Dear Editor,

Thank you for covering the lawsuit filed by Elizabeth Riel, who was hired, then fired by the City of Santa Monica. I hope your coverage strives to include the following elements as the story develops.

For starters, the city stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars because of this lawsuit, due to the actions of a few of its leaders, beyond City Manager Rod Gould. Let’s be clear. Gould was hired by the City Council to manage the city’s affairs. Whatever they decide, it is his job to do. He has probably overseen the hiring of hundreds of employees without interference from Council members. But not this time. He hired Ms. Riel after an exhaustive interview process. He knew of Ms. Riel’s political activities eight years ago and didn’t think they were a problem. So what happened? The only logical conclusion to be drawn is that someone on the Council thought the hiring was a big problem and told him to undo it, or he would have never rescinded the offer. Mayor O’Connor will only say publicly that she ‘may have mentioned Riel’s hiring’ to Gould.

Of course, now no one, including O’Connor, Gould or City Attorney Moultrie can discuss the case because it is ‘pending litigation’, which is often the case in such matters, and we residents are left wondering what really happened. Meantime, the City stands to lose a lot of money because of a mismanaged hire/fire episode that clearly appears to be politically motivated.

The fact the City is using outside legal help to handle the case, at great expense, when Ms. Moultrie has any number of six-figure salaried legal eagles in her flock who could handle it, only compounds this costly debacle.

So what will happen? This case will never go to trial. It will be settled out of court, as quietly as possible, at great cost. After the election, of course. The settlement will include a provision that all parties agree not to discuss the settlement. Rod Gould will leave, which will deflect attention away from the Mayor, and we will never really know who had Riel un-hired.

But we do know. And our collective voices will reflect what we’ve learned when we vote November 4th, despite the blizzard of glossy mailers paid for by developer money that will urge us to vote otherwise.

John C. Smith

Santa Monica

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