Fran Solomon’s Claim for Damages Is the Latest by a Council Deputy

Fran Solomon, the 22-year deputy to West Hollywood City Councilmember John Heilman, has filed a claim against the city alleging that she was the victim of bullying, harassment, intimidation and defamation by Councilmember John D’Amico and other Council deputies.

West Hollywood City Council deputy Fran Solomon (2014 compensation $158,995)
West Hollywood City Council deputy Fran Solomon (2014 compensation $158,995)

Solomon’s claim brings to a total of three the number of claims and lawsuits filed by former Council deputies. The Council voted in June to end the deputy system, which had been in place for 30 years and had become controversial because of the deputies’ high salaries, their reputation for fighting with one another, their political work on behalf of their bosses and an allegation of sexual harassment by one deputy.

Ian Owens, former deputy to Councilmember John Duran, sued Duran and the city in May, alleging that Duran sexually harassed him and that the city retaliated against him for revealing information purported to prove that Solomon was campaigning for her boss’s re-election last spring. Owens was suspended, with pay, in January after WEHOville reported that he was the source of a document emailed under a fake name that claimed to list calls Solomon had made to Heilman campaign supporters from her City Hall office. Solomon has neither confirmed nor denied that claim. Duran has denied the harassment allegation.

Michelle Rex, the campaign manager for Councilmember John D’Amico and his council deputy, filed a claim for damages against the city, alleging that it “unlawfully retaliated and discriminated against Ms. Rex for her association with Mr. Owens and her truthful support of his claims.”

West Hollywood City Council deputies Michelle Rex (left) and Ian Owens.
West Hollywood City Council deputies Michelle Rex (left) and Ian Owens.

Solomon’s claim calls out an incident in 2010 when D’Amico, in his first campaign for City Council, along with Council candidate Scott Schmidt, alleged that Solomon was responsible for misusing her city credit card. A subsequent investigation by the city exonerated Solomon. But, Solomon alleges, D’Amico continued to harass her after being elected.

“On or about May 8, 2011, Mr. D’Amico … stopped Ms. Solomon in the hallway of the third floor of Council offices and proceeded to bully, harass and intimated Ms. Solomon…” the claim says. “Ms. Solomon attempted to rebuff the conversation. It only caused D’Amico to become more irate. He began shouting at Solomon and making threatening gestures.”

Solomon said that at a March 18, 2013, City Council meeting “Mr. D’Amico began to defame Ms. Solomon by name” for authoring an item on the Council agenda supporting campaign reform.

Solomon also alleges that Owens violated her privacy by somehow overhearing and reporting her telephone conversations. “The claim involves substantial claims and damages by the Claimant well in excess of $10,000 each,” state the claim. “… The case will be likely filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.”

When the Council voted this summer to eliminate the deputy system (with only Councilmember Lauren Meister voting “no”) the deputies were put on a paid leave. They continue to collect their salaries because the city hasn’t yet officially laid them off. The city is first required by the terms of a memorandum of understanding with the five-member Council deputy union to negotiate with the union over its claims of any impact on the deputies because of the elimination of their positions. The union agreement calls for the deputies to receive a 90-day severance.

City Attorney Mike Jenkins said discussions with the union are focused on what, if anything, the deputies should be paid because of their planned layoffs and whether any deputy should be eligible to be retired to another city position. Jenkins said the lengthy process might require the city to bring in an outside expert to assess the situation.


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Tom Smart
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Tom Smart

E-X-A-C-T-L-Y Steve!!!!!

Chris Sanger
Guest
Chris Sanger

Steve – you are the wrong spokesman for concern over political ethics when yourcandidate in the June 2015 election had actual real ethics charges filed against him in his past political races (13 times in which he was charged for violations). Why would anyone take you seriously on this issue? You clearly only care when someone you oppose might possibly have problems (in Solomon’s case, allegations not proven).

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

My office was right next to John Heilman’s when I was on City Council and you did not need to eavesdrop to hear what was being said when Fran Solomon was on the phone as the walls are pretty thin. The fact remains is that Ian Owens over heard Solomon campaigning for John Heilman on city time and in city hall, and campaigning at city hall is not only unethical, but is criminal and a basis for termination. Ultimately unredacted phone records will prove that Owens is not lying. John D’Amico is not a petty person; but he was greeted… Read more »

Chris Sanger
Guest
Chris Sanger

JQP – I know there is no love lost. Unlike you, I am willing to think the fault might not be one sided. I’ve personally been subjected to – in the middle of a random resident phone call to D’Amico, which at his behest went on for 30 mins – to be subjected to a crazy 15 minute tirade about the evil John Heilman. I saw D’Amico’s incredibly nasty, mean-spirited, invective filled campaign, totally unlike any before that I’d seen in WeHo elections, directed against Heilman. D’Amico seems to me to be a poor example to throw up as victim.… Read more »

John Q. Public
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John Q. Public

@Chris, however there IS evidence of the “free lunches” nonsense. Yes, we ALL know that the investigation let Duran off the hook and Solomon somehow managed to get her usual pass, but the fact remains that the $13THOUSAND in receipts came out of public coffers. Just ask Ed Buck. I look forward to the lawsuits, although there again, the citizens are picking up the defense tabs. Jenkins must be grinning. Maybe it is time to genuinely “clean house” at city hall, top to bottom. As for D’Amico and Heilman, the whole city watched while Heilman refused to shake hands. One… Read more »

Chris Sanger
Guest
Chris Sanger

We find it rich that some people have selective memories regarding D’Amico and how in his 1st campaign he compared Heilman to Nicolas Caecescu and Kim Il Sung. And we only have the obsessively jealous D’Amico’s word that he was ignored. You only are reporting one side of the story Tom. We now have a lawsuit alledging possible actionable behavior from D’Amico, so you have to admit the whole truth has yet to come out.

Tom Smart
Guest
Tom Smart

We find it rich that people seem to have selective memories regarding Heilman and Solomon giving D’Amicio the childish silent treatment starting the very day he took office. Heilman should step down, He has lost his way.

Rudolf Martin
Guest
Rudolf Martin

Breaking news! The city council (Horvath and Meister are exempt here) and the City manager and City Attorney have taken full responsibility for creating this dysfunctional system. They profusely apologized to the residents in a joint press conference for likely having cost us millions and then resigned in unison!

Yeah right…

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

Dont underestimate the unique discovery that this lawsuit might expose. It could potentially undermine the Owens/Rex claims. But the most likely answer is the city attorney will settle and pay out hundreds of thousands or more. Personally I think we should turn around and sue them for violating ethical standards that they were trusted as part of their fiduciary responsibility.

Chris Sanger
Guest
Chris Sanger

Questions for someone with real legal knowledge – looking at this through various conjectures (including potential malfeasance by people I doubt did it – my bias is that nearly all of this stems from the toxic fruit that is D’Amico’s obsessive jealousy of Heilman). — How wide can the city and attorneys for D’Amico (or Duran) cast a net in depositions? For example, are charges that Solomon did campaigning on city time relevant to her charges? (They might have been the motive for bad feelings b/w her and D’Amico, but even if she was doing wrong, his alleged actions wouldn’t… Read more »

JJ
Guest
JJ

I’m gonna sue too! C’mon…let’s all sue! So f’en ridiculous! I’m glad they cleared house and got rid of all these dipdingles. Whata joke.

dp freedrick
Guest
dp freedrick

Let’s not forget what really started all this mishegoss – allegations of Ms. Solomon campaigning on City Hall’s time/dime for the failed re-election campaign of Councilmember John Heilman. Solomon hasn’t really denied this only saying “If the allegations prove to be true, they were incidental, inadvertent and regrettable.” That statement doesn’t create a lot of confidence. Heilman has been radio silent. The City doesn’t seem to be taking up these allegations with much concern or care even though they are a slap to the face of every citizen.