By Hillel Aron, LA Weekly
Had things gone a bit differently, Herb Wesson might have been a
comedian. In fact, he tried his hand at stand-up comedy shortly after
moving to Los Angeles.
“I wasn’t a very good one,” he says with a laugh.
glad-hander, capable of making a deal with almost anyone, if perhaps not
exactly a man at the center of debates about government transparency
and fiscal responsibility.
A short man (made to look all the shorter when seated next to
towering Councilman Bill Rosendahl), Wesson is as charming as he is
quirky. As a member of the California state Assembly, he was
photographed pantomime swan-kicking (à la Karate Kid) a Chinese
monk in the crotch. As a Los Angeles city councilman, every Friday
(just before or after the City Council famously blows two or three hours
awarding medieval parchment-sized certificates to various citizens),
Wesson, in his own version of avoiding the heavy lifting and playing to
the crowd, implores citizens to adopt a dog or cat, and he helpfully
brings the pets to council chambers.
“If you would ever love to have a companion that will always be there
for you when you need it, I can’t think of a better one than this
3-year-old Chihuahua mix,” he said a couple weeks ago, without irony. In
his arms he held the dog, Jackie O., who was wearing what appeared to
be a purple life preserver.
“If you were to put somebody at the steering wheel of the Titanic,
Herb would be the perfect person,” says Ron Kaye, activist and former
editor of the Los Angeles Daily News. “He’d be cracking jokes. The whole bridge would be entertained.”
Last Wednesday, the City Council voted unanimously, as it does so
often, to hand over the powerful City Council presidency to Wesson.
As council president, like a mini speaker of the Assembly, Wesson
will have the power to reward fellow council members with choice
appointments to influential City Council committees — such as Planning
and Land Use Management– or to stick fellow council members on backwater
committees like Government Affairs.
He’ll also have sway as the man who runs the City Council meetings,
as did the risk-averse outgoing president, Eric Garcetti, who has held
the post for nearly six years.