Inglewood

Inglewood Mayor's Longtime Aide Alleges Harassment and Stalking

Melanie McDade contends Inglewood Mayor James Butts retaliated against her after she broke off their eight year romance last year

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Allegations of stalking and harassment against Inglewood Mayor James Butts have emerged as the city moves to terminate his longtime executive assistant for alleged misconduct.

Melanie McDade contends Butts retaliated against her after she broke off their eight year romance last year, according to a response to the city filed by her attorney, Carl Douglas.

Butts yelled, cursed, and threatened McDade in the office, and texted her messages such as, "you ruined my life," according to Douglas.

Douglas described the stalking incidents as "creepy."

Butts confronted McDade on her personal time at a Lakewood beauty salon, and more than once used a garage door opener he kept from before the breakup to enter her home during the middle of the night, in one case frightening her teenage daughter, Douglas said.

An attorney for the city of Inglewood Friday denied the allegations.

"What's clear is that Ms. McDade and her attorney are pursuing ulterior motives at the expense of the true facts," said Mira Hashmall, who said her firm, Miller Barondess, was retained by the city of Inglewood. 

Hashmall said she could not comment on whether the city would investigate Butts, but offered her opinion that she saw no need to do so.

Last July, McDade was suspended and escorted from City Hall. This November, McCade was notified the city intended to terminate her and delivered her a report that was 15,00 pages long. A personnel hearing was held Friday morning without a decision being announced.

City representatives said personnel privacy protections preclude their disclosing the allegations against McDade. Douglas also declined to make the city's report public. But some of the allegations are revealed in Douglas's 26 page response that offers defenses to accusations of having underlings run errands, a staffer change state and federal deductions and after her suspension, violating an order not to contact anyone employed by the city.

"Things that they say Ms. McDade has done, we say Mayor Butts has done more or even worse," Douglas said.

Douglas said the romantic relationship began in 2010, when Butts was running for Mayor and McDade worked on his campaign. After his election, she was hired and became the Mayor's executive assistant, and later also served as an aide to the city manager. At one point her salary grew to more than $300,000 a year.

McDade ended the relationship in March of 2018, but she continued to work in City Hall for another 16 months later. Douglas said he believes it was her decision to buy a house without Butts that was the turning point for him. Douglas thinks that ultimately led to her suspension.

In the same period, Butts and McDade have become embroiled in litigation over one of the major development projects that have characterized the Mayor's tenure, including the renovation of the Forum for concerts, the construction of an NFL stadium to be the new home for the Rams and Chargers and the approval of an agreement for the Clippers to build their new home in Inglewood.

The ownership of the Forum, Madison Square Garden (MSG), is suing the city to thwart the Clippers Stadium, which would be built largely on property MSG was leasing from the city. MSG contends it was misled with talk of a Tech business park, and never would have surrendered the lease had it known the property would be used for a rival arena.

Before her suspension, McDade was questioned under oath about her knowledge of such matters. She was represented at the deposition by legal counsel for the city. Later, after her suspension, McDade reconsidered some 148 of her responses, and attorney Douglas submitted changes, known as "errata."

Legal counsel for Inglewood sought to have the court reject the changes, arguing they were made to favor the city's legal foes.  A court referee has ruled McDade may face another round of questioning.

A decision on whether she will be terminated is expected within a week.

If so, Douglas vowed a lawsuit, saying McDade wants her job back, but "in an environment free of pervasive harassment."

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