LA WATCHDOG - Councilmembers Price, Harris-Dawson, and Hutt have introduced a resolution, if adopted by the City Council, where the Los Angeles City Council “recognizes Herb Wesson’s leadership and service to the City by naming the stairs entering City Hall South as Herb J. Wesson, Jr. Steps.”
Wesson was elected to the City Council in November of 2005, succeeding the ethically challenged Martin Ludlow. He was termed out in late 2020. From January of 2012 to January of 2020, he was the President of the City Council. He was succeeded by Nury Martinez, his hand-picked candidate.
Wesson was also a member of the California State Assembly from 1998 to 2004. He served as Speaker for his last two years and was succeeded by Karen Bass.
The resolution lists many of Wesson’s accomplishments, including his assistance in passing the $15 minimum wage; championing Measure H and Proposition HHH to help fund the homeless efforts of the City and the County; environmental legislation involving single use plastic bags, straws on request, and the shutting down of DWP’s Utah based coal powered facilities by 2025; and the introduction of policies to eliminate discrimination.
See the two page Resolution for the list of his accomplishments.
While praising Wesson’s accomplishments, the resolution fails to mention that Wesson presided over the most corrupt City Council in the history of Los Angeles.
It is ironic that this Resolution was introduced shortly after Wesson’s “best friend,” former Councilman Jose Huizar, pleaded guilty on January 20 to charges of conspiracy and tax evasion and will be spending the next nine to thirteen years in prison. Wesson, of course, installed Huizar as chair of the powerful Planning and Land Use Management committee of the City Council. He also redistricted DTLA into Huizar’s Council District. This allowed Huizar to extort developers into making campaign contributions and cash payments to Huizar, a fact that was conveniently ignored by Wesson and the City Hall establishment despite many telltale signs.
At the same time, the trial of Ray Chan, a former Deputy Mayor appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, will begin on February 21, the day Huizar was scheduled to go to trial in the same court room before he pleaded guilty. Chan is charged with RICO conspiracy, bribery, honest services fraud, and lying to federal agents.
Also under Wesson’s presidency, former Councilman Mitch Englander pleaded “guilty to one count of scheming to falsify material facts” in connection with his acceptance of gifts, including cash, hotel, rooms, and expensive gifts, from a businessman.
Wesson was also responsible for arranging for Nury Martinez to succeed him as City Council President, despite there being more qualified candidates.
There are numerous other errors of omission by Wesson, ranging his unwillingness to create an independent redistricting commission and his failure to implement the recommendations of the LA 2020 Commission (establish an Office of Transparency and Accountability and a Pension Commission and implement multiyear budgeting). He oversaw budget busting labor contracts and supported policies that limited public participation at the City Council and impeded transparency into the affairs of the City.
While the City Council will approve the naming of the Herb J. Wesson, Jr. Steps, it must also acknowledge his role in overseeing the most corrupt City Council in the history of the City of Los Angeles.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: [email protected].)