Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti asked his chief of staff Ana Guerrero to “step away from her executive management responsibilities” following a report Tuesday about disparaging Facebook comments made by Guerrero in 2016 and 2017 about labor and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, as well as previously reported insults and a suggestive comment about city employees.
“This is the first time I have learned of or seen these private postings from years ago. They are wrong and do not reflect the values that I expect from members of my administration nor do they reflect the deep feelings of respect and friendship that I hold for the affected individuals,” Garcetti said in a statement Tuesday.
“Now that this has come to my attention, I have asked Ana 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. I am a big believer in second chances and in teachable moments of both growth and reconciliation. Ana has been an important part of the work we have done at City Hall and has exceptional talents, and it is my hope that she can grow from this experience.”
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Guerrero posted disparaging remarks on “Solid Gold” — an invite-only Facebook group that includes several of Garcetti’s staffers, appointees and supporters — about Huerta, 91, who co-founded the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez.
In the posts, which were reviewed by the Times, Guerrero called Huerta “Viejita envidiosa!” which means “Jealous old lady” in Spanish. She also commented “I hate her. You hate her” on a photo posted in 2016 of Huerta, Guerrero, and three other people. A former Garcetti appointee Cecilia Cabello also commented “I can’t stand that old bag,” and former head of L.A. Office of Immigrant Affairs Linda Lopez said “Has been,” according to the Times.
“These comments were offensive and wrong, and I deeply regret making them. There is no excuse — and to anyone who was the subject of these posts, I am deeply sorry for the pain they caused,” Guerrero said in a statement provided by the mayor’s office Tuesday. “I have always tried to lead in a way that empowers people to change their lives and communities by lifting each other up — so I also want 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.
“This experience and the embarrassment it has caused for me and others is a hard lesson about how this kind of behavior, whether in public or private, is unacceptable and can have profound consequences,” she added.
According to the Times, Guerrero also posted suggestive comments about Director of Planning Vince Bertoni, hired by Garcetti in 2016.
“Kelli and I looked LONG and HARD for someone that might be easy on the eye,” she wrote as a Facebook comment on a 2010 photo of Bertoni wearing a wetsuit that was pulled down at his waist, the Times reported. In the photo, Bertoni was holding a surfboard and was with family members at a beachfront memorial ceremony. Guerrero was likely referring to Kelli Bernard, who helped hire Bertoni when she worked as Garcetti’s deputy mayor of economic development. A spokesman for the Department of City Planning told the Times that Bertoni was not aware of the comments about him.
The Times also reported that Guerrero posted insults about a former aide to Councilman Mike Bonin. Guerrero commented “is he preggers?” on a photo of Bonin’s aide shirtless in front of a mirror. The photo was taken from the aide’s own Facebook page and reposted on Solid Gold.
Guerrero also posted an emoji of a beast throwing up under an image of City Controller Ron Galperin, County Assessor Jeffrey Prang and others watching the 2016 Super Bowl on television, according to the Times.
The Times’ reporting comes amid a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Police Department Officer Matthew Garza against Garcetti’s former deputy chief of staff Rick Jacobs.
Garza filed the lawsuit against the city last July 13, alleging sex and gender harassment. According to Garza, from October 2013 until October of 2019, he was assigned to the LAPD’s police protection unit for the mayor. He says he was required to drive Garcetti to and from mayoral engagements and accompany him on out-of-town trips and that Jacobs often accompanied them.
Garza alleges Jacobs subjected him on “hundreds of occasions to unwanted and unwelcome sexual comments and touching,” including tight hugs and shoulder rubbing.
Asked during his deposition if he ever hugged Garza, Jacobs replied, “It’s possible.” And whether he believed it was consensual — “I had the impression, yes.”
Jacobs denied making comments in Garza’s presence concerning the size of male private parts or that he ever motioned the officer to sit on his lap.
Jacobs also testified that the mayor’s father, former District Attorney Gil Garcetti, alerted him in 2020 that he could be sued for sexual harassment.
Asked how he responded to Gil Garcetti, Jacobs said he was caught off guard.
“I was surprised about anybody on the security detail contemplating filing a lawsuit,” Jacobs said. “In fact, I was surprised that anybody was filing a lawsuit … Because I had never done anything that constituted sexual harassment and nobody had ever raised any question.”