Controversial City Council Deputy Ian Owens Will Be Back on the Job

The central figure in a controversy at West Hollywood City Hall that has become known as “deputy-gate” will be back on the job tomorrow.

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 Public Information Manager, confirmed a rumor conveyed to WEHOville that Owens, deputy to Councilmember John Duran, will be back at work as Duran’s deputy. Owens was placed on paid administrative leave in February while the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department investigated an allegation that Owens improperly spied on the private telephone conversations of fellow Council deputy Fran Solomon.

“The investigation is ongoing,” Belsanti said. “It was determined that Owens being back at City Hall will not interfere with that investigation.” She said there was no other information regarding Owens return or position at this time.

Owens was the apparent source of reports that Solomon was soliciting contributions for Heilman’s re-election campaign from her city office. He prepared a document purporting to support his allegations using city software that included quotes said to be from Solomon’s telephone conversations. That document was emailed to numerous email accounts, including that of WEHOville, under the name Matthew Mills. When the source of the document became public, Solomon asked the City Manager to investigate whether her office was being bugged.  With the defeat of Councilmember John Heilman in last Tuesday’s City Council election, Solomon will leave her job with the city.

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

With Councilmember Jeffrey Prang stepping off the Council in December to become L.A. County Assessor, there have been only four deputies of late. In addition to Solomon, Mayor John D’Amico is served by Michelle Rex, his former campaign manager. Abbe Land, who didn’t run for re-election to the Council last Tuesday, is served by Kiran Hashmi.

WEHOville’s revelation that Owens was the source of allegations about improper behavior by Solomon stirred major reaction from West Hollywood residents. Many complained about the compensation of the full-time deputies, who make as much as $190,00 a year including health and retirement benefits. There also were complaints about the lack of responsiveness to residents by deputies, the dysfunctional relationship between Solomon and Rex, who do not speak to one another, and the fact that some deputies don’t work the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. day expected of most city employees.

Things got hotter in mid-February when a lawyer retained by Owens said that Owens had been hired after Councilmember Duran met him on Grindr, the gay sex hookup site, and had sex with him. Duran confirmed that to WEHOville but denied Owens’ allegations that Duran continued to make sexual advances on him after he was hired.

That allegation prompted coverage of “deputy-gate” across the country in gay magazines, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News, the nation’s fourth biggest daily newspaper.

The City Council on March 2 met to consider studying options for reforming the controversial deputy system that would include giving the City Manager more direct supervision over the deputies. But the Council voted to postpone any action until after the June 2 special Council election.

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ted
ted
7 years ago

CITY HALL… NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGSTED.
WE ARE WEST HOLLYWOOD’S VERSION OF
“THE CITY OF BELL”…
We have such a greedy…city hall.
Kick backs for high rises…sex for 6 figure jobs…
Eliminating parking meters for VALET SERVICES.
I live here for location only….
I refuse to do business here. …

Manny
Manny
7 years ago

Very clever Brad

Brad
Brad
7 years ago

Wonder if there is a requirement that losing candidates be removed and recycled no later than 10 days after an election.

Several candidates seem to have recycled themselves onto the June ballot.

Manny
Manny
7 years ago

Yes it’s a problem…..There is a requirement that campaign signs be removed and recycled no later than 10 days after an election.

Bernadette Parinello
Bernadette Parinello
7 years ago

Maybe Ian & his best friend Michelle, can go & pick up the DOZENS of lawn signs from the election that are still littering our city. I still see damico’s signs , Joe Guardaramma signs & Larry Block signs & frankly its a disgrace for all of them who couldn’t shut up about how much they care about the environment yet they leave cardboard signs all over the place now the election is over. Anybody else think this is a problem????

Brian Holt
Brian Holt
7 years ago

Ian is not out of the woods. He may think he is…

Bernadette Parinello
Bernadette Parinello
7 years ago

whats most interesting here is that since Heilman lost the election last week Fran Soloman is out of a job yet Ian still gets to keep his even tho he only got the job after sleeping with john duran whom he might on Grinder!? The deputy system continues to need lots of scrutinizing because it is its OWN union & therefore Ian will NEVER be fired or be out of a job & will continue to recieve upwards of $150K per year. Michele Rex is also sitting pretty at $190K per year & because Damico failed extraordinarily in his bid… Read more »

Williams
7 years ago

Hey, there is a source!

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