The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has concluded that Inglewood did not break the law by paying the mayor’s former assistant and ex-girlfriend more than $ 400,000 annually in salaries and benefits. This emerges from a recently published closing memorandum.
Assistant District Attorney Michele Gilmer found that the city increased Melanie McDade-Dickens’ salary by paying “actors” and “assign” at the same time, in breach of the city’s contract with the Inglewood Executive Organization. As City Manager Artie Fields later retrospectively corrected the designations, Gilmer noted that “there is no evidence that anyone intent or criminally negligent failure to know that he / she is not legally competent” to approve the payments .
“Although the complainant believes that Dickens’ compensation is disproportionate to that of persons in similar positions, the prosecution is not competent to determine the salaries of Inglewood City staff,” Gilmer wrote in the closing memorandum. “Aside from speculation, there is not enough evidence to prove that Dickens’ compensation was for ‘private use at the behest of Mayor James Butts’. Accordingly, this case is closed. “
The 2UrbanGirls blog first reported on the District Attorney’s decision. The Southern California News Group independently reviewed the investigation and received a copy of the closing memorandum from the prosecutor.
Decision referred to as “incorrect”
In an email to several reporters, Marvin McCoy, the local resident who filed the complaint, described the decision as “flawed” because he believed it was not aimed at determining whether McDade-Dickens’ employment was a direct result of theirs “Sexual / romantic relationship” with the mayor. McCoy wrote that he intended to press for newly elected District Attorney George Gascón to re-examine the prosecutor’s earlier investigation into Inglewood.
McDade-Dickens attorney Carl Douglas did not respond to a request for comment. He previously stated that McDade-Dickens earned her extra salary and jobs through merit.
Additional payment was for additional customs duties
In an email, Fields said he would delegate additional duties to McDade-Dickens when there were vacancies at the department head level. Though her title remained “executive assistant,” Fields said McDade-Dickens was director of parking, emergency management, and city safety, and housing. She also filled out as deputy city manager “as needed,” officials previously said.
In 2018, according to prosecutors, Fields demanded that McDade-Dickens be given the designations “acting” and “commission” at the same time. Inglewood’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Executive Organization does not allow employees to receive “acting” appointments in addition to special remuneration. “Acting” pay requires an employee to perform the full duties of a position, while contract pay consists of an employee taking on additional work while continuing their normal job.
Fields said his request was a mistake that did not result in an overpayment. The “acting” remuneration was retrospectively reclassified into an additional “assignment remuneration” and did not require any reimbursement to the city. McDade-Dickens received approximately $ 24,291 for the reclassified work, according to Fields.
“There was no overlap as it was an error in the classification of administrative salaries as opposed to a compensation error,” Fields wrote in an email. “Again, the acting fee was reclassified to the assignment fee when the bug was discovered.”
Compensation of $ 403,308
McDade-Dickens’ total compensation, including services, increased from $ 135,069 in 2013 to $ 403,308 in 2019, largely due to the additional responsibilities and bonuses conferred on her over the years. According to Transparent California, the city paid her an additional $ 100,000 in both 2018 and 2019.
Neither of these roles was reflected in the job description for the Executive Assistant position when the Southern California News Group investigated McDade-Dickens’ high wages in 2018. At this point, the description listed qualifications and experience for a secretarial position – five years’ experience supporting elected officials, knowledge of Microsoft Office, and a valid driver’s license. Duties included managing calendars, checking communications, and greeting visitors.
A new job description uploaded to the city’s website hours after city officials were contacted by a reporter included new responsibilities, such as overseeing the park program.
The romance ended
McDade-Dickens and Butts began their relationship in 2010 while working on the Butts mayoral campaign, according to McDade-Dickens. He hired her as his assistant after taking office. Bankruptcy records in 2012 showed she made $ 17,430 in 2010 before Inglewood hired her.
Rumors of the mayor’s relationship with McDade-Dickens have been circulating for years. That was only confirmed by McDade-Dickens and the city after they were fired in late 2019.
Inglewood fired McDade-Dickens for allegedly forging a bonus check to make himself financially stable on a home loan and for hiring city workers to help out with personal affairs. McDade-Dickens denies the allegations and is suing the city for wrongful termination. She claims she ended her eight-year relationship with the mayor in 2018 and he fired her in retaliation. Her lawsuit alleges that the mayor removed her extra jobs, followed her after the split, and harassed her.
City officials say the additional responsibilities were temporary and removed once other staff were hired to fill the roles.