Councilman Wesson staffer Andrew Westall accused of Perjury
City News Service
LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A deputy to City Councilman Herb Wesson, who was
offered the top position on the city's 21-member redistricting commission, has
been accused of perjury, according to court records obtained by City News
Andrew Westall, who was offered executive director job two weeks ago,
was accused of perjuring himself in a lawsuit involving Councilman Bernard
Parks' failed 2008 campaign for a seat on the Board of Los Angeles County
The allegation is the basis for Parks' appeal of the lawsuit, which he
lost in January. Bernard Parks, Jr., the councilman's chief of staff, said the
case raises a conflict of interest for Westall, and he should not be heading
Westall did not return repeated calls and emails seeking comment.
The commission, which is set to discuss Westall's salary today, has been
marred by allegations of malfeasance before any district boundaries have even
Government watchdogs have raised questions about the choice of a city
councilman's staff member to head the commission that will approve his own
boss' district boundaries. ``I would have disqualified him the on the basis
that he's the councilman's employee. That would have been the end of it for
me,'' said Bob Stern, who headed the Center for Governmental Studies before it
closed last month.
And last week, Councilwoman Jan Perry resigned from her leadership
position on the City Council, alleging that district maps were being finalized
behind closed doors, not in public by the commission.
Westall was working for Parks' campaign in 2008 when he and campaign
manager Herb Wesson III -- the councilman's son -- arranged $60,000 in
automated campaign calls to potential voters. Parks, whose campaign was in debt
at the time, was sued by Call Center Services, Inc. for not paying bills for
Westall testified in the lawsuit that Parks approved the contract. Parks
denied giving Westall and Wesson III final approval and that the two were not
authorized to sign off on purchases of more than $500.
Subsequent to losing that lawsuit early this year, a man who described
himself as a friend of Westall's for 14 years provided written testimony that
he had knowledge suggesting Westall lied about the incident under oath.
According to court records, Gabriel Grunspan was working for Westall's
short-lived 2010 campaign for the state Assembly, when he overheard Westall and
Wesson III, who was also working for the campaign, discussing the
In a written legal declaration filed in July, Grunspan described a
heated conversation in 2010 during which Wesson III admitted not showing Parks
anything about the contract for the calls. Grunspan recalled Westall saying
that the ``problem will just go away.''
Parks has used the testimony as the grounds for filing an appeal in the
``I'm not in a position to say whether he perjured himself or not.
That's for the court to decide,'' Parks, Jr. said. ``But the fact that the
question is out there does cause the conflict of interest.''
``It's an extremely uncomfortable position to go through a process where
(Westall) would be redrawing the lines of the councilman's district. No other
council member is in litigation with the person drawing the lines,'' he added.
It is unclear whether the commission discussed the case as a possible
conflict of interest. Westall's selection was discussed during a closed
Councilman Bernard Parks said he did raise the issue with Redistricting
Commission Chair Arturo Vargas and the city Ethics Commission.
Parks is also concerned about Westall signing off on changes to a
district boundary shared by Parks and Wesson, Westall's boss. ``If you begin to
quibble over boundaries between the 8th (Parks) and 10th (Wesson) districts,
where do you think (Westall) comes out on that?'' Parks said.
Commission President Arturo Vargas did not return calls seeking comment.
It would not be surprising if the commission did not consider the case a
conflict of interest, said Kathay Feng, executive director of California
Common Cause and a government transparency advocate. ``L.A.'s commission
process is not truly independent,'' she said. ``There have been some
independent minded commissioners, and there have been some talking directly
with their city council person during meetings asking permission to move
Westall is competent and experienced at redistricting, Feng said, but
``because this is a process that's driven by the city council, conflicts of
interest are the last thing the commission members are thinking about.''
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