Will West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Need A Bail Out?


In WeHo News yesterday, columnist and former West Hollywood City Councilman Steve Martin predicts the Creative City may need to "bail out" the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce with taxpayer dollars.

Why?

Martin writes that it all starts with the recent firing of the chamber's former executive director, Sharon Sandow, who was apparently forced out of her job because of her opposition to a proposed outdoor smoking ban at the city's nightclubs and bars.

Sandow's sacking may have been improperly handled, writes Martin, so if she sues the chamber and wins, the city of West Hollywood may have to bail out the cash-strapped chamber of commerce.

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"Expect the city to be asked to pick up the tab for

this fiasco," writes Martin, who knows the ins and outs of West Hollywood City Hall as well as anyone. "The taxpayers won't be asked to pay directly for a Sandow

judgment or settlement, but it may be part of a chamber 'bail out.'"

Martin points out that West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman, who was a key figure in a recent L.A. Weekly cover story titled "West Follywood," may have been behind the Sandow firing, which WeHo News had previously reported.

But that wasn't all that Martin, who has excellent insider sources, tackled in his regular column.

According to Martin, West Hollywood officials are now "back pedaling" on the outdoor smoking ban, telling nightclub and bar owners that they have no intention of enforcing it.

"
The city is privately assuring bar owners that there

will be no enforcement mechanism," Martin writes. "No money will be appropriated for

enforcement and if anyone is going to be cited, it will be the smoking

patron, not the business. If no code enforcement officer is in the area,

smokers can puff away with impunity."

West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman and council members Abbe Land and Jeff Prang support the smoking ban, even though it may turn out to be essentially a fake one.

Councilman John Duran strongly opposes it, while Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath hasn't made her position known yet.

Bar and nightclub owners such as Trip Wilmot of East/West Lounge and Sandy Sachs of The Factory told L.A. Weekly that such a ban would severely hurt their businesses, especially during these tough economic times.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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