Last night, four members of the Beverly Hills City Council blew a golden public relations opportunity — and refused to approve a strong anti-Measure J resolution. The initiative seeks to extend a recent half-cent L.A. County sales tax hike for another 30 years to 2069.

Instead, the Beverly Hills Courier reports, City Council members Willie Brien, Julian Gold, Lili Bosse and Barry Brucker approved a wishy-washy resolution to “not take a position in support of Measure J,” with Councilman John Mirisch the lone dissenter.

“Not supporting something is not the same as opposing it,” Mirisch said. “This doesn't address the civil rights, social justice or spending (issues).”

So here's the back story. It may seem a little complicated, but we'll try to keep it simple.

You see, many people in Beverly Hills don't want the Westside subway to be built underneath the Beverly Hills High School campus — Beverly Hills Unified board members are concerned that they won't be able to push through a long-planned renovation project at the campus if a subway tunnel is there.

The Measure J money, which is an extension of Measure R, which voters approved in 2009, will help fund the Westside subway. So it would make sense for Beverly Hills officialdom to oppose Measure J.

Now over the past year, pro-Westside subway factions are steamed that Beverly Hills has been putting up such a fight to stop the subway, which includes a couple of lawsuits.

Those critics have been hitting Beverly Hills hard, saying the city isn't so much concerned about the renovation project but with the prospect of having a certain “element” come into Beverly Hills via the subway.

Here was the golden opportunity for the Beverly Hills City Council.

A kind of rainbow coalition has formed to oppose Measure J, with an assortment of black, white and brown folks, Democratic and Republican, rich, poor and middle-class trying to stop the ballot measure.

Everyone from the Bus Riders Union to the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Beverly Hills Unified School District board members, Northeast L.A. Residents Against Measure J, Union de Vecinos of Boyle Heights, Congress of Racial Equality-CA and La Basta of East Los Angeles is officially against Measure J.

Even Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, a Republican who represents the more conservative northern sections of L.A. County, has joined the No on Measure J fight.

They all have different reasons, but they're all peeved at Metro board members, who want more county sales tax money to supposedly build more transportation projects.

Last night, Beverly Hills City Council members could have approved a resolution that said in no uncertain terms that they opposed Measure J. They would have firmly joined hands with brown and black folks from Boyle Heights and Crenshaw and negated the pro-Westside subway argument — at least somewhat.

Instead, Brien, Brucker, Gold and Bosse took a pass — and now Beverly Hills looks even more elitist.

To the frustration and dismay of many folks in Beverly Hills, their City Council has long been hesitant to play hard ball against the likes of L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who want the Westside subway to go underneath the high school.

Will Beverly Hills politicians feel any fallout? We'll see. Another election is coming up for City Council members in 2013.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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