The chairwoman and two members of Councilman Michael Woo's handpicked Hollywood advisory panel have quit, and another was ousted by Woo in the first shake-up of the controversial group since its creation nearly a year ago.
Torie Osborn has resigned as head of the Hollywood Community Advisory Council, or HCAC, citing personal reasons and her work as executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center.
Osborn will stay on as a member of the HCAC's Social Needs Committee, but not as a member of its executive committee. She will be replaced by Christine Essel, a Paramount Pictures executive who chairs the HCAC's Economic Development Committee.
Two other council member recently resigned because of attendance problems, Woo said.
Another council member, advertising executive Leonard Fenton, said he was ousted by Woo after refusing to resign willingly. Fenton claimed Woo "got rid of" him because he opposed some of the councilman's policies and because he had complained during meetings about what he called the group's lack of focus and inability to take action.
"My feeling is that (Woo) is trying to . . . make sure he has members he can control," Fenton said. "My agenda was not what they originally perceived, and I was not that controllable."
Woo said he forced out Fenton for his poor attendance record, not because of his opinions. Fenton missed eight of the 15 HCAC meetings and five of the last seven, Woo said.
"I felt it was important to have a more active person on the committee. His attendance was not very good," Woo said.
Responding to Fenton's claim that he was ousted for being too independent, Woo said, "in order to be a loose cannon, you have to at least be on the deck. . . . I can't think of any position he took which I disagreed with. I can't think of any position he took."
In a letter to Woo, Fenton said he had been an active and valuable member and that he had attended "virtually every" meeting of the council.
Woo created the 36-member council last September to replace the elected members of the Project Area Committee as the official mechanism for resident participation in the $922-million Hollywood Redevelopment Project. The PAC often criticized Woo and his actions in the revitalization effort.
In replacing the PAC with the HCAC, Woo caused a stir among Hollywood activists. They said he was trying to control the massive redevelopment effort without input from residents and in a way that favored big developers. The issue of which group is the legitimate advisory panel is still the subject of lawsuits.
Woo denied trying to control the HCAC by weeding out dissenting voices, saying he merely wanted members to have good attendance records.
In fact, he said, two other HCAC members--businessmen Patric Mayers and Arthur Ito--also have resigned following Woo's suggestions that members with spotty attendance records leave to make room for active participants. Both volunteered to leave, saying they were too busy to devote the necessary time, Woo said.
Another HCAC member, Ted Schmitt, recently died.
To fill these vacancies, Woo has picked community activist Sharyn Romano, architect Jay Nickels, Hollywood-Wilshire YMCA executive Alan Hostrup and Brian Garrison of S.D. Malkin Properties.