitchell and Herb Wesson. It is time for LA to send Mr. Wesson to retirement with his grotesque pension, liquor endeavors and magnificent wardrobe.
Herb Wesson screwed up the City of Los Angeles something awful. Let’s not give him the reigns of the County so he can mess up that for the 10 million people who live here and scores of others who drop in.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, was runner-up for the 2020 Los Angeles Press Club journalism award for Best Online Political Commentary and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.