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LB councilmember says vice mayor threatened her in May

In public statement, Gonzalez also claims city attorney’s office closed case with no explanation.

First+District+Councilmember+Lena+Gonzalez+claims+that+Long+Beach+Vice+Mayor+Dee+Andrews+threatened+her+in+a+May+10+phone+call%2C+in+which+Andrews+told+her+to+%E2%80%9Cwatch+her+back%E2%80%9D+or+she%27ll+get+hit+by+a+bus.+
First District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez claims that Long Beach Vice Mayor Dee Andrews threatened her in a May 10 phone call, in which Andrews told her to “watch her back” or she'll get hit by a bus.

First District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez claims that Long Beach Vice Mayor Dee Andrews threatened her in a May 10 phone call, in which Andrews told her to “watch her back” or she'll get hit by a bus.

File Photo

File Photo

First District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez claims that Long Beach Vice Mayor Dee Andrews threatened her in a May 10 phone call, in which Andrews told her to “watch her back” or she'll get hit by a bus.

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UPDATED OCT. 3

As details emerged last week about an incident between 1st District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez and Vice Mayor Dee Andrews, in which the latter allegedly threatened the councilwoman by telling her to “watch her back” or she’ll get hit by a bus, Gonzalez called for a review of workplace policies in a public statement Sept. 28.

In the statement, Gonzalez wrote that Andrews called her May 10 in a hostile manner. After the incident, the councilwoman reached out to the city attorney’s office to file an official complaint.

She also opted not to attend that week’s council meeting, she wrote.

“I had been completely taken aback by his words– threats directed at me personally and toward my career in public service,” she said. “[…] Unfortunately, the case was closed [by the city attorney’s office] with no explanation of the investigation details or process.”

Courtesy City of LB
First District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez sent a text message to Vice Mayor Dee Andrews in May expressing her shock in regard to comments he made to her, as pictured in this screenshot of Gonzalez’s cellphone that was provided by the City of Long Beach via public records. On Sept. 28, Gonzalez submitted a public statement through her office calling for a review of City policies relative to workplace threats and intimidation.

Media website FORTHE initially wrote about the incident last week. Councilmember Gonzalez’s office confirmed to the Signal Tribune Oct. 2 that FORTHE made a public-records request for its report and verified that all of its information is correct.

According to the article, Andrews did not take kindly to Gonzalez’s presence at a April 27 fundraiser for VIP Create Space, a revival of sorts of the World Famous VIP Records store. Moreover, the article states that Andrews told Gonzalez to not involve herself with VIP Records, adding to “watch your back or you’re going to get hit and killed by a bus.”

Shirin Senegal, president and partner of VIP Records, told the Signal Tribune Oct. 1 the company is not willing to comment about the issue for “legal reasons.” Andrews’s office has not responded for comment about the allegations.

Although the 6th-district office has not responded for comment about the allegations, the Signal Tribune interviewed Lou Baglietto, special advisor to Andrews, during a Wrigley Association meeting this week.

Baglietto said the incident was simply a misunderstanding between the two councilmembers and that Andrews did not mean any harm. Although the aforementioned article states that Andrews used the word “kill”– information that was verified by Gonzalez’s office– Baglietto said the term was never used.

“I think anytime you use the word ‘kill’– there was a quote specifically– ‘You’ll get hit by a bus and killed.’– I think that would be incorrect,” he said.

The City of Long Beach provided the Signal Tribune, per a public-records request Oct. 1, a screenshot of a text-message thread between the councilmember and vice mayor in May. Included with the screenshot was also a voicemail, in which Andrews can be heard apologizing to Gonzalez about his comments.

In the message, he clarified that he didn’t intend to disrespect the councilwoman.

“Lena, I don’t think you understand what I was trying to say,” Andrews said. “There’s no disrespect to you or anybody else on the dais. […] I’m really sorry you took it that way, but I was just trying to give you some heads up on some things.”

Courtesy City of LB
Long Beach Vice Mayor Dee Andrews

The Signal Tribune also spoke with Gary Anderson, principal deputy city attorney with the City of Long Beach, Oct. 1 in regard to Gonzalez’s claim that her case was closed with no explanation. Anderson said the attorney’s office is declining to comment on the issue.

Councilmember Gonzalez’s office stated to the Signal Tribune Sept. 28 that no follow-up to the incident is planned.

“In my nearly 10 years as a City employee, I have never experienced an issue like this,” Gonzalez said. “As a City, we need to fully address our workplace practices [and] policies relative to employee threats and intimidation [and] the role of the city attorney and the creation of accountability measures for all levels of government. It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to feel unsafe in the workplace.”

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LB councilmember says vice mayor threatened her in May