City Council Deputies Union Challenges Elimination of the Deputy Positions

The union that represents West Hollywood’s City Council deputies is challenging their dismissal.

Nikita Soukonnikov of City Employees Associates (CEA), an organization that represents unionized city employees, said members of the deputies union claim that the city didn’t follow proper procedures in dissolving the deputy system. Soukonnikov said state law required that the city meet with members of the union before dissolving the deputy system and eliminating their jobs.

West Hollywood City Council deputies Michelle Rex (left, 2014 compensation $189,583) and Ian Owens (right, 2014 compensation $149,610)
West Hollywood City Council deputies Michelle Rex (left, 2014 compensation $189,583) and Ian Owens (right, 2014 compensation $149,610)

Lisa Belsanti, the city’s communications manager, said the city is willing to rescind the layoff notices delivered to the deputies last month and then meet and confer with them before continuing with the elimination of the system.

The five-member union’s president is Michelle Rex, deputy to and the former campaign manager for City Councilmember John D’Amico. The City Council voted on June 16 to eliminate the deputy system, which was created 30 years ago at the city’s formation. Given that the deputies reported directly to, and were chosen by, elected City Council members, the system has been seen as highly political and sometimes dysfunctional since it was created. Allegations of improper behavior by some of the deputies and outrage by residents at their salaries led the City Council to adopt a proposal by Mayor Lindsey Horvath last month to eliminate the deputy system. Because of transitions on the Council in the March and June elections, the only full-time deputies at that time were Rex and Ian Owens, deputy to Councilmember John Duran. Scott Schmidt, manager of Councilmember Lauren Meister’s election campaign, served as her interim deputy.

The city is still organizing a permanent system to provide services to council members and city residents that will have individual employees assigned to perform particular services such as booking appointments or writing legislation for all council members. Currently there is one city employee who handles correspondence and policy work for all council members and one who does scheduling and handles communications for the council, with those employees overseen by the assistant to the city manager. That system is similar to those in other cities of West Hollywood’s population.


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John Mackey
Guest

Let the City operate the way many others of comparable size do.

WeHoMikey
Guest
WeHoMikey

Fran acknowledged Ian Owens ‘eavesdropping’ as truth when she claimed her office was bugged. If he hadn’t reported her conversations (heard through paper-thin walls) so perfectly accurately, then why did she claim her calls were being recorded?
Sounds like a “guilty” plea to me!

joetheplummber
Guest
joetheplummber

@Mr. Martin: would that not be, “[alleged]organizing of campaign events?” Let us not forget that Mr. Martin was voted off the Island in 2006/2007 because he could not get along with any of the other council members. A threshold question would be: who is conning who? I googled Nikita Soukonnikov of City Employees Associates (CEA), http://cityemployeesassociates.com/Who_We_Are.html. I was fascinated to learn that Nik is an attorney (licensed in Oregon) who “represent[s] victims of employment discrimination and wage theft, in state and federal courts. Nik emphasizes his goal which is to “expand the rights of the average employee” though contract negotiations,… Read more »

Chris Sanger
Guest
Chris Sanger

Steve, please don’t ask people to forget stuff that has no basis in proven fact and likely comes from your wishful thinking. You keep repeating this, but you’ve never once provided any evidence. What we know is you despise Heilman and Owens and are suspect as to anything like this you suggest when no one else backs you up.

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

Don’t forget that this whole scandal arose from Ian Owens attempt to have management deal with Fran Solomon organizing campaign events for John Heilman’s re-election including a photo-op with several residents, on City time. Solomon countered that Owens was eavesdropping on her and made allegations that her office must have been “bugged”. John Duran refused to support his Council deputy’s whistle blowing and ultimately Owens was fired and then raised the subject of work place sexual harassment. The entire “Deputy-gate” scandal, including the absurd pay, Grinder job interviews and the like, was the result of ethical blind spots of our… Read more »

Emily
Guest
Emily

Woody you are so right. Michelle Rex was the original “Bad Seed” on the 3rd floor. The idea that she is a president of a union is so laughable and ironic, she hates the power of labour in politics and isn’t even a Democrat because of that. Shame on D’Amico for letting her get away with her antics for so long. Bye, Bye Michelle , don’t let the door hit you from behind.

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

My mistake in saying Rex and Schmidt would continue to collect their salaries. I meant Rex and Owens. Scott did an excellent job as deputy. It’s just ashamed he took that spot in the midst of other distractions that caused the shake up. Rex and Owens continuing to get paid and disputing the city’s right to dismiss them. And what was previously stated as within the rights to terminate those 5 union jobs is now being disputed.

Woody McBreairty
Guest
Woody McBreairty

Scott Schmidt has nothing to do with this. He has been nothing but professional, responsible & hard working & a community leader for many years. This is about the “City Hall Snoop Sisters”, Rex & Owens, who apparently spent what time they were actually at work “earning” their exorbitant taxpayer paid salaries, by bullying others & causing as much trouble for the City & the City Council as they could. And Fran Solomon does not escape culpability for the creation of this disgraceful “Deputygate” scenario. Even though she made a willing exit, I understand she was the original bad seed… Read more »

AM Williams
Guest
AM Williams

California labor law!!! Does the State labor board need to intervene?

Snarkygal
Guest
Snarkygal

Funny, you ask to stop showing THEIR picture, but not the one of Kurt Duffing, whose picture has been shown over and over and over and over and over.

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

Gonna cost us lots of money to get out of this mess…. so Rex and Schmidt will continue to collect there 10-15k a month in salaries. Interesting to note that the council voted 4-1, with the city attorney present.. to eliminate the deputy system. The only vote against was Meister. So, who controls city hall.. the council or the unions?

Randy
Guest
Randy

Don’t be surprised if they next ask for back pay, dating to the date of their layoff notices.