The White House is more than 2,600 miles from West Hollywood, a distance emblematic of how far left the progressive city is compared with elected leaders running the nation on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Last week the distance came into focus as West Hollywood officials made their city the first in Southern California to pass a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
West Hollywood was the 80th city or township in the nation to pass such a declaration, following similar actions in Michigan, Ohio and Vermont as well as six cities in Northern California, including Arcada and Eureka.
Citing perceived abuses of power and constitutional transgressions, such as domestic wiretapping and torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the City Council passed the resolution unanimously Monday.
Mayor John J. Duran said he thought it was his civic responsibility to hold elected officials responsible for what he called egregious crimes.
“Someday I know I’ll look back and I’ll be satisfied that when I thought the Constitution was in peril, I took some action rather than just sat passively by,” Duran said.
He hopes the Santa Monica and Beverly Hills councils will follow suit, increasing pressure on Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) to take action in Congress.
The idea was introduced to West Hollywood officials by Peter Thottam, executive director of the Los Angeles National Impeachment Center, which recently opened near the Beverly Center as the nation’s first “impeachment headquarters.” The center has a staff of about 100 volunteers; it stages protests every Sunday outside the Federal Building in Westwood.
Thottam said the West Hollywood resolution signals a victory for his group.
“We’re pretty excited,” Thottam said. “We think it lays the foundation for a very strong movement here in Southern California.”
A major goal is to eventually persuade the Los Angeles City Council to pass a similar resolution. The message probably would be much louder coming from the second-largest city in the nation, compared with West Hollywood’s population of about 35,000, Duran said.
West Hollywood has a history of passing resolutions opposing the actions of conservative administrations, including its approval two years ago of a call to end the war in Iraq.
Residents said they have often heard anti-Bush and Cheney banter in bars, restaurants and coffee shops. Many said that although they did not align with the Bush administration’s politics, they had mixed feelings about the potential for an impeachment resolution.
“As a whole, do they make a convincing argument? Yes,” West Hollywood resident John Tower said while eating lunch recently at Joey’s Cafe on Santa Monica Boulevard. “I hear them criticized all the time.”
Still, Tower said he wished city leaders had surveyed residents before choosing to speak for everyone.
Across the street at Irv’s Burgers, Steven Hadnagy smiled and said simply: “That’s not going to happen.”
Hadnagy said that he thought Bush was a “lousy” president but that he was tired of local communities disagreeing with elected officials and then trying to recall or impeach them.
“You can’t impeach the entire Republican Party,” Hadnagy said. Instead, he said, he was placing his bets on the 2008 election.