OPINION 💬 Sepi Shyne’s rocky year as mayor

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Sepi Shyne’s term as mayor began Jan. 9, 2023 with a promise to illuminate — to “eradicate the toxicity and darkness that has pervaded our social fabric, especially in politics.”

But her term will end today with West Hollywood citizens left in the dark about their mayor and the mysterious events during her final months in office that led her to seek a workers’ compensation claim against the city and a workplace violence restraining order against a man somehow involved in her trip to the emergency room last fall.

She’s kept as quiet on the matter as she has about additional security measures taken during recent City Council meetings and why the top floor of City Hall is now reportedly off limits to the public. 

Silence as a shield, for better or worse, has proven to be an effective defense mechanism for Shyne, and a tool to keep the narrative under control.

It took more than a month after she became mayor for Shyne to reveal she was also running for Congress, already an open secret that had been written about in the news. 

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Throughout her entire term as mayor, she has worn two hats: 1) that of the up-and-coming progressive Democrat in tune with big national issues and 2) that of the small-town mayor dealing with less exciting bread-and-butter problems in WeHo. It’s a tricky dual role she sometimes struggled with.

Shyne got flak for skipping a council meeting to rub shoulders in D.C. and for sneaking off on a secret, all-expenses-paid trip to the Holy Land with Councilmember Chelsea Byers intended to endear them to Israel’s causes. Since the war with Hamas began, Shyne has walked a precarious fine line voicing support for the Jewish state and denouncing antisemitism at home while not alienating the crucial progressive voter bloc standing firmly on the side of the Palestinians.

She faced much opposition over the past year — a recall effort, anti-scooter activists, a business community in revolt, the press — and weathered the words of many a disgruntled resident.

But her critics never landed a knockout — the recall fizzled, and her positions were rarely swayed by public outcry. 

The brightest moments of her term were those when she was willing to compromise her notoriously firm stances — on restoring the sheriff’s budget and agreeing to a citywide survey before determining the fate of the scooters.

Yet she kicked the can on a desperately needed reassessment of the controversial wage and paid-time-off policies she championed.

And she dismissed fears about safety in the city even as residents were being held up at gunpoint, assaulted and robbed over and over again.

“Crime is going to happen,” Shyne told ABC in April, still touting the replacement of sheriffs with security ambassadors. “It’s worked, because crime has gone down. Priority for us is safety and we are safer than we have been in the past.”

On more than one occasion during her time as mayor, Shyne’s behavior was described as retaliatory.

And her public attacks and attempts to silence members of the media over unflattering reports should concern voters deciding whether to hand her greater power this March — particularly in light of accusations leveled at the current congressman over censorship of dissident voices and government overreach.

As mayor, Shyne found immediate success in the long-awaited revival of the Halloween Carnaval and the popular Pet Mayor and Drag Laureate programs.

But her term may ultimately be remembered for projects whose full impact won’t be felt for years, including the bike lanes on Fountain Avenue, the homeless facility replacing the Holloway Motel, the Builder’s Remedy loophole that lets developers violate height restrictions and the long-term strategic plans that will codify hefty amounts of diversity, equity and inclusion into the city’s future. 

Returning to her role as a councilmember, Shyne will hit the campaign trail for the first time without the weight of her responsibilities as WeHo’s top elected official and de facto spokesperson — but also without the publicity perk of being able to say she’s mayor.

While she leaves office with debatable progress made in bridging the divide or lifting the mood of politics in WeHo, her term as mayor offered many personal lessons — the need for transparency and diplomacy, dealing with a fragmented constituency and belligerent critics, how to navigate no-win situations — that will prove invaluable should she become a congresswoman. 

Will Sepi Shyne heed those lessons? Will she ever enlighten us as to what’s going on behind the curtain?

There’s only one person who knows, and her lips are sealed.

 

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West
23 days ago

It’s a joy to read Brandon’s critique, even when the subject is so unsavory. 🙏👏

Oh, sure...
Oh, sure...
1 month ago

What happened to the oft mentioned recall effort? Oh, that’s right, people on here only seem spout fire and fury which results in nothing. Some time ago, a rather important matter was to be considered by Council. Many here expressed their concerns. I posted a comment urging everyone to come to Council and say whatever they wanted about the issue. Much to my deep disappointment only myself and one other person spoke from the podium. So, please stop complaining and actually do something. I now wonder how many on here have even been to a Council meeting, yet alone spoke… Read more »

Not Cool
Not Cool
1 month ago
Reply to  Oh, sure...

Please tell us what your particular issue was.

Outraged
Outraged
1 month ago

It is unconscionable and drastically civically irresponsible that the City Council has not censured and ousted that malicious incompetent fraud and that the Citizens of the City have not demanded her ouster via recall election or forced resignation through mass protest. Her arrogant, incompetent, vicious, vindictive “don’t you know how much power I have??” retaliation tactics against any legitimate citizen who challenges her pathetic “leadership” should never have been allowed. How many people has she removed from positions or humiliated? How has she been directly so (and even more insidiously, indirectly) vindictive without consequences from a fair-minded citizenry? The destruction… Read more »

Eric
Eric
1 month ago

Shes been a disgrace as Major and a disgrace as a council member. She is simply not fit to be a public servant.

John
John
1 month ago

The entire city council is a joke. This city is a national embarrassment.

Pedro
Pedro
1 month ago

Just skip straight to the comments.

John Ryan
John Ryan
1 month ago

for the first time without the weight of her responsibilities as WeHo’s top elected official” PUH LEESE One of the major problems with Ms. Shyne is that she NEVER felt the weight of responsibility as the top elected official in WeHo. She ALWAYS acted in HER OWN best interest and I suspect she always will. Good for her but awful for WeHo.

Clean House
Clean House
1 month ago

Weho needs to clean house. Begin with City Hall by retiring David Wilson, fire Danny Rivas, Janet Jimenez and we constituents/voters will vote her and John Erickson out.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago

One of the worst things to happen to the city in its history. Happy to see her term over but unfortunately it doesn’t mean that she’s gone just yet.

Victim Advocates Association

Honestly, where were these individuals like Sepi, Chelsea or John Erickson when I was trained on Victim Advocate Interventions for Hate Crime victims in 1997 in Weho on 501c3 outreach team and almost died from LASD in Weho not showing up fast enough during a Rehab client being picked up who agreed to rehab? I been pro bono on 501c3s for Rehab or Violent Crime Interventions and she has no idea how serious it is to not have Weho LASD assisting fast enough, and arresting violent crime “perps”! Drug dealers hiding in apartment attacking me and actress enroute to Rehab… Read more »

Cy Husain
1 month ago

NO diversity or attempting to attain it is NOT the problem here ❗ YES LASD corruption likely played a significant role but, I see some very poor preparation (exceptionally important for those UNDER 6′ tall & 200 lbs) for entering a high risk situation played an even grater role. Not only should you have backup (NOT being alone), you should have been trained and experienced in basic techniques of escape, evade & attack during an active violent encounter.

Victim Advocates Association

What is “playing the victim” mean? When city leaders become elitists, narcissism or gaslighting focus. Real leaders are approachable, and listen, and learn and do not need to create themselves as victims.

Last edited 1 month ago by Victim Advocates Association
voter
voter
1 month ago

Sepi Shyne was the worst mayor the residents of West Hollywood have ever had to suffer through. She lacks the essential skills needed to lead any type of community. Her ambitions are so far beyond her abilities that it’s laughable.

WehoQueen
WehoQueen
1 month ago
Reply to  voter

Lindsey Horvath did more long term damage that can’t and won’t be repaired ever. Sepi is just a simpleton clown who does the bidding of fascist outsider thug unions. It’s so easy to vote for the delusional person who tells voters what they want to hear “everyone’s getting $30 an hour” and “nearly free rent for the freeloaders”. But the bills come due, and there’s not enough money for needed security. The uninformed voters ultimately are to blame.

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