INGLEWOOD, Calif. (CelebrityAccess) The relationship between the owners of the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and the city’s mayor has been a contentious one, and recently became personal with attorneys for the venue asking in court proceedings if Mayor James T. Butts was in a romantic relationship with a highly paid aide.
Madison Square Garden is fighting the advancement of a possible nearby venue for the Los Angeles Clippers, which are planning on moving to the city from Los Angeles’s Staples Center. It has accused the city, and particularly Butts, of underhanded dealings to court the Clippers to bring the arena to the city, which could negatively affect the business of the Forum. The dispute has triggered accusations of fraud and harassment, but now an attorney for MSG questioned Butts about Melanie McDade-Dickens, an exec assistant to the mayor and city manager, during a five-hour deposition, according to court records obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
An attorney for MSG argued that whether Butts and McDade-Dickens “are involved in a personal relationship is highly relevant to Mayor Butts’ and Ms. McDade-Dickens’ credibility and bias as witnesses in this litigation.” They provided no evidence, the Times said.
MSG alleges in a lawsuit that Butts tricked the company into terminating its lease to use 15 acres of city-owned land for a technology park and it is now part of the area under construction for the Clippers arena. Butts and the city have denied the allegations.
The MSG attorney complained in a letter filed in court that Butts refused to answer the question at the advice of attorney Louis “Skip” Miller, who represents the city, who described the question as “harassing, inappropriate and an obvious attempt to malign good people.” In an interview with the Times, Miller added that he thought it was “irrelevant to the case.”
MSG filed court papers recently alleging newly obtained documents show Butts lied when he insisted in his deposition that he had not begun discussions with the Clippers until after MSG terminated its lease. MSG has asked a judge to order Butts and McDade-Dickens to answer additional questions under oath, including the nature of their relationship, with a hearing on the request scheduled for July 9, the Times said.
Highly paid employees of Butts’s administration have come under scrutiny, with McDade-Dickens paid $215,856 last year, plus a $22,447 bonus. She began as a volunteer for Butts’ first mayoral campaign making $250 a week, according to the Times. In 2017, Inglewood’s police chief, Mark Fronterotta made $357,856, equivalent to the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, even though it has fewer than 300 police officers versus LAPD’s 10,000.
McDade-Dickens’ salary has increased as the city expanded her job responsibilities, according to Inglewood officials.