The small city of West Hollywood, sandwiched between Los Angeles and Beverly Hills and run by an LGBT-majority council, is currently weathering a political scandal. Many voters are incensed that the city, with only 35,000 people, employs highly paid deputies for each of its five council members. The deputies all earn at least $99,838, and some make into the six figures.
The pay issue began receiving major attention after Councilman John Duran's deputy, Ian Owens, was suspended from his job. Owens is accused of bugging a fellow deputy's office and emailing her phone conversations to other city employees. He accused deputy Fran Solomon of soliciting campaign contributions for her boss, Councilman John Heilman, on city time.
Owens viewed himself as a whistleblower, but he claims even his boss ignored his assertions about Solomon and Heilman. Owens says that Duran's reluctance related to the deputy spurning his boss's sexual advances. Duran calls that a fallacy, but he did admit to the Los Angeles Times that he met Owens on Grindr and that they had sex — once, and before he hired him. He says they became friends and he gave him the deputy job because of his qualifications, not because they were an item.
"People are trying to make him sound like he was unqualified and got the job based on a one-time incident," Duran said in a text message to the Times. "It's just not true and not fair to him."
Meanwhile, the West Hollywood City Council is considering revising its entire deputy system, including having a smaller group of deputies shared by the entire council.