Garcetti’s office rocked as disparaging comments in private Facebook group go public
The private Facebook group was called “Solid Gold,” and included Mayor Eric Garcetti’s chief of staff as well as other Los Angeles city employees and friends.
For several years, they used the group to discuss social and political events, and also disparaged some top L.A. officials and other prominent leaders in California.
Some of the group’s posts were revealed by The Times in the last week, roiling Garcetti’s office at a time when he is expected to be nominated by the Biden administration to become the U.S. ambassador to India. Garcetti was not part of “Solid Gold” and has denounced the comments.
The social media posts raise new questions about the culture inside the mayor’s office, which is also grappling with allegations that the mayor’s former top advisor sexually harassed people.
Here is what we know:
What do the messages say?
The Times reviewed only some of the posts , which criticize officials including labor icon Dolores Huerta, Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), former Assembly Speaker John Pérez and Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo.
Ana Guerrero, Garcetti’s top aide, said of Huerta, “I hate her,” and used a Spanish term that translates to “jealous old lady.”
Huerta, 91, a cofounder with César Chávez of the United Farm Workers, wasn’t spared the derision of Solid Gold’s members, according to posts reviewed by The Times.
Under a photo of Huerta, Guerrero and three other people, Guerrero wrote, “I hate her. You hate her.”
“Viejita envidiosa!” Guerrero added, which translates to “Jealous old lady.”
Cecilia Cabello, a onetime Garcetti employee, chimed in: “I can’t stand that old bag.” Linda Lopez, who formerly headed L.A.’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, wrote: “Has been.”
Efforts to reach Cabello, who was appointed by Garcetti to serve on the city’s Redistricting Commission, and Lopez were unsuccessful Tuesday.
In several cases, members of the group took photos of politicians and others off other people’s Facebook and Instagram pages and reposted them; derisive comments and mocking emojis followed.
In 2017, a Solid Gold member reposted a campaign post from Durazo, former head of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, who was running for state Senate. In her campaign pitch, Durazo wrote: “I am not asking you to send me to Sacramento. I am asking you to come with me to the state Capitol.”
Guerrero posted an emoji of a red-faced person with the message “¡Guácala!” which translates to “gross.”
Comments about Pérez were posted under a story about potential political seats being filled that featured a photo of the former state leader. Guerrero posted the red-faced cartoon character with “¡Guácala!” and Cabello posted an image of Jabba the Hutt from “Star Wars.”
How has Garcetti responded?
In a statement Tuesday, Garcetti said he had asked Guerrero, his chief of staff, to “step away from her executive management responsibilities in the office so that she can make things right with the people addressed in these comments.”
Garcetti said the Solid Gold posts don’t reflect his “deep feelings of respect and friendship that I hold for the affected individuals.”
Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said Guerrero will be on “administrative leave for the foreseeable future, unpaid for a month.”
Guerrero, in a statement, said the comments were “offensive and wrong.” She said she wanted to “apologize to my colleagues at City Hall and anyone in my life who looks up to and depends on me to set an example for leadership.”
Guerrero, a former community organizer and daughter of migrant farmworkers, has spent two decades with Garcetti, working for him when he was on the City Council and becoming his chief of staff after he was elected mayor in 2013.
What do we know about the group?
The Facebook group has come up repeatedly in depositions in a lawsuit against the city filed by Matthew Garza, an LAPD officer who alleges that a Garcetti aide sexually harassed him. The former aide, Rick Jacobs, has denied harassing anyone.
During her deposition earlier this year, Guerrero testified that she did not remember if Jacobs was discussed in the private Facebook group.
Guerrero worked with Jacobs when he was at City Hall, and at one point in her deposition, she testified that she asked him to stop using the title “executive vice mayor,” which he had adopted.
One post reviewed by The Times shows the group discussing a 2016 L.A. Weekly report outlining how Jacobs had used the title. Guerrero, in the comments section of that post, posted an image of a crocodile or alligator fighting with a winged creature and the phrase “Denied.”
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