Sunday, December 3, 2017

And We Danced.....

We used to meet in the Village.  Grab drinks from older guys, get buzzed and move on.  Bar crawl, from 16 years old.  Crazy colored hair, crazy clothes, more older guys, more drinks.  Maybe a quick blow job in the bathroom at Ty's on Christopher Street.  Laughing all the way to the peers.  Smoke a half pack of cigarettes, then decide where to go.  Ice Palace?  Sure.
And we danced.

Doing crazy things.  Getting crazy crushes.  Making more friends that didn't call me a fag.  Having so much fun.  I want to always be laughing.  Feeling secure and not afraid anymore.  Using my fake ID.  Let's go somewhere.  Styx?  Sure. 
And we danced. 

Never without a cigarette.  Always smoke them to the filter.   Cruising in the dark rooms at the bookstore.  Falling in love at the dirty movies.  Forget him in an hour and run out the side door.  Your boot heel broke...laughing again...Beauties?  Hell yeah...give me 4...I don't need a drink.  Starting to fly, need to move around.  The Monster?  Sure.
And we danced. 

Man you look skinny.  Looks good on you.  Me?  Nah, I've never weighed more than 120 pounds.  Tight Jordache, Sasson's, and wearing Z-14.  Smells like sex to me.  I dunno, haven't seen him in a month.  Can't get rid of the flu he said.  He's a drama queen anyway.  Micro-dot?  I'm down.  Put it on your tongue, let me lick it off.  This is insane.  And fun.  I feel jittery.  Studio?  Sure.
And we danced. 

Scary posters, scary chatter, scary faces.  Man you look too skinny.  I'm just sayin'.  St. Marks Baths?  Yes, but I want a room with you.  Just us.  Close the door.  Love spooning with you.  You smell like trouble.  I like trouble.  Coke?  Yes.  Put it on your stomach.  Let me snort it off of you.  Burning nose, sexed out, but feeling jumpy.  Let's go to the disco room.
And we danced. 

Why not?  C'mon it's probably allergies and they say Sylvester is the show tonight.  You're boring.  I'm going alone.  Lots of lights, lots of guys.  Back against the wall, smoking and looking around.  Everyone is so thin.  Faces are hollow.  Sure, why not?  Shotgun...lips touch.  Kissing, feeling high.  The show is on.  Let's jump on the speakers.  Don't worry.
And we danced. 

Man you feel hot.  You sure?  Maybe see the Dr.?  I'll come with you.  Let's go tomorrow.  Don't panic, its government propaganda.  I promise you're  fine.  Let me rub your back before your mother comes up here.  One day I'm telling her we're getting married.  Don't laugh.  Put on Bonnie Pointer.  Blast it.  C'mere.  I don't care.  Shower later. 
And we danced. 

Two weeks later.....Huh?  Is he sure?  I heard those tests aren't reliable anyway.  I'm not afraid.  I'm really not.  But I am.  Really.  I am.  Lost touch.  Didn't look back.  Missed him but was scared.  Acted out, acted bad, Act Up.  Marched and yelled.  Wore the shirts, carried the signs, used a fake name.  Burnt fingers from candles, sore throat from yelling, watched friends die.  Hid everything from family, and I missed him.  New York subway.  Waverly.   Opposite sides of the tracks.  Opposite cars...doors close.  See each other.  Wave really hard and laugh at each other.  For the last time.  Too young.  It was real. 
But we danced. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Part 4 of 6

"We are not exactly sure Mr. Palmieri",  was the answer I got from the Dr's. as to what caused this trauma.  "We think that you tore your colon at some point and it healed by itself.  Unfortunately, because of anything that may have come out into your system, you had a large amount of infected fluid inside, that we had to remove."  It was explained that they did an exploratory laparotomy, with an intestinal wash.

Thus  the 9 inch opening that was now on my stomach.  I had a 103 fever when admitted, so the infection explained that.   I was hooked up to no less that 6 IV's, with separate sites because the meds could not mix.    The worst thing for me was an NG tube going from my nostril into my throat down into my stomach. It hurt, was choking me, and of course prevented me from eating or drinking anything for 12 days.  So because of that I had a feeding tube inserted in the artery under my arm going into my chest.
 I told them to not tell me anything anymore, and just let me try to psyche myself up to get better.

 I had no clue I had sepsis, until literally 2 weeks AFTER I came home when my home nurse told me.  She said, "I really admire how you have come along because of your positive attitude", and that she thought she was going to  be pulling a sheet over my face when she first met me.  I asked her why, and she explained that she had never treated such a large open wound and have someone who had sepsis actually survive all of this.  I am glad I didn't know, as I would have been freaking out and not gotten any better.  My friend later told me that he knew that I looked septic but didn't say anything, and just let them treat it with the antibiotic drips.

Just when I thought this nightmare couldn't get any worse,  at some point, a surgeon came into my room (6 of them, everyday sometimes 2 or 3 times daily) and said "We will hook you up to a wound vac, that you will have for about 5 or 6 weeks after you leave."  It took 3 of them to hold me down and 2 shots of morphine to accomplish this task.   They put sterile sponges inside of my incision,  attached a suction hose to them, and then taped them all down with an enormous square of "surgical skin" which was a medical term for clear shelf liner.  This hose was then attached to a suction machine which I can only describe as some kind of compressor, with a container clipped on to it for blood.  It  killed me every day when they had to take it off and  change the sponges and  put on a new hose.

Once this hose was attached, and I don't mean tube I mean hose, they told me that walking, and breathing exercises  would help heal me.  Please understand that I REALLY REALLY can tolerate pain.  Walking with this kind of pain seemed barbaric.  Be clear though, that I wore the nurses out, because I walked so much.  I needed to get well, get home and get back to  my life.

Getting home became the goal.  I missed my apartment and Luna like mad.

Monday, November 28, 2016

What actually happened to Jimmy? part 3

As I lay on the stretcher, waiting on surgeons, I needed to make some calls.  My entire family is in NJ, and I needed to let them know.  I knew that  I would get voice mails because by this time it was around 1AM here, so it would be 4AM in Jersey.  I called my mom, brother and sister, as well as my best friends in California, and  left messages that I loved them, and that  I was in Cedars.  It was scary, as I didn't know if I would ever hear their voices, or see them  again.   I then texted my friend who has power of attorney and knows exactly what I want done in case of emergency.  She was at Cedars in less than 20 minutes, which was a miracle in itself, since she lives like 30 minutes away.

I was visibly shaken, and she just held my hand as they began prepping me for surgery.  I kept saying to her, "I don't want to die, I'm just not ready yet."  She kept saying back to me, "You aren't going to die, you are a really strong man.  You will make it through."  It was all veryscary, very dramatic and almost not real.  But it was real.  Really real.

"Breathe deep Mr. Palmieri, take nice deep breaths," said the anesthesiologist as he put a plastic mask over my face.  "I'm going to give you an IV that will calm you down," he said,  as I was literally shaking so violently  that I was almost falling from the stretcher.  I got sleepy and the next thing I remember was waking up.  The surgery was over, and in my head, it was all done and I was well.

"Do I have a colostomy?',  were the first words out of my mouth to the familiar surgeon.  There were 5 others, who would become a constant part of my life for the next 3 weeks. "No you don't," he responded.  I was very happy and although not crying I felt tears literally dripping down the sides of my face.  There was a very strange look on his face, and the faces of the other surgeons, nurses, and the half dozen other medical personnel.  As I began to wake up more, I was taken to a room, where my friend and 2 other friends, a married couple,  were already waiting.  They were very scared, and the wife came over and kissed me on the forehead.  She had been crying.  The husband came over and did the same.  They are my family out here, and they seemed so upset, I knew something else was coming my way.  I saw all three of my friends talking to Dr's. and surgeons, and my family started texting and calling by this time.  It all became a cyclone of emotion for me, and then the pain started.  Bad....I mean BIG BAD.

The wife of my married friends, came over to me and tried to explain that I didn't have cancer, and didn't have a colostomy,  and then rubbed her hand over  my forehead and said, "They did not close you up, just in case it is decided they must go back in to surgery."

WTF???  All I could think of in my head was that I was getting punked.  How the hell can they not "close someone up"?

Well it's possible I now know, and very painful.  Panic set in again, and they asked everyone to leave the room.  Two  pain management Drs. came in with a robot. Yes a robot.  It had two arms and a TV screen.  They said,  "We are going to get you out of pain but we will  need your cooperation".   When Drs. say cooperation, what they mean is, it will hurt a lot more before it gets better.  They went around what I now was to understand a gaping, open wound on my belly, and stared at the TV screen while they held a camera to my stomach.  When they found some nerve or artery that they wanted they positioned the robot arms on either side of me.  I literally had a robot type machine hovering over me, while one Dr. held my hand and said "Just breathe and squeeze my hand.  It will hurt a lot for 15 seconds then you will feel relief."  Loud clicking sounds began,  I was now squeezing his hand while the other Dr. guided the robot arms as  they moved in closer.   For about 15-20 seconds I thought I would black out from the pain of more than 10 needles (I think 5 on each side) went into my belly.  They both just kept chanting to me, "Numbing you, numbing you, numbing you."   I became numb, and oddly enough,  didn't feel my torso anymore.

I was taken back to my room, where none of my friends seemed happy.  All of them seemed like they were in a daze, and tried very hard to not frighten me anymore than I already was.  One female friend held my hand, and the other just kept kissing my forehead.  My male friend was as  white as a ghost but kept trying to smile while  saying "Buddy, everything is gonna work out."

I asked, "Am I really not closed up?", and my friend  that was kissing my forehead said, "Yes, they didn't close you up, and it may be best in the long run."

I panicked, but was given a shot very quickly to calm me down.  I drifted to sleep, and was dreaming of a Greek myth that I remember reading in high school.  The one about a guy who angered the Gods, and was chained to  a mountain or a cliff.  As his punishment, an eagle  would come and eat his liver out of his body, daily,  for the rest of eternity.  Prometheus....Prometheus was his name.

More tomorrow

Sunday, November 27, 2016

What actually happened to Jimmy?...part 2

Laying on my couch in some pain, trying to ignore it.  I took Luna for a walk, and decided to come back to my apartment and just go right  back to sleep on the couch.  The pain was getting worse and worse.  I went into the bathroom, and I noticed my stomach was starting to swell.  I laid back down, and just took deep breaths.

Finally, when the pain was too much, I tried to get off of the couch and walk around.  I couldn't.  The pain was so intense that I couldn't even put my foot on the floor to get up.  I started to panic, because a million thoughts were running through my head.  My hugest concern was what to do with Luna if I were to go to the hospital.  Her regular babysitter was in France, and the babysitter that just brought her back to me  had already left for Great Bear for a week with her boyfriend.

I let myself fall to the floor from the couch and literally crawled to my laptop to see if anyone close by was on Facebook.  My neighbor, (who has now become a good friend) was on messenger.  I knew her a little, and admired how well she treated her two dogs.  I typed something like, "It's Jimmy and I am very sick, can you please come and watch Luna, as I have to call 911?"

She answered in a minute or two and said, "Of course, I'll be right there."  She came over, and realized more than I , as she was on the outside looking in, that I didn't have time to wait for an ambulance.  She took Luna to her house and ran back to take me to Cedars.

Every bump in the street felt like a knife into my gut.  She was trying her best , but the pain was so bad I was almost blacking out.  We got to the emergency entrance and from what I recall, she just yelled,  "Help , he needs help."

It took 4 people to get me out of the car as I couldn't move my legs or torso.  I am a really tough guy when it comes to pain, but I never felt anything like this.  They tried to get me on a stretcher once they wheeled me inside, but I couldn't get up from the wheelchair.  The gave me a shot of morphine which did nothing. (morphine has zero effect on me) I asked for toradol, which is like a beefed up aspirin.  They said no in case surgery was needed.  SURGERY?  What was happening?

This very nice black dude, introduced himself to me  as a surgeon and said that he was sending me for a CT scan.  I went down to x-ray via stretcher at this point, screaming at  every turn that they made and bump in the floor that they hit.  Luckily the "scan man" was a friend of mine, so he was extremely gentle and cautious.

I was taken back upstairs, and in about 25 minutes, the surgeon came back and said, "Dude this is the real deal.....I am calling in the entire GI surgical team."   I literally was stunned and was speechless.  The next things he said to me, I will never forget, were some of the scariest things that  I have ever had to hear.

"Mr. Palmieri, I need to tell you a few things."  I nodded my head as if to say OK.
"Number one,  and please know I must tell you these things, is that there is a 30% chance you may not come out of this surgery alive."

WTF???? Is there anything else that could be worse I was thinking to myself.

"Number two, there is an extremely high chance that you will have a colostomy if you do survive."

This was getting worse, because most who know me, know that a colostomy is a huge fear of mine since I saw my uncle suffer with one for many years.  I had always said to myself and anyone else that knew him, that I would rather be dead than have to deal with one.  Now I was actually facing both.

"Number three, we need your advance directive and your power of attorney papers just in case....."

I, through excruciating pain was thinking to myself that this was really happening.  In my fear, and I guess my gay brain, I kept thinking of Mia Farrow screaming as she was being raped by Satan in Rosemarie's Baby, "This is no dream, this is really happening!"  I know...weird, but true.

I started to cry, and he said, "Mr. Palmieri, I am going to take good care of you, and I am not going to let you die."  His words , meant as comfort just instilled more fear.  I said to him "Promise me," he said, "I promise",  I then said "swear to me",  he said, "I can't...but I will pray loudly for you.."  I said "Please ask your God to watch out for me".  He asked me "Who is your God?".  I responded, "I don't know, I just don't know anymore."

More tomorrow.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What actually happened to Jimmy

So many of you send me messages daily on what actually happened to me.  I am not playing mysterious or even shy, it just is too draining to repeat over and over again.  I really appreciate the concern more than you can ever know, so I decided I will blog it, in a few parts.  If I try to write it all at once, I'll get into a spin and get upset.

I want to say upfront, that I do not know what the lesson to be learned was.  I've always loved life, and have always  appreciated every day of it, so it didn't make me appreciate my life any more.  I have always and do treat people very well.  It won't make me kinder.  It seems to be a bit of a cruel joke, but it happened and that's that.

From the beginning.  I was in San Francisco with a friend.  We were having a great time, just doing what we felt like, whenever we felt like it.  No schedule, no itinerary.  A few meetings but nothing enough to ruin the time.   We were just enjoying the beauty of staying at Fisherman's Wharf, the water, the people, the stores, and of course the amazing seafood.

We were having coffee one day in the Castro at the Country Club.  For those of you who don't know of it, it is a sober hangout.  It is used for meetings, socializing, hanging out and also has a cool coffee bar in it.

I got a cramping feeling in my stomach and told my friend to get the coffees and meet me outside on the outdoor patio.  The cramping was intense and it was making me sweat a lot.  The air was cool so I thought it best to be out there.

After a while it stopped and we went to leave and go to dinner at a french place we passed by and liked.  The Country Club is an old Victorian house that was donated.  It has about 16 steps to get to the sidewalk.  My friend went ahead of me, thinking all was OK.  She walked a few doors down, not knowing that I literally fell down the stairs from pain and was caught by this guy at the bottom.  I didn't get hurt, but knew something was wrong.  I am big at ignoring pain, so I did.  All through dinner, then all through late night drinks and snacks.

I did tell her the next day that I was tired and was gonna stay in my room all day, and to pick me up for dinner.  She was fine with that and did her own thing.  I laid down all day, fighting off cramping, and believing I ate too much seafood and probably was having some kind of reaction.

She came  back later and got me, and we went to dinner, but kept it slow and close to the hotel. The cramping was there but less.  I laughed through dinner and just couldn't wait till the next day to get back to Weho.
If you know me, that is a true sign that something is wrong, because I love San Francisco.  I NEVER want to leave when I visit there.  

The next day which was a Saturday, we flew back home, taking our time and she drops me off at my apartment.  The babysitter brought Luna home, and I laid on the couch cuddling with her.  Something was wrong, but I just ignored it, because I assumed I would be OK now that I was in my own apartment.

Wrong.  Very wrong.

I'll write more tomorrow.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sour Milk

As part of its "One City One Pride" calendar of events, on Sunday May 22, Harvey Milks actual birthday, the city of West Hollywood held a screening of the Academy Award winning Gus Van Sant film MILK.  It was held in the West Hollywood city council chambers.
West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister

There was to be the film itself followed by a "panel" discussion, followed by a small reception.  I arrived just as the film was starting.  I have seen it probably 10 times, but haven't seen it in a year.  Keeping in mind that Harvey Milk is arguably the most famous gay icon/politician/activist ever, he deserves the respect of me  once again watching the story of  what he lived and died for.
legendary gay male icon/activist/politician Harvey Milk

He was a simple man, living a simple, if not boring life in NYC until his fortieth year.  Making a change and moving to San Francisco, having an "out" gay relationship in an GLBT hostile world, calling for gay rights and acceptance, he became one of the most revered men in the GLBT movement, if not actually creating a full on movement.    He opened a small neighborhood camera shop in the Castro, and eventually became known as the Mayor of Castro Street,  This wasn't an easy task, as he wasn't welcome with open arms by any stretch.

Milk was a showman.  He had a special ability to mobilize, create and have gay men and lesbians join together for a common cause.  He wanted nothing more than equality and nothing less.  He was a performer.  He had a talent for getting press, and after several failed  attempts at becoming  an elected official, he was finally elected to a seat as a city Supervisor,  as an openly gay man in San Francisco.  His dramatic antics, and P.T.  Barnum-like personality won him many supporters, but also detractors.  His life was threatened many times by mail and ominous,  anonymous letters with gruesome drawings of how his genitals would be hacked from his body.  He never went to the police, as he told his then partner, the police probably sent them.

As in many political marriages, his true love left because of the stress of public life.  He never fell out of love with Milk, nor Milk with him.  Milks next partner hung himself in their apartment for the same reasoning, more or less.  Of course there were underlying mental and substance abuse problems, but as many know, gay men are prone to suicide at an alarmingly higher rate then our hetero counterparts.  Lack of acceptance and  familial support and lack of laws protecting our jobs, housing etc. add to the pressures of life that heteros simply do not endure.  Continually being called faggot, queer, pervert and sick,  and  being made to believe by foes such as Anita Bryant and John Briggs through ballot initiatives, that we are unworthy , creates fertile grounds for substance abuse and mental instability.

Milk fought these political behemoth's fearlessly.  He "collected" throwaways, like Cleve Jones (founder of the names project) and others who had no direction or anywhere to go.  I know Cleve.  I have interviewed him several times.  He is a strong proud gay man, and has become part of our amazing history.

Milk's  story doesn't end on a happy note.  He had premonitions of being assassinated, and on November 27th 1978, he and his friend Mayor Moscone, a straight ally were shot and killed by resigned supervisor Dan White.  His arrest and trial were cause for outrage, as his lawyers claimed his diet of junk food, later to be coined "the twinkie defense" got him only 5 years for manslaughter for these clearly premeditated murders.  After the trial and decision by jurors, more than 3000 people charged through the Castro to city hall, breaking doors, trampling police cars, and demanding justice.  They became known as The White Night Riots.  NO ONE WAS ARRESTED.

More than 30,000 supporters and mourners walked through the Castro to city hall to show respect for the fallen hero.  He was and is a legend.  If not for him there would not be us.  He started a movement that to this day exists, still fighting the religious right, the homophobes, the uninformed.  He always said "You gotta give 'em hope."  He did just that.

The panel was moderated by veteran  lesbian journalist Karen Ocamb.  She was the right person for the job.  She was there.  She covered all of this.  If not for her, I would have left.  The rest of the panel was made up of lesbians.  I found it so inappropriate and so  careless to have an entirely lesbian panel.  NOT A SINGLE GAY MALE WAS ON THE PANEL.
no gay men
 How can this be?  DON'T ASK ME.....And don't try to say that we have a lack of qualified men that could have given insight as to what it is like to be a gay male activist in this country.  It was offensive to say the least.  The sadder part was that the panel did not seem to be acutely aware of Milk.  When Karen asked questions, one panelist looked at her as though she had no clue what to say, and Karen literally said, "There will be hard questions."
Moderator, legendary lesbian journalist Karen Ocamb telling a panelist "There will be hard questions."
 It was said that one panelist never heard of him till she moved to West Hollywood, one answer to a relative question was "ditto" referring to another panelists answers.  I do not know how I held my head from exploding.  What I do know is that if this were about a lesbian activist, we would have searched high and low for  lesbian panelists, or there would have been a backlash, the likes of which  we have not seen since....well since Pride took away the Trans party.
lesbian only panelists

Our Mayor Lauren Meister asked why we didn't have a bigger turnout.  One guess Madame Mayor is that THERE WERE NO GAY MEN INCLUDED IN THE DISCUSSION.  I am not interested in excuses that there weren't any to find.  I HAVE BEEN IN THIS MOVEMENT FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS.  MY PHONE DIDN'T RING.  Don't like my attitude?  It's that attitude that has accomplished making meth/recovery/homelessness  all forefront priorities.  There is a little group known as Stonewall with several accomplished gay male activists to choose from.  There are non profits that have activists employed and available for the asking.  This was not thought out, not well done, and not outreached.

Towards the end, a lesbian from the audience started talking about Bernie and Hillary.  Karen, the moderator tried to curtail it, only to hear screams of misogyny, misogyny, then and now.  REALLY?  We are chanting misogyny at a tribute to Harvey Milk?  My heart was broken and I left.  I had waited weeks for this, even posting it on Face Book.  I wish I stayed home and watched MILK on pay per view.  I think I might have felt more in tune to what Milk's  message was.

My call to action is for the city, the city council members, staff and boards to start creating a list of available activists that are appropriate for a panel.  I propose listing men and women, categorizing them and calling upon them as needed.  NO PANEL IS BETTER THAN A BAD PANEL.

I am just grateful for Karen Ocamb, or I would have left way before the panel was over.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Last West Hollywood Debate..or Down the Rabbit Hole.

The Last of the Debates….Proof positive of the need to elect Heilman.  

 While I was walking to Monday night's  candidate debate for our special election for a single West Hollywood  city council seat  this Tuesday June 2, I was not sure what I was walking into.  Having a citizen host a debate at their home is unprecedented. I arrived before anyone, so if I felt uncomfortable I could bail.  It was nice.  The host, Nir,  was excited, gregarious, and sometimes absolutely funny in how he moderated. 


Heidi Shink arrived first, with her parents.  She is a current Planning Commissioner and previous Human Services Commissioner.  Her campaign has been riddled with investigation allegations, impropriety allegations, lies and egregious mistakes on LGBT issues.  

Larry Block, arrived after her.   A local businessman, fierce neighborhood advocate and well liked guy.  His campaign has been clean.  He accepted no developer dollars.  

John Heilman was there moments later.  John is a former Weho Council member of nearly 30years.   He is currently a Professor of law, running to regain a seat on the council.  His 30 year history of politics and activism is almost unattainable by most.  

Cole Ettmon- Came late left early.  Sometimes schedules do not always permit participation.  He tried while he was there but nothing of note was said in such a short time. 

Nir, the host,  gave very specific instructions to the candidates.  There was to be no negativity, although comically, it was he himself who  provided us with special moments of negativity in his stories in between,  and sometimes during candidate responses.
I watched closely for body language and listened intently for tone and knowledge as the candidates answered.  Here are a few questions I thought most important. 


Block-  Answered as a landlord.  He loves animals, and has a dog of his own.  He does not see how a city could demand that a landlord accept pets.  He didn’t support it, but let us know how important he thought pets were.

Shink-Yes.  She noted there are more than 10,000 dogs in the city.  She supports laws allowing pets as she has 2 of her own.  Her answer wasn’t very detailed, but her point came across.  Unfortunately, I do not think she is aware that you CANNOT force a landlord to allow pets if they so choose not to.  

Heilman- Knowing his answer might not be the popular one, he stated the truth.  We cannot force a landlord to allow pets in their buildings.  However, he was knowledgeable about laws that we have that do allow you to have a pet even if you live in a no pet building.  There are laws allowing seniors, HIV/AIDS patients and disabled.  We allow 2 dogs or cats  less than  35 pounds with a medical letter stating you need a support animal.  .  The other candidates did not seem to be aware of the details, although Block seemed to have some knowledge as he was a Disabilities Advisory Board member.  . 

The Ellis Act is the ability to “go out of the business of being a landlord” and evicting all of your tenants.  It’s a law that has been used by landlords, oft to raise rents or to sell to developers.  FOR BIG MONEY.   How would each candidate deal with it?

Shink- She said she would want to try hard to repeal the Ellis Act, at least in part by making it harder to enforce.  She didn’t seem sure of her response.  Rightly so, as I am not exactly sure she was getting her point across.
Heilman- Let us know that we have one of the strictest rent stabilization laws of almost anywhere in Ca.  He helped draft those laws as such.  He went on to tell us that we have lobbyists in Sacramento fighting for the city to try to lessen the impact of the Ellis Act.  He knew that we have longer grace periods for evictions of seniors and disabled, there are higher relocation fees for the most vulnerable and explained that Weho has very little control of Sacramento’s enforcement of the law, but that we are trying to lessen its impact.   This answer came easy for him, he was extremely knowledgeable about it.   

Block- As always showed compassion for anyone “Ellissed” and agreed that it would be great to try to lessen the impact as well. 

Inclussionary Housing

Heilman made it clear, that he is now and always has been a champion of inclusionary housing.  He wants affordable units included in new development, and pointed out that without smart development there could be NO NEW AFFORDABLE/INCLUSSIONARY  HOUSING.  There is a law that states new development must include or pay a  fee towards the development of inclussionary housing.  He has fought against naysayers, and has sometimes been the target of attack because of development.  Housing the most vulnerable is important to him.  He sees the reality and need for development in order to provide these services. 

Shink, answered well, although not as precise or as clearly thought out as Heilman.  She supports inclusionary housing, but doesn’t seem to want development.  This isn’t a dichotomy.  Many new candidates say the same.  They want to make sure they don’t isolate or anger anyone.  She is walking a tightrope no doubt.  She was forceful with her answer, but it came across as a tactic.  She panders to pro developers and anti developers.  This is a red flag for me. 
Candidate Heidi Shink at the Beverly Hills Hotel  Polo Lounge breaking the LGBT boycott on the establishement  with her "power lesbian" friends as they state on twitter.   She texted a lie to me whe I asked her and she said she was only driving by to pick up a friends mom.  She wasn't aware her picture was already in the paper.  LIES RAISE RED FLAGS FOR ME.  

Candidate John Heilman, answering questions truthfully without pandering.  

Candidate Larry Block contemplating his answer. 

Block, agreed with Heilman, and said he was for inclusionary housing, and wanted it scattered throughout the city by actually including it in the new buildings.  He seemed confident. 


Block- Yes and is involved in the sober working group (I am adding this).  He advocates for more dollars for drug addiction services as well as homeless shelters. 

Shink- Yes and noted that when she was a Human Services Commissioner, she wanted more money to be spent.  She also revealed she had more than 20 years of sobriety, and understood the need.  She has claimed during her campaign to have been part of the creation of sober events like #BOOM! and #SIZZLE, which is untrue  It is simply another painted story to make  an empty resume appear full.    

Heilman- His answer was not an immediate yes.  I think all eyes were on him at that moment.  He was the only candidate to fully explain that in order to provide dollars to new organizations, they would have to meet West Hollywood’s  scope of service.  This means they have high standards to reach, as we would be spending tax payer dollars which are not to be gambled with.  He would be open to more dollars being  spent, but again , as long as we are getting what we pay for.  

My vote is going to Heilman.  It was clear that he has the most knowledge, deals in reality, and isn’t trying to pander.  I do not always agree with everything he says or does, but at this turning point of our city hood, he is needed.  30 years of experience does not translate to entitlement to me.  It translates as a person willing to give most of their life to a city that they love.  He has accomplished more than any candidate and sitting council member could hope for.  He is sometimes distant, but is always there for his city.  I admire that.  I admire that he campaigns without referring to other candidates negatively and that he is willing to take hits that are thrown his way, and yet still want to be involved.  I hope he has your vote as we look ahead at a city that we all love.